Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week: more than just a business camp

Fourteen Tyrone Juniors attended this educational and fun summer camp in 2013

At PFEW, each person is put into a company. Companies were letters A-F, and each company had a product they had to make. In this photo is my company, E1. We were in charge of making backpacks. We plan on reuniting sometime this year.

Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) is an annual summer business camp that hosts more than 500 high school students from across the state of Pennsylvania.  At PFEW, high school juniors and seniors experience a unique and challenging opportunity to learn what it is like run their own business.

Students who participate stay in dormitories on the campus of Lycoming College or the Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Students are divided into teams and compete with dozens other student run teams to see who can run the best company and create the best product.

At the end of the week the best company is rewarded with a real share of stock presented by PFEW. Everyone who attends the camp also gets a $20,000 scholarship ($5,000 for 4 years) to attend Lycoming College.

This past summer fourteen current juniors from Tyrone High School attended the camp.

So what is PFEW really like?

“The camp was educational, but actually a lot of fun,” said Naomi Walk, a junior at Tyrone High School.

“My company was assigned to make backpacks, and I was marketing president. My favorite part was making new friends. Within the matter of a week, I became close to a range of people that I still keep in contact with today,” said Walk.

If I could go back to PFEW, I would in a heartbeat. It was the best week of my life.

— Naomi Walk

At PFEW students become a part of one of the 24 companies, each with 20 students. There are three companies per manufacturing category, and the three companies compete closely with one another, each aiming for the best product with the highest profit and most sales.

In the end, students competing with all 23 companies for the prize of best overall company.

The students in each company elect their own CEO. The CEO can then elect a vice CEO or finance and marketing presidents. Generally, the CEO elects the students who having strong mathematic skills to be a part of finance, and the creative students are placed in marketing and advertising.

Over the course of a week, students also listen to many motivational speakers on the topics of self-worth or business qualities. They are given several tips on how to run their business, but only a select few materials to make their product prototype with for the final advertising presentation.

Some companies make shoes, others backpacks and cellphones, and even toothbrushes.

In order to present your product at the end of the week to judges at the marketing/advertising presentation, students had to build a prototype. The only materials given to the students were four markers, one pair of scissors, unlimited paper, and two rolls of tape. Students were forbidden to use any other materials or get any extras.

“[PFEW] gave me a quick glance into the business world,” said Samantha Johnson, junior at Tyrone High School, “and college life at the same time. I would go again [if given the opportunity].”

“Out of all the speakers I heard while at the camp Jeff Yalden and Dean McKnight were my favorite,” said Tyrone student Naomi Walk.

“They taught me that there’s more the world than money and popularity. Their speeches are something I will never forget… [I] learned a thousand life lessons, but more importantly, [I] made a thousand memories that I will always cherish. I think it’s an experience everyone should have. If I could go back to PFEW, I would in a heartbeat. It was the best week of my life,” said Walk.

Naomi Walk and Samantha Johnson believe that PFEW is a camp everyone would enjoy, whether they are interested in business or not.

PFEW representatives will visit Mr. Cammarata’s civics classes in the winter.

Current Tyrone sophomores and juniors who would like to attend should see Mr. Cammarata for more information.