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.
"Owing someone else is worse than being broke!" he warns.
His goal is not to steer the children to careers in financial services – though he says he would love to see more minorities and women in that field – but to inspire them to begin saving early and not to be intimidated by financial matters.
"I think the camp is doing a tremendous amount of good," says Michael Braude, the retired president of the Kansas City Board of Trade, who gives talks at the camps. "A lot of what we say goes over their heads, but some of it sticks. And what sticks gives the kids something to build on."
Sierra Williamson, a 10th-grader, has attended the camp twice. Because of what she learned, she is more conscious of not spending money frivolously and saving for the future, she says. "I want to be a stock broker and be able to handle money. Even though I don't have any bonds or anything like that now, I like saving my money."