Lemonade Stands Lead Summer Camp Students to Business Skills

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – It’s a mainstay of summer in neighborhoods nationwide, but even a lemonade stand can set young people on the road to entrepreneurship. 

On Friday, groups from two local summer camps – one run by Beatitude House and another by the city of Youngstown’s parks department – set up their stands after learning about running a business from the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Youth Entrepreneurship program.

“It’s simple, but it has a lot of basic business principles behind it. You’re learning how to budget, how to create a product, how to turn a profit and, importantly, that you’ll see some losses,” said Tanisha Wheeler, director of curriculum development at the YBI. “Those are fundamentals that we want people to be learning early in life.”

Over two weeks, the summer camps have gone to workshops at the downtown incubator led by Wheeler and Stephanie Gilchrist, director of women and youth entrepreneurship. The course taught everything from basic financial literacy to how the groups could spend their profits.

“They have to learn that part of growing up is what they can do with their lives, whether that’s going to college, going to a trade school or being an entrepreneur and starting your own business,” said Jenne Battaglia, child wellness coordinator at Beatitude House. “Coupled with that is learning how to talk to people and finding purpose, whether that’s giving their time to volunteer or to donate from their profits.”

Beatitude House child wellness coordinator Jenne Battaglia gives directions to summer-campers Lucy, Zain and Mohammad.

For two of the Beatitude summer-campers, they say their share of the profits is going to be saved and could be used for their own lemonade stand at home.

“We’re going to split it up and save,” said Zain. 

Added fellow camper Mohammad: “We learned and practiced for this. We learned about earnings and how to start a business.”

For privacy, Beatitude House didn’t share the kids’ last names.

Over the past two weeks, Battaglia said, the most encouraging part of the program was seeing the students work together. Each student had their own ideas and recipes, but had to bring everything together to run a single lemonade stand.

“They were good about voting what name they wanted, about product testing and giving compliments to each other about their products. They’ve really come together and put together the pieces of everything they learned at the YBI,” she said. “We had nine kids who had to work together to come up with a name, with a recipe and figure out how they were going to run a business.”

This summer marks the first that the Beatitude House has had a special focus on entrepreneurship, she continued, which was combined with the camp’s traditional pillars of social-emotional learning and team-building. To help with their lessons, students have also gone on trips to Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology, the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County and Mill Creek Park.

Pictured: Zain and Mohammad in the Beatitude House summer camp talk with a customer at the lemonade stand.