God help us all I’ve been asked to contribute to my local SCA newsletter. Here is what I came up with for November. I feel like I owe Sir Amos a royalty check or something….I need to get off my butt and write up some historical stuff anyway, that would certainly make me feel better. Maybe that will be a good winter time project….
What do you love most about the SCA? For some it the whole package…the costumes, the history (or lack there of). For others a small part: The Arts, the Fighting…
No, for me it is a simple thing. It is a camp fire at night where the only light is from flame. Everything is muted and has that warm glow that flame imparts. I close my eyes and hear a friend start a familiar song of bravery and battle. I revel in the sounds of clinking bottles and the laughter of another friend. The stars shine down on me and I feel “home” for lack of a better word. All is right in the world and I am just where I need to be.
Too often these days these golden moments are lost to us. Events are hectic and stressful. We have too much to do in too little time. We are so focused on whatever our interest is that we don’t have time to visit with friends, or make new ones.
Camping events have become less and less over the years as the Society grays. One reason is that maturation. We all seem so ‘busy’ now in our daily lives and that has bleed into the Society. We are too busy running from errand to errand, checking Facebook on our phones to take a few quiet minutes and enjoy the company of good friends. Many of us have children now, and that adds a whole other level of responsibility.
Another reason is the rising cost for event sites. These often make it too much of a hassle to have camping. There is a counter to that though. One reason our sites are more expensive is that we require more and more of them. I remember when a common event site would be a field or two, perhaps some trees, and if we were lucky, water and a portajohn. Bring tents, a fire bowl, and a cooler or two. Voila!
Now we have made all of our little niche activities so vital and important that they threaten to choke out the primary reason for gathering in the first place. Each of them needs space, each of them is so important to ‘draw’ people together that it is almost heresy to say “Hey, let’s have a little event, maybe a tourney, maybe some handcrafts. Let’s break bread together and then relax to song afterwards. Better yet, look there are already 12 events on the calendar, so let’s car pool as a group to a neighbor’s event. Let’s take some of these new folks along with us while we are at it!”
I didn’t join the SCA, or stay in the SCA for so many years so that I could do just one thing: Fight, learn an art or craft, what have you. I joined because of the people, and I stayed because of the people. When folks talk to me about losing the “Magic of the SCA” or “The Dream” often what I hear from them is that the SCA has changed, and their life has changed, and they don’t feel a part of what is going on. Not included, but excluded. Their friends don’t play anymore. The good thing about the SCA is that there is always a chance to make new friends. You have to be the one to stick out our hand though. After all, didn’t some one do that for you when you were new?
Any organization that does not focus on new members and retention of its old members is certainly doomed to failure. The strength and longevity of the SCA has always been that it has been a haven for people to step away from the modern, even if only for a minute and indulge in a little well earned down time, in the company of good friends.
So, I have two challenges for you dear readers:
- Work to Slow Down at events. Do less, enjoy more. If you are in charge try making smaller more focused events that can welcome everyone, young and old. Don’t try and please everyone, you simply can’t. Give folks a place to have a good time, and a good time will ensue. …it’s like any other party.
- If you are an older member, please take a moment at a fighter practice or A&S gather to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. If you are a new member, do the same. Veterans should be inviting the newer members out for social gathering, but especially to events. Events are where the SCA shines, where it’s magic can glow. I promise you a better glow at a campfire than you get from your IPAD.
As usual all opinions are mine alone. Feel free to comment at firstname.lastname@example.org, or over on Facebook. (IRONY!!!) Better yet, hit me up at an event some time. Beers are on me.
Sir Bryce de Byram, OL, OP