Young Americans Blog

A Young AmeriTowne Original

By: Katie Payer Published: November 25th, 2013
An original newspaper from the first Young AmeriTowne summer camp.

An original newspaper from the first Young AmeriTowne summer camp.

As of December 31, 2012, Young AmeriTowne had reached 300,009 students throughout Colorado over its 21 year history. As we begin to wrap up our 22nd year, I sat down with a 34 year old Denver native who attended the first AmeriTowne – and many after it. She has some amazing memories of her time in Towne.

Meet Becky…

Becky, tell me a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Denver, in Park Hill, and I attended Denver Public Schools. I left Denver for 10 years and moved back in 2007. I am currently working at Brent’s Place as the Program Coordinator. I got my Masters of Social Work from DU in 2012.

When did you attend Young AmeriTowne?
I don’t know if I completely remember, but I went the first year it was held at DU as a summer camp, so that must have been 1991. I attended for probably four years, and sometimes I attended more than one session in a summer. The way I remember how many times I participated is through all the different jobs I had.

And what were those different jobs?
The first year I was an entrepreneur, at the “entrepreneur shop.” We could apply to run that shop if we had our own business idea. I applied with another girl to be fortune tellers. We had to do a business plan and name the business and run it all.
I was also Mayor one year. Another year I was a waitress at the restaurant – I can still picture the restaurant.
I’m pretty sure I was a judge one year. And I was a newscaster one year, or some job with the news station.

What is the thing you remember most about your Young AmeriTowne experience?
The thing I loved the most that stood out was the day of running town. It was such a fun experience to be able to run something and have that power. That’s what I remember the most. We just got so into it. Everyone was serious about running the town successfully and being successful in their roles.

I remember wishing we could run the town for a longer time period. The camp was five days, and for the first four we learned all about running the town and finance, so the last day was spent running the town. I remember thinking, “Why can’t we just run town more?”

What is the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from that experience?

"The Young AmeriTowne News" front page from 1991.

“The Young AmeriTowne News” front page from 1991.


It’s hard to trace something I’ve learned to one thing, like a camp. But I do know that from a money standpoint, I have a sensible way of thinking about my finances. Even at a young age, I had an understanding of inputs and outputs, and I attribute that to what I learned in Young AmeriTowne.

I started my own business around the same time, and the funny thing is, I don’t know what came first. I started my own day camp in my parents’ backyard. When I look back at that, I see it was a full business: I had brochures and I did program evaluation and I kept track of income. At the time I couldn’t figure out where I learned that. Some came from my parents, but I think the preparation from Young AmeriTowne helped me conceptually run a business. I did that for 5 or 6 years. So yes, I think Young AmeriTowne played a larger role in my life and gave me a greater understanding of business. Now I’m able to see the bigger picture.

Do you think that your experience in Young AmeriTowne affected any of your choices in life, such as career or personal budgeting?
I do. I have a particular interest in program management and that entails understanding the bigger picture of how things work. I have to understand the financial side of things. To me, a program is like a mini business. So when I run a program I have to understand all the components that go into it. I have to know what “profitable” means for a certain business, even if it’s a non-profit like where I am now.

I think Young AmeriTowne played a larger role in my having that business sense. I was in marketing for a while before my current job. We did a lot of marketing in Young AmeriTowne, with our jobs and selling things. So yes, it played a direct role.

Anything else I should know about your Young AmeriTowne memories?
Twenty two years later, I still very much remember the camp. I still talk about it with my parents. Even to my parents it was such a life changing experience for me. I think what it did was give me a lot of confidence and empowerment to do things. That’s the greatest takeaway.
Did you attend Young AmeriTowne as one of our more than 300,000 5th graders? Tell us your story below, or message us via Facebook for an interview like this one.

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