Young MBA program offers management insights to teens and preteens at NYIT-Vancouver

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      There is a vast array of specialized summer camps in North America teaching children and youths a broad range of skills.

      They include arts to filmmaking to entrepreneurship to the so-called STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

      Meanwhile, the new B.C. curriculum incorporates financial literacy into mathematics and career education

      But there may be only one summer program in North America that offers teens and preteens insights into becoming a manager in an organization.

      YoungMBA: Mastering Management for the Future is the brainchild of Sinan Caykoylu, a behavioural science expert and assistant professor in the NYIT-Vancouver school of management.

      He told the Straight by phone that the goal is to help groups of kids from nine to 12 and from 13 to 16 to learn communications, team-building, and financial-literacy skills in a fun environment over one-week periods.

      This is accomplished by playing cooperative board games at the NYIT-Vancouver's downtown campus.

      "It's not to bombard them with terminology or concepts," he explained. "The idea is no matter what they learn here—no matter what their career choices are down the road—this would benefit them."

      Caykoylu, who has his PhD from SFU's Beedie School of Management, launched a trial in the spring. Then in July, the YoungMBA camps ran each week, with a maximum of five participants.

      That's because most board games only allow up to six players and he plays the games with them.

      "I need to be able to manage everyone at the same time," he said. "With these cooperative games, they either win together or lose together."

      Pandemic is a cooperative board game in which participants try to stem the outbreak of diseases in different parts of the world.

      Key is to use games that don't eliminate players

      Caykoylu mentioned Pandemic as one example of a cooperative board game.

      It's based on the notion that four diseases have broken out in different parts of the world.

      Participants adopt the role of specialists—a dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher, operations expert, and quarantine specialist—and they have to develop effective responses before the pandemics get out of control.

      Unlike competitive games like Monopoly or Risk, nobody is eliminated early and has to sit out and watch what happens.

      "With these cooperative games, they either win together or lose together," Caykoylu said. "They have to play 'til the end."

      Concept is another game he's used in the YoungMBA camps.

      Developed by two French game makers and released in 2014, teams of players need to guess a concept based on hints provided through cards.

      "Think of Pictionary, but you don't draw pictures," Caykoylu said. "They're already drawn there. So you have to choose to explain whatever you have to explain from predrawn pictures."

      Not all the games at the YoungMBA camps, however, are cooperative.

      For example, Pay Day simulates money management on a monthly basis. If all the players end up in the red, the winner is the person who's in the least financially negative position.

      One of Caykoylu's favourites is Catan, which is a game of strategy in which players establish colonies on an island.

      It's also not a cooperative game but participants all play to the end, so nobody has to leave the game early.

      "You don't know if you're winning or losing until the very end of the game," he said. 

      One of the benefits of these camps is that they help teens and preteens become comfortable with being on a university campus.

      As the program grows, it will give chances to involve NYIT-Vancouver's graduate students in instructional technology and the MBA programs.

      "We have students who have a background with children or education," Caykoylu said. "So we can provide them with volunteering opportunities to help us out with the program."

      He's also thinking about offering the YoungMBA program at certain times during the school year.

      "When schools are closed for teachers' professional development, parents have a difficult time figuring out what to do with their children," Caykoylu noted. "So, we're saying, 'Hey, we're downtown. We have the classroom capacity. They'll learn something and have fun the whole day.' "