By Marla Zemanek, Camp Director of Camp BizSmart
The premier entrepreneurship academy for teens
What was the first Tesla car model called? Bill Gates and George Lucas share what in common? What do customers care about? How many emojis are there?
These and other sometimes-goofy questions are part of Camp BizSmart’s morning warmup session where teams learn about entrepreneurship and practice working together to score points. At the end of the 2-week session, the highest scoring team is recognized for its work ethic and collaboration skills, earning them certificates of distinction and valued awards.
At CBS, students learn teamwork by doing and soon discover that merely sitting together at a table doesn’t make them a team. In fact, when interviewed at the end of the camp, most comment that the biggest thing they learned was teamwork, and that it didn’t come easily or quickly.
What does a day in the life of CBS look like? On Day 1, students start with an in-depth study of a business case they’ve chosen to work on. Silicon Valley companies like Netflix and Apple provide a business problem they need to be solved and a specific challenge for the team to create a device that will solve it. Students meet with company CEOs and executive team members to learn more about the problem and why that affects the company, customers, or even the planet. In the process, they work on team building, critical thinking, and design thinking challenges that start molding their team as they build important life skills.
Students choose, and sometimes have to compete, for specific team roles they wish to have, or the business case they want to work on throughout the session. For some this is natural: “I love math, so I want to be the CFO;” “I’m creative and like technology so I want to the be CIO (Chief Innovation Officer).” They soon learn that no one can work alone, and that’s how teamwork develops. The Chief Sales Officer soon discovers that sales promotions can’t be planned, nor sales projections determined until getting the numbers on productions costs from the Chief Technology Officer and financial data from the CFO.
Part of building teamwork includes fun and interesting exercises for students that build confidence as they learn marketing, branding, and presentation skills. High energy games and mini-cases, often facilitated by local entrepreneurs or CEOs, are used to apply the concepts. Students learn about storytelling to emotionally engage audiences by tackling a case study about funding projects for kids. They practice negotiation skills working on a business proposal, learn design and engineering elements while building structures out of straws, and address time management concerns while dealing with conflict in their own group.
Each day, as the teams learn more about product development, they deepen their knowledge and know-how that will become the required deliverables: a business plan, PPT presentation and a pitch for the competition held at the end of the camp.
Finally, at the end of the day, teams discuss what each person did well and needs to work on, and what they need to focus on as a team to move forward successfully to complete their projects. Besides the group work skills, they address issues about inclusion, diversity, and ethics.
All is not about academics at CBS, and kids are not allowed to stare at screens during breaks or play with their phones in the session! Daily activities include outdoor and indoor games and sports, relay races, swimming, basketball, soccer, scavenger hunts, hikes, art, karaoke and field trips. This year, campers will go on a night hike at Chattanooga’s Rock City, and campers who stay in the beautiful dorms on the Baylor School campus have free time every evening to just hang out with their friends.
Based in Silicon Valley and with support from companies such as Microsoft and Alibaba, Camp BizSmart is in its 11th year of providing global camps that teach entrepreneurship to 11 – 19 year olds. The Baylor School camp runs from June 17-29 and accepts residential and commuter students. For more details, please call 408-477- 2279 or contact Baylor Program Camp Director, Marla Zemanek: Marla.firstname.lastname@example.org.