About the Business at Junior Achievement (JA) Biztown in Owings Mills, MD

"We need the mayor to sign this!"
"I need a picture of the mayor.!
"Is the mayor in?"
"Hello, mayor. We need a check."
"Mayor? Mayor? MAYOR?"

Yesterday, Ian and I volunteered at JA Biztown in Owings Mills, MD for a field trip with Kaden's school.
From the site:
Junior Achievement is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. We believe every child deserves an education in economics and finances in order to inspire and prepare them for success in a global economy.

The Mayor makes a quick appearance in the background at 0:46.

Our goal is to build young people’s capacity to spur economic development and contribute to America’s global competiveness. Junior Achievement helps prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate and effectively manage wealth, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace.

It was only right that the parents of the mayor tag alone. We were very proud of Kaden and his willingness to step into such a demanding role. You may not know this, but Kaden is quite shy in public (with family and friends...it's a different story). So, the fact that he decided to run, campaign and eventually take on the duties of being a mayor was a great accomplishment for him. We were extremely proud of his efforts.

The field trip started off a bit rocky. An unexpected forecast of black ice caused accidents all over the county. There were accidents on almost every major roadway. The minute we tried to avoid one route, we were soon faced with another delay. It was a complete mess. Imagine my frustration at the thought of sitting in the car with a full bladder. But I knew the children were excited to take this field trip, so I said a silent prayer to myself during the car ride in hopes that it would all work out.

It did!

The most remarkable thing about this field trip were the real-life situations. I watched Kaden go through a roller coaster of emotions throughout the day. He started off the day with anticipation once he arrived. None of the children had any idea what they were going to experience. His desk looked like this in the beginning:

Then, as the bills and requests started rolling in, his desk became a big sheet of papers. He was signing away on just about everything. I think I even saw a gray hair on his head.

Because of the delays on the highway, we wasted no time getting started with the day. Parents were assigned to various businesses through the "town" and given detailed instructions on the tasks for the day. I was initially in the TV/TECH room, but as it turns out, I was suppose to be at City Hall...with the mayor of course.

Ian was also in City Hall. He is the ultimate chaperone. The children just flock to him for some reason. He demonstrates patience, tackles the problems right away and enjoys a bunch of laughs with them. It's quite fun to watch. Mr. Harvey did a great job.

Kaden stood proudly in front of the entire town (along with the JA Biztown staff and volunteers) to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, give a few speeches, hand out awards to the citizens, and answer interview questions.

I thought was hilarious when the reporter following the mayor around asked a question and Kaden, who was signing papers during this interview, stopped and turned to her to say, "Didn't I already answer that question?!" Ha! Spoken like a true politician.

The children were free to roam throughout the town to sell items for their business, make deposits at the bank, get signatures on the required forms and visit the D.J. booth to make special song requests and shot outs. Most of these things came with a price.

Using their payroll checks, the students had to keep track of their finances and make wise decisions on just what to purchase with their hard, earned money. Whether it be a bottle of water ($1), a pair of 3-D glasses ($3.50) or a shout-out to a fellow citizen ($1), there had to be some form of monetary exchange. It was a great lesson for them.

Guess what?! The mayor became so wrapped up in his work, he forgot to purchase insurance from Care First. During the day, he was involved in an auto accident with UPS and had to pay $4.00 because he did not have insurance. How is that for a lesson learned?

Overall, it was a great experience. I would be lying if I said that it wasn't a bit hectic at moments. I found myself standing there and taking it all in as the bustling students moved from business to business and the voices echoed throughout JA Biztown. It was all good though. I did not see one unhappy student there. Everyone was thoroughly enjoying their time.

I'm not quite sure what the future holds for Kaden's political career, but I know that he held his position with great pride yesterday. He was able to meet Howard County Executive, Ken Ulman, and participate in a ribbon-cutting of the new Continental Title Groug (CTG) business. I think he enjoyed it.

Ian and I must have told Kaden one hundred times that we were proud of him. He really played his role well. What a great day it was.

Great job, Mr. Mayor. Great job!

For more information on JA Biztown Maryland, visit jabiztownmaryland.org.
More pictures from yesterday's events can be found on Photobucket.

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