The SCA can be overwhelming at first. There are many places to get help in finding your way.
The best thing is to talk with our Chatelaine, Lady Ottilie. She can help with all sorts of basic information about the Society, and what we do. Our Facebook page is sometimes the best way to get a little information. There any “friend” can chime in. We’ve discovered that Facebook is almost as good as the village well for the exchange of information.
SCA Demo introduces you to nearly all of our activities. It was put together by some folks in Caid (California). One of the people on its introduction page attended an event in Rokeclif. It’s a small world.
Kingdoms and Baronies and Shires, oh, my!
The Known World is divided into 20 different Kingdoms, each of which maintains a website, a calendar, and, of course, a king and a queen. Rokeclif is part of the Kingdom of Northshield, which includes the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the parts of Michigan and Canada which lie north of those states. Northshield maintains a calendar of all the events in the Kingdom, and several larger events (such as Pennsic War, or any “Known World” event).
Rokeclif is a “shire” which is an independent group that is smaller than a barony. Our numbers vary, as folks move in and out, but we generally have about dozen people at our shire gatherings.
Events and Gatherings
The core of SCA activity is the “Event”. Most of these take place on a weekend (though some may last an entire week or more). Almost every weekend some group in the kingdom is hosting an event. We travel near and far to meet our friends, learn new things, and have a great time. The Northshield calendar has information about events, including the location and time, the cost, and any special considerations about the event. Most events require payment of a “Site Fee” — which helps the hosting group pay for rental of the site. There may also be a fee for the optional “Feast” — a fancy meal served during the event. To attend an event, one must dress in clothing that looks like that worn in pre-1600 Europe. Rokeclif has some “loaner garb” with which we can help you meet this requirement.
Rokeclif gathers several times each month as well, for a business meeting (“Populace Meeting”) or for “Research Night”, “A&S Night”, or just social time. See the Local Calendar for those gatherings. These gatherings are free, and do not require “garb” (though clothing is a must).
Membership is not required for many SCA activities, nor is it required to attend SCA events. As a general rule, membership is only required for those who hold offices or serve as royalty. However, membership supports the administrative “overhead” required to serve and support a member base numbering in the thousands. Paid members usually get a $5 discount on the site fee. A printable membership form can be found at http://www.sca.org/members/us-mem-form.pdf
Many families have kids that are ‘growing up’ in the SCA, learning a lot in the process, and making real contributions to their groups. Many events have activities specifically for children. If in doubt, contact the person running the event (a.k.a the “autocrat” or “event steward”) for an event to ask what kinds of age-appropriate activities are planned. Important Note: For those under 18 to attend events, a signed minor waiver is ALWAYS required at entrance, and children must be supervised by a parent or designated adult. Babysitting services are rarely provided.
Persona – what’s in a name?
Members usually find a name for themselves during their first year or so in the Society by doing research. You may wish to do the same, but don’t rush into it — whatever you choose first will probably stick! If in doubt, it’s fine to use your regular name temporarily plus a locative name for your home Shire, e.g. “Megan of Rokeclif”. Rokeclif’s “Research Night” is a good opportunity to work on a name.
The name is part of your “persona” — the person you pretend to be when you’re at an event. You will probably want to choose a time frame and a location. SCA studies European culture between 600 and 1600 CE, though there are many with a Japanese or Middle Eastern persona as well. A persona can’t be a real person — you can’t be Eleanor of Aquitaine or Robert the Bruce, but you can be someone who lived in one of those time periods and perhaps met one of the famous people of the time. Some people have done a lot of research to learn about their persona. Others can sum up everything about their persona in one sentence.
Martial (Fighting) Activities
The martial arts practiced in the SCA include fighting in armor (a.k.a. “heavy weapons”), fencing (a.k.a. “rapier”), archery, thrown weapons, equestrian activities, and artillery. Martial activities are introduced on SCA’s Combat & Chivalry page. Each activity is supervised by an officer known as a “Marshal”. If you are interested in the martial arts, our Chatelaine can introduce you to a marshal, who can tell you more about it.
Arts and Sciences
Almost anything that was done in the middle ages falls under the rubric of “Arts and Sciences”. Folk in the kingdom of Northshield have made clothing from shearing the sheep to embroidering the wool. Others are lucky to stitch simple garb without stabbing themselves with the needle. Some have taken rocks from the ground, smelted the ore, and and made knives and ornaments from the metal. Others have found their metalwork at one of the many merchants who appear at some events. Some have tried to re-create period dishes for feasts or for shire meetings. Some write songs or tell stories. The SCA Arts and Sciences page has links to some help in getting started with different activities. If you’re interested in any aspect of medieval culture, there’s probably someone who can help you learn about it. Rokeclif’s A&S Nights are intended to help people get started in some of these activities.
Heraldry is another aspect of medieval culture that’s very popular, and that serves a useful function in the society. SCA provides a registry so that each person’s name and coat of arms can be unique. There are many useful helps to finding a period name and to developing appropriate arms on our Heraldry page.
Whatever was done in the historic middle ages may be studied (though not always practiced) in the SCA. If you enjoy learning old things, SCA might be the place for you.