October 17, 2008 - (An opinion from CAJump$tart Advisory Group member Elisabeth Donati, Founder of Creative Wealth International) - Three years ago we started offering our Camp Millionaire (formerly The Money Camp) to girls-only in addition to our coed programs. This past summer (2008) we also tried our hand at boys-only. Boy, what a difference a gender makes, no pun intended.
I have done a tremendous amount of reading and research and as much observation with regard to money and gender; specifically, the difference in how women and men 'look' at money and what it means to each of us. Pretty interesting stuff. I thought perhaps you'd find it interesting as well. I'm going to talk about kids first and then I'll talk about adults (us big kids).
With our kids' program, we realized early on that, that when we had all girls, we could have a fairly wide range of ages. We currently offer the program for ages 10 to 15 but we've had ages 9 and 16 and they do fine.
With our first boy's camp this summer, we only offered it to ages 10-12. Why the difference you might ask. Here's why...
Boys are competitive. Girls are cooperative. All I can say is it's a good thing that boys don't mark territories like dogs do! (That was supposed to be funny.)
Examples of what happens in the single gender programs: When we have a younger girl that needs a little help, one of the older girls naturally comes to her aid. I think we could correctly refer to it as 'mothering' and we see it every year. The older girls, though a little perturbed at first to be with a bunch of youngins, do just fine after the group begins to bond and form friendships.
The boys on the other hand...oh my. What an interesting experience that was. Our poor instructor was a wee bit on the overwhelmed side with their energy, constant teasing, vying for attention and just plain lack of focus. I think he expected them to pay attention but we all know that doesn't happen so much with boys in that type of environment, even though our program is very active.
Let me share with you a word I coined...boydem. This is what happens when you put boys in a room with desks (though WE don't use desks in any of our programs) and you force them to learn stuff when they don't see the point. This is what I submit happens in so many of our schools. My own belief is that boys need to be out learning how to run tractors, fix cars, build things, etc. Personally I don't think there are many true cases of attention deficit disorder. I do think we have a lot of teaching disorders.
And before you get mad... Yes! there are many GREAT teachers in the world. It's just that for the most part, they still either aren't taught how to teach to all three learning modalities...visual, auditory, kinesthetic...or they are so pigeon-holed into teaching a certain way (to a certain test), they don't have room to accommodate the boys or different learning styles.
What this ended up meaning for Creative Wealth and our Camp Millionaire program is this: Camp Millionaire for Girls works great. Camp Millionaire for Kids (both sexes) works great. Camp Millionaire for Boys? Needs more activity; even more than it already has. So, we're going to be working with a man who works with all boys to tweak the program before next summer. If you have ideas, PLEASE share them. We're open to all ideas and can't wait to make the program even more relevant and interactive for our little men.
OK, now you want the scoop on us big kids? Here goes...
First it's interesting to note that money means something different to women than it means to men. It's the main reason we started teaching our life-changing Creative Wealth for Women program. (NOTE: again, these are 'genderalizations', which means they aren't always true. It's just that for the most part, they seem to be true).
To Women: Money means security, freedom, the ability to choose, the ability to collect things (women are collectors ~ first teddy bears and then shoes).
To Men: Money means the ability to provide for self and others, success, control, power (men are traders, always looking at comparing the value of things).
To Women: Money is something we have to learn how to work with. It's often considered a necessary evil. The topic of money can lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame, anxiety and a lack of hope. NOTE: We hear that our programs "give me hope' more than any other comment!
How women learn best: in a nurturing environment of other supportive women (cute audio guys ~ Laurence ~ and Arif, our amazing financial advisor, are always welcome. Maybe because they are both cute!); in an room full of things to play with, other girls to tell stories to, games to play with others, and especially art projects that are relevant (our dream boards are perfect here). Girls also really love creating things together.
To Men: Money is a game; something to conquer (King Arthur, move over), something to learn the rules to and figure out. It's all about strategy and systems and patterns and negotiation.
How men seem to learn best (I can only say 'seem' because I'm not one of them so am still learning the distinctions): role-playing, competitions, contests, physical activities spread around the room, challenges. You get the idea.
So do you see any of the differences noted above in yourself? In your children? Did you find yourself saying, "Oh, I get it. That makes sense!" If you did, you're not alone.
In our Creative Wealth for Women program, we find these traits over and over again. We have learned that our ladies like soothing music, as well as dance music (as long as the guys aren't looking). They like balloons, streamers, decorating the room, learning about everyone's lives, sharing stories.
Remember, you may have a son who sees money as girls generally do and vice versa. This information is designed to give you some new ways of thinking in terms of how you, and your whole family, look at, perceive and handle money.
Bottom line, when teaching people about money, it's important to know what gender you're teaching and what money means to them. Good luck!
Elisabeth Donati, Founder
Creative Wealth Internation (formerly The Money Camp)