Organizers of a unique kind of Tallahassee summer camp insist theirs is the first local effort to combine leadership, money management and business start-up training for teenagers. The program is a joint effort of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce and Tallahassee-Leon County Federal Credit Union.
Big Bend Chamber Board Member Gina Kinchlow explained the whole concept of what they’re calling “Camp Treppie” – a play on the word “entrepreneur” – was awhile in the development stage.
“This is an idea that’s been germinating for at least a year,” she said. “We wanted to do something with youth. We wanted to create a youth entrepreneurs council and we really wanted to get young people – actually children – in the pipeline of our chamber.”
Everything came together after Kinchlow got together with Tallahassee-Leon Federal Credit Union C.E.O. Lisa Brown.
“We’ve done a lot of work with BizKids, which is actually a PBS Kids show that teaches young people all about personal finance and all about running their own businesses and good financial decisions in general,” Brown said. “Through our partnership with BizKids we have an extensive curriculum available and we’ve used it in our summer camps in the past. One day Gina and I were sitting down having lunch and we’re chatting about various things and I said, ‘You know, it’d be really great if we could just do something for some of the young people in our community.”
Thus, Kinchlow said, was born “Camp Treppie” that will run from June 19th through the 23rd on the campus of Tallahassee Community College and is intended for young people between the ages of 13 and 18.
“Our hope is that we can get these young people excited now about entrepreneurism, coming up with great inventions, small business start-ups; we want to get them in the pipeline now.”
Brown added her part of the program will focus on issues relating to financial literacy.
“We teach them various budgeting skills or the importance of savings or how do you use credit appropriately? What’s the right fit for that?”
But just as if not even more important Kinchlow said, is teaching the morality of money. That unrestrained pursuit of profit without regard to ethical standards is immoral, and what it means to be a responsible person who is an asset to their community.
“We’ve got to use this camp to also build some strong leadership skills and so this thing called ‘entrepreneurial mindset’, we’re talking about learning important life lessons that build the character that give you that moral compass that you’re going to need as you go into adulthood and become a productive citizen of the world.”
Brown said all those who complete Camp Treppie will have the opportunity to become a member of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce youth board, which has – as the old American Express ad said – some great privileges.
“You will have access to legal experts, to marketing experts, to lunch and learns, to things that are typically reserved for adults well into their careers, which is really cool! Very, very exciting for these young people. I kinda will it was available when I was in school.”
To find out more and download a Camp Treppie application: www.mybbmc.org