Coming from Philadelphia, Delaware County and the state of Delaware, 18 high school students have attended the program free thanks to a $10,000 grant from the International Paper Company Foundation. It has paid for materials, field trips and staff time.
``Camp'' programs with occupational themes are nothing new at Widener.
An engineering camp, where teenagers make concrete blocks and launch soda-bottle rockets using water and pressurized air for thrust, is in its fourth year. It is so popular that its August sessions have a waiting list, according to Jerry Maffia, chairman of Widener's chemical engineering department.
The business camp is designed to give students a look at the world of commerce along with the university's business curriculum.
Students have learned some fundamentals of marketing, accounting, partnerships and taxation, and they have taken field trips, said Joe Hargadon, an associate accounting professor and program coordinator.
``We talked about target markets and strategies, how to consider costs and economics,'' Hargadon said.
Working in four competing teams, the business campers also got hands-on experience Wednesday, setting up their own ventures with inventory they purchased.
Participants got to keep profits after they felt the pain of paying mock taxes and fees, Hargadon said.
Using a $25 loan from the camp bank, for example, Aaron Smallwood's team created a snack shop. The team hawked chips, crackers and gum to incoming freshmen gathering in the student center for orientation programs. Two other teams likewise figured snack sales were the way to go.
But they were still selling crackers as John Hogan's team sold out of its ``official Widener starter kits'': wire wastebaskets priced at $5 and packed with small essentials such as pencils, toothbrushes and notebooks.
``We decided to do something different,'' said Hogan, 17, of Upper Darby.
Hogan, who will be a senior at Monsignor Bonner, figured his team made the right decision when it moved its sales table closer to its competitors to tap the gathering of potential customers.
Little did Hogan know that Joseph DiAngelo, dean of Widener's School of Business Administration, was planning a little business lesson of his own.
``Official Widener starter kit?'' the dean mused, a mischievous smile crossing his face Wednesday as he studied a marketing sign touting the merchandise.
Hmmmm . . . the university never authorized such a kit, remarked DiAngelo. ``We're suing them tomorrow.''