Dylan Kurt: Business Horizons gives students first-hand experience

Guest post by Dylan Kurt.

I was fortunate enough to attend Business Horizons, a 5 day long camp at Central College where students learn about life, leadership & business, meet amazing people, and have fun. 

When students first arrive, they get a bag full of “goodies” along with their binder. The binder provides students with information on what their schedule will look like each day. Each student is assigned an “industry,” a team in which they will build a product/service. This year Business Horizons decided to have each industry create a product/service based around the problems teenagers face. Students then create an investor pitch, an infomercial, and a trade show they will present on the last day of the camp. 

Typically industries get 2-3 industry meetings a day to work on their projects. Outside of that, days consist of speakers, networking, team building, and fun challenges. 

My two favorite speakers were: Adam Carroll and David Williamson. 

Adam Carroll provided everyone a copy of his latest book Mastery of Money for Students. His speech, informative and engaging, had the crowd fired up, ready to earn, learn, save, and invest. A quote that stuck with me was when he said, “Every single one of you should be pursuing mastery in at least one thing in life.” He helped us realize the difference between a savings account and a put & take account. I was lucky enough to be able to chat with him after his speech. He’s a really wise and friendly man. I’d recommend reading his books or trying to attend or watch a speech of his

David Williamson, a creativity consultant, spoke to the students on the very first day. He made some great points in his speech, such as:

  • Have the courage to live what you’re learning.
  • Withstand the thought of failure.
  • There’s no limit to what you can do if you understand your “why and how.”
  • “Courage is the ability to be where you are.” – D.W.  Wow, the importance of being present and in the moment. That’s powerful!

The “Advisors” are volunteer business professionals who are down to earth and great to connect with. Two are assigned to each industry. They make sure projects are going smoothly and provide great feedback. 

The “Ambassadors” are volunteer students from the previous year’s Business Horizons camp. An ambassador is selected from an application process and assigned for each industry. Their job is to ask engaging questions and to help students figure out problems on their own.

Students face problems and exciting challenges when partaking in key activities

Key Activities include: The “Junk Game”, Team Building under the lights with the Iowa National Guard, JA Titan Challenge, Bowling Night, Business Visits, Leadership Reaction Course (Camp Dodge), Lunch with Entrepreneurs, BH After-Hours (choice of bonfire, movie, indoor/outdoor games, etc), and Graduation (the last day full of presenting and awards). 

Challenges: 

  • Creating a product/idea, alongside an investor pitch, infomercial, and a trade show experience all in a few days. 
  • Camp Dodge had some challenging “missions” we had to complete.
  • Making sure everyone in our industry was working + having a chance to speak up (i.e. not screaming over each other)
  • The first mission our industry completed at Camp Dodge was one where you weren’t allowed to speak.

All of the challenges throughout the week were solvable and beneficial for us to learn to work either through, over, or around them. 

Some of my other key takeaways: networking is a great skill to practice, the importance of teamwork, you won’t know unless you try, and business is fun! 

I networked every chance I had, created some awesome friendships, and had fun doing it! Woah, what even is networking? Well, networking is creating friendships, improving communication and social skills, meeting new people, being able to learn from different people with different backgrounds, bouncing ideas from each other, and feeling the fear of action vs. the fear of regret. 

Being sort of a “lone wolf,” I typically try to do things by myself. Given the projects we had alongside the shorter amounts of time, I really saw the importance of teamwork. We wouldn’t have accomplished what we did without everyone pitching in. 

I didn’t know whether or not Business Horizons was going to be a “borefest” or one of the most fun-filled weeks of my life, and I’m glad it was the latter. The easiest way to see if you will enjoy something is to try it out!

Why should you attend?

There exists a bad connotation out there where people say “Business Camp” and think of a boring, lame camp where your parents force you to go. (Funny story, some people there were forced to go, and then claimed to have had the time of their lives.) I would say “Business Camp” at Business Horizons was easily one of my favorite weeks of summer, and I’ve had a great summer overall. The people you meet, the information you learn, and the experience in its entirety is priceless. Looking back I’m still a little shocked at how much fun I had and how many friendships I created with students and adults alike. It’s a camp full of fun, positive vibes, and an endless amount of laughter. If you want to attend, have the time of your life, go on a week-long adventure meeting amazing people, tackling exhilarating challenges and learning information that when applied can transform your life, then yeah, I’d recommend Business Horizons. 


Dylan Kurt will be a senior next year at North Linn High School. He enjoys spending his time reading, writing, playing basketball, and staying busy with his entrepreneurial endeavors.