Recently I read a comment about a family starting out playing in the Society for Creative Anachronism. They began with borrowed garb and a modern tent and camping gear and no funds for a period tent and fancy period equipment. They felt that sometimes in our zeal for recreating historical aspects of the middle ages we forget that not everyone can afford all that. It made me think about our little Shire and how period correct is encouraged, but not at the expense of everyone participating!
We are not a large group, we have a lot of history loving members whose tents are period and their tent furniture is period, and their garb is marvelous, and we applaud them and peek at what they have done with admiration and for ideas we might adopt to move our camps up closer to that excellent example.
But we also have long time participants who play on a very tight budget. Their tents are modern, their equipment the same– but even there, we applaud the person whose tent is covered with a tarp that hides the modern tent in the shadows and adds a sun shade, and an over-head to make a porch– and suddenly his camp is more period looking on a small budget. He has great garb and a well developed persona that serve as another good example to us all.
Another aspect of our group is that we all camp together. Modern and period side by side. It is important that we support one another and help each other get the most out of the event– and it doesn’t matter that you do not have the cash to be more period. We say do what you can and have fun!
I think that the ideals of the SCA are multifaceted. We serve a dream. Each effort to create period ambiance is a boon to that dream. But fussing too much over what people cannot afford to do detracts from that dream.
Taking garb for example. You can go many ways with it. A period good t-tunic in a nice linen can carry you a very long way. Over time, at little expense, you can add some embroidery or sew on some trim, and have even nicer garb. For many people, that is as far as they need to go to be both period and have a good time–and there is NOTHING wrong with that!
Another person in our Shire has a wardrobe of marvelous later period garb. She can do a turn-out that is FABULOUS. Another period correct garb person does the basic tunic– but decorates and trims it so marvelously well that it is equally excellent garb. A third person in our group makes period looking garb for her hubby but uses costuming techniques to keep the number of layers manageable for the heat. It may look like three layers but it is one very well done piece! Again, the dream is served by the quality of the outcome– and this represents a third path to great garb.
To wrap it up, we urge our newcomers to go with basic period appropriate garb like a simple tunic to begin. Then to take their time discovering which aspects of the SCA are their favorites. We want them to spend their money were it will give THEM the best experience possible. Again, this serves the dream.
I love the ideals of the SCA. Both the love of authenticity, and the practical acceptance that it is never going to be perfect. I feel that our little Shire does a marvelous job keeping the balance. After all, learning to recreate history in an idealized form should be fun.
In service to the dream,
Lady Anna Maleine