My six weeks as a Junior Achievement volunteer

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I have always enjoyed working with Junior Achievement on their "JA in a Day" program in Las Vegas, a concise day long of fun at a local elementary school.  After completing a session in the spring I inquired about doing something with the kids in the critical middle school age where they are really thinking about things like jobs, money and college.  

The 6-week summer program at Sahara West Library was the ticket, and I committed to showing up every Monday around lunchtime to hang out with 20-25 kids and teach them pre-done lessons.  This was a commitment as I had to make sure I could make it every week before starting.  I found the first couple lessons to be great material and I learned every week how I could be better in getting the kids involved with the games and most importantly, get them talking.

I was always impressed at how consistently some of these kids showed up at a library in the middle of summer.  Their parents were enthusiastically on board and some of the kids clearly spend much of their summers at the library which was cool to see (that's what I did as a kid). 

There were kids as old as 11th grade and as young as 6th grade.  There were not one, but two sets of twins in the class.  There were very smart outgoing kids and smart quiet ones and ones who just liked to talk a lot.  But I grew to really look forward to seeing them all.  In week three, they finally came out of their collective shells and started arguing over.. budgeting.  I was so happy to see that, kids passionately getting into it over something most adults never spend anytime on.  The last few weeks were the best as I got to know them and came a bit more prepared every week to get those juices flowing.

I was very sad to be done after 6 weeks, and the kids signed me a big poster thank you, and a couple kids and parents even sent personal notes of gratitude. 

I don't do it for gratitude, but just for those moments when the kids really get it, or perhaps more importantly for those moments years from now when they are getting ready to go to college and remember I told them how they could pay for it, or when they get a job I taught them how to "pay yourself first" by saving money. 

I consider an important mission of mine not only to reach kids but influence other entrepreneurs and business owners to do the same.   Visit http://www.JuniorAchievement.org to find out how you can help your local JA organization!

Shawn Cunningham

Owner, Cunningham Group at RE/MAX Advantage