The Ultimate Passport

A creative plan of endless activities for kids to enjoy this summer.

By Amy Larson

Photography by John Webster

When two like-minded dads with novel ideas come together and start a business, good things come to the Treasure Valley. Eric Brocksome and Tobe Brockner have come together with an exciting proposition. Eric Brocksome sought a career change and Tobe Brockner was looking for someone to execute his creative ideas. When they knocked their heads together, more than a few good things shook out.

Although he has ran the Young Entrepreneurs’ Workshops for the past three years, Tobe realized that not every child wanted to own a business. Still, he aimed to expose kids to as many different industries as possible, in an effort to locate and encourage career interests. His reasons are deeply personal. At age 13, Tobe lost his 55-year-old grandfather tragically to cancer. Tobe’s grandfather was a man who started a finance company which had grown into a multi-million dollar-a-year business before he died. Before Tobe could ask his grandfather how it had all been done, he was gone. These days, Tobe wants to make sure that situation doesn’t repeat itself.

Tobe named Eric as project manager for the Re:Purpose Initiative, forming a platform for training, workshops, and collaboration opportunities for small businesses. Both envisioned workable applications with immediate takeaways and implementation, and looked for ways to create an above-average networking/leads group, wanting hands-on, interactive collaboration.

Tobe explains, “If a value was placed on this community’s cumulative knowledge, it would run in the billions of dollars. It’s a shame to let that die with business owners. We’ve discovered a way to extract, repurpose, and distribute that information.”

With Tobe’s story as motivation, the Passport to Boise Program for ages 7-17 emerged as a self-reliant model. These aren’t traditional passports, but instead are a unique way for youngsters to stay busy this summer. Passports allow Treasure Valley youth to attend workshops and events all summer long that local businesses put on. Businesses are encouraged to donate passports to children, but they aren’t throwing money into an abyss. Results will be tangible, measurable, and sustainable. Grassroots cooperation with local small businesses makes sense, and several have jumped on the opportunity to “peel back the curtains”, offering a picture of what they do in a kid-friendly, interactive way.

The program neutralizes old school thoughts of keeping things close to the vest and protecting precious trade secrets.

“It’s the 21st century now,” says Tobe, “Those winning these days are willing to give, open up, and say, ‘Here’s what we do, and here’s how we do it.’ Instead of competing, they try to cooperate.”

Involvement is easy. A minimum of one scholarship passport is purchased, giving back to the program or child of choice. Then, each business hosts a 90-minute activity that’s either a one-time, monthly, or weekly event over the summer, depending on its comfort level and operations. Fun and engaging passport activities, a balance of education and entertainment, begin on June 1 and run through the end of August, held Monday through Saturday from 8am-8pm. During these events, kids will participate in hands-on learning, and businesses will make their mark with a stamp or logo on passport books at the end of the workshop.

With plans to become an annual program, Passport to Boise isn’t a hard sell. Over 65 Treasure Valley businesses and individuals have already agreed to participate, and ideally, the two dads hope to involve as many as 150. When approaching potential participants, Eric says they often sign on right away. The Better Business Bureau, Reuseum, Idaho Laugh Fest, Beacon Rock Investment, Jahanara Dancer, Little Pallets, V-Squared Creative, Excelle Marcom, Vista Pawn, Aloha Publishing, MoMo Dumplings, Fig and Honey, Idaho Ice World, the Young Entrepreneurs’ Workshop and more will soon be offering a large variety of summertime experiences for Passport holders. Business owners, many with kids of their own, can now pass along a vast array of know-how. Beyond that, the Passport to Boise program is also a clever, all-inclusive marketing strategy for community businesses, forming friendships with local children and parents within a safe, constructive environment.

“Kids need to get a feel for what’s out there, have their eyes opened,” says Eric, “There’s so much more to their world than just school or summer vacation, and this answers the age-old question of ‘How will I keep them occupied this summer?’”

Both Eric and Tobe feel strongly that the Passport to Boise program will create a summer of change for Treasure Valley kids. The affordable passports are $99, and for families with multiple children, it’s only $49 for each additional child. For that price, kids will have summer-long access to dozens of classes, events, and workshops, and can attend as many as they’d like.

“This is at a much higher level than swimming or playing in the park,” confirms Eric, “Instead of wasting away the weeks playing video games, watching TV or scarfing popsicles, the kids will keep their minds sharp and learn something.”

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