Camp Pootie-Cho

The inspiration behind my new book, Good Manner Alphabets (how to be a super polite kid)
When I was layoff in 2009, most of my extended family members were also out of a job (no income or low income); and as school was about to close for the year, most did not know what they would do with their children during the summer—for 10 weeks! I had no luck finding employment while I worked on my other writing projects. I needed a break from my writing and an idea came to mind—run a small summer camp with the family kids! My mother, a retired school teacher and a few of the older children in the family (recent college graduates) liked the idea and joined me. A local pastor allowed us to use his church for the camp. (two of his children attended). The parents provided lunch, we planned indoor activities at the church and outdoor activities in the parks, all at no cost. Sharing my life with those 11 children for 10 weeks added more meaning to my life than anything else. That summer I wrote a booklet called, The Good Manners Alphabet Book. By the end of summer, the kids (age 4-11) had memorized all 26 one-liners of good manners using the alphabets.

Today, I have extended the booklet into a book and have added paragraphs to the one-liners so older children can enjoy it as well. I honestly hope this book help girls and boys become happier, more agreeable children and over time, adults who have turned into proper ladies and gentlemen. The least we can do is train our children’s eye to see how they may add to the enjoyment of others, therefore making friends. The right kind of friendship may give joy for a lifetime.

At the end of summer, we did a play from the Reader’s Theater called, A Caterpillar’s Voice; based on a story retold by Elaine L. Lindy and adapted as a play script by Lindsay Parker. The play is a folktale from Africa, where a hare who lives in a nice cave. One day when he was away, a caterpillar went into the cave. The caterpillar liked the cave because she found out that the echo in the cave made her voice sound big! The hare returned home and when he hears the loud voice coming from his cave—after he’d asked ‘who’s in my cave?’—he asked his friends, jackal, fox, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and frog, to ask, “The voice” to come out of his cave. Each animal claimed to be the strongest animal, only to hear caterpillar say, in a very loud voice, that she’s the biggest and strongest of them all. They all screamed and ran away. Finally, caterpillar told them she was only a caterpillar and crawled over to the animals. They all were surprised to see it was a little caterpillar that they had been afraid of.

My mother, Jeanette Lewis-Harding, a retired school teacher, taught the kids the song, Little Sir Echo, which went nicely with the play.

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