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July 14, 2013 | Tom Ballard

“Empowered Teen Entrepreneurial Camp” underway

Empowered Teen Camp-teknoThe latest version of the “Empowered Teen Entrepreneurial Camp” launched yesterday at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK).

More than a dozen high school students were scheduled to arrive at Humes Hall, according to Tom Graves, Director of Operations for UTK’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI).

The second annual Camp is a joint venture for ACEI, Entrepreneurs of Knoxville (EOK), and Junior Achievement of East Tennessee (JA). This is the first time that JA has been involved. Both ACEI and EOK helped launch the inaugural Camp.

After checking into the dormitory, the activities for Sunday included a team building exercise and a special presentation by Ben Knight, an 18-year old entrepreneur who is running his own Knoxville-based business.

“The agenda was designed to create a unique experience for teens to understand entrepreneurship.” Graves said. “JA is providing several of its training modules.”

The JA modules include “Be Entrepreneurial,” a computer-based simulation titled “JA Titan,” and “Success Skills” that helps the teens understand how to build networks and relationships.

“I’m thrilled with the students that registered,” Graves said. The class is larger than the 2012 cohort and also includes one teen each from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. “They found us,” Graves explained, noting the visibility that the Camp has generated after only one year.

Each day begins with breakfast at 8 a.m. and ends with lights out at 11 p.m. During the 15-hour period, the teens attend classes as well as working on their business plans that will be presented in a competition on Friday night.

Graves says that the days also involve off-campus activities.

“One of the highlights will be a visit and tour of Proton Power,” he said. This is the company founded by long-time entrepreneur Sam Weaver and profiled on at The visit includes another tour of Wampler’s Sausage, a launch customer for Proton Power.

The teens will also be hosted by Mike Carroll at the new Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

In addition to Graves, other instructors include Donna Walker, one of the organizers of the 2012 Camp; Chris Coyne, President of Knoxville-based modeof8; and Kathi Browne, Owner and Consultant at BrowneKnows, also based in Knoxville.

UTK has also issued a news release that is available at