2014 Grandma Rie’s Money Camp – Preparing for Money Camp

Teaching the next generation to successfully handle money and personal finances is normally a family responsibility. Although parents bear much of the burden to teach, train and model good personal finance, extended family members can also contribute.

Although my grown children do very well in the personal finance arena, they learned from us by osmosis, without any special or formal training by my spouse or I. When they presented me with grandchildren, I vowed that I would take an active part in teaching financial literacy to them.

As a result, I started a one week ‘Grandma Rie’s Money Camp’ in 2011 and held our fourth annual one this year.


This year’s camp was held just for the two grandchildren, a boy just 10 and a girl almost 7. I led the camp by myself but had the help of my spouse when needed for kid care activities.

Main focus.

The focus of this years Money Camp was on saving. To zero in on that, we toured a bank, a credit union and the Federal Reserve’s Money Museum, as well as inspecting our home safe and our safe deposit box at the credit union. In addition I asked several family members to record a story about a time they had saved for something or wish they had. In order to put the focus on saving and provide these activities, I moved the location of Money Camp from the lakeside condo to our metro area. To have money to save, you have to get or earn money. This year, I combined camp with a garage sale and had the kids run their kid business during the sale. Some days I question my sanity – running a week long camp, entertaining kids and preparing for a garage sale called for some stamina I didn’t know I still had!

Since our family has been working on defining our family values, I started introducing that concept this year with camp – listing one of our family’s values and tying it to camp. The one I chose was “Our family members pursue independence and self-sufficiency”. I hope to expand on these values messages in camps to come.

Preparation tasks.

I’ve found over the years that lots of prep work makes things go smoother and lets me focus on covering the concepts I want the kids to learn. I spent about 3 weeks planning for and preparing objects and activities for the camp this year.

Here are some of the tasks you might consider covering if you want to hold a camp for your kids – especially if, like me, you are not used to having the little people around all the time anymore!

Pick one or two concepts to cover. Look at educational standards and what typical kids the age of yours can or should know and do before you settle on a concept. By focusing on just a couple of things, you will send a stronger message.

Search for resources (books, games, activities, movies and etc) that help reinforce those concepts. I use library books, books I buy, board and card games, online games and activities, dvds, presentations, home made movies and more).

Do something to set camp time apart from down time. We use the t-shirts – wearing them during camp and taking them off when camp ends. To be able to demonstrate some ways to save, I made the camp t-shirts this year. $5 basic tees from Walmart plus some freezer paper and a bit of fabric paint made acceptable camp shirts (with the application of lots of my time!). Here is what they looked like:

Plan for alternate activities. Some times the kids just aren’t interested or you aren’t up for the orig. one. Have something in your back pocket to pull out and use.

Draw up a schedule. Check first with parents to see when the kids are available. Check the offering dates and times of businesses or tours or activities you want to pursue during camp. Test your schedule to see if you have enough or too little planned for the time allotted. I usually do this by going hour by hour on a paper schedule and then reviewing it multiple times. You have to be flexible during camp though and not try to stick strictly to the schedule. It should be a guide for you, not a task master for kids.

Gather any materials you need. This year I gave the kids choices on products they could make to sell – paper mache piggy banks, cookies, Popsicle stick flags or soaps. I made sure I had plenty of flour and paper, ingredients for the cookies, ribbons, Popsicle sticks, paints, tapes, glues and etc to decorate the pigs and all of the things needed for the soaps (base, molds, crayons to color the base, graters to grate the crayons, scent and some way to package the soaps).

Prepare your materials before camp.

I spent quite a bit of time prepping for the paper mache banks. They were made from 8 oz soda bottles, paper and lots of tape. It took quite some time for me to put together the base mold for the kids to put the paper mache over. After trying one, I decided it wouldn’t be possible for the kids to construct these in a timely enough manner to get it all done during camp so I pre-made all the molds.

I stress the schedule and important concepts by using visuals – some made from poster board and markers. I make these up ahead of camp and put them up in conspicuous spots all during camp.

Have cheat sheets for yourself. I’ve started doing a review of prior camps so the kids can remember them. This year I made a movie and showed it on the flat screen TV. Last year, I did a poster about it.

If you want to do any presentations, prep them ahead of time. I did a simple powerpoint review to see what the kids remembered about money concepts from prior years.

Don’t forget your housekeeping.

I planned out all of my supper menus this year and ran them past the Mom. That way, I knew the kids would eat what was fixed and could make sure I had done as much cooking prep as possible so that I wasn’t slaving away in the kitchen when I should be leading Money Camp.

Clean up takes time from all those camp activities, so if the kids aren’t big enough to help, plan time in for you to get that done while the kids have something else going.

Plan in the fun too. I always try to have something planned each day that the kids will enjoy for sure, whether that is swimming or a special trip or just a movie they love or a new game to play.

Line up your extras. Since I planned bank tours of my own banks this year, I checked in with the branch manager to make sure that it would be ok and to see if someone would be able to give a bit of a tour to the kids. Last year I lined up customers for eBay sales and for the kids refreshment stand.

Make sure you have enough help and that they will be available and willing during camp. Last year the grandkids other grandma helped with camp. This year I enlisted my spouse. Let the kids help you if they are old enough. This year, my two set the table, helped with the garage sale set up, made their beds and etc.

Grandma Rie’s Money Camp takes a lot of prep work to run smoothly. Above were some of the things I do ahead of time. In my next post on 2014 Money Camp, I’ll share some of the activities and resources used as well as my opinion of some of the results.

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