This is the fifth and final installment in a series of articles about the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Kingdom of An Tir.
There is more to the Society for Creative Anachronism than, well, creative anachronisms. The SCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The kingdoms therein operate on a code of chivalry, educational outreach and goodwill.
“One of the things things I was first taught when I first got in (the SCA), the first camping trip: The axiom was to leave the site in better shape than you got it,” said Tammie Dupuis, known in An Tir as Marquesa Laurellen de Brandevin. “That really goes hand in hand with our code of chivalry, where we treat everyone as equal or better than equal, because of that notion of chivalry.”
Because SCA events can last anywhere from a weekend to more than a week long, the participating kingdoms don’t just camp, they set up whole towns, with a town square, merchants, “residential” areas and more. Those “towns” also include archery and thrown weapons ranges and battle fields. Some even include stables and paddocks for horses. Naturally, all of that can make quite an impact on the campground being used. Dupuis said everyone does their best to leave the campsite in better shape than when they moved in and set up their temporary town.
But that’s just common courtesy, a layman might think. Well, yes. In fact, it’s downright chivalrous.
Medieval codes of chivalry tended to center around a few key aspects: bravery, courtesy and honor. And the SCA members do their best to uphold those principles.
More than that, though, they often help educate others, both about the code and about the medieval times as well.
“One of the mandates that our letters of incorporation (as a nonprofit) have is that we outreach to the public,” Dupuis said, “do what we call demonstrations. A lot of that happens in schools or for Boy Scouts. In (Kitsap), we’ve done demonstrations for the Sons of Norway. Other parts, they do demos for colleges.
“We talk about the Middle Ages; we show off some fighting and arts and crafts we do; and talk about how the middle ages is perceived by modern people as opposed to what it was,” Dupuis explained. “We do a lot of educational outreach in that respect.”
Dupuis said that in grade school history books, “there’s a lot of things glossed over.” The SCA works to help fill in the gaps, and can be invited by teachers doing a unit on the middle ages to put on a demonstration for the students.
“The kids love it,” Dupuis said. “Especially the fighting. Usually what’ll happen is the fighters will come in and they’ll choose a little girl to be the inspiration for the fighters.
“For the arts and sciences, a lot of kids are interested in the arts because this is stuff that isn’t really taught in schools anymore,” she added. “A lot of the kinds of stuff not taught in the modern school system, or really anywhere.”
Dupuis added that “a lot of it is kind of magical.”
But it’s not just schools the SCA reaches out to for educational purposes. Kingdoms often offer their own classes to help teach things like spinning and weaving, medieval pottery and cooking, metal- and leather-working and more.
“There’s a lot of forgotten knowledge we’re imparting,” Dupuis said. “A lot of that stuff gets kind of lost, and it’s nice to come in and talk about them.”
And they’re all happy to share knowledge, especially the harder-to-find kind. Dupuis said many resources in the world are in languages unknown to the researcher, or across the world. Dupuis herself has a rare manuscript she obtained nearly a decade ago, with information she shares “as freely as I can so people have a chance to get a hold of parts of that.”
When it comes to goodwill, the SCA does that in spades, too.
“Usually at one of our winter events, we will have a Toys for Tots drive, where people will just bring a toy and people will get a certain amount off a fee,” Dupuis said. “Then there’s the cancer tournaments. Last year (at the 2016 Kitsap Medieval Faire), the fighters, in order to buy into the tournament, they put up the money and then people could donate as well. There was about $400-$500 raised for cancer awareness and cancer research.”
At the 2017 Medieval Faire, the local barony, Dragon’s Laire, part of An Tir, held a silent auction to support another kingdom in an entirely different part of the country. That other kingdom had a lot of their stuff, worth thousands of dollars, stolen, and An Tir wanted to help them out. This isn’t the first time things like that have happened, either.
“When Katrina hit down south, a lot of people donated goods,” Dupuis said. “A lot of the stuff we use, the tents, the crowns that we use, the clothing, a lot of people just lost everything. A call went out to the rest of the kingdoms for any donated items. When there’s a a disaster, people as far away as up here will send stuff down.”
No one in the SCA is obligated to help. But, generally, people are happy to volunteer.
“For me, it’s important to support each other just because it’s group cohesiveness,” Dupuis said. “It’s nice to be able to say, ‘I belong to this group, and this group is a very supportive group.’ You can always count on people to volunteer to do things.”
And when people are new to the SCA, existing members help teach the newcomers how to do the fighting, arts and sciences they’re interested in. They loan armor and weapons and even clothes until the newcomers until they can buy or make their own; members will even teach newcomers how to make their own.
One common refrain newcomers to the SCA will hear is that, because the SCA spans the entire globe, with 20 kingdoms in the known world, anywhere you move, chances are, you’ll be able to find an entire kingdom worth of friends ready to welcome you to your knew home.
To learn more about the Kingdom of An Tir, visit www.antir.sca.org. To read previous articles in the series can be found here, here, here and here. For a photo slideshow of the 2017 Kitsap Medieval Faire, click here.