Camp Money HA-HA Teaches Money Skills


Learning how to spend and save money wisely is a skill that some of us adults are still trying to learn. That is why it is so important to begin developing these skills while still in school—and as early as first or second grade. Recently, VSECU’s Lynette Kemp, communications coordinator, and Caroline Cross, members service consultant at the Williston Branch, brought a fun and interesting way to learn financial literacy lessons to four classes of first and second grade students at Allen Brook Elementary School in Williston.

Camp Money HA-HA is a hands-on, interactive game where students learn how to shop while staying within a budget. The game was developed by Kemp who coordinates the credit union’s financial literacy efforts. In Camp Money HA-HA, students pretend they are shopping for supplies to go on an overnight camping trip. The challenge is to only spend the money they are given—$200 in play money—to buy the items they “need,” such as a tent, sleeping bag, and food, as well as some additional items they may “want,” such as a fishing pole or a swimsuit.

Students “shop” by selecting cards imprinted with the merchandise for sale. Before they “check out” at the register, they add up their purchases to make sure they have not spent more than $200. If they have exceeded that amount, they must go back and return items or make trades for less expensive items. After the game is over, Kemp discusses the importance of spending only the money available for the shopping trip and how to make smart choices to stay within the budgeted amount.

“It’s really interesting to see what the students come up with and note that their shopping habits are already forming,” Kemp said. “For instance, on some items for sale, we offer two prices for similar items. Some students will go right for the less expensive ones, while others will put more consideration into their choices. Also some students will spend every last dollar of their $200, while others will take great delight in how much money they have left after they have checked out at the register. It’s always fun to observe how individual students shop, especially at such a young age.”

For more about Camp Money HA-HA, contact Lynette Kemp at