When Abbie Cline was working for Campfire USA in Alaska the organization had a problem.
“We had these recyclables sitting around and we had to use them up,” Cline said. “That is when we came up with the idea to have the kids make something with the materials.”
Cline took it a step further and let the kids set up shops to sell their wares to other students using Monkey Dollars and thus the Monkey Market was born.
When Cline moved to Rhinelander and began working as the After School Program coordinator at the YMCA, she imported the Monkey Market with her. And after a luke warm reception in November, the Monkey Market has taken off in January.
“We did our first one in November and some of the kids were into it but it was not overwhelming,” Cline said. “But we did it again in January and the kids loved it.”
Cline gives the kids an hour or two a week to work on projects for their Monkey Market stores. Students can also work on projects in their spare time.
“We have a group of three girls that are really into it,” Cline said. “Any free moment they get, the work on their items. But all the kids get really excited when I tell them a Monkey Market shop day is coming up.”
Cline said each student gets 15 Monkey Dollars to start the month and can spend it or not spend if they would like on items at other shops. The students set their own prices, are in charge of getting people to come to their store and deciding when to spend and when to hold on to their money.
“Some kids want to spend their money right away and others save their money,” Cline said. “We have one student who has 150 in Monkey Dollars.”
While students are learning economic and financial lessons, Cline said one of the main goals of the Monkey Market is to give students projects where they can be creative.
“The students are in charge of what they make and they can come up with some very imaginative items,” she said. “They take these recyclables and create whatever they want.”
Cline said she has seen students make everything from soup can towers to rattles made from beans and plastic water bottles. One student made a paper pizza and put it in a discarded pizza box containers, while another student made cupcakes out of old Dole fruit cups.
“It is endless what they can come up with,” Cline said.