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"Teaching business etiquette as the subtle, redefining confidence which enables people to excel and succeed in today's corporate culture."~ Cindy Grosso, Founder

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What is your EtiQ?

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Campers Leave the S'mores at home

Article published in The Island Packet, Hilton Head, SC 

Spring has arrived, which means planning for summer is upon us. If you have children, the plan usually includes figuring out what to do with the tykes after school lets out.

Parents have plenty of options today, as opposed to my summer camp days when making lanyards and S'mores dominated the curriculum.

Now there are sports camps, arts camps and even camps that teach outdoor survival skills. While away from home, children can study everything from entomology to archaeology.

But I doubt many folks can imagine this conversation taking place at the dinner table -- if the family even gathers there at night.

"Johnny and Susie, I've made all the arrangements for summer camp this year," Mother announces. "You'll be away for five days and I'm sure it will be lots of fun."

"Whaz up?" the children say.

"Please don't use that kind of language at the table," Mother pleads. "You're going to etiquette camp."

Etiquette camp? That's right, and in Charleston it's almost time for the second annual etiquette camp -- Social Savvy Camp for Kids. The camp is the brainchild of Cindy Grosso, who will politely tell you it isn't just a stuffy affair for rich kids.

"Manners have always mattered," says Grosso. "And they can open doors that money can't."

And it's not really kid stuff, either. Grosso spends most of the year as a corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant, covering topics ranging from business etiquette, medical etiquette and customer service etiquette. She also speaks at conventions and in schools and colleges.

"If you don't have good manners it can hold you back personally, socially and professionally," she says. "They are a foundation for good business."

Grosso, 42, says her own childhood provided some of the expertise on etiquette she imparts to others. Her father was a corporate executive and her mother a stickler on manners, especially at the dinner table -- where her family did gather every night.

"We could go into any restaurant anywhere in the world and we'd know what to do," Grosso says.

She also was a model ("that's where the poise and posture comes in") and operated a modeling and finishing school. And she is certified by the Protocol School of Washington in Washington.

But while Grosso claims her camp for children ages 9 to 14 teaches modern and practical lessons -- topics include the ABCs of dining, giving and receiving compliments, ballroom dancing and money management -- etiquette isn't anything new.

In fact, according to the Protocol School of Washington, the earliest etiquette book dates back to 2500 B.C. in an Egyptian text that seems aimed at giving advice to young men who wanted to climb the social ladder, such as "When sitting with a superior, laugh when he laughs."

Grosso also can share other historical facts about manners, for instance the word "etiquette." It harks back to the reign of Louis XVI when the king ordered that signs or, in French, "e'tiquets," be installed to warn visitors to stay off the royal lawn. The term eventually made its way on to invitations to court functions that "listed the rules of where to stand and what to do."

But back to the 21st century when youngsters can spend some of their summer vacation learning the fundamentals of things such as how to shake hands properly.

It's no joking matter, according to Grosso, who says handshakes reveal a lot about a person.

"I can tell what kind of car you drive by your handshake," she says, adding that most people can be grouped into one of five categories -- "roll over," "ministerial," "presidential," "dead fish" and "bone-crushing."

"I tell people to treat their handshake like a signature," she says.

Grosso also does her best to dispel myths about etiquette, like the one about it being poor manners to put your elbows on the table.

"You can put your elbows on the table, but only in between courses, not during the meal," she says.

If little Johnny and Susie still are skeptical, Grosso says etiquette camp is really a lot of fun, from the dancing and formal teas to daily financial sessions where campers learn how to open a checking account, budget to build a savings account and get tips on understanding the stock market.

The coed group (Grosso said last year's camp was about half boys and half girls) splits up for the dressing session, which includes, for young men, learning to tie ties and for the ladies, mixing and matching to expand a wardrobe.

But etiquette might not really be the right word to describe what Grosso teaches at her camp.

"It's really not about manners at all," she says. "My program is about self-esteem and self-confidence. But it's not about self at all. It's about, 'I am so comfortable with myself that I can focus on you.'

"And when you can concentrate on someone else, it comes back to you."

Sounds good, but pardon me. I still don't think anything can beat S'mores around the campfire.

You can find out more about Grosso's camp, which takes place in June (day or overnight options), by visiting her Web site,

Source: Article published in The Island Packet

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