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Business Boot Camp Sets Foundation for School Year

With millions of things to think about when starting high school, these students chose to focus on business and entrepreneurial skills.

Kids across the world spend their summers playing sports, hanging out with friends and relaxing. Not these kids—they’re down to business.

Eighty incoming freshmen to Monta Vista High School attended the second annual DECA Business Boot Camp (BBC) for a week-long crash course in business August 6 to 10.

At BBC students learn about the basics of business including entrepreneurship, leadership and public speaking skills. DECA is an international organization that educates high school and college students in finance, marketing and business.

“We’re trying to lay the ground work for what we’re going to develop over the next four years,” said Vivek Ragharum, vice president of competitions.

Throughout the week students developed a business idea in teams to solve a problem. Students left the camp with the ability to think critically on their toes and engage with others in a team setting, said Ragharum.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. students learned about introductory topics from DECA’s advisor Carl Schmidt and specialized topics from various DECA officers. Acting as counselors, officers were always available to mentor students, providing a personal aspect to a week of information overload.

“It can be tough at times for them to absorb it all,” said Roshan Varadarajan, president.

Michelle Chan, executive vice president said that she mentored a student who was preparing for her role-play situation via webcam. The relationships that the students develop with officers and members of DECA carry over to their time at Monta Vista. 

As a newbie to the campus, those who attended BBC know where buildings are because of their one week on campus during the camp. Knowing that they have people to say “hi” to in the hallway will make the first week of high school a little less daunting for them.

The BBC alumni, as they are called, are one step ahead of the game when it comes to competitions and tend to work harder throughout the school year. Varadarajan said that he noticed a high correlation between being a BBC alumni and a competition qualifier.

“The kids keep their focus even when APs roll around,” said Raghuram.

Several of the BBC alumni, who are incoming sophomores, hold positions as officers because they had that push forward prior to school starting.

“We have so many opportunities for them to rise up as freshmen,” said Chan.

In September a freshman who attended BBC entered a competition with a video, marketing a mobile app to help people with their travel plans. From accommodations and transportation to restaurants and activities, everything was in one simple app.

After presenting to venture capitalists in Chicago, he won second place. Just one month before he was at BBC learning what it means to be an entrepreneur.

The camp’s cost of $249 includes resources such as two t-shirts, two textbooks and meals as well as membership to DECA for the school year, which usually costs $49. Students who go through the camp automatically become members of Monta Vista’s DECA organization.

Recruiting members to DECA is not a struggle for the organization. Last year 180 to 200 freshmen joined DECA, reaching 600 members. Students hear by word of mouth about how great of an organization DECA is and instantly sign up.

Chan said, “DECA is an organization you want to join when you come to Monta Vista.”

For more information, visit Monta Vista’s DECA chapter website

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