‘Summer camp’ at Discovery Museum to teach children the finer points of finances through fun

From left: Ed Troscianiec, curriculum chair, Bangor Region Leadership Institute; Jill Jamison, Area Board Operations Director, Junior Achievement of Maine; Niles Parker, executive director of the Maine Discovery Museum.
Courtesy of Jonathan Griffiths, Cashman Communications
From left: Ed Troscianiec, curriculum chair, Bangor Region Leadership Institute; Jill Jamison, Area Board Operations Director, Junior Achievement of Maine; Niles Parker, executive director of the Maine Discovery Museum.
Posted May 04, 2012, at 4:16 p.m.
Niles Parker, executive director of the Maine Discovery Museum.
Courtesy of Dan Cashman, Cashman Communications
Niles Parker, executive director of the Maine Discovery Museum.

BANGOR, Maine — Starting this June, children in the Bangor area will get a lesson in pinching pennies and being frugal through a new “summer camp” program offering at Maine Discovery Museum.

The camps will be geared toward children in grades one through six. First- through third-graders will be in the Piggy Banker program and Camp Moola is meant for children in fourth through sixth grades.

The camp offerings stem from a partnership between the Bangor Region Leadership Institute and Junior Achievement of Maine, a group that aims to educate K-12 students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through hands-on programs.

“Incorporating Junior Achievement’s curriculum with our summer camps just seemed like a natural fit,” said Niles Parker, executive director of the museum. “BRLI, Junior Achievement and the museum have worked diligently on these new programs to offer children a unique and exciting educational experience unlike any other in our state.”

The financial summer camps will teach kids about everything from credit and debt to how to fill out a check and balance a checkbook, according to Jill Jamison, area board of operations director for Junior Achievement.

“Our economy might suggest that we aren’t doing a great job of teaching our kids how to save,” she said.

In 2009, the museum tried a similar summer camp offering in which young students started their own societies. They worked out a form of currency; started businesses that made actual bubblegum, chocolate and other products; and even took out lines of credit, according to Trudi Plummer, director of education at the museum.

The camp’s directors even took students to area businesses to see what happens behind the scenes of real-life establishments, Plummer said.

Plummer said the class did well, but will benefit as it starts up again with the guidance and established curriculum of Junior Achievement.

“Even the first-graders understood the issue of accrued credit,” Plummer said, adding that the children balked at the idea of debt. “They gained the understanding that money isn’t free, credit isn’t free.”

Sessions start in late June and registration is open.

Junior Achievement and leadership institute representatives say this is likely to be the first in a long line of partnerships between the organizations and the museum.

For more information on the museum’s summer camp offerings, visit www.mainediscoverymuseum.org.

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