It’s natural to want to invest in your child’s future. A college fund there, a few stocks and bonds over here, and maybe a child life insurance policy that will hold cash value.
You know what’s wrong with that list? Space Camp isn’t on it. Space Camp is a solid investment vehicle that never loses value.
I know, I know! How can I guarantee that space camp won’t lose value, especially when it’s an ephemeral experience that entirely depends on an individual’s subjective observation and participation? Especially when one compares space camp to child life insurance, an actual financial product that has documented growth potential?
Actual video from the Space Camp website, with commentary.
1. Space Camp is freakin' awesome
This isn’t even an argument. If you’re the kind of person who looks at Space Camp and goes, "I can’t imagine anyone having fun there," you need to research eye transplants because you are incapable of seeing reality. Space is, unequivocally, the best gift you can ever give a child. And yes, that includes the gift of life.
2. Children don't need life insurance
The only reason most people need life insurance is if they have dependents who rely on their income to survive. Children don’t have income and probably don’t have dependents and really don’t need life insurance. Worried about covering potential funeral costs? You should add a Child Rider to your own term life insurance policy, instead.
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3. Children do need to be reminded that Earth is a dying planet and we need to do everything in our power to colonize the solar system before we destroy our home planet
Even if you think global warming is a bunch of mumbo jumbo, there’s no denying that the Sun will eventually expand as part of its transformation into a white dwarf star. Now, this won’t happen for five billion years (approximately), but it’s never too early to get started on colonizing our galaxy. Especially since we have no idea how long it will take to develop the technology needed to sustain life on other planets, let alone travel to other solar systems.
4. Child whole life insurance (and regular whole life insurance) is a bad investment product
There are a bunch of reasons whole life insurance (and by extension, child whole life insurance) is a bad investment product – we wrote a great explainer post at Investor in the Family about whole life as a retirement strategy. In short: be skeptical when someone tries to sell you whole life insurance, especially if they’re marketing it as an investment product.
5. Space Camp is an investment in your child's future career as an astronaut, scientist, startup founder, or sci-fi TV writer
Do you know how many astronauts got started at Space Camp? Me neither, but according to the Space Camp website, there are at least a handful of astronauts that, at one point, slept in Space Camp dormitories. But there’s more to space than being an astronaut – NASA employs engineers and scientists that need to stay in the atmosphere to help those traveling outside it. Or imagine your kid going to business school and using their experience at Space Camp to become the next Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX.
Plus, there’s got to be at least one writer of Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica who went to Space Camp. While you’d never actively encourage your children to become a writer, at least your decision to send your kid to Space Camp had some lasting impact on their lives. [Editor’s note: Graham Moore, who wrote the screenplay for The Imitation Game, actually went to Space Camp.]
Of course, Space Camp can’t be your only investment in your child’s future. Whole life insurance companies try to sell new parents on the idea that a child life insurance policy will grow in value, but there’s actually a much better product that will help parents do that. It’s called a 529 college savings plan, and it’s a state-sponsored investment product that’s similar to an IRA. Check out our post explaining 529 college savings plans for more information on how to open one for your child.
In conclusion, Space Camp is the best investment you can make in your child – or, at the very least, your money is better spent on Space Camp than funnelled into child life insurance. Just look at me – my parents bought me a child life insurance policy, and I’ve never been to space. In fact, I’ll probably never go to space. In fact, I’ll probably never even go to adult Space Camp. In fact, my parents didn’t even buy me a child life insurance policy!
I’ve got a lot of stuff I need to work out.
Image: U.S. Department of Education