Camp Enterprise – Helping Future Business Leaders Today

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The “American Dream” is often achieved through entrepreneurial endeavors, but many aspiring entrepreneurs don’t know how to begin to develop a business idea or create a business plan. Long Beach Rotary developed a unique program called Camp Enterprise that partners budding entrepreneurs with experienced business professionals in a three day camping program that has helped many youth on the path to achieving their entrepreneurial dreams.

A few weeks ago, Bob Bond (BCS President) joined more than 20 Rotarians and over 60 high school juniors from the Long Beach area at YMCA Camp Oakes in Big Bear for the 18th Annual Long Beach Rotary Camp Enterprise program. The event began at the Queen Mary with an orientation and participation in the weekly Long Beach Rotary meeting. Then teams were formed consisting of two Rotarians with six to eight students from different high schools. The campers and Rotarians traveled to Big Bear to begin the relationship and team building activities, which included high and low ropes course challenges.

The high ropes course activities included climbing one of two rope ladders up 33 feet to a small platform, where the climber chose between the “leap of faith” (a 4’-8’ jump to a trapeze bar), the “balance beam” (walking across a telephone pole between upper branches of 2 very tall trees) or the “monkey ropes” (walking across a 35’ tight rope with rope “handles” dangling intermittently). Of course, the students were properly harnessed with rock climbing gear and supervised in these exciting adventures. The high ropes activities helped reinforce the students’ confidence and ability to overcome difficult obstacles. The low ropes course featured many different team building exercises that challenged both mental and physical capabilities, and created a strong working network within each team.

Then came the hardest but most rewarding part of the program – the business plan competition. Each team selected a business idea, then worked with their Rotarian mentors to consider all aspects of their business. They were required to prepare a plan to present to the other teams and Rotarians that included the business purpose, mission statement, target market, marketing efforts, operations plan and budget. Throughout the process, they worked closely with each other and with the Rotarians who shared practical real-life experiences to enrich the learning process. Each member of each team had to present an aspect of their business plan to the whole camp. The business plan presentations were fantastic and demonstrated significant creativity and learning by all students.

By the end of camp, all students felt a new sense of accomplishment and business knowledge that will forever enhance their business capabilities. The Rotarians also felt a sense of accomplishment and confidence that we’ve helped make the world a better place.

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