Loyola summer camp teaches stocks and bonds, not arts and crafts


Meet Mr. Sandy Platt, the dapper, 71-year-old owner of one of the largest oyster canneries in 1883 Baltimore.

He sits behind a large wooden desk, clad in a gray top hat and vest, starched white collar and maroon tie, and he scribbles notes in a ledger book before touring his factory to check on his employees as they shuck oysters, steam them in cans, and load them for shipment.

But this isn't 1883, and Mr. Platt is really Clarence Winston, a tenth-grader at Northern High School, who wants to run his own law firm some day.

And the employees at this downtown "factory"? Clarence's new friends at Loyola College's Money Management Camp, which started its second summer yesterday.

At a time when kids all over the country are going off to specialty camps to learn to hang 10 on a surfboard, work on their jump shots or sing in a musical, 30 kids are spending their time learning how to handle money.

The field trip yesterday, highlighted by the visit to the oyster cannery exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on Key Highway, kicked off the first of three week-long sessions of this overnight camp devoted to giving kids a head start in the complex world of modern finances.

Campers in the subsequent sessions will visit Alex Brown & Sons brokerage house and Signet Bank.

The first two sessions concentrate primarily on the basics of individual finances -- credit cards, checkbooks, personal ethics and auto insurance. The third session has more advanced workshops on stocks and bonds, job interviews and resume writing.

"We call it Money Management Camp, but it really boils down to responsibility and integrity," said Therese Steen, executive director of the camp and assistant director of Loyola's Center for Professional Development, which runs the program.

The campers, mostly between the ages of 12 and 16, live in Loyola's Wynnewood Tower dormitories forthe week. They play games, make friends and attend three lectures a day with such titles as "Becoming a Young Entrepreneur" or "Dealing with Foreign Currency."

The 1 1/2 -hour lectures are "organized with the same attributes of an adult business seminar, but I hope they don't feel that way," said Ms. Steen.

The national media attention the camp received last year has allowed them to triple the number of sessions offered as well as attract kids from all over the country.

Alexis Sherman, an 11-year-old from Southern California, first heardof the camp on NBC's Today Show last summer. Now she's in Baltimore learning about business while her mother and grandmother takes the opportunity to sightsee in Washington.

Alexis, like most of the kids at the camp, has dreams of one day entering the business world. For now, she just reads business magazines, dreams of going to Harvard, and works out the details on the invention she hopes will help net her first million.

"When I grow up, I want to invent a car by Toyota," said Alexis. It would be a minivan with "seats like a couch" and footrests that double as storage compartments. Toyota's luxury division, Lexus, would produce the car since it sounds like "Alexis."

For Ebony Nesbitt, a 12-year-old future lawyer from Sandusky, Ohio, Money Management Camp -- which costs $395 a session -- is a present from her aunt in Joppatowne. "I like handling money and stuff," she said. "It's kind of a treat because I made the honor roll."

Plenty of area kids are also attending the camp, including six who are sponsored by the city's "Futures" program, which identifies students at a high risk for dropping out and encourages them to stay in school and attend college.

Joe Brown, a 15-year-old who attends Forest Park High School, has been sponsored by Futures. He wants to be a surgeon and an entrepreneur eventually, and he hopes the camp will give him a bit of business savvy for later on.

But for Bryan Thompson, a 12-year-old baseball card collector from Columbia, the camp may pay more immediate dividends.

He mows lawns and does odd jobs around the house to earn some cash, but has trouble saving money. "I can never hold onto money very long, that's my problem," he said.

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