8 min 27 sec

Two Teachers Launch Summer Camp After Listening to Side Hustle School

In need of funds for an adoption, two married teachers consider teaching summer school—but instead of working with the school system, they create their own “brain camp” and earn more than $15,000.
Education Events Seasonal SHS Success Story Teacher Hustle

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What It's About

Two teachers start a summer camp and earn more than $15,000.

Business Model
Skills Required
Organization & Education
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Start small and don’t be afraid to pivot away from your initial idea. If you keep things small enough, you can get away with making mistakes. And remember—it's not always a bad idea to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.

Fun Fact

Mike and Joy listened to the SHS podcast daily, hoping to get some ideas. But they eventually realized that their greatest fear—having to teach in summer school—was the very idea that they could use to launch their own side hustle. Camp Fun Brain, their own summer camp, was thus born.

Notes from Chris

Episode 405

Austin, Texas-based elementary school teachers Mike and Joy Engel have always enjoyed teaching and playing with kids. As teachers, they usually caught a break during summer. This time, however, was different, as Mike and Joy were contemplating teaching summer school to build up their savings for an impending adoption.

They were excited about the adoption, but not about teaching summer school. Teaching in a formal setting was what they did all year, and they needed a break.

For a while, however, it looked like they couldn’t avoid that possibility. Although both Mike and Joy listened to Side Hustle School every day, they still couldn’t come up with an idea. Resigned to teaching summer school, the joke was that it wouldn’t be as bad if they could set their own rules and do it in their own way.

That was when the seed for their own summer camp was planted. Both of them were aware that parents were afraid of the “summer slide,” where their kids’ academics would regress after spending too much time having fun. At the same time, they knew that kids needed something fun and less stressful.

Camp Fun Brain was their idea. It was a summer camp which would incorporate both academic rigor and hands-on projects to ensure that students would maintain their grades while having fun.

Over the course of summer, Mike and Joy grossed $36K in revenue and netted $15K in profit. Marketing cost them 2.5K as they got listed on camp guides, promoted heavily on Facebook, and distributed those flyers and yard signs. The other costs came in the form of classroom rental which cost $1,500 over 6 weeks, $2K for consumable school supplies, and another $6K for reusable school supplies. The biggest cost was getting teachers to staff and help run Camp Fun Brain, which cost them $36K over the entire period.

The costs may seem high, but for Joy, her ability to pay teachers well was the best part of the experience. She remembers that she was with Mike at Chipotle on 2nd May for their Teacher Association Buy-One-Get-One-Free Burrito Day, which was packed full of teachers. Stories were exchanged, and that’s when Joy realized that while the public constantly tells teachers how amazing they are, no solutions are usually put forth to ensure that they get paid more.

With over 10K in sales at that point, Joy felt empowered and decided to do the same for other teachers, offering them a $40/hour wage for teaching at Camp Fun Brain. That’s higher than what most schools pay, and the teachers found it more liberating to work in an environment that allowed them more creative independence.


  • Camp Fun Brain: Learn more about Joy and Mike's brain child on their website!
  • Squarespace: The website building platform that Joy used to create Camp Fun Brain

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"The best part of this side hustle is the freedom to teach in a fun and joyful way without having to adhere to all the red tape that comes with public school teaching."
—Joy Engel #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau