I’ve spent the last week teaching a table manners class to 3rd - 8th grade girls at Created for a Purpose, a creative arts camp.
"As the ships go out to sea . .
I spoon my soup away from me."
It makes the world seem tolerable when you watch little girls with braids twirling around, painting, singing, sculpting, sewing, baking cookies and laughing. They spent time each day reading the Bible and discussing the passages. Their knowledge is deep and I’m comforted by their curiosity for all things Holy. Like all of us, they are searching for meaning in this confusing world.
We were there to remind them that God has a purpose for our lives and part of that is to be like Him - creative!
Each day had a different theme and the 90 girls and over 50 volunteers had fun decorating and cooking new things.
The main thing I taught wasn't really good manners or how to set a table, but instead, was really about the importance of eating together as a family.
If you've read my column for a while, you know family dinners and recognizing God's gift of creativity are two of my favorite topics.
Families who sit down at a table and eat together are more likely to have children who have higher academic scores, have healthy attitudes towards food and their weight, and less likely to participate in risky behaviors with drugs, sex and and alcohol. These “children of the table”grow to have better communication skills than others — if all of that doesn’t convince you to sit down and eat with your children, I don’t know what will.
It’s a misconception that family dinners have to be fancy or are only for the wealthy. For generations, even the poorest of families would gather to share a meal, no matter how simple. It’s the time together that matters.
When Jesus had something very important to tell his disciples, he didn’t ask them to meet him at a campfire, or go with him on a walk. He asked them to come to a supper and share a meal with him. “Come to the table."
I prepared a table with only six places and those who didn’t get a seat had to stand. “How does it feel to have a seat at the table?” “How does it feel to be left out?” We switched half way through so everyone felt included. “Jesus wants you at his table.” I also pretended to serve one girl a favorite home cooked meal, then tossed a burger bag to another. “When someone goes to the trouble to prepare a nice meal for you, it makes you feel special, doesn’t it?” They immediately got that point. “We need to appreciate our parents who provide food for us and help them by setting the table and cleaning. ("thank you," "please," and "may I please be excused" were also discussed).
It was such a rewarding week. These girls went home telling their families all about the lessons they learned, and a few moms even reported their daughters pulled out the good china and set the table for a big family dinner.
And dancing as we worked was icing on the cake.
Click here for more info on: Created For A Purpose which is a licensed and trademarked program.
Click to read the story I told the girls about when all of my mother's china crashed to the floor (all of it) - Use the good china
This is so cool. I’m going to show it to my church. Is there anything for boys to do during the week, or only girls?
Thanks Amanda, you’re right, it really was cool and so organized. There is actually a companion program, “Built for a purpose” for boys, but this camp was girls only. I’m hoping we’ll get the boys program started soon. There is also a short Christmas camp as well.
Leslie Anne, this is such a wonderful idea for a camp. Truly my best childhood memories are sitting around the supper table (except the time Mama wouldn’t let me leave the table until I had eaten my carrots…an hour later and she won the battle!). My BFF and I used to have an etiquette dinner for our freshmen girls at Clemson, followed by a professional dress dinner. We have raised an entire generation who doesn’t have a clue about such things.
I love your idea of having a dress dinner for college ladies. That’s the time they’ll need to know proper manners the most, just before they are launched into the world. So glad you are on board with the family dinners. Thanks Roxanne, and Happy Independence Day to you!
Love this as usual! You truly have your “eye on the ball!” Great work!
Thanks Andy. It was a fun week and now, I’m exhausted!
Thank you! I don’t miss meals, and the best were those with family!