A new crop of summer camps teach kids to worship the almighty dollar

“What’s our rate of return?”
“What’s our rate of return?”
Image: AP Photo/Harry Cabluck
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The American summer camp—in its romanticized, nostalgic form—involves lots of canoeing, marshmallow toasting, and epic battles of capture the flag, all in a rustic forest setting. Over the decades they’ve been supplemented by specialty camps for soccer, skateboarding, even computer coding—things that American kids actually send their time doing.

Now, a new wave of camps is dispensing with childish pursuits, and instead promises to help kids master the tools of adulthood by teaching them the fundamentals of finance.

Camps with names like Moolah U, Camp Millionaire, and Money Munchkids offer sessions in running a business, investing and entrepreneurship. At Moolah U, which offers week-long camps in Austin, Texas, campers from 7 to 15 run a pop-up business while learning to “make choices that build a powerful future.”

The camps reflect a decades-long tension in US education, about whether education about money and finance belongs in school. Despite regular studies bewailing America’s financial illiteracy, only 17 states require high school students to study finance, according to the Council for Economic Education. Reasons vary, from a lack of teacher expertise to colleges not requiring financial literacy in incoming students.

Chuchi Arevalo, founder of Spark Business Academy, launched his Future Millionaires Bootcamp in Washington to answer the demand for business education, and he offers training in “cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset” and “building a stock-market portfolio,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. At his Future Millionaires Bootcamp in Washington, aspiring tycoons develop business plans, debate mission statements, and learn the fine points of FICO credit scores.

Kids are increasingly sophisticated about technology and the media, and any child with a smart phone has access to all the world’s information. It makes sense for them to learn the basics of money, and its role in society. Let’s hope they also get to toast some s’mores.