Lemonade Stand Camp gives kids a taste of business

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Andrew Gottlieb and his business partners determined they would need money to start a small business.

So Andrew took charge and drafted a loan request.

“I told them that I know it’s a lot of money, but that we promise to pay you back,” Andrew, 9, said. “And I told them that the money we made would go to charity, so it’s for a good cause.”

Andrew asked for $35 to get his small business up and running, so he and his business partners could buy plastic cups, bags of ice and ample lemonade mix.

The group got $25 from the Bend, Ore., Park & Recreation District “bank.” Enough, they determined, to run a lemonade stand.

“I hope they take away a sense of entrepreneurial spirit from this camp,” said Molly Morton, instructor of the park district’s Lemonade Stand Management Camp. “I hope, too, that it gives them an understanding of work ethic and teamwork.”

On a recent Thursday, the campers put their business savvy to the test. After a week of learning about marketing, product testing and small-business loans, the four girls and one boy set up a lemonade stand in the halls of Cascade Middle School, selling icy cold lemonade to hordes of thirsty parents, park district employees and other participants in recreation programs in the building.

Earlier, they learned about promoting a business. They learned how to properly treat customers. They made and tested lemonade recipes. Then they developed a strategy for running their own stand. They chose a lemonade mix for practicality, charging 50 cents per glass.

“I wanted to charge $1 so we could make more,” Andrew said. “But it was majority rule.”

All profits from the stand would go toward the park district’s foundation, which provides scholarships for students to attend camps.

Students spent the hour before the stand’s midday opening making bright and colorful signs, cutting out handmade coupons and mixing the lemonade powder with water and ice in a cooler.

“I think it’s important to cooperate with your partners,” said Mia Mees, 7, dragging a marker across a sheet of fluorescent pink poster board. “Everyone has to agree on things for things to work.”

Mia and her friend Emerson Nori, 8, created signs advertising their stand and also created paper coupons: another business strategy the group decided to use to boost sales.

After the lemonade was made and signs were in place, the students moved out into the hallway, and waited.

A few minutes later, a small group rounded the corner, and students took their stations. Emerson greeted them and guided them to the stand. Andrew took orders and offered a buy-two, get-one free deal. Mia added ice to the cups, and Becca Uri, 11, filled them with lemonade from the cooler.

“I think it’s great they’re getting out there and learning these skills,” said customer Sarah Romish, who works for Bend Park & Recreation. “They’re quite the salespeople.”

Romish said the lemonade was very tasty.

Patron Ralph Uri agreed. “I was thirsty, and it was so hot outside.Lemonade seemed like a very good idea.”

Uri, who stopped by to support his granddaughters Becca and Amanda Uri, 7, said he hoped they were learning how to responsibly run a business.

A steady stream of customers kept the students busy for a half-hour. At one point, a long line of volleyball players snaked down the hallway.

“It can be really hard to run a lemonade stand,” Becca said. “People just kept coming. It was hard to catch up.”

Within 26 minutes, the students completely sold out of lemonade, having to turn away some customers. They raked in $83, $58 of which would go to charity once students paid back their no-interest loan.

Every student agreed they would run their own lemonade stand this summer, now that they know how.

“It feels good to give to charity,” Andrew said. “It’s nice to give other kids the chance to do something as fun as this.”