mind your manners

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Our girls (and two of their cousins) spent this past week in Perquimans County at Ms. Nancy’s House Parties for Young Ladies Gentleman, or as we call it “Manners Camp”. This sounds a bit old-fashioned, and it is–in the best way. This camp has a beauty and sweetness about it that reminds me of the best of the South, politeness, hospitality, and sweet tea in summertime.

Ms. Nancy, camp director, is 89 years old and her graciousness, kindness, and talkativeness make her seem vivacious and young–and she has a beautiful Southern accent, darlin’. Ms. Nancy and her young female counselors teach the 14 children who come to spend 4 nights at the beautiful 1812 plantation house about correspondence (the old-fashioned paper kind), setting the table, table and telephone manners, and general politeness. The children also have swim, tennis, and canoe lessons, Bible study, and a flower arranging lesson. They have room inspections every morning and must be “dressed” for supper each night.

They love it!

At the end of camp, Ms. Nancy, the counselors, and the children host a tea for the parents and grandparents. The children all do individual recitations and sing songs as a group. The recitations are sweet (and a little impressive), and I love that my girls know our state toast, a Bible verse, and an etiquette quote by heart.

If you want to see some great videos of the camp, The Southern Documentary Fund produced a documentary about Ms. Nancy and her camp, and you can view clips on their site here and here.

As a side, Ms. Nancy talked a little about the history of her beautiful home on the first day of camp, and it prompted me to do a little family history research while we stayed in Elizabeth City when the girls were at camp. I traced multiple family lines back to the 1660s–all in the small area of northeastern NC. I realized how related everyone (including myself) in the area is to each other by blood or marriage. For so many years, not many families moved in and few families moved out of the region. A distant grandfather actually built Ms. Nancy’s house (and built the one where my great-great grandfather lived in Pasquotank County, and in which William and I lived for about a month). I discovered many Quaker ancestors and learned more of the history of the region where I grew up.

All of this gave me more of an appreciation for the area and people, and how connected to it I am by family and history. I do miss it at times.

4 thoughts on “mind your manners

  1. Lovely essay Molly. Dave Bosomworth would approve his grandchildren attending manners camp!! He always set such an elegant table and was a true gentleman.

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