Though it doesn't offer hiking in the woods, sleeping under the stars, or canoeing on a river, the Bull and Bear Camp has been popular since its inception in 1992. The free one-week session is promoted primarily in the inner city, but any youth between fourth and 12th grade can attend.
Campers are divided into two groups, the Bulls and the Bears. Each team member has a job: head trader, portfolio manager, economist, market analyst, stock trader, or commodity trader. The teams buy and sell stock in that summer's mock companies. The team with the highest portfolio value at the end of camp is declared the winner.
Bounding into a meeting room at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and Museum on Kansas City's east side, sharply dressed in a suit and tie, Coe looks every inch the financial adviser. An animated speaker with a sunny disposition, hearty laugh, and seemingly limitless energy, he has no problem holding the attention of 50 young people for two hours.
Part teacher, part preacher, and part entertainer, he provides plenty of opportunities for classroom participation.
By the end of the week, the campers have learned about the principles of supply and demand, inflation, credit and debt, bonds, commodities, compound interest, market sectors, market indices, ticker symbols, algorithms, and electronic trading.
One highlight is a trip to the Kansas City Board of Trade, a commodities exchange, where, after-hours, the children engage in a mock trading session on the floor of the exchange.
On the last day, Coe delivers a passionate oration on the traps of bad credit, high-interest payday loans, and excessive debt, which he calls financial slavery.