Financial Wizardry Among Our Teens!

Financial Wizardry Among Our Teens!
by William L. Bulla

Financial literacy is a life skill! O.K., so when do we learn it? Many learn it when they get out of school and start to earn a living. Some learn it later in life. Many men and women in our nation never learn how to make sound financial decisions.
What about creating financial wizards among our teen aged girls? Isn't that a great idea? Well, it is happening here in Washington County!
In Hagerstown, the Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council, Inc. has started a pilot program at Girls, Incorporated to provide girls, ages 13-17, an opportunity to gain knowledge and confidence in planning for their financial future.
Currently, thirty-two girls are enrolled in the course called "Growing the Green: Smart Girls Investment Club."
"I really enjoy the team activities which help me to learn more about investing and the stock market. Working together with my teammates to get an answer is a lot of fun," says a sixth grader from Girl Incorporated.
The weekly sessions include participation in the online Stock Market Game and activities from the Girl Scout's "Got Money? STUDIO 2B Focus Saving & Investing" book. Girls are working in teams of 3-4, over a period of 10 weeks, to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in NASDAQ, AMEX, and NYSE listed common stocks. The participants research stocks, study how the financial market works, choose their portfolios, manage budgets, follow companies in the news, and decide, when and what, to buy, sell or hold.
The girls involved in the pilot project are very excited about what they are doing and learning.
"I learned how to invest and what a ticker symbol is," said a 12 year-old Girl Scout named Kierston.
Christina, a 14 year old Girl Scout, said, "I was able to compare parent companies who sell similar items and try to determine which company to invest in."
"Oh, wow! I'm ranked first place," exclaimed 12 year old Girl Scout, Olivia. "I'm just going to hold onto what I have and not sell or buy anymore stock."
The teams are working with a trained facilitator, Jane Barvir, Membership Outreach Director for Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council, Inc. Ms. Barvir was trained at the Girl Scouts of the USA's (GSUSA) Edith Macy Conference Center in New York by NASDAQ Stock Market Game personnel and GSUSA staff.
"The girls are doing great. The teams are ranked regionally, competing against other Girl Scout Council teams in the region. At this time, the teams are ranked between 3rd and 30th place out of 68 teams in the region," said Ms. Barvir. "Of course the rankings change daily as the stock market goes up and down, or as new teams enter the game session, but the girls love to check the rankings to see how their team is doing. We even ranked the teams at Girls Inc. which gave it an even more competitive edge."
Kim Buchanan, Teen Coordinator at Girls Inc. said, " The girls say that they love the Stock Market Game. They really enjoy working on the computer. It is sometimes hard to find an activity that all of the girls enjoy, but the girls all told me that they like this game."
"This activity is one of several in the GSUSA's new direction for girls, based on a nationwide survey," said Ms Barvir.
Yes, STUDIO 2B is a new direction for girls 11-17 yeas of age. It is the result of a survey of thousands of teen and preteen girls, in and out of Girl Scouts, their families and volunteers. STUDIO 2B Focus book series covers a series of career oriented projects that mirror the interests of girls today with more options, flexibility and an enriching focus on a by girls, for girls approach. Girls say they need and value advise from adults, but want their experiences in STUDIO 2B to be one where the girls lead the way and adults serve in the role of advisor. Some other fields of interest in the STUDIO 2B Focus series include travel, dating, relationships, self-esteem, self-image, and environmental issues.
But wait a minute! Hey, guys! Guess what! The Girl Scouts are going to give you a chance to participate in the Stock Market Game in the near future. Yes, plans have been made for Ms Barvir to take this course to the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County in June during its summer camp. There both boys and girls will have the opportunity to sign up for the training as the two agencies partnership on the project.
"In addition to the Boys and Girls Club holding the project at camp, Girls, Inc. will, also, hold a second 10 week course beginning in June during their summer day camp," Ms Barvir said.
Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council Inc., Girls, Incorporated, and the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County are all member agencies of the United Way of Washington County. Over the years, they have worked in partnership on numerous projects to benefit the youth in Washington County.