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The SCA is a non-profit educational organization. The basic purpose of the SCA is to promote public education and understanding of the arts, sciences and social values of the Middle Ages. The SCA also provides its members recreation and personal enrichment through its re-creation of Medieval lifestyles.
Founded in California in the mid-sixties, the SCA now has members not only nationwide but in many other countries as well. Many members are university students, but there is a wide range of ages in the SCA, just as in everyday life. There are activities for all ages so there are entire families that join with us for the fun, enrichment, and camaraderie that can be found in the SCA. The members of the SCA are well educated, intelligent and, above all, involved.
Our purpose is to form a framework within which each individual can develop and use his or her abilities to learn, enjoy and instruct others within the Society in such Medieval arts and sciences as music, calligraphy, dancing, heraldry, poetry, armor and weaponry; and the archaic concepts of chivalry, courtly manners and etiquette. We deliberately attempt to re-create a culture where the ideals of personal honor, the binding nature of the sworn word, and the duty of the strong to protect the weak are living, working and common values that we uphold.
While attired in our medieval clothing, we hold public demonstrations and exhibitions, as well as participate in Renaissance fairs and other community functions. We also work in cooperation with the local school systems. We aid the students and teachers as they study the Middle Ages in their curriculum. In their classrooms, they can hear period music played on authentically reproduced instruments, learn fighting techniques from a Knight, see and touch helmets and armor, trace the development of armor and weaponry through the Middle Ages, even taste Medieval cooking and learn how it was prepared, as well as many other things medieval. Specialized books and records, not normally available to school libraries, can be borrowed from the SCA during their social studies of Medieval history. In short, the SCA studies, preserves and instructs others on the values of the Middle Ages by living it.
Outside its 20th century Board of Directors, the SCA is structured along medieval lines. Local chapters are known as cantons, shires, or baronies, depending on their size and location. These smaller groups can be grouped into larger divisions called regions and principalities. These, in turn, are brought together into large, geographic divisions known as kingdoms. For your information, you are currently residing in the Shire of Isengau in the Kingdom of Drachenwald.
To further involve each member, as well as to add authenticity and greater enjoyment to our activities (both educational and recreational), each member may create for themselves a Medieval identity or persona. You can choose a name, create a unique coat-of-arms, construct a family history, pick a trade and acquire appropriate clothing, manners and speech, for the personality you have chosen. The period of time that the SCA encompasses is 600 A.D. to 1600 A.D. in western Europe.
As a newcomer to the Society, you will no doubt be confused for a while as you try to 'catch up' with all that has been going on for the past 25-plus years. Then you will begin to notice a lot of folks doing a lot of different things, many of which you may never have seen before.
You'll see steel armor being made, and weapons being carefully crafted of rattan. Lords practice swordsmanship as they wait for their ladies, who are learning some new needlework techniques. Some new awards scrolls may be needed and so you'll see the Calligraphy Guild chatting while they pen in beautiful Uncial letters on parchment paper.
The kitchen wenches are preparing the evening's feast and are discussing the design and construction of a new costume. Over there, the herald is helping some folk to design heraldically correct devices for themselves. A small chess tourney is going on in the shade near a dance class, and you can hear the sounds of the stately pavanne music. Two men and a lady are practicing their recorders and you are told that the lady composed the very traditional music being played. Any and all of these views are typical in a SCA gathering.
More than likely there will be a class being taught by one of the instructors from the Trimaris Royal University. This university, not actually an accredited institution, is designed for Society members distribute the information that we glean in our research. At most major Society events in Trimaris, a University session will be held and will offer excellent instruction in a wide variety of subjects. Locally we have a pretty good number of University instructors, and they often teach an impromptu class at Barony and Shire meetings. The university system is always looking for new instructors, and the idea may appeal to you.
And so you wonder where you fit in. Take your ease, Good Gentle, and be patient. Try a little of everything gradually; you won't be expected to be an expert immediately! A big part of the purpose of the SCA is learning and teaching, and eventually you'll be doing both yourself. Ask a lot of questions: everyone will be glad to talk about Society life. Share your ideas as they come to you; we haven't thought of everything! You may have a talent to use immediately, but don't let that inhibit your learning other topics and crafts. It takes some folks a year or so before they find their best directions in the Society. So give yourself plenty of time to explore each new activity, and enjoy the companionship of people doing and making things together.