By Camas Frank
SLO County youth in fifth-eighth grades will have the chance to learn some of what it takes to start a business and a few other life skills with a new summer camp this June.
They’ll be learning a condensed version of the techniques taught in Cal Poly’s entrepreneurship program and fostered through the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s start-up incubator in Downtown SLO. Getting the 5-day summer program (June 15-19) off the ground was a senior project this quarter for three Cal Poly students, one graphic artist and two in the entrepreneurship concentration. While it’s not a literal summer camp, the days will be packed from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Prof. Jon York, co-founder of the CIE said that in the five years since they started teaching college students the nuts and bolts of working for themselves, the idea of getting younger students involved hasn’t been far behind.
“A lot of it came from people who work with us, as their kids grew to an age where they’d be interested,” he said, noting that the whole point is to teach his students how to start projects that will be self-sustaining. Launch It! Will be SLO’s first annual entrepreneurial summer camp.
Timo Arellano, finishing work on the camp as he prepares to graduate in June, said the idea appealed to him as the type of hands-on experience he appreciated when he was younger.
He noted that CSU Fresno has actually been running a similar program since 1999 and one of the things he worked on was a licensing arrangement with them for the course. While there’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to, (one of the lessons taught in Prof. York’s classroom no doubt) the students did alter the curriculum to fit more of Cal Poly’s learn-by-doing attitude for local youth.
“There’s a lot more to it than just explaining how to start a business,” he said, referring to the entrepreneurship program as a whole.
For the actual summer camp they plan on running the kids through the concept of creating and marketing their own product from scratch and using examples of common finance, pitch and development issues. They’ll also get to experience the Cal Poly campus, CIE’s downtown Hot House and be introduced to some real world business professionals and young entrepreneurs.
Kaitlin Siemering weighed in on another important aspect of arranging the camp as a senior project, in addition to making sure the material they have to offer is worth the parents of 40 kids forking over $375 for tuition, they had to learn the in’s and out of navigating educational institutions from the other side of the desk.
“Cal Poly’s Extended Education department helped us enormously,” she said, giving the university ample credit for taking the major hurdle of insurance and other regulatory obstacles off the table by folding the camp into their own programs.
“It will be the quick and dirty version of an entrepreneurship class in five days, she said,” but it will fun for them to do the pitch fair at the end and for the parents to see what they come up with.”
Information and registration particulars for the camp can be found online at: summer.calpoly.edu/kids/launchit/index.html.