I've seen a lot of negativity towards the SCA community online lately. New people are feeling pushed away before they even get a chance to really try it out. These people speak of snobbery and elitism when they are asked why they are leaving so soon. This is a very sad thing to see, and I've seen it far too often for my liking within the SCA groups. I've also recently seen a post by a gentleman trying to build a source for how YOU can make the SCA better. I love this idea. Think back to when you were a scared little SCA baby. You got dropped into your first event and scrambled to figure out what to do. Some of us had the advantage of friends and/or family that helped to guide us into this world, but many discover it all by themselves and have to maneuver this journey solo. I speak mainly for those that travel the way of the lone wolf, but also think that this applies to anybody that is new to this community....or any community really.
What would YOU do to make the SCA better? How would you help new folks get into this hobby? What helped you the most when you got started? Who took your hand and guided you to your now favorite thing in the society?
Personally, I'm always down for questions. I may not know that much about that particular topic, but I will track down somebody else that does if I can't help you myself. (I think that this is why I enjoy working demos.) We all get wrapped up in projects, but please don't ever brush somebody off if they are interested in what you are doing. You were that person once upon a time. If you had simply been brushed off without a thought, would you be where you are with it today? If you see somebody quietly watching with interest while you work on a project, TALK to them. I know that many of us are not super outgoing, but look for a bit of your baby SCA self in that timid person that doesn't want to bother you with questions. Break the tension and put a crack in that wall.
As much as I'm down with answering questions, I'm just as much into ASKING them. Yes, you might be shy and not want to 'bother' anybody, but most of us love our niche in this hobby and LOVE to see others have an interest in it as well. Ask a question and you might start a new friendship. Not sure where to start? Look around. See some garb that you think is aces? Go ask them about it. What time/location is that from? Is that silk? Where on earth did you begin with making that? See somebody working on a project at an event? Ask them what they are working on. Whatever pops into your head about it. Yes, a few folks might be short with you and brush you off, but you know what, most of them will jump at the chance to talk about it. Many of us work really hard on our personas and garb. We're proud of them and they become almost like our children. We WANT to talk about them. "I saw this painting from __________ and fell in love with it. I tracked down...." Really, most of us will tell you anything you want to know about it. Not sure what all of those fancy hats that you're seeing around mean or what you call the person wearing them? Nudge somebody and ask. They may even have a trick to help you remember what is what. For example I remember that the King and Queen are called Majesty as they tend to have an 'M' on their crowns. Granted this only works for certain areas that are lucky enough to start with an M and actually use them on their crowns, but it helped me and others that I have shared it with. If you find yourself walking past the archery range and think it looks like fun, go over and watch for a bit. Chances are good that a question will pop into your head sooner or later and you can start up a conversation about it. They will gladly show you the ropes and sometimes have loaner stuff so you can try it out yourself. Watch the fighters for a bit. If you think it might be something that you want to give a shot, ask a fighter. They have to come off of the field and get water sooner or later....give them a chance to breath so they won't throw up or die from fighting so hard, but they love it. They'll talk about it. A thirst for knowledge is an amazing thing and it should be nurtured and encouraged.
If you find that you are unsure as to what to do with yourself at an event, take a class. Have yet to find something in the SCA that you really like to do aside from run around in fun clothes? Grab your schedule and see what's going on. I took a few years off from the SCA due to real life being crazy. When I returned, I decided to jump back in with both feet. I didn't really have 'a thing'. I sewed a bit and watch the fighters and just kind of hung out.....and that is just fine, but I wanted to find something that was MY thing. I wanted to see if I could find something to do while I watched our brave fighters smack each other around with sticks or when I was getting wiggly from sitting for too long. I took ANY class that I could get to. It may not have had any interest to me whatsoever, but I would give it a shot. Who knows, one of those classes might just be my new thing that I love. You never know if you never give it a shot. I tried a few things that I absolutely hated. Some I liked, but was horrid at. But you know what? Who cares. You gave them a chance and nobody says you have to be good at something to enjoy it. Some stuff I absolutely loved and wasn't half bad at. Those things, those very things that you would have never known that you loved to do, are the reasons you make that leap. Don't be afraid of it. The water might be cold, but the swim will be glorious. ;)
~Maddelena 'Raven' de Ricci