Camp Mama: Economics

Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.


I think the biggest Camp Mama surprise for me last year was the popularity of Economics Week. Really? Economics? It does make sense, if you think about it, it was all about “money, money, money, money.” Naturally my rabid capitalists were all over it. (Note: don’t play Monopoly with my kids, they take it way too seriously and the games have been known to go on for days. Or do play with them if that sounds fun to you. It’s torture for me.)

We brought back a few favourites from last year and added in a few more things and this week was even better than last year!

Monday: Household Economics
I tasked my middle son with planning a balanced meal for the family, budgeting it, and shopping within the budget. My children have very expensive tastes, so my son planned steak, asparagus, and rolls for supper with berries and cream for dessert. It was not easy for him to stay within his budget but with smaller portion sizes and buying day-old rolls he was able to get it. (Or close enough.) I think it was definitely eye-opening for him!
I also gave him a small budget (five dollars) and let him spend -or save- as he wished at Target. He hemmed and hawed for a long time, and spent quite a bit of time longing for things he couldn’t afford, but eventually settled on something that made him happy.

Tuesday: Auction
This was an exact repeat of last year, with the addition of a few more prizes. The kids all earned points based on behaviours in the past twenty-four hours including questions whether they had made their beds, cleared their dishes, or performed service for others. Everyone had a different strategy at the auction, some buying as many as they could for one point each, others saving up all their points for the one item they coveted, and some in between, bidding at will. So much fun!

Wednesday: Lemonade Stand

All the kids think spelling mistakes get more attention and will garner more sales. I tried to speak up for good grammar but with so many examples to the contrary no one listened to me. Who knows, maybe they’re on to something?

The kids did all the planning, and while the parents supplied the durable goods, all the materials that would be expended by the stand were business expenses to be reimbursed. They evaluated different locations around town to set up shop, carefully considering safety as well as traffic. It was such a success. Their customers were all very satisfied, some asking us to please be there every day this week, others proclaiming it the “best lemonade ever.” (Our secret ingredient: fresh mint leaves from the garden.) The lemonade stayed ice cold the whole time. Despite it being over a hundred degrees everyone was happy, albeit tired and sunburned by the time we decided to close up shop. With plenty of supplies remaining I think this will be a weekly affair through the rest of the summer. The children didn’t have as many customers as they had envisioned, but they did recoup their expenses and make a small profit with which they can buy ice again next week and turn a bigger profit. We also spent a good portion of the day, while prepping as well as serving, singing our favourite lemonade songs from a couple of of our favourite artists, Justin Roberts,

and Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band (I’ve had this song in my head since it first appeared on their Potluck album back in 2012, here’s a more recent video from their Lishy Lou and Lucky Too! show):

Thursday: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has a free educational exhibit called Economy in Action, which I heard about days after Economics week last year. The information was so thorough I could go back several times and learn more each time. I know the kids would love to return, not the least of which because we went home with a bag of shredded cash supposedly worth $4,000. Know before you go: the parking lot adjacent to the building that says “visitors” is not for you; it is for people visiting on business. The man at the booth was very kind and helpful, however, in directing us to another lot, but save yourself the trouble of backing up through the construction and mess. My recommendation with all the construction going on in the area is to park in the Arts District lot or another on that side of the freeway and then cross over to the Fed. Bonus: you can spend some time in Klyde Warren Park which is always fun.

Friday: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Another repeat from last year but one we could easily do every year and still enjoy. The movie, the tour, the exhibit, none had changed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing but we all got more out of it than last time. Repetition can be a really effective learning tool — as we learn more we understand more. We had some out of town guests with us whom we had taken to the Stockyards earlier in the day but it was the BEP they talked most about when we returned home. There are no electronic devices allowed in the BEP so we have no photos of this stop. There are only two money factories in the country: Fort Worth, TX, and Washington, DC, so if you have the opportunity to go you should go!

What didn’t we do this week? Well with our lemonade stand only in the early stages of turning a profit I haven’t yet convinced the children to donate some of their proceeds to charity, which we had talked about as our service for the week. Since they have decided on a weekly lemonade stand through the rest of the summer that’ll probably be a decision at the end when the money is divvied up. I had also planned on taking the kids to the credit union with their earnings to deposit, they each have an account from a relationship the credit union has with the school, but they haven’t done their actual banking at the credit union and I thought that would be instructive. Again, since the money is still tied up in the business, it probably won’t be before the end of the summer before the money is split among the partners and deposited in the bank.

I see Economics Week being an annual staple in Camp Mama.

Camp Mama follows a weekly theme to encourage diverse activities with the kids during the summer. See all our Camp Mama posts here.

I have nothing to disclose here.
Anything that was free for me is free for you.
The opinions presented in this post are mind and have been written in my own words.


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