On Tuesday, July 2, rising 10th graders in BUILD attended “Launch Camp.” Launch Camp is a BUILD tradition that prepares students for their transition into the BUILD Youth Business Incubator where they will turn their business plans into real businesses and receive essential supports to ensure they are eligible and ready for college. The primary goals of Launch Camp are to provide a rite of passage experience, to help students gain essential knowledge and skills, and to create a sense of team and family between BUILD students from our four partner schools. This year’s Launch Camp for 10th graders was once again held on Peddocks Island with the generous support of BUILD’s partner, the Boston Harbor Islands Alliance.
The day started out with a riveting portrayal of “Stone Soup” with BUILD staff doing the acting. The Stone Soup story got all the students thinking about what ingredient or skill will they bring to the Incubator and their teams. Each group received a small pot where they were to place their ingredient. They were then asked to combine all their skills and find one overall skill the group will bring to BUILD. By the end of the activity, the students began to see the benefits of Launch Camp and their role as future leaders in the program.
Following this activity, the students were instructed on different methods of decision making: vote, consensus, and individual. After the quick lesson, every team was given time to walk around the island. The students were asked to think about what the island has to offer and what types of products or services they think would attract more visitors. They were given time to brainstorm their ideas and then to create a prototype of their product or service.
The students were very focused on coming up with an idea that will really benefit the island and its visitors. Their ideas were all different, from spooky island events, to camp kits, to zip line tours, to historical scavenger hunts.
Each team presented and were judged by Melissa, an employee for Boston Harbor Islands Alliance, and Neil, a ranger for the island. Their pitches were judged on categories such as presentation skills, originality, and feasibility. The winning team came up with the “Peddocks Island Historical Scavenger Hunt”, a puzzle that would have visitors visit and search all around the island for historical sites, collecting pieces for their souvenir puzzle.
The last activity was “Dream Chasers”. BUILD students first brainstormed their academic, personal, and career dreams. Then students wrote their dreams on a a balloon to tie around their ankle. To represent the challenges of protecting their dreams in a life full of challenges, students then played a huge game of “tag” in which other students played the role of “dream crushers” who tried to pop their dream balloons. During the review of the activity, the students realized that although it would have been easier to make their balloons (which represent their dreams) smaller, they saw that they could have bigger dreams as long as they worked hard enough to prevent others from discouraging them and ruining their dreams.
Several students were asked about what they enjoyed most about the day and what they are looking forward to as sophomores in BUILD. Max enjoyed “presenting with new people outside of [his] team”. Helina was looking forward to “actually starting a business”. George liked being able to” walk around and learn” and looks forward to “improving on his product”. At day’s end, students, mentors, volunteers and staff boarded the boat back to Boston with a feeling of teamwork and excitement for the future.