The 25th anniversary edition of RAYEC (Rotary Alberta Youth Entrepreneurship Camp) was another resounding success.
In 7 days, at the wonderful Eagles Nest Ranch south of Elkwater, Alberta, 59 youth campers (13-14-15), 7 Youth Leaders (previously campers) and 23 volunteers from Rotary, from Community Futures and from “Friends of RAYEC” completed “the entrepreneurship program” and returned home safe, sound and healthy.  And “richer” in many ways for the experience.
After each business day campers enjoyed hikes, field games, archery, riflery, The Burma Bridge the zip line, campfire nights, karaoke, skits, etc.
Starting Sunday, August 13th
  • The bus starts in Red Deer collecting campers all the way to Medicine Hat.
  • Teams are assigned and exercises begin to help them understand each other as individuals and gel as a team.
Monday – Tuesday
  • Brainstorming, product choices, create cash flow statements and business plans.
  • Campers present their business plans to 10 real bankers from Servus Credit Union, Medicine Hat.
  • Loans with interest rates and fees are negotiated – without the benefit of a team’s Youth Leader and adult volunteer.
  • Approximately $7,000 of loan and float money was approved.
Wednesday afternoon
  • A marketing game for most of the campers while the “Purchasing Manager” from each team goes to Medicine Hat and purchases everything they need for production.
Thursday and Friday
  • Production and two teams collaborate to put on the Friday night dance.  This is also a profit opportunity.
  • Families arrive for the Market.
  • Lunch for all.
  • Closing ceremonies and awards.  Sad good-byes, new friendships to maintain, and many looking forward to continuing the journey.
In addition to camper awards, several volunteers were recognized for their commitment to RAYEC – 10 years, 14 years, 15 years and even 22 and 24 years.  Our two 14th year volunteers started as campers.  One created a company and hired employees.  The second is self-employed now.  This program works.
What was produced and how much did each team make?
$831 – Fleece Blankets and bean bag neck pillows 
$751 – Rustic wood crib boards – winners of the annual Innovation Award
$350 – Mini hand painted bird houses and signs, and co-management of the dance
$798 – Co-management of the dance plus candles and wood charcuterie boards 
$141– Hand painted Reusable bags, water bottles, duct tape wallets
$452 - Bucket hats, socks, key tags 
$207 – Hand painted mugs 
$681– Journals, dish clothes, scrunchies 
$300 –Mugs, coffee and tea
$558 – Cookie in a jar, cookies 
  • Total earnings for all 10 Business Teams: $5069 (up from $3933 in 2022)
  • Average earnings for each Business Team: $506.90 (up from $393.30 in 2022)
  • Highest grossing Business Team: $831 (up from $702.00 last year)
One of the first-year Servus bankers did not realize that he was a bit out of line with the fees and interest rate charged until they were travelling back to the Hat.  Other bankers line up for this duty year-after-year.  It is so rewarding.  The same kind and generous banker showed up at the Market on Saturday to spend over 4 times what he had charged!  Well done, sir.
And now on to RAYEC 2024 with the support of more than, we hope, 21 Rotary Clubs, 9 Community Futures offices and 18  private businesses.
On a less positive note, we seem to have run out of opportunities to qualify for larger government and corporate grants.  They have traditionally brought in $15,000 to $20,000 a year to support camp costs.  2024 will require more contributions or larger contributions from our supporting organizations.
Keep in mind that campers attend without cost, the parents pick up from camp and represent the majority of the dollars spent at the market, and volunteers cover their own time and travel costs.
This is a very valuable part of the Rotary Youth program.  Key lessons are learned, and key skills carry on. This extends to leadership, group collaboration skills, presentation skills and more.
Brian Gentles
Rotary Club of Calgary Heritage Park
Ambassador – Rotary Alberta Youth Entrepreneurship Camp  RAYEC  
Voice and text:  403 651 7337