Arts, crafts and archery may be fun, but how useful are they? A growing number of summer camps aim to give kids something they can really take to the bank: financial knowledge.
Most of these camps use games, skits, fake paychecks and "moolah jars" to teach 10- to 18-year-olds how to buy low, sell high, appreciate deferred gratification and tell their assets from their debits. (Hint: "Assets feed you, liabilities eat you," according to Fiscally Fit Kids Money Camp in New City, N.Y., fiscallyfitkids.com.) Typical activities include micro-economies, where kids spend their paychecks on items they need and "win" when there's cash left over for wants, and field trips to businesses.
Some camps to consider are moneysenseacademy.com in New England and Tennessee, the Funancial Summer Camps in Wray, Colo., run by the Young Americans Center for Financial Education, and themoneycamp.com, which runs camps in various California and North Carolina locales. There's one sleep-away contender: Wall Street 101 at Bentley College, bentley.edu/camp.
Find more at mysummercamp.com. Check the curriculum, because some of the programs are underwritten by banks or credit-card companies, and you'll want to know just what they're teaching your kids for that $250-$400 a week.
Here's another practical point: most of the programs are day camps, and they tend to be indoors. So the little capitalists may need to blow off steam when they get home. Tell them you can take them to the pool, after they balance your checkbook.