Some Minot kids are learning the ins and outs of business and getting a break from the aftermath of the flood this week at a free summer camp for young entrepreneurs.
"Half these kids are living in trailers," said Barry Striegel, director of the program. "They need a break."
The Mini Society summer camp was originally scheduled to be held at Minot State University but was moved to the convention center of the Sleep Inn and Suites after the flood. The hotel offered the conference center at a reduced rate. The camp started Monday and was held through Friday.
Andrea Johnson/MDN - - Nicholas Malsom, left, withdraws money from the bank run by Keely Foster, center, and Elijah Rockhold, right, at the Mini Society summer camp.
Andrea Johnson/MDN - - Alyssa Doering, left, and Vanessa Brock sold cookies, dog biscuits and popcorn balls at their “Sweet Creations” shop.
Kids organized their own community, created their own paper currency, which they called "nuts," opened their own businesses and elected leaders.
Elijah Rockhold, 11, became the town's treasurer and quickly discovered that there is a lot of money to be made in finance.
"We're very comfortable," said Elijah, who said he and partner Keely Foster, 12, are raking in profits from the fees they charge for withdrawal, deposit and checking accounts. As a real banker would, Elijah and Keely are careful to check their numbers.
"We're going through it now for the third time," said Elijah, who had originally planned on selling computers during the entrepreneurship camp. He decided no one could afford computers and a bank would be better since everyone needs the bank.
Both Elijah and Keely said the camp was fun and informative.
"I always dreamed of starting my own business and I think this will help," Keely said.
Elijah said it is all real. Everything sold during the week, whether it is books or cookies or a T-shirt with a unique design, is sold for good.
Alyssa Doering, 12, and Vanessa Brock, 11, decided to sell cookies, popcorn balls and dog biscuits at a business they dubbed "Sweet Creations."
Vanessa said it seemed like a sure bet since there are a lot of kids at the camp and kids like sweet things. They don't have to do much marketing since the trays of cookies and popcorn balls, made at home by the girls, speak for themselves.
Keely, one of their customers, said the treats taste great.
A group of five kids launched their own T-shirt design business. Different T-shirt designs are created on an iPad. Customers can view the designs on the iPad and pick one they like. The design is then printed on a T-shirt the child can buy and take home, said Renee Snyder and Paul Jameson, two of the partners.
Grace Holter, 10, and her partner started their own bookstore, borrowing some marketing ideas from real world booksellers. Their marketing gimmick is to give a free bookmark for every book sold.
During the camp, kids also used iPads to create colorful print ads and 30-second commercials to market their new start-ups and they were responsible for hiring employees and keeping track of sales and expenses.
Striegel said registration fees were also waived for the camp, which normally would cost $70. The camp was sponsored by the Severson Entrepreneurship Academy at Minot State University, North Dakota Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program and by the North Dakota State University Extension Service's Center for Community Vitality. The program started in 2006 and is held in 12 communities, but this is the first time it was held in Minot. Striegel said he didn't want to cancel the program, especially since it was the first time it has been held in Minot. The last camp of the season will be held in Bismarck in early August.
Striegel said he plans to hold the camp in Minot again next year.