From Alarming to Charming!

In the not-too-distant past, the daily family dinner served the dual purpose of feeding and connecting with the family. It was also an important teaching moment — the time and place where moms and dads modeled and taught basic social skills (how to eat, how to hold a conversation, how to listen, etc.) to their children.

Today, many of our family conversations are sabotaged by the technology we’ve all come to rely on — television, cell phones, and computers — and take up time that used to be spent enjoying the family. Ironically, these same devices have contributed, in my opinion, to the erosion of our society’s manners and social skills.

I say ironically because I believe social graces/manners are primarily about connecting with others in a positive way. All of a sudden, we have a multitude of ways to communicate with others, but often we don’t do a very good job of connecting.

Because of this disconnect, I often start my etiquette classes and summer camps by teaching the basics of how to properly introduce oneself to others, whether on the phone, in person or online. Here is an outline of the skills I work to impart in my summer camps:

How To Properly Address Adults and Authority Figures

1. Never address adults by their first name, unless given permission to do so

2. “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Sir” are regional traditions. In the Northern states, these forms of addressing adults are considered sassy. In the Southern states, they are considered the highest form of a courteous response. Children should use the form appropriate to their location.

How To Be A Good Guest

Whether it is staying with relatives during the holidays or simply visiting with a friend, children can be taught how to be good guests, which is a polite way of ensuring that the visit is enjoyable for both parties.

For example, have you ever been invited to a friend’s house for dinner, sat down for the family meal and begun nibbling on the bread, only to look up and see their heads bowed to bless the food? Teach your campers to always wait until the host/hostess is seated and takes the first bite of food before they begin to eat. Not only is it polite but it also avoids embarrassment.

Other good rules to follow include:

1. Wear appropriate clothing

2. Do not go through refrigerators and drawers

3. Clean one’s own mess before leaving (also a good rule at home)

4. Thank both the child and adult hosts before leaving the home

How To Be A Good Host

Like being a good guest, being a good host is a matter of thinking more about your visitor than yourself. This is something that can be taught at a young age because, ultimately, it comes down to a little planning and lots of sharing.

We have our campers practice planning and preparing for guests by asking them to think about what their guests might need (food, games, etc.) and writing those things down. If we’re working with particularly young children, we know they will tend to be single-minded about playing what they want to play instead of what their guests might want to play. So, we work on teaching them, in advance, about the importance of taking turns and fairness.

Proper Telephone Etiquette—When Your Camper Is Placing The Call

Have you ever had someone call you, begin talking, and you did not know the caller’s name? Teach your campers to identify themselves, using the first and last name. For example: “Hi, this is Christopher Barrett. May I please speak with Michael?”

Other common-sense rules to consider include:

1. Do not call too late. Children should not phone a friend’s home after 9 p.m. unless given permission to do so.

2. Do not to call too often. Kids have to practice patience in waiting for a return call.

Proper Telephone Etiquette — When Your Camper Is Answering

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. The Affirmation Postcard
  2. From Alarming To Charming!
  3. Icebreakers
  4. The State of Camping at KOA
  5. Geocaching Adventure
  • Columns & Features
  • Departments
  • Writers