Remember the old sayings, “charity begins at home” and “manners maketh man”? Although there have been complaints that parents don’t take the time to instil these values in their children anymore, it seems as if, just like some fashion trends, these concepts have come full circle. Advertisements by institutions that offer courses in etiquette have been frequently appearing in the newspaper, especially since the school vacation started earlier this month. Image consultant Catherine Gordon, of Catherine Gordon and Associates Image Design Institute is offering a variety of courses at her Manners Maketh Me vacation camp, with a number of permutations for siblings and groups.
“During the vacation we conduct the etiquette camps because some children are otherwise occupied during the term,” she said. Courses include Toddlers and Tinymites for ages four to six, Manners Maketh Me for children seven to 14, Designed for Greatness for ages 15 to 19 and Dare to Shine for 19 and above. “Students are taught social and business etiquette, image management, international protocol, wine education, hosting and entertaining, interviewing skills and interview preparation, tea and sushi etiquette among other things.” In addition, her Institute of Finishing Elements offers full-time training in image, etiquette and protocol all year-round. Gordon is a certified image consultant with the London Image Institute, Georgia, USA and is also trained and certified by the Protocol School of Washington, USA, to teach its curriculum in corporate etiquette and international protocol throughout the Caribbean.
About the camp
The Manners Maketh Me vacation camp costs $950 per child, and the programmes are designed for both genders. “The young men in Manners Maketh Me learn respect for ladies, how to seat, escort and conduct themselves in a lady's presence,” said Gordon. “On the other hand, ladies learn how to be gracious, accept acts of kindness and not ‘drag the flag’ as it were.” Both groups learn poise and posture and the hidden messages behind poor posture and grooming. “They learn respect for authority and how to handle themselves even in situations where they believe that they have been wronged by an adult.” They also learn hosting skills and how to be a gracious guest, even at the home of a relative. Gordon’s Designed For Greatness camp cost $1,680 per person and is designed to open the teenagers' appetite for a more gracious, cultured and confident future. In addition to the social and business etiquette skills taught in this course, Gordon says this year she has included golf, horseback riding, speech and articulation, interview preparation and a bit of money management.
“I believe this will help students develop confidence in all environments so that they never feel afraid to accept an invitation to these so called exclusive activities.” Gordon manages the camps with two, and in some instances, three assistant teachers depending on the number of enrollments.
Good manners can take you places
Gordon says good manners will take you everywhere, even through a door which a lack of education has closed. “It is a lack of graciousness and common appreciation for each other and each others feelings that has brought the world to the place it is now. It is only a return to graciousness and common civility which will reverse the tide.” She believes these programmes are needed now more than ever, but warns that behaviour does not change overnight—one of the reasons why she prefers the longer version of her courses to the short ones. “We get a longer time with the students who learn the materials at a slower pace. There is more time to practice, which is ultimately the key to successful behaviour change.” If a the child attends a four-day camp and returns home to an environment where the social skills are not taught, practised or reinforced, it is very difficult for that child to master the new skills.
She suggests that at least 100 days of constant practice is needed to break bad habits and develop new ones. Regarding the popularity of such programmes, Gordon says she has noticed a greater awareness of the need for etiquette. “People are probably now recognising the need for such programmes. This year the institute has even received corporate sponsorship of full scholarships from National Petroleum Company, Human Systems Limited, Venture Credit Union, Methanex, Dynamic Solutions Limited, Roopnarine's Holdings and Dover Waterproofing Technologies, which have been offered to young men and women who live in community residences so they too can access the knowledge and experiences.” Gordon is happy about this. “Whatever is done to bring awareness, I say a hearty ‘amen’ and welcome to the vineyard. “The harvest is plenty...and we need every hand on deck.”
For more info on Catherine Gordon’s Institute of Finishing Elements call 640-2765/678-3845 or visit her at 15, Ninth Street West De La Marre Avenue, Trincity.