More than a Business Camp

Opportunity, team work, and hardwork all encompass into one very unique summer camp called Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week. Since 1979, roughly 42,000 students from all over Pennsylvania have come together to participate and learn about the vast and ever-changing business field in America. Every year, the week long camp is hosted at either Lycoming College or Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA and many leave with many more skill sets than they expected in such a short amount of time.

The whole process is authentic. It starts off with an orientation like move-in where roommates meet and move into their dorm rooms. After a tour of the campus is given, the groups meet one another. Companies are established and simulate an operation of their own business with the help of a Company Advisor, which is an adult who has experience with entrepreneurship. Everyone works together as business executives to market an ideal product that can be either imaginative or realistic. Each group is assigned a product type ie; shoes, sunglasses, gps system, and clothing to name a few. The goal of the competition is to market a product that is innovative, profitable, and well- established. All aspects of business are covered in this program, from advertising, managing, accounting, and financing.

“My biggest takeaway was seeing how much work goes into running a business from the marketing to the financial side”, Junior, Jace O’Barto, who attended the camp last year added. “ there is a lot of time and effort that goes into making a product the best it can be“.

The experience is not only about the enterprise system, it’s about meeting new people. PFEW is full of chances to meet people with similar interests who have the potential to turn into lifelong bonds. “My favorite part was meeting all the new people from different schools across the state”, O’Barto said. “I still keep in touch with most of the today”.

The camp is different for everyone and offers different life lessons to each person. Some may learn that the have the ability to lead, others may realize untapped potential within themselves. Caitlyn Veneziale, a former attendee of the camp from Philadelphia, PA, said,  “It showed how much teamwork had to go into running a business”. No matter what, there is something that anyone can learn about themselves and others at Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week.

With plenty of time to unwind between the work within groups. But for some, the most lasting impression comes from the motivational speakers who dedicate their time to empower and motivate students. Each speaker at PFEW has a different story to tell and passionately share them. David Flood, a speaker from 2017 expressed ideas of hope. Love, and the importance of helping others. Other speakers talk on behalf of personal and business experiences.

Other events include a pool party, a dance party, and a final banquet. Veneziale’s favorite part was the Final Awards banquet. “Everyone in our company got to join together and show what all we worked hard for,” Veneziale said in regards to finishing the product and showcasing the completed project.

Caitlyn looks back fondly at her time spent at the camp as well as enjoying the business environment, “It wasn’t all serious, it was fun, we had inside jokes within our group that bonded us and gave us a good foundation while working as a team”. With her experience since 2017, she has been given a new perspective that’s aided her in college where she studies cosmetology and business.

The camp offers motivation, confidence, and work ethic. In addition, the program gives high schoolers a chance to see what it’s like to live on a college campus. The experience shows students how to be accountable for themselves and fosters independence. That sense of independence is something that students can take with them into their futures. Whether it’s business related or not, there’s something everyone can learn at Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week.