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Why it’s important for my boys to raise funds

I’ve recently helped my boys to do a bake sale to raise funds to pay for their school camp fees……

……and this is not the first time. In fact, it’s the second time we’ve done it.

Last year, we did our first bake sale to raise money to pay for my elder son’s first ever school camp. It turned out to be such a nightmare for me because it took up so much of my time and if I rembered correctly, it was right after a huge in-house teacher training course that I conducted for a kindergarten here and just before I took my teacher’s training courses online. It was right in the middle of two huge projects.

What was I thinking!

Well, I’ll tell you how it all started….sometime in Oct last year, my son returned home with a letter from school stating that he will be going on a 3 day, 2 night camp with all the details enclosed. It was an educational trip which all the year 4’s (8-9 year olds) were expected to attend. Also, attached to it was a consent form with the camp fees which amounted to about USD 100…..

……whiiiiiiich wasn’t a lot. I mean, I usually wouldn’t think twice about it.

But on that day, something in my head clicked and I sat my son down and I told him that I was super excited about him getting to go to camp….. back in my day, girls weren’t allowed to go out, had strict curfews and had to go everywhere with a chaperon which was usually their mother, let alone go to any stayover event.

Then, I drew his attention to the part of the letter stating the camp fees and I asked him if he had the money to pay for it. He quickly went to check his piggy bank and we counted all his coins (the ones he had collected from his dad’s pockets when it was left in the wash) and we found that we fell short. Like really, really short. Here’s how the conversation went…

Me: What are we going to do about this?
Son: Maybe I can save up the money!
Me: But you can’t because you don’t get an allowance
Son: Err……
Me: How about this? If you can’t save the money, why don’t you make some money.
Son: What do you mean?
Me: Well, we can sell stuff to make some money so that you could make enough to pay for your camp fees.
Son: That’s a good idea. But what can we sell? Our old toys?
Me: I’m not sure about that. Can you part with your old toys?
Son: Not really.
Me: OK, what else can we sell? How about food?
Son: Yes! We can sell food. People like to eat.
Me: Right. What food stuff shall we sell? What can we cook or bake that people will like?
Son: Maybe we could make muffins because I love muffins.

So, this is how it all started.

We made a list of everything we needed and split the shopping so that I my son could be in charge of getting the items on his list.

We made a list of everything we needed and split the shopping so that I my son could be in charge of getting the items on his list.

Which led to a whole lot more discussion till we decided on what type of muffins to bake, how we were going to set up our little project, what items we needed to buy and we also did a little market research to try to determine a price for our muffins. We even came up with a brilliant plan to make our offering more attractive and inclusive by choosing to make gluten-free, no-sugar-added muffins which would mean that diabetics and people who are gluten intolerant (which many of our friends are) will also be able to enjoy some of our food.

We made a huge batch and stirring the batter by hand was quite a huge task for a little guy (who's not so little actually) but never once did he complain about it.

We made a huge batch and stirring the batter by hand was quite a huge task for a little guy (who’s not so little actually) but never once did he complain about it.

Here's one of my son picking out one of the items on his list.

Here’s one of my son picking out one of the items on his list.

Prep work....decorating the muffin boxes with stickers, ribbons and little 'thank you' notes.

Prep work….decorating the muffin boxes with stickers, ribbons and little ‘thank you’ notes.

Last year, my son and I baked 36 muffins for that one bake sale which started at 7am one Saturday morning. We got baking and I remember him  stirring large batches of batter till his hand ached but never once did he complain….probably because I was doing most of the complaining…..I love baking and cooking but I hate cleaning up afterwards.

After baking endlessly, we packaged everything up and set off to deliver all our muffins by foot to our friends living nearby who had made orders the day before.

We spent more than an hour figuring out how much change we’d have to give to people if they got one set of three muffins or two or three. There was such a lot of calculation going on and we had to write everything down so that we didn’t have to do the math when the time came and we could focus more on being polite and as friendly as possible.

With that out of the way, we could finally move on to baking, decorating, packaging and delivering all our muffins. We were walking around our neighborhood for almost two hours to make the deliveries and it was really nice because we got to meet lots off people whom we’ve never met before. Both my boys also got to practice being polite and to start using some of the business etiquette we’d spoken about the night before.

The people in our little community are just absolutely fab! They were so supportive and patient with us. Many even tipped us generously which meant that more than half our collection that day came from tips.

You should’ve seen how my boys’ faces lit up when people give them money and asked them to keep the change. There was this one time when my son actually said “Are you sure?” twice when a well-meaning guy offered him a big tip.

After the last delivery, both my boys were completely tired out from all the baking, decorating, packaging and delivery (we must have walked at least 5 km that day) but not once did my elder son complain about being tired. He was glad it was all over and was eager to go home to see if he had made enough money to pay for his camp.

So when we got home and finally got some lunch, the boys sat down to count all the money collected that day and to their surprise, they had made more money than they needed for the camp. But not for long….hahaha (evil laugh)

Everything nicely boxed up and ready to be delivered.

Everything nicely boxed up and ready to be delivered.

Decorating the muffins with cream cheese icing and toping....this was the hardest part to do....without actually licking up the icing from the muffins!

Decorating the muffins with cream cheese icing and topping….this was the hardest part to do….without actually licking up the icing from the muffins!

 

11 boxes in total! 100% hand made with love!

11 boxes in total! 100% hand made with love!

I told them that they will need to return me the money that I spent to buy the ingredients for the bake sale. So for a moment there, they got a little worried. I showed them how to open up a simple spreadsheet which was basically a calculation of all the money we spent, the money we collected and the difference between the two.

After some calculations, they were so happy to know that they came up on top and still managed to make just enough money to go to the school camp.

The truth is that this little project required a lot of time in terms of brainstorming, market research, buying items for the bake sale, prepping all the packaging, working out change and most important of all, calculating profit and loss.

Quite frankly, I could have made much much more money if I spent all that time working rather than doing that bake sale with my boys. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because to me, this simple activity had opened up so many teachable moments that money couldn’t buy!

And if you read the list below, of all the learning processes that has taken place, I’m sure you’d agree too!

Opportunities to learn and practice:

      • Problem solving skills,
      • Risk taking skills,
      • market research skills,
      • planning and organization skills,
      • being money wise,
      • math concepts (addition and subtraction),
      • opening up a spreadsheet to calculate profit and loss,
      • being polite/social grace and courtesy,
      • business etiquette/good customer service,
      • self-regulation skills,
      • self-discipline,
      • self-motivation,
      • perseverance,
      • responsibility,
      • being appreciative for what they have worked so hard for.

All these skills were learnt and understood so easily because they happened in real life situations and in real time (not in a classroom according to a curriculum), because I ceased the opportunity when I had one and because I made it personal……it was a project that was close to my son’s heart, that he saw an immediate need for.

The moment of truth....tallying up the spreadsheet....

The moment of truth….tallying up the spreadsheet….

The moral of the story for my 9 year old?……You can overcome just about ANY problem in life if you problem-solved and worked hard enough.

What about you? How do you teach your children these skills? Do share your stories with me or any feedback in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!

Do you like this post? well, stay tuned if you do because I’m going to be updating you with our recent bake sale which provided for an expansion of all the skills addressed above…..but in ways that I could never have imagined.

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