Persephone Saavedra and Jacob Arras show off the handcrafted fans they created for their business, FanCraft, with partner Brandon Frick. The students participated in Camp Innoventure at William D. Slider Middle School and successfully sold their products at the local flea market. (NMSU Photo)
More students around New Mexico and the region got a taste of what it’s like to create their own business this summer as Camp Innoventure expanded its reach, introducing entrepreneurial thinking and business concepts to middle school students from 19 regional communities.
Camp Innoventure, part of the Innoventure suite of K-12 entrepreneurship education programs from Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University, offers students in sixth through eighth grade a chance to see their creative business ideas go from concept to reality and gives them a taste of real-world competition for success.
The students who participate in this week-long camp get to brainstorm business ideas, write a mission statement, put together a business model and create a product to sell at a market in their community.
With support for New Mexico camps from a grant from the Colorado-based Daniels Fund, Camp Innoventure has already hosted sessions in Los Alamos, Rio Rancho, Deming, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Truth or Consequences, and Clovis.
The Santa Fe Camp Innoventure session was hosted by Meow Wolf, which provided space for camp participants to work, along with tickets for campers to enjoy Meow Wolfs unique immersive art experience.
“Hosting Camp Innoventure in the David Loughridge Learning Center at Meow Wolf was a true honor,” said Craig Thomas McAdams, education coordinator for Meow Wolf. “Witnessing these kids cultivate their creativity and make products to then sell at the flea market was incredible, and I think we will all remember this experience for the rest of our lives.”
Camp sessions continue this month in Alamogordo, Clovis, Farmington, Mesilla and Las Cruces. Registration is still open for several upcoming camps; dates and registration information are available online Tuition for the weeklong camp is $40, including materials, and scholarships are available for a limited number of student participants.
Also new this summer, Camp Innoventure partnered with the El Paso-based Success Through Technology Education Foundation to bring sessions to schools in El Paso and Tornillo, Texas.
Patty Hernandez, a college and career readiness teacher at William D. Slider Middle School, led the launch of the El Paso pilot program, which was fully sponsored by the STTE Foundation, allowing 14 students at the school to participate at no cost. She said the program was “awesome!”
“NMSU provided all the instructional materials and debit cards for the student projects,” she said. “Our kids learned many skills and started to think like entrepreneurs. They enjoyed making their products and selling the final product at the flea market.”
In addition to the week-long camps, Innoventure partnered with the TRIO Upward Bound summer program at NMSU and the State 4-H Conference to provide summer entrepreneurship workshops to students from Hatch, Alamogordo and Dona Ana County.
Innoventure Deputy Director Lydia Hammond, who oversees the Camp Innoventure program, said she’s always inspired by the campers’ creative ideas.
“Watching young entrepreneurs develop their product idea and take ownership of their business is part of what makes this program so special,” she said. “Supporting the students to make some money really brings in a unique element.”
Hammond said the partnerships with local organizations and community leaders were instrumental in allowing the program to expand to serve more than three times the number of students as the previous year.
“We could not have brought this hands-on experience to more than 260 students in New Mexico and El Paso without the hard work of the teachers and community leaders who served as camp leaders,” she said, “or the tremendous support and enthusiasm of our sponsors and partner organizations.”
In addition to support from the Daniels Fund, the Hunt Family Foundation and STTE Foundation, Camp Innoventure’s sponsors and partners included the Sandoval Economic Alliance, Luna County Economic Development Office, Capital Power and EDF Energy, Quality Center for Business at San Juan Community College, Meow Wolf, Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails West and SBDC offices around New Mexico.
Planning is already underway to continue expanding the number of Camp Innoventure locations next summer. Communities and organizations interested in hosting a session can contact Hammond at 575-646-5230 or email@example.com.
To hear from past Camp Innoventure participants, click here; to see participants at the 2016 Deming Camp Innoventure session in action, click here.
For more information about Innoventure programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, visit the Innoventure website. For information about Arrowhead Center and economic development in the region, visit the Arrowhead Center website.
Author: Lauren Goldstein – NMSU