At a time in history when the Royal Family knew that they were descended from King David of ancient Israel, etiquette standards were set by the example of the monarch. For instance, at a diplomatic reception in London, Queen Victoria hosted an African chieftain as the guest of honor. The whole meal went well until the finger bowl was placed on the table. No one had explained to the African chieftain that the finger bowl was meant to clean ones hands, so he lifted it to his lips with two hands and drank from it. The other guests began to murmur, but her majesty did the courteous thing: She lifted her own finger bowl and drank from it, causing the rest of her guests to follow suit and saving the chieftain from certain embarrassment.
This is the story Mrs. Laura Turgeon told at the pyc Etiquette Night. She explained that true etiquette is not about knowing and following all of the rules, but about making your guests comfortable, even in a formal setting. Still, it is important to know rules and protocols, and that is why we have the dinner every year. It is meant to be a practice environment. Although I must say, being a camper in that situation can feel stiff and awkward because it is a new and uncommon opportunity.
On arrival, I noticed that my dress matched the color scheme almost perfectly: purple and white. The center piece on the table was a glass jar with twinkle lights in it. I thought that was a really neat idea. It was simple and wouldn’t distract from conversation around the table.
Pyc Director Wayne Turgeon hosted the evening. He started with a prayer and then opened the toasts, requesting that at least two people from each table offer a toast. My sister Selah of 3G went first and toasted everyone’s parents, who made it possible for all of us to be at pyc. Micah of 3B gave a toast to all of the campers who had tried and failed at something. Zeke from 5B followed that up with a toast to those who failed but got back up again anyway. Mr. Jack Wood, the counselor of 5B, toasted the Church’s new G450 jet and the Work. The young man sitting to my right, Seth of 5B, was reluctant at first to give a toast, but took my suggestion to toast the bravery of all of the campers who gave toasts. I exhibited no similar bravery.
At this point, Mrs. Turgeon went up and discussed etiquette, relating the story told at the top of this article. As she spoke, the rest of the room enjoyed the first course: a fresh spring mix salad topped with parmesan and candied pecans with fanned pears as a garnish and a warm vinaigrette on the side. I thought the pears were a refreshing contrast to the tartness of the dressing, and the pecans and parmesan complemented each other wonderfully.
Mrs. Turgeon finished her address and sat down as the second course was served. A kabocha and butternut squash soup that warmed my insides and left me content.
The main course—a beef tenderloin tart served with a twice-baked potato and pan roasted green beans that were cooked in butter and garlic—was served next. It was delicious and most people’s favorite dish of the night. I am almost done with my advertisement for fancy food. You have one course to go.
While we ate the main course, Mr. Turgeon went back to the lectern to open the question and answers session. How has your spiritual life improved since coming to camp? Jacob of 3B answered that his prayers have greatly improved. After being admonished to cut back on technology in Mr. Locher’s sermon, what books are you planning on reading? Elizabeth from dorm 3G said she wanted to start the Anne of Green Gables series because she is from Canada and the story is set in that country. Malik of 5B said Raising the Ruins. Another camper said Malachi’s Message, which prompted Mr. Turgeon to suggest reading Mystery of the Ages first.
After every camper had answered at least one question and the topics session was complete, the final course of the night was served. Dessert consisted of vanilla ice cream with a chocolate drizzle topped with a soft sandwich cookie and garnished with an airplane-shaped cookie decorated with chocolate and “pyc” written in white icing. The kitchen named the dessert the “De-flight-ful” in honor of the camp theme and Mr. Turgeon’s love of puns. Now you have seen the end of the food advertisement, brought to you by the AC kitchen and an AC-college-food-services worker turned writer.
After the meal, campers took photos around the room and in the corner where a makeshift photo booth had been set up. Everyone helped to clean up and rearrange the dining hall for breakfast the next morning—and it will all be done two more times, as the other two-thirds of the camp has their opportunity to experience Etiquette Night.