The Best Week of My Life

By Thomas E. Houck

“Here we go again,” said Joey, an entrepreneurial teen. “Mom just saw my grades and she's fuming. She said, 'You're smarter than this, you always had such good grades until high school, you don’t seem like you even care. How are you going to get into college…blah, blah, blah?' The truth is that I'm bored to death with high school.”

Numerous entrepreneurs shared a similar sentiment as Joey while they were growing up. Why? Teen entrepreneurs aren’t challenged in a traditional classroom setting. They tend to constantly ask, “Why not?” and want to explore outside the box—actions that don't appeal to school bureaucrats who want everyone to just stay in line.

“Now she wants me to get a tutor,” Joey continued. “How’s that going to change the fact that I would rather eat cardboard than study this stuff? I'm really interested in business, but how can I learn about it via death-by-lecture from a teacher who’s never owned a company?”

Most successful business owners in the country share a number of traits. These include:

  • A fierce sense of independence

  • An insatiable desire to have the freedom to do things their way

  • A strong drive to accomplish their goals in business and in life

Do these traits sound like they belong to someone who's going to get in line because schoolteachers say so? Absolutely not. These students usually rebel to some extent, and then get to a point where they simply disengage. Does this sound like your son or daughter?

Successful entrepreneurs are always wondering why this stuff isn’t taught in school. The answer is simple: teachers teach what’s in the textbooks, and textbook authors never ran a small business, or studied successful entrepreneurs.

“I wish there was a way to get some real life business education in high school,” Joey continued. “Internships are rare these days, even for college students. How many small businesses take on interns anyway? My mom wants me to get a job at the mall, but what’s that going to teach me about running a business? I would love to start my own business waxing cars…but how do I begin?”

Most entrepreneurs, no matter what their business or industry, share similar business frustrations and obstacles. As a result, consultants have developed general techniques to help business owners overcome these challenges. Now, these techniques are being applied to entrepreneurial teens at summer camps designed specifically for them.

Joey’s guidance counselor showed him the website of the teen entrepreneur summer camp. As soon as he saw it, he knew it was something he wanted to try.

“At this beautiful college campus, we went to work right away,” explained Joey. “We learned about goal setting, time management, working as a team, creating a business plan, doing professional presentations, and actually running a business. We also got to talk with several successful business owners. But most of all, we had a blast. We went to amusement parks, toured businesses, played games. My favorite part was the talent show.”

The kids who attend these camps experience unparalleled excitement over the material. They get it. They really get it. Adult entrepreneurs, who have seen the highs and lows and the good and bad of business, are often jaded and a little skeptical about the tools and exercises that are taught at the camp. But the students have a fresh attitude and are truly excited to explore business. They’re especially thrilled to learn about themselves. The one recurring theme that students and parents share after the program is complete is the tremendous sense of self-confidence that the teens gain.

Joey had a transformation. “It dawned on me when I got home from the camp that I’m not some outcast or rebel,” he shared. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I’m just letting some of that come out. I’m not the odd ball; I’m just me being me. Once I realized that, it felt like a five-ton weight was lifted from me. If I can just get through high school by using my strengths, I can get into a college with an entrepreneurship major and really take off. I’ve never felt so good about my future.”

Both the students and the staff become close during the course of a week of camp. Entrepreneurs are unique, and when a bunch of them come together in a room—regardless of their age—you can feel the electricity. All the kids are in synch with each other, and many say that it’s like finding a new family. Even the toughest of the tough guys shed a tear when they all say goodbye, including the fearless camp leaders.

“The best way to sum it up,” continued Joey, “is to say that it was truly the best week of my life.”

Read other articles and learn more about Thomas E. Houck.

[Contact the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]

Home      Recent Articles      Author Index      Topic Index      About Us
2005-2017 Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc   ▪   privacy statement