School of Manners – Camp Teaches Adolescents the Skills of Etiquette

By Jessamy Brown, Star-Telegram Staff Writer

GRAPEVINE – Good manners are more than using the correct utensil.

So parents are signing up their children for classes that will teach them how to act and dress appropriately in any situation.

Proper behavior is essential for young people to succeed in school and at work, etiquette instructors say.

Deborah King - Final Touch Finishing SchoolSTAR-TELEGRAM-Jen FriedbergDeborah King says her school teaches the necessary social skills for school and work.

“You can’t be successful in business if you are unable to handle yourself on the telephone or unable to dress properly. You will be passed by no matter how smart you are intellectually,” said Deborah King, founder of Final Touch Finishing School, a Metroplex-based etiquette school.

Next month, King will teach an Etiquette and Healthy Lifestyle Camp for preteen boys and girls at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine.

The camp is one of several etiquette courses offered in the area.

During King’s course, hotel chefs will teach students how to make low-fat snacks, and fitness instructors will lead swimming and tennis lessons.

Campers will also practice dining skills during a multi-course lunch at a hotel restaurant, including how to approach the table, to keep a napkin on their laps and to always pass the salt and pepper shakers together.

Manners courses also cover topics such as proper grooming, good posture and writing thank-you notes. Students learn telephone, cellphone and e-mail etiquette.

But handling table utensils usually takes the most practice for young people, King said.

“Many have become so accustomed to eating finger food, they are not as adept at using a knife and fork. That takes some real practice to gain mastery,” she said.

Months after King’s class, sisters Xaja and Saxja Bush, ages 7 and 5, know how to take telephone messages, sip from glasses and politely address adults. And they cut their own meat.

“No more sawing,” said Saxja, of Frisco.

Other area camps include:

  • Manners Camp offered in June by Colleyville’s Parks and Recreation Division. Lessons include how to greet people, make introductions, be a good host and shake hands correctly. The four-day class costs $130 for residents.
  • Etiquette 101 offered by Flower Mound’s Recreation and Leisure Services. The one-day $35 course is open to children ages 9 to 14.

North Richland Hills Recreation Center also plans to offer a class next year for preschool-age children, with lessons on table manners and polite terms to use when speaking with adults, officials said.

Etiquette instructor Chantal Carey, who has taught North Richland Hills’ programs, said children and teen-agers like knowing that they are saying and doing the right thing.

“It’s a confidence-builder,” Carey said. “Embarrassment is everything at that age.”


  • If you go…
  • Etiquette and Healthy Lifestyle Camp
  • 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Aug. 1-3
  • Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, 1800 Texas 26 E., Grapevine
  • Cost: $280
  • (817) 481-8444 or