I should direct this to all parents and not just the parents of Boy Scouts. I mention Boy Scouts because this is where I first noticed the problem of boys not eating properly; it was at summer camp. I’m not talking about the menu; I’m talking about the proper way to eat (holding a fork, a spoon, and trying to cut meat with a knife) and I’ll tell you a short story on this.

It was at summer camp and we had just checked in with the Camp Master, had our swim test, and got dressed in our uniforms for supper. The boys were served their food in the chow line and we (8 to a table) sat down to eat. I noticed one boy leaning on his left elbow and using his fork like a shovel. I watched as another boy jabbed his hamburger patty with a fork (he didn’t like the bun) and commenced to eat it gnawing off bites like a hungry canine.

This did not set well with me as a parent and especially not as Scoutmaster. I let it go for the moment and then when we got back to camp we had some instructions at the picnic table on eating etiquette.

I gathered a table knife, a fork, a spoon, a steak knife, a plate, a cup, a bowl, and some napkins from the chuck box and set them on the table in a normal place setting arrangement. Then the lecture began on the proper way to hold a fork or a spoon to eat with while holding the left hand (or right) in your lap or using it to hold a piece of bread.

Using pieces of apple, I showed them how they should cut a piece of hamburger, steak, or sausage using the fork and the steak knife and cautioned them not to put any piece of meat or vegetable in their mouth that is larger than a quarter. I told them I didn’t want to have to use the Heimlich maneuver but we did have a practice session on that a little later on just in case.

The next meal was breakfast and I watched as the boys were eating. They kept one eye on me for approval or disapproval of the way they were eating and handling their food and eating utensils. A ‘yes’ nod from me was answered with a grin and a ‘no’ nod was answered with a correction of what they were doing wrong which then earned them a ‘yes’ nod.

I think the boys enjoyed learning the proper way to eat and handle themselves at the table. I never heard from the parents on this subject; I can only hope they noticed the improvement in their sons’ manners.

Have you had breakfast, lunch, or dinner with your children lately? Tell me what you discover in their eating habits. Teach them the correct way now and you won’t be embarrassed later on at a wedding reception, birthday party, family reunion, family camping trip, or on some other special occasion.

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Ray McCune

He has lived in Waynedale for over 45 years. He has taken to his lifelong dream of being a full time Outdoor Freelance Writer and author. Ray has authored one book and has written Kampfire Kookin' as well as other outdoors articles for the newspaper. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer