Camp Millionaire strikes gold at BGSU

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Bowling Green State University had a million-dollar idea when it invented Camp Millionaire, a summer day camp for eighth-graders that teaches students the importance of financial literacy. Now in its second year, the camp satisfies that requirement in the Ohio curriculum while promoting philanthropy.

The camp’s formula of mixing serious learning with fun has proved so popular that the University is offering two sessions this year and has a substantial waiting list, said Director Jane Clinard of the BGSU Office of Admissions. The first session will run from June 18-22; the next from July 16-20.

“We’ve got 17 schools participating, compared to five last year. We’ve got charter schools, public schools, Catholic schools. One student is even coming from Cincinnati Country Day School. We want to make it available as widely as possible,” Clinard said.

In addition to learning the basics of banking, budgeting, investing and choosing a career, the campers will learn about entrepreneurship, from people just starting their businesses and others who have built long and successful careers.

“Our BGSU alumni have been fantastic. Everyone wants to help,” Clinard said.

This year’s camp will have a “green” focus, and not just as in greenbacks. In learning how to create a business plan, the campers will work with Erek Hansen, an 11-year-old environmental activist from Curtice, Ohio, known as EcoErek, to develop their own strategy for collecting used blue jeans and tennis shoes. The denim is converted into insulation for Habitat for Humanity houses and the shoes are recycled into components of sidewalks, running tracks and playgrounds — and all is diverted from adding to the nation’s landfills.

BGSU has partnered with EcoErek previously to donate jeans and shoes from the University’s “When You Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out” annual collection.

The young entrepreneur has been featured in National Geographic Kids and other national media and recently received honorable mention from Action For Nature as part of its International Eco-Hero Award. “He’s a great partner for us,” Clinard said.

Campers will also have lunch on the “green roof” at The Oaks dining center and hear from Campus Sustainability Coordinator Nick Hennessy about BGSU’s environmental efforts.

Last year’s campers worked with 10-year-old Hannah Turner of Perrysburg, Ohio, to collect socks for her charity, Hannah’s Socks. The effort netted more than 9,000 pairs of socks for the needy.

Seeing the camp curriculum, parents have requested financial training for themselves. Camp Millionaire staff have arranged special sessions for them on the last day of each session. Among the days’ events, Hansen’s mother, Amy, will offer a workshop on family finances, and Jon Sanchez, a financial planner (and former Navy SEAL), will discuss the importance of character, leadership and community service.

Last year’s campers have asked to return to for a reunion. The Cindy and Chuck Bogner Alumni Camp will be held June 25. The day will include behind-the-scenes tours of BGSU’s Stroh Center and Fifth Third Field in Toledo with the Mud Hens to hear what it takes to run a baseball team.

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(Posted June 15, 2012 )