Grandma Rie’s 2016 Money Camp Plans

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 sixth annual one this year.


This years camp will be for just my two grandchildren ages 12 and 8 and I will be the only adult present – a true challenge as that allows no down time for me!

Long range planning.

Several years ago I made an outline of the topics I hope to cover while the kids are still interested in coming to my camp. I assume that once they are into their teen years it will be more difficult to pry them away from peers and summer jobs.

Our family has a strong focus on self-sufficiency, including financial freedom. In the past, we have spent many hours in camp learning about saving and investing, starting a company and learning to work for money.

My goal is to expose the grandkids to concepts, expectations and ideas to foster their ability to understand and handle their own finances early on in life, instead of having to learn it all the hard way.

This year.

My focus for camp this year were twin goals of career exploration and persistence.

I went to college with very little idea of what kind of careers there were in the world or how much any of them paid. I wanted my grandchildren to be exposed early on to the fact that there are many, many different paths to supporting yourself, each with its own rewards and drawbacks.

By pushing them to take a look at what different folks do to earn a living, my hope was to open their minds to possibilities beyond those with which they have direct experience.

For this topic we will watch some Biz Kids episodes, some film clips on different careers, a workbook from Pennsylvania called ‘Careers are Everywhere’, a movie called ‘The One Week Job’ and try to discuss those careers, including whether or not they know anyone practicing them.

For active projects, I hope to take them to different area public places and have them capture images and interview folks working there. We will try the U.S. Corp of Engineers at Table Rock Lake Dam; the Missouri Department of Conservation at the fish hatchery; and possibly stores or art studios around town. I’m planning for each of them to pick a career they find interesting and make a short movie about it, with specific criteria to be included – such as what it is, a description, the salary range, why it interested them, what they think they might or might not like about working at that career and etc. In addition, I’m going to try to get them to come up with a skit about a career or careers. I also hope to get them to try to interview me about my career. During our fun activity (Silver Dollar City visit), I am preparing a career scavenger hunt book for them to complete, for a monetary prize. The object will be for them to spot the various career possibilities in an entertainment park.

To focus on persistence, we will watch the movie Hugo (which was about a boy persisting through challenges to fix an automaton; National Velvet (about a young English girl who trains a horse and rides it in a race, defying gender role definitions of the times). I also love to use the Parable of the Pipeline  – a You Tube animated video that simplifies and demonstrates how to build passive income.

However, I also plan to continue reinforcing the concepts of earning, saving, investing, passive income (as in compound interest and our compound interest jar activity), financial independence, and self-employment (one resource we will use this year is the book Kid Zillionaire.

We will once again have a Money Camp business with products of their making or purchased products they buy with money from jobs during camp. They continue to be interested in mainly food type items (especially items they like!) but I plan to strongly encourage them to build non-food products. We will once again hold the business on the grounds of our lake condo where we hold camp.

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 months planning for and preparing objects and activities for the camp this year – the scavenger hunt in particular, took a lot of time, but was great fun for me.

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 used to use the t-shirts – wearing them during camp and taking them off when camp ends, but it was time consuming to make them each year so I switched to tan vests with Money Camp buttons this year in hopes that the kids could wear them multiple years.

Plan for alternate activities. Some times the kids just aren’t interested or you aren’t up for the original 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 or prepare any materials you need. Any teacher will tell you that it takes many non-classroom hours to be ready for one class exercise.

It really helps to be organized!