Camp Millionaire aims to teach financial prudence
In a consumerist society such as Hong Kong, children are bombarded by countless suggestions on how to spend their money. Armed with a well-charged Octopus card or even their own credit card - or a supplementary one from mom and dad - young people can spend significant sums of money in the blink of an eye.
'Many families in Hong Kong are relatively affluent and their kids have money to burn,' says Maggie Chau, programme director of Camp Millionaire.
'Some of today's youth have credit cards before they leave high school, yet they have never had a course on money and how to use it, or developed an understanding of how compound interest works on credit cards. Ultimately, they end up relying on their parents to pay off their cards,' she adds.
Chau runs a financial literacy programme called Camp Millionaire in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Its main aim is to change how young people think about money so they develop the habit of saving and investing first before spending.
'Children spend as much as they have in their pockets and end up saving little. At Camp Millionaire, they learn to reverse the order - they learn to save first and then how to plan their spending wisely,' says Chau.
Camp Millionaire is a day camp spread over four days, in which children, through games, role-playing, discussions, projects and other fun activities, are taught practical financial literacy skills.
Using multi-sensory teaching techniques, it caters for students with different learning styles and strives to keep them fully engaged throughout the whole camp. Complex financial concepts and ideas are turned into understandable chunks of information by engaging their ears, eyes, and bodies.
Participants take part in activities that involve budgeting, discovering ways to earn money, learning how to grow their money by investing, thinking and behaving like wealthy people, knowing when to use others' money, and giving back and helping communities.
'Camp Millionaire is not about teaching kids how to get rich quickly. It is about children learning how to take responsibility for their own financial matters and developing a core belief that they can improve their wealth by mastering control over the money they have,' says Chau.
Camp Millionaire is aimed at children aged 11 to 17 years and will be run during July. Each day of the course runs from 9.30am to 4.30pm. The cost is HK$6,380, or HK$4,380 for school-based programmes.