July 11, 2008

Camp CEO to host youthful entrepreneurs

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- What do Paul Orfalea, Bill Gates, James Casey and Steve Jobs all have in common? Each was either in their teens or early 20’s when they founded the very successful businesses now known the world over as Kinko’s, Microsoft, UPS and Apple. Camp CEO at Southern Illinois University Carbondale next week will give 24 teens the tools they need to potentially follow in such successful footsteps.

Campers from all over Illinois and beyond will be on the SIUC campus Sunday through Friday, July 13-18. The youths will participate in team building exercises, learn marketing techniques, practice business etiquette, and participate in hands-on business activities throughout the week. What’s it take to make a business succeed? They’ll tour local businesses and learn from the owners how to make success happen.

Most importantly, they’ll put into practice all they’re learning. The teens will divide into three teams and try out their skills with a marketing challenge. During “Muffin Madness” at Cristaudo’s Restaurant in the Murdale Shopping Center on Thursday, July 17, each team creates its very own new muffin and then works to promote and sell their new product to the public. Which team will sell the most? The answer will become apparent in dollars and cents when the promotion ends.

During the final day of camp, participants will present their individual business plans for an audience including parents and peers. An awards ceremony wraps up the week and campers will depart with their very own business plans, briefcases, business cards, marketing plans, camp shirts and more.

“Most of them come in with a concept and leave with a full-blown business plan to implement when they’re ready,” said Emily Carter, director of Entrepreneurship and Business Development at SIUC

Both the Carbondale and Centralia entrepreneurship centers host and manage Camp CEO. This is the fifth annual camp and Carter notes that some of the camp’s graduates are still operating businesses they started at Camp CEO. For more information, contact the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center at 618/453-3805.