Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.
What’s that you say? A week focused around economics just doesn’t sound nearly as interesting as some of our previous themes for Camp Mama? Well in our family this turned out to be one of the easiest and one of the best weeks yet. (Okay, that last part “best week” is the silliest thing for me to say because every week is my favourite week so far. I love Camp Mama!) There were so many things we could have done this week and didn’t, but what we did was perfect for the kids to learn a little more about producers, consumers, and different ways to acquire items. What I didn’t do this week is take many pictures at all. Not only were our activities less visually oriented, but I was just too engaged to step back and capture it for posterity. Apologies!
The plan was for the kids to pick their favourite meal and go to the store to price out each of the ingredients so they could get a better grasp of what things cost, and then compare it to the cost of a similar meal at a restaurant. Instead I remembered that both boys had gift cards so it was a budgeting day where they had to figure out what to buy while making the most of their money and staying within their budget.
Tuesday morning our kids and several friends practiced their producing skills to make a batch of something they think would be of value to their friends. Most of the items were papercrafted to various degrees of skill (ninja throwing stars, paper airplanes, fortune tellers, and the like.) Then when we gathered we talked about how often we assign values to things in the form of a common currency, but another way to exchange goods and services is by bartering: simply put it is determining the value of something compared with something else. I explained to them that I have bartered for tax preparation, hair cuts, photography, and more, by exchanging piano lessons and crocheted items. The kids went for a simple trade system with each item being of equal value. There was only one girl in the group and she probably put the most thought into the project. She knew that most of the things she crafts (jewelry, etc.) would not be of interest to the boys with whom she’d like to trade, so she made no-bake cookies. They were the runaway favourite, and she held her own in the melee. She even had to cut people off when she felt they had had too many, choosing to no longer trade with them. The kids had a great time and when all the trading was over they pulled out Monopoly for a rousing game that didn’t last long. As it turns out, it takes too long to wait for your turn when there are 7 players (and it’s easy for your turn to be skipped if you’re moving around or not paying attention.)
I wasn’t sure how well this activity would fly but it was so successful all the kids have requested we do it again, and often. In the days leading up to the activity we had told the kids that there would be an auction and that they would earn their “money” based on good behaviour they exhibited. When everyone arrived they filled out a questionnaire to determine which of the target items they had done in the past 24 hours. Questions included brushing teeth, making bed, putting dishes in dishwasher, sharing, complimenting someone, etc. The points their earned was the money they had to spend in the auction. Once the kids knew what they had to spend and knew what was up for grabs, we gave them a quick summary of how an auction works and we got started. Each kid had in mind the item or items most desired, and had a strategy for success. Some of them bid and won a few different items, while the one who wanted the extra hour of screen time held his piece until the final lot, and then with all his money to be played, bid it all and won in one fell swoop. Everyone was happy with their winnings, be it one item or several, and by the time the weekend was over I think everyone had redeemed almost everything. This was hugely successful and we have decided to do spontaneous auctions going forward. What a fun way to provide positive reinforcement for good behaviour!
Thursday: Field Trip
We loaded up the cars and set off to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth to see how they print the notes that we call money. It’s free, it’s well-organized, very informational, and very cool. It’s also top-secret and all electronic devices must be left in the car before going through security and taking the tram to the main building. No photos! (I did fill out a comment card telling them what a cool day we had had and would they please consider a photo op in the parking lot? Even just a big seal of the BEP to pose the kids in front would be great.) We will definitely return to this place and the boys can’t wait to take Daddy. There are only two locations in the country, but if you are near DC or Forth Worth it is worth the trip!
Friday: Canada Day!
Both of us Mums and half of the kids were born in Canada so this holiday needed to be celebrated. My friend put together a trivia game for the kids and I made Nanaimo Bars. We met up again at suppertime for some poutine at the Maple Leaf Diner.
And just like that the week was over.
We had a wonderful time and hopefully everyone gained a deeper appreciation and understanding of economics. Next time we will add in a lemonade stand, but with our brutal temperatures this week that was not an option.