Financial Literacy Boot Camps for Youngsters Take Flight
By Dan Kadlec
July 25, 2017
An idea I have long championed seems to be taking root: summer financial boot camp for youngsters.
“Parents are looking at summer options that they consider more substantive,” Ann Travis, a camp consultant, told CNBC. “They want their kids to spend their time wisely.” Increasingly, that includes adding financial education to the mix.
This is not to say kids don’t need traditional camp experiences like canoe races and color war. Arguably, as youngsters’ time has become more structured with playdates, programs and lessons—and become less freewheeling owing to safety concerns over kids riding a bike or walking to engagements—outdoor camp activities are more important than ever. Bug bites and Band-Aids build character.
But adding a dose of saving and budgets to this environment makes a lot of sense. That’s why personal finance camps such as those offered through Moolah U, Camp Millionaire, and Money Munchkins are gaining traction.
The one-week program at Moolah U costs $300. It started in 2005 and has expanded every year, getting a big boost in attendance during the financial crisis, according to CEO and founder Gayle Reaume.
Not everyone is on board. Jill Tipograph, a summer programs consultant, tempers any enthusiasm with the thought that camp must be fun. If financial education is presented in an engaging way—preferably outside, not a classroom setting—she says it is most useful. If it is torture it will fail.
Why throw money activities into the mix with archery, capture the flag and mountain biking? One in five U.S. students don’t meet baseline levels for financial literacy proficiency. Only 10% are considered top performers.
Money generally is not taught in schools and few parents feel knowledgeable enough or have enough time to take on financial education at home with a high degree of confidence. A modest measure of financial awareness introduced in a fun setting at a young age can stir an interest that leads to more questions and better understanding of financial concepts in ensuing years.