Taking Etiquette To The Beach

Katie Young
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Wednesday - March 26, 2008
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Making the beach pleasant for everyone. At the request of a reader, I’d like to add some “beach etiquette” tips as an addition to last month’s column on etiquette.

Many of us live for the weekends when we can pack up the car, drive to the nearest stretch of white sandy beach, lay out our towel and soak in the warm rays of the sun. It’s part of what makes Hawaii paradise.

But a happy day of sunbathing can be rudely interrupted by those who aren’t aware of proper beach etiquette. On beach outings, I’ve encountered space invaders, unruly children, and discarded trash in the sand.

It amazes me that even for people who have grown up in the Islands with the ocean as their playground, proper beach etiquette can become a forgotten courtesy.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Be aware of other people’s personal space. Now, some say to keep at least a beach towel’s length between you and the next group, however, I argue that some people’s beach towels are longer than others. And really, I don’t know if I even want the next beachgoer within listening distance of my conversation.

So, I say use your better judgment. If there is space, don’t crowd the person next to you. Go ahead and spread out. There’s plenty of good sand for everyone. And if you’ve brought a radio with you, please keep the volume down. If you must sing along, do that quietly also.

2) Keep an eye on your kids. For their own safety, it’s dangerous not to. But it’s also extremely impolite when you child runs up the beach kicking sand on everyone he or she passes and dripping ocean water on their belongings. Teach children to be aware of the people around them so that they grow up to have proper beach etiquette.

3) Clean up after yourself. This is just good sense for everyday life, but how horrible it is to sink your feet into warm, sand only to unwillingly wrap your toes around someone’s discarded sandwich wrapper, or worse, glass beer bottle. So before you vacate your beach area, take a second look around for anything you might have left behind.

4) Lastly, I’d like to plead: Move away before you shake off your towel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up with sand in my eyes because the person across from me is wildly trying to get every last grain of sand off their towel before packing up. With the Islands’wonderful trade winds, a simple shake can fly sand every which way, so please be aware of the possibility of getting sand in your neighbor’s eyes and wait to shake your towel until you’re almost off the beach.

Fundraising frenzy. It seems like every week my nephews have a new fundraiser going on. They sell everything under the sun from steak plates to cookies to wrapping paper at Christmas time.

Of course, it’s mostly the parents who have to approach potential buyers of said fundraiser goods, especially if their children are young, so it’s easy to run out of people to ask year-round.

Then, there are the fundraisers that require a parent’s baking talent. For some, these might be the most difficult fundraisers of all. If you’re a two-income household with two or more children in your brood, there can be little spare time left in the day for a major baking project, especially one that requires individual wrapping of items into neat 50-cent Ziploc baggies.

Desperate for a snack to sell at the bake sale and no time to make one, one mom I know went to the store, bought a box of Fruit Loops, poured them into individual bags and stuck a Sesame Street sticker to the front of each one. They went like hotcakes the next day.

This mom attributed the sellout to her excellent marketing technique. After all, who doesn’t like Big Bird? But she still felt quite outdone by all the mommies and daddies who baked up a storm, bringing more than what was required of them in trays and trays of kid-friendly goodies.

This leaves me wondering, for those busy parents who don’t have the time to whip up treats from scratch, what should be expected of them when it comes time for the bake sale?

New friends. My friend Aly has a goal: Make one new friend every day. Seems like a tall order. But there Aly is talking to people in the grocery store checkout line, at the pharmacy, in the mall. She even makes friends with people who call her place of work. (Since Aly is a receptionist, she talks to a lot of new people daily.)

Come to think of it, this is a great idea. Aly spreads her cheer to strangers, befriending them for only a moment sometimes, but I’m sure, making their days just a little bit brighter.

Encountering an unexpected friendly face in your day can be just what you need to lift your spirits. And Aly has me believing that no goal is unreachable if you’re willing to put in the effort.

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