Our History

The Free Enterprise Academy was started by Bob Kent of the Newark Rotary Club, and the Licking County community in 1975 and has been running for over 45 years.  The Newark Rotary club members and other respected community leaders have served as the host and instructors to the Academy.  These professionals give of their time because they believe in the free enterprise system and the importance of developing future business leaders.  Service of self is the fundamental belief that has sustained the Academy.

Bob Kent -1975

The Free Enterprise Academy was started by Bob Kent of the Newark Rotary Club. The idea of the academy sparked from a similar program being ran at the time in the Columbus Ohio market. Mr. Kent having spent most of his professional life in the Building Supply Industry, fell in love with the idea of bringing the Entrepreneurial spirit to the youth of Licking county. Mr. Kent, along with John Kutil, Glen Abel, & many other local professionals journeyed to Northern Ohio's YMCA, Camp Nelson Dodd, along with the camps first Sixty all boy students for a three night academy. It was a success from the start.

John Kutil - 1976

Mr.Kutil, having spent many years managing with Sears Roebuk, was drawn to the concept of the Entrepreneurial spirit immediately. He helped spearhead the program from the start and ran the camp in 1976 while seeing the number of students and interest in the program continue to grow.

Glen Able 1977-1978

Mr. Able served as the main chair from 1977-1978 and helped move the Academy to Kenyon College in Gambier Ohio due to the sale of Camp Nelson Dodd. As a result of Glen's hard work, along with the assistance of other community leaders, the Academy continued to grow with over 75 students attending to include the addition of female students.

Years of Growth

Free Enterprise has been providing Licking county students with strong entrepreneurial mentoring dating back to 1975. The Academy has maintained a focus of growing the program and bringing local speakers & talent that will truly benefit our students through both their academics and future careers.

During the mid 1990’s our name was Camp Enterprise and was held at the St. Peter & Paul PIME Retreat. It was a 3 day event, Tuesday thru Thursday.  The students, boys and girls, stayed at the retreat overnight.  Rotary provided 2 counselors to stay with the boys on one floor and 2 counselors with the girls and the second floor.  This allowed down time for students to make better relationships perhaps stronger bonds with each other during the evening hours.  During the day we had outside events and inside classroom presentations, breakout sessions and then team presentations.  During evenings hours our counselors would have activities to help our students mingle, make friends and to entertain.

The majority of our speakers were Rotarians at that time.  The overall structure was similar to today.  Each student was assigned to a team.  Each team was to start a pool business.  During class the teams listened to area professionals normally Rotary members, talk about their specific areas of expertise.   This was to give the teams knowledge to assist them in starting their business.  Students would break out into planning sessions by team.  They would then compete with the other teams by presenting their business model to the class.  On Thursday evening we held the Awards Dinner, inviting the parents, to acknowledge the Teams and the outstanding students of the class.  The outstanding students were each be awarded with a $1,000 scholarship check. We held the Awards Dinner outside as a picnic weather permitting.  We later moved this indoors to prevent last minute changes due to weather.

By the mid 2000’s we noticed the class attendance diminishing which we thought was due to various reasons such as.  Students having jobs, summer vacations, parents not believing this age group should stay overnight with mixed gender, college visits, sports requirements etc.

In 2016 we moved the location from the PIME to the Double Tree Hotel in Downtown Newark.  We had students go home after the classes were completed.  This could allow the students with jobs to keep their positions during the 3 days.  In 2016 we also changed the name from Camp Enterprise to the Free Enterprise Academy.  Our students were ready and requesting to communicate and build their business electronically.  We continued the transformation of our class from paper to electronic.  The class structure remained the same.

In 2018 we began electronic enrollments at our initial introductions with the schools.  We began using text, email and social media to keep our program in front of the students and to communicate with them prior to the start of our program.  We also continued to update our website information and capabilities.

In 2018 we asked our Rotary members for corporate sponsorship to assist with our scholarships.  And our Rotary business members stepped up and eagerly donated to increase our scholarships from $2,000 to $5,000 for each category.  We also increased the categories to include Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Team Player, Visionary and the ACE Award.

In 2019 we again moved our venue from the Double Tree Hotel to the C-Tec Campus.  We changed our class from starting a pool business to starting and building a Food Truck business.  The students took to both the venue change and business model immediately and appreciated the new and perhaps more exciting business venture.