In this age of entitlement, many people argue societal norms tell us we are owed certain privileges simply because we exist. Parents have unknowingly fed this sense of entitlement by providing children with far more than what is necessary, and they are now seeing undesirable behaviors associated with this idea of deserving something for nothing.
That is what inspired financial planner Amanda Burke and Rebecca Lindhout, minister of children and education at Antioch Baptist Church in Mamers, to work together to create Camp Change, a five-day counter-culture course in the basics of finance, geared toward children ages 6 to 12.
Children at Antioch Baptist Church’s Camp Change learn about basic finance. The Mamers church teaches children ages 6 to 12 what it is like to earn money, to spend money and to use their financial resources to glorify God.
Burke and Lindhout designed Camp Change to teach children what it is like to earn money, to spend money and to use their financial resources to glorify God.
“Current culture teaches our children instant gratification,” said Burke. “At Camp Change, we show children what it’s like to earn money, just how much it costs to run a household and also to spend responsibly and to give. Teaching children these core principles early on will help them develop the necessary skills to be faithful stewards later in life. Education is key.”
Lindhout saw Camp Change as an opportunity to teach biblical principles like tithing but also to address a deeper spiritual matter – contentment.
“Camp Change was born out of conversations with parents about great kids who are greatly discontent and entitled,” Lindhout said.
“We talked about how enough is never enough and how there’s always that one more thing that our children think they need to have to be happy. We thought, ‘how did we get here?’”
Lindhout said she and Burke started with a list of questions: What would it take for our kids to understand the value of a dollar? How would their futures realign with God’s purpose for them if our children learned responsibility to God and others through their finances? How much peace would our families experience if our children knew what it means to be content apart from “things?”
“What we were trying to teach them was to be responsible stewards of what God has given them by teaching them contentment with God means we don’t have to fill our lives with things,” Lindhout said. Things aren’t “where we find our sense of peace and contentment, wholeness and goodness.”
Burke said as a financial planner, she sees how early ideas about money shape each person’s financial future.
“Children often demand more than the necessities from parents,” Burke said. “Because of this idea of entitlement, they never fully develop into financially stable adults later in life. And parents are feeling pressured to conform to the cultural standard of providing children with much more than they need.”
Camp Change was held each day for a week in June from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registration was capped at 30 campers who started each day with a time of worship. Lessons about money were enhanced with games and creative activities.
Lindhout said the curriculum for the camp was put together from a combination of resources, such as Financial Peace Junior, MoneyPalooza!, Kidpreneurs, Piggy Bank University and “a lot of it was just self-created.” They taught students “in very kid-friendly ways, very adult concepts like responsibility and gratitude.”
Throughout the week, students played Moneypalooza!, a free budgeting resource and board game from Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, in which they earned a commission for their “jobs” around the church and had to decide how to use their money. To win the game, students had to pay God first through tithing 10 percent, put money into savings and spend responsibly. By the end of the week, many students opted to give a percentage of their earnings to the church for the installation of a playground.
A major theme of Camp Change was educating children on the concept of needs and wants.
“Children don’t fully understand the financial obligations their parents must meet to keep a home functioning,” Burke said. “If we can shape our children’s expectations and model healthy financial behaviors, we can begin to change our culture.”
At the end of the week, campers used a portion of their earned commission to spend on a field trip to Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh where campers had fun learning and playing in the Moneypalooza! exhibit, among others.
Lindhout said they plan to host the camp again next summer. “We felt God working and saw what works and what didn’t work. Our goal for next year is to create more of our own material.” Burke is also excited about the camp and is already meeting with leaders to discuss next year’s camp. “The goal is to double the numbers,” Burke stated. “ We just need more volunteers next year.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Krista Pierce is a stay-at-home mom and former journalist. She is a member of Antioch Baptist Church in Mamers. Laura Crowther, Biblical Recorder editorial aide, contributed to this story.)