B’s Dance Camp is the result of Summer Company, which is an opportunity for students returning to school in the fall, to try their hand at running a small business over the summer holidays. They are given business training, assisted to write a business plan and receive up to $1,500 for start-up and an additional $1,500 upon completion. Summer Company provides students a taste for entrepreneurship, provides experience and awareness of the strong local business community.
Below is Brooklyn Benn’s story.
B’s Dance Camp
“My business is B’s Dance Camp. I wanted to work with Emma Cronwright but the Small Business program doesn’t allow partnerships, so we set up separately. I do the dance part, teaching kids jazz, ballet, hip hop and tap and Emma does art and outdoor activities because they don’t dance all day. The kids range from 4 to 13 years old . We have three age groups, but if, after the first day, a five-year old is bored in their group because perhaps they’ve been dancing for a couple of years, we’ll move them up.
Emma and I are from Napanee, and we do the camp at Newburgh Hall, just north of Napanee. We’ve both been dancing for 15 years, competitive dancing, and this year our studio, TDS Dancing, closed. We used to work at the TDS summer dance camps and we knew that parents and kids were going to miss them, so we had the idea to start our own. Ours is much cheaper than other camps in the area. In fact some parents have signed their kids up for all four weeks!
We’re doing four one-week camps in July and August. We found Newburgh Hall through a friend in Stone Mills Township and we got it at a good price. It has a stage, so we do a show every Friday to show parents what the kids have done in dance and artwork.
We made our price affordable because we are still students, and it is working for us. We even had some kids choose us over hockey camp which is $400 a week. We’ll probably do this again next summer, but it’s really just a hobby. I used the grant money on hall rental, supplies, prizes and refreshments – also all the paperwork and photocopying for registration!”
More About Summer Company
Summer Company is a core program of the Small Business Centre running annually from mid-May to August 31. It is an opportunity for students returning to school in the fall, to try their hand at running a small business over the summer holidays. They are given business training, assisted to write a business plan and receive up to $1500 for start-up. After they run their summer business, complete all group activities and administrative aspects of the program and return to school, they receive an additional participation award of $1,500.
For the second year in a row, a portion of the overall Quinte budget has been allotted for development of a satellite program to run in Picton. The 10 participants in the satellite group come from PEC, L&A and Tyendinaga. They range in age from 15 to 19. Businesses include henna tattoo, beads made from natural stone, dance and arts camps, native crafts classes, postcards of local landmarks, athletic wear, indigenous jewellery, property maintenance and sports accessories.
Applying for Summer Company is a rigorous process. By the time a student has been approved and receives their start-up grant, they have written a detailed business plan including a start-up budget and cash flow, signed several legal documents, registered the business, secured insurance if needed and set up a separate bank account. It’s fair to say that not everyone who expresses an interest in Summer company, gets through this process! Help is available in the form of Sandy Abbott, the Small Business Centre consultant Prince Edward/Lennox and Addington, but the burden of completion by the early May deadline falls on the students themselves.
“Looking back at participants I have worked with over the last 5 years, I would say Summer Company students tend to be leaders with high aspirations. These particular ten have started businesses which allow them to follow their passion and make money at the same time. They all intend to keep the business going when they return to school and one already has plans to hire an assistant for next year. The program is for students who intend to continue their education. While many restart the business every summer during university, most have plans to work in professional services or skilled trades eventually. The program builds entrepreneurial skills and experience which is a factor in many graduates becoming business owners eventually.”
The enthusiasm for ‘being your own boss’ rubs off on other kids during the summer. Friends and family of the Summer Company students watch their progress during the summer and Youth in general visit the markets and fairs where they sell their products. Many ask questions about how the businesses got started. After just 2 years, we have an unofficial waiting list of 5 students who are waiting to turn 15 so they can launch their own business with the help of the program!
“Working with the Youth in Summer Company is a highlight of my year as a small business consultant. In just 12 short weeks these kids turn a passion into a viable idea, complete as much documentation as is required of any adult and come up with practical ways to connect with customers and make money. They bring enthusiasm and positive energy to the process and the perseverance to tie all the loose ends together in a vey short business cycle.”