Entrepreneurship camp teaches local students business skills, provides hands-on experience
Program part of countywide effort to "grow our own"
Featured prominently on the main street of every town in the county are a number of small businesses and locally provided services, some of which will serve as inspiration for a handful of local teens participating in this weekend’s Entrepreneurship Investigation Camp.
The Entrepreneurship Investigation Camp, hosted by Grand County Economic Development, Grand County Higher Education and the Grand County school districts, is a three-day camp that teaches entrepreneurship and business skills to teens in grades eight through 10.
“They’re going to develop a product or service that they want to sell and then the overall concept is that they learn (…) the legalities of being an entrepreneur and owning a business,” said DiAnn Butler, executive director of Grand County Economic Development.
Participating students will start their investigations on Thursday, when they will develop a product or service to focus on throughout the weekend. On Friday, the group will hear from local business leaders and tour businesses in Grand Lake to learn about what it takes to own or start a business. Then on Saturday, students will present their final pitches to the public.
Butler said her office previously offered the camp a few years ago, but didn’t have the funding to do it annually. This year, Grand County Economic Development and its partners received grant money to offer school to career programs, including the Entrepreneurship Investigations Camp.
A major focus of the camp will be imparting skills such as marketing, financial responsibility and an understanding of the marketplace, which can be utilized by students regardless of what path they choose or industry they go into.
“I think it’s really good, even just in the personal sense, to understand how to manage money, understand products and service, and all of us have to market to some degree,” Butler said. “The more you understand the logistics, that it isn’t just selling (a product) or whatever it is you do for a living, but there’s all these other skill sets and you have to be multifaceted to run a business.”
The camp is also a good way to get students thinking about their future, Butler said. Whether they are looking to go to college or not, the camp provides a chance for students to explore their passions and gain a better understanding of business.
“I hope it opens up their horizons to more possibilities and then, for students who maybe don’t see a pathway to college (…), I want them to know there are still unique opportunities in Grand County,” she said.
Butler said the camp aims to show the diversity of opportunities in Grand County and showcase the vibrant and growing business sector. Students will get the chance to tour both retail and food businesses, as well as speak with local leaders offering unique products or services.
“We want the kids to really see the opportunity to be their own boss and entrepreneur and that there’s a plethora of opportunities in Grand County,” she said. “I’d like for them to realize that there is a diverse amount of opportunities, should they choose (to stay) or even if they go away, they can always call this home and it’s a place they can come back to and be able to establish and make a living here in Grand County, so we’re growing our own.”
Once students complete the camp, they will be eligible to join the entrepreneurship club at Middle Park High School, where they can build on what they learned at camp.
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