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Teaching after the bell: virtual camp aims to instil entrepreneurial spirit in kids

'Entrepreneurship really rewards people who aren’t afraid to take risks, and aren’t afraid to fail. And that is difficult for people to teach,' says founder of virtual entrepreneurship camp for youth
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Jessica Flynn is marrying her experience in entrepreneurship and background in education to create an entrepreneurship camp for kids.

A Collingwood woman has set out to foster big dreams and entrepreneurial ambition in kids.

“Thinking like an entrepreneur is about dreaming big. Getting to know yourself better and know your zone of genius,” said Jessica Flynn, founder of After the Bell with the Flynn Collaboration. “But it’s not something that is really touched on in the school system.”

After the Bell was created to inspire and empower youth through the exploration of entrepreneurship. The enterprise will launch this summer with its inaugural Be Your Own B.O.S.S. Virtual Entrepreneurship Camp. 

Running live from July 5-31, the camp includes group mentoring sessions and self-paced content launched online at the beginning of each week. 

Each of the four weeks will focus on a key component of being your own BOSS: Believe anything is possible; Own that anything is possible for you; Shape your ideas; and Ship it out to the world, said Flynn.

An educator by trade, Flynn has been a high school teacher for over a decade. When she moved to Collingwood in her early 20s, she was exposed to entrepreneurship as well. 

She started her own event planning business with a friend, and since then has dabbled in everything from real estate to skincare — all while teaching at Our Lady of the Bay Catholic High School. 

“I am definitely a seasoned entrepreneur and business owner by now. I have been looking to spend more time in entrepreneurship than teaching, but I just love teaching so much,” Flynn said.

This is the first time she will marry her entrepreneurial spirit with her background in education. 

Through teaching, Flynn started to notice gaps in the school system that don’t allow enough room for self-exploration. She also thinks some of the education is dated and doesn’t reflect the modern working world. 

“Entrepreneurship really rewards people who aren’t afraid to take risks, and aren’t afraid to fail. And that is difficult for people to teach,” said Flynn. “So I wanted to give people the space to play and fail and try new things while the stakes aren’t so high.” 

So she created the camp to basically be an extension of the high school careers course.

“It is the shortest course, but it is probably the most important in my opinion where you get to know your skills and strengths and start exploring,” said Flynn. 

Flynn, who is also a member of the Downtown Collingwood Business Improvement Area (BIA) and a Girl Time Inc. ambassador, is very community-focused. 

“I just love Collingwood so much. It’s given me so much of who I am today in terms of following your passions,” said Flynn. “This community is packed full of people who want to live a certain way and are not afraid of taking risks.”

She has enlisted five other seasoned entrepreneurs to share their insights with the kids who attend the camp as well. Her goal is to make the camp a staple every summer, in addition to quality content and other offerings throughout the school year. 

“So much of high school is what happens in between classes and outside of the curriculum. And right now, our youth are being robbed of all of those experiences,” said Flynn. “So this is also an opportunity to get some of that, and the different socialization parts of it.”

“And feeling inspired and hearing it from other adults who are actually doing it,” she added. 

Her goal is to enlist 100 kids for the camp this summer. It will run in two different cohorts, one for children aged 13-15 and the other for 16 plus. The camp costs $249 USD (approx. $300 CAD) for the four weeks, and includes lifetime access to all of the online content. 

Flynn also said that she understands children are “Zoomed-out” after this year, so she plans to incorporate a lot of elements off-screen as well. 

“My goal is to show them that if they really dream big and take control of their future, that everyone can be happy, even when times are turbulent and you feel like you don’t have control,” said Flynn. 

Find out more about After the Bell or get added to the waitlist for the Be Your Own B.O.S.S. Virtual Entrepreneurship Camp through the Flynn Collaboration.

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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