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S'mores or sums? Next year, send your kids to financial literacy camp

Now that the kids are back in school, we may be asking ourselves—yet again—where the summer went. Each year, summer seems to pass by more quickly than the last.

Jill Tipograph, founder and CEO of summer programs and teen/college enrichment coaching firm Everything Summer, advises that parents take a moment with their kids to reflect on the past few months.

What did your kid(s) do over the summer? Did they spend endless hours playing video games or go to the usual day camp, sports camp, specialty camp or teen travel program? You might want to consider a different type of camp—one that provides kids with invaluable money-management skills and purpose. You may decide to build invaluable financial strategies and lessons your kids can utilize to understand the value of money better.

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Compassionate Eye Foundation/Robert Daly/OJO Images | Iconica | Getty Images

The unfortunate truth is that kids are not getting enough financial education in school. In fact, the majority of students are not receiving even a basic foundation.

According to the 2014 Survey of the States, conducted by the Council for Economic Education, only 17 states in the U.S. require high school students to take a personal finance course as a graduation requirement. Only 22 states require a course in economics.

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Research has demonstrated that students from states with mandatory financial education courses are more likely to save and less likely to max out their credit cards or make late credit card payments, according to the CEE.

In addition, they are more likely to pay off credit cards each month and less likely to be compulsive buyers. In other words, they may be facing a future of more financial solvency.

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Addressing this lack of financial literacy in our country, Tipograph says that personal finance camps are becoming increasingly popular. Your child does not necessarily have to be interested in a career in business to benefit.

Teaching your kids concepts such as saving early and often, the importance of budgeting and investing and how to avoid debt are vital to financial success. It is important that they respect the value of money.

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Another group of new and noteworthy financial camps are teaching kids and teens about entrepreneurial start-ups, including those with a social responsibility foundation. These camps are often offered through local and regional areas, as well as on some university campuses.

Many universities and enrichment programs offer summer sessions that allow students to explore various college majors and career paths. In addition to the knowledge your teen will undoubtedly obtain, such a course could be a good financial investment for you as well.

Tipograph recommends having your child explore a couple of different fields before graduation to help ensure that he or she does not choose the wrong college major initially. Many summer enrichment courses even offer college credit options.

It is much cheaper to pay for a pre-college class, and it can come in handy when scheduling classes becomes a challenge during college. Switching majors—or even colleges—can easily add thousands to your bill!

Aside from the obvious benefits, these types of enrichment experiences also provide additional advantages. They look good on college applications and can provide good résumé material that can lead to an internship or job. Also, networking with the right individuals at an early age can have a significant impact in life.

Step by step

So what can you do right now? Tipograph and I recommend the following steps:

1. Take the initiative. Parents must realize that they need to take the lead in their children's financial education. Don't expect that your kids are going to learn what they need to know in school.

2. Start early. Begin to teach your children money skills at a young age. A 4-year-old understands that money buys things, so have them do chores around the house to begin collecting an allowance.

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3. Don't be afraid to talk about money. Most adults today grew up in an environment where family finances were simply not discussed with the kids. As a result, we grew up thinking these subjects were taboo.

When the kids ask questions pertaining to money matters at home, view this opportunity to teach. Share the knowledge you have learned and even the mistakes that you may have made.

For example, you might say that your credit card debt is a little higher than you would like, but you are taking steps to get it paid off.

"Imagine how different your life might be today if you had learned at an early age how to manage money and make wise investment decisions."

This is an open door to discuss how to use credit only as a tool—a mortgage is a good example—the pitfalls of credit card debt, interest rates and the importance of maintaining a good credit history.

4. Have skin in the game. Encourage kids to save money now to use toward their next summer experience. Younger children can use part of their allowance or gifts they receive to pay for some of their camp canteen purchases; teens, meanwhile, can get part-time jobs or babysit to earn spending money for next summer's program. When kids have to use their money for purchases, the value of the dollar holds far greater meaning.

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Imagine how different your life might be today if you had learned at an early age how to manage money and make wise investment decisions. We all want a brighter future for our children, and studies have shown that financial well-being is linked to psychological and physical health, as well as overall life satisfaction.

—By Stacy Francis, special to CNBC.com. Francis is president and CEO of Francis Financial.

Jill Tipograph, founder and CEO of summer programs and teen/college enrichment coaching firm Everything Summer, contributed to this column.