|Beyond Basics : Getting a name | Heraldry | Personas | Who is Who | Helping out|
Service Opportunities in the SCA ( or how to get more involved )So, you've been to an event or two, perhaps tried your hand at some new things, and (hopefully) realized that there is a great deal that goes into making an event happen. You may feel that you want to find a way to give back to the SCA a bit of what you are getting from it, you may find yourself a bit bored at events, or you may be one of those people who is really intreged by what makes this whole thing work.
Well, you are in luck. I can just about guarentee that out there somewhere is what I call a service niche with your name on it. A service niche is something that needs to be done and that you enjoy doing (meaning it doesn't interfere with the other stuff that you want to be doing too terribly much, you just enjoy the task, or whatever). You may have to try a couple of things before you find that niche (or you may find that you like so many of them that service takes over your SCA life - we have a word for people like you!).
So, you want to find your service niche but don't know where to start? First, let's take a walk through a typical event.
Let's start at gate (or troll as it's sometimes called). At any event there are nice people sitting behind a table taking your money, giving you information about the event, and generally getting you on your way for a full day (or more) of fun. Working gate is a great way to get to see everyone who comes through the door be they old friends or new ones. Many times the person in charge of the gate will have a sign up sheet for shifts that can range from a couple of hours up to usually at most 4 hours.
Job Title: Gate/TrollTime requirements: typically 2-4 hours, but you may be able to work something out if you want to help but don't have that much time. At smaller events this may be much more "free form" and any amount of time that you can offer will be gratefully accepted.
Pre-requisites: Someone may need to vouch for you if you will be handling money, unless you are already a known quantity. If you are brand new and want to help, you can offer to do other tasks that don't involve handling money (don't be surprised if you find yourself handling money in very short order, however!) or to work with someone else. At smaller events there typically isn't a minimum age, however larger events may ask that only those over the age of 18 work at the gate.
Job Title: Set Up CrewTime requirements: varies with the size of the event from an hour or so to 4+ hours
Pre-requisites: none - find who is in charge and offer to help!
Job Title: Voice HeraldTime requirements: varies greatly. You may work in shifts for crying the camp at larger events or you may be nabbed at various intervals to make short announcements at smaller events. If you are helping with the list, there's a bit more to it (we'll talk more about that job later).
Pre-requisites: While some voice training and/or public speaking experience is nice, in reality if you are one of those people that can naturally project your voice this may be the job for you! For doing announcements and the like you don't really need to do much more than be able to read your notes and project your voice.
Job Title: Kitchen HelpTime requirements: varies greatly. Often times a lot of prep work is done before the day of the event, so you can help out without loosing any "event time". There is certainly a lot to be done on site as well, not only for day board but also for feast or any other food related things that are happening. Find out who's in charge and talk to them.
Pre-requisites: virtually none. Kitchens can almost always use someone who is willing to cheerfully wash pots every bit as much as they can use a professional chef. This is one of the "happening places" at events and is a great way to meet people.
The people sitting at the table are the Ministers/Mistresses of the List. These are the score keepers, if you will. They also figure out who will be fighting whom, in which list, when. They will typically have a stack of note cards that they hand off to the herald who, based on which cards are paired up, will announce who is fighting who, when and where.
They also start each round by having the combatants go through a series of solutes. The people not in armor on the field are marshals. These are fighters who for whatever reason aren't fighting that day but rather are spending their time keeping the combatants and anyone else on the field safe. They start and stop the combat as needed and more. As you look around you notice that there is much more going on than you first thought.
There may be some people walking around offering water or Gatorade to people. There is also someone sitting near the Minister of the Lists table who may well appear to be napping until you hear the call "Chirurgeon!". That's our health and safety officer, who is trained in first aid. There's a lot to do here!
Job Title: Minister of the List/list helpTime requirements: varies a great deal, depending on the kind of fighting being done and the number of combatants. You can plan on at least an hour or so of work before the fighting even starts checking everyone in and then, if you chose to stay, the duration of the combat. Once the fighting is over, you're usually done and can pack up fairly quickly
.Pre-requisites: to help out with the list you really don't need to know much. Anything that you do need to know can be taught on the spot. Chose your opportunities wisely - offering to help with a Crown List is probably not the best way to get started.
Job Title: Voice HeraldTime requirements: throughout the tournament, some time before, very little time afte.
Pre-requisites: Ability to project your voice (voice training is a plus), public speaking experience, ability to pronounce complex names. You don't have to have a "show-biz" spark, but if you do this may well be the place for you!
One other type of Voice Herald is a Court Herald. This is the person who organizes the business that is to be conducted in Court and serves as the voice of the Crown throughout court. Make sure that you've been a few courts and know what you are in for before you sign up! This can be great fun, but it is also one of the highest visibility jobs at an event. If you make a mistake, a lot of people will likely know about it
Job Title: MarshalTime requirements: throughout the combat plus about an hour beforePre-requisites: must be a warranted marshal, which in this kingdom also requires that you be authorized in the martial activity you wish to marshal for (fencing, archery, etc.)
Job Title: WaterbearerTime requirements: throughout the combat, about an hour before for set up and about a half-hour after for clean up. "Shifts" are usually determined by the combat schedule, although this is one of those tasks that you can easily help out for an hour at a time.
Pre-requisites: none. Find the Chirurgeon in Charge and ask whom you need to talk to. This is a great way to meet people, see the fighting, etc.
Job Title: ChirurgeonTime requirements: varies greatly. Most events will have shifts of about 4 hours, other times you may be assigned to a specific battle or martial activity. Pre-requisites: you must be a warranted chirurgeon.
What else is going on? Oh, there are classes! Someone had to organize all of those and sure enough you see someone walking by the class area with a list. While this is often a one person job, there are often tasks that can be delegated to someone brand new (like making sure that all of the instructors showed up and that the classes are actually happening!).
Is there a children's area? If so, maybe they need some help, especially if you have a knack for keeping kids busy!
As you walk around the site, you notice that the garbage cans are filling up and worse yet, the toilet paper seems to be running low in one of the bathrooms! This is one of the hardest things to manage for event staff and is a great way to win yourself a lot of friends. Find the person in charge of the event and offer to get the trash emptied and the toilet paper restocked (check the paper towels while you're at it). This job doesn't have a formal title (God or Goddess seems a bit over the top, but it really is that important!) nor does it have any pre-requisites. At the end of the day, there will likely be a heck of a clean up crew! The SCA has an old tradition of working to leave the sites that they use cleaner than they found them to help maintain an excellent reputation with the hall owners. We like to be able to come back to sites, and how well the clean up crew does their job is a huge factor in our ability to do so.
Job Title: Clean Up CrewTime requirements: rarely more than an hour or so, after the event has ended.Pre-requisites: Can you push a broom? You're hired! I've heard that some of the best friendships are formed by working on the clean up crew. It's a really good way to sort of ease back into reality after an event.
Outside of events there is plenty of opportunity to help out as well. Each group has a set of officers, with each officer typically having at least one deputy. If you really enjoy doing other things at events, but still want to help out, consider becoming a deputy for an office.
Hopefully you noticed that with very few exceptions there were no age limits and no pre-requisites for many of the jobs that need to be done at events. Please don't let your age or your lack of experience keep you from offering your assistance.
A couple of last thoughts about service. First, it should be fun. If service isn't your bag, you'll make other people miserable if you force yourself to help. Second, if everyone at an event pitched in and did even one hour of service related to that event we would never have enough tasks to fill the hands asking for work. As it is, there are usually a hand full of people working very hard at a given event. If you can cheerfully give even one hour of your time at an event, please do so - especially if your group is hosting the event.
Lastly, service doesn't have to be planned to count. If there isn't anyone in charge of parking but you notice that the parking lot needs some order and you know how to make it better, step up and do what you feel needs to be done (you may want to double check with the autocrat first just to make sure you aren't stepping on toes, but I doubt you will be).
You can help people to and from their cars - SCA people almost always have a pile of stuff that they are carrying back and forth from the car. Help a merchant, even if it's just holding the door for him/her. There are a million opportunities out there to make someone's day by lending a hand.
Don't get discouraged if people turn down your offers to help. I'm confident that if you ask three more people, one of them will need your help. Also, don't take it personally if your offers are turned down. There are certain places that can almost always use an extra hand - the kitchen and the martial activities are two such places.
Thanks to Dame Margarete of Stirlingshire, OP for the gracious donation of her article.
This page last modified March 21, 2003.