Summer Money Camps: Fun in the Sun With Finance

money campThese are not like the summer camps you remember from your youth.

Kids at Camp Millionaire in California build a whole mini-society based on "moola" -- a mock currency with -- wait for it -- a cow's portrait on the money. The tweens at Camp Challenge in North Carolina immerse themselves in an online simulation called "Life With Bills" where they virtually apply for jobs and pay their way.

And you thought Facebook was absorbing.

Business camps used to attract primarily those kids with a precocious interest in finance and a desire to pad their resumes for college admissions. But in the current challenging economic environment, more kids and parents are recognizing the benefits of finance camps.

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Because, let's face it: Practicing archery and roasting marshmallows over a campfire may be fun, but they don't exactly prepare campers for the real world. Which survival skill is your child more likely to need in the future: Knowing how to build a lean-to shelter, or understanding how mortgages work?

DailyFinance has compiled a list of some of the best business- and finance-oriented camps around the country. (And, kids, it's worth noting. These are, at most, weeklong programs. That leaves plenty of summertime for swimming, lanyards and campfires later -- after you balance your checkbook.)

Financial Camps
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Summer Money Camps: Fun in the Sun With Finance
Company:  Camp Millionaire
 Founder: Elisabeth Donati
 Ages: 10-13
 Cost: $229
 Duration: 2- to 5-day sessions
 Locations: Anaheim Hills, Santa Barbara, Los Gatos, Palm Desert, Montclair and Santa Clarita, Calif.
 Description: Camp Millionaire is a game and activity-based financial literacy program for kids and teens. Students learn how to make, manage, multiply and donate their money wisely during this weekend event. The camp features The Money Game, where kids create a mini society based on "moola"-mock currency. Kids spend the weekend learning how to invest in stocks and pay credit card bills and phone bills.

Company: Young Americans Center For Financial Education
 Founder: Bill Daniels
 Ages: 7-13
 Cost: $195 (scholarships available)
 Duration: 5-day and 1-day sessions
 Location: Denver, Lakewood and Stapleton, Colo.
 Description: The Young Americans Center for Financial Education offers eight types of weeklong camps throughout the summer. They focus on teaching youngsters to be financially responsible through real-life experiences and hands-on programs. Themes include personal finance, free enterprise, global economics or entrepreneurship. Each session culminates in a one-day real-world scenario in which purchases are necessary and financial assets limited. Examples include running a kid-sized town, running a "world economy" (with a focus on trade, currencies and deficits) or hosting a marketplace to sell products from a newly-created business.

Company: Camp BizSmart
 Founders: Dr. Michael Gibbs and Peggy Gibbs
 Ages: 11 to 15
 Cost: $600 to $1,480
 Duration: 5- or 10-day sessions
 Locations: Stanford University, Calif.; Punahou, Hawaii; Silicon Valley Community Foundation, San Mateo, Calif.; JFK University, San Jose, Calif.; JFK University, Pleasant Hill, Calif.
 Description: The camp's mission is "to train aspiring entrepreneurs in the 'thrival skills' required for success at home, school, and in the increasingly competitive global marketplace." Michael Gibbs, founder of Camp BizSmart and a former Fortune 500 exec, started the camp with his wife, Peggy, during the height of the economic recession to focus on "tweenpreneurs." Students work on "hot topic" business problems offered by hip companies like Hope Lab, NeuroSky, Hara and Serious Energy. Students are mentored by industry executives as they learn and practice business skills including competitive analysis, design innovation, cost analysis, and profit-and-loss cash flow. Students are coached by executives from companies such as Cisco, Apple and Google, and apply the skills they learn to the business case they are solving, as teams of six come up with ideas for business solutions.

Company: Camp Challenge
 Founder: Thad Woodard
 Ages: 10-13
 Cost: Free
 Duration: 5-day sessions
 Location: Westfield, N.C.
 Description: Run by the North Carolina Bankers Association, the camp mixes financial education with traditional outdoor camp activities like horseback riding. Students learn financial literacy through an online simulation called "Life With Bills," which allows them to design an avatar, apply for a job (based on desired salary), get paychecks (and learn the differences between net- and gross-pay), and pay bills. Students also learn about civic responsibility, etiquette and entrepreneurship.

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