Summer camp beckons for mini-billionaires

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Today's feckless, globe-trotting billionaires squander their fortunes in Hamptons' night-clubs, or St Tropez, or Court 13 of the Royal Courts of Justice. But for tomorrow's generation, the business of being rich – and staying that way – will require an awful lot more hard work.

Across the US, teenage children of the aspirational middle classes are spending their holidays at places with names like Camp Millionaire, or its Florida equivalent, the Smart Start to Money Camp.

Instead of singing "ging gang gully" round the campfire, students chant personal finance mantras like "assets feed you, liabilities eat you," or "spread your risk to increase your rewards".

The idea is for them to learn the basics of financial freedom by taking part in practical exercises.

Camp Challenge revolves around an artificial small-town economy, in which campers run businesses, apply for jobs, and set up a functioning local administration. At the Smart Start to Money camp, meanwhile, educational exercises include a game where campers to toss stones in a bucket from various distances. Apparently, it teaches risk tolerance and portfolio management.

All of this may seem like a curiously serious way to spend what are supposed to be the best years of your life. But in a country ravaged by reckless borrowing and lousy personal finance management, anything that gets your children talking about "household budgets" and "managing your credit score" must feel like a worthwhile investment.