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Kids Learn about Business at Youth Entrepreneur Camp

Last week 36 elementary school students learned what it's really like to start a business when they attended the Youth Entrepreneur Camp hosted by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) at the University of Iowa.

From July 14-18, students in grades 4-6 learned about entrepreneurship through classroom and practical experience. They identified the basic skills required of entrepreneurs, learned how to market a product or service, determined profit potential for a new venture and ended the week by developing a plan to start their own businesses.

"This is a great opportunity for kids to come and explore entrepreneurship and see the possibilities for themselves," said Dawn Bowlus, JPEC Youth Entrepreneurship Coordinator.

Participants listed by their hometowns included:

CEDAR RAPIDS: Matthew Blaser, Rickietta Bounds-Morris, Jeralyn Westercamp, Katie Bott, Parker Jamieson, Carter Oswood, Ryan Dahm


CORALVILLE: Bob Chen, Spencer Heath, Ife Kehinde, Evan Lee, Don Nye

CRYSTAL, MINN.: David Swartchick

HIAWATHA: Kajsa Jackson

IOWA CITY: Stanley Kamande, Jason Romont, Kia Cooney, Sophie Friedman, Zoe Grueskin, Steven Hensley, Carl Sessions, Zheng Che, Peter Doucette, Zhoujie Guo, Joanna Kao, Keegan Kavanaugh, Libby Logsden, Yire Seo, Kui Tang, Arthur Thrower, Tianyi Wei, Shuyu Xing

KALONA: Megan Schlabaugh

ROBINS: Celia Garner-Prouty


Highlights from the camp included a visit from award-winning ice cream creator Paul Heyn, who spoke about his own experience as an entrepreneur and helped the kids create and name their own original flavor of ice cream-a mix of mint, fudge, M&M's, and Skittles. The students toured Hills Bank and Trust, which co-sponsored the camp. Another favorite activity was playing Disney's online Hot Shot Business game.

The students were divided into teams that worked to develop business plans throughout the week. Most of the teams plan to make their businesses a reality. Business ideas included a snack stand, a custom t-shirt printing business, a graphic design company, an online garage sale, a company for programming software games, a car wash, a scrapbooking enterprise, a babysitting service, and a service for setting up gaming card tournaments.

Celia Garner-Prouty, 10, of Robins, had run lemonade stands and garage sales before, but at the camp she learned more about the specifics of running a business, such as start-up costs and marketing tactics.

"It's great to get paid for things you like," Celia said. "But it's more than money--you want to use your talents and have your own income."

Peter Doucette, 11, of Iowa City was in a group of students that developed a business plan to make computer game software. His parents, Bill and Jane Doucette, said their son liked the challenges of the camp and didn't mind doing homework in the summer. They also liked the fact that the camp employed three students who are members of the I-Envision Entrepreneurial Association, Laura Westercamp, Stacey Rodenkirk and Justin Petersen, who helped organize educational activities and lessons.

For more information about youth entrepreneurship programs at the University of Iowa, contact Dawn Bowlus at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

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