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What Is The "S.C.A." (Society for Creative Anachronism)?

Updated on January 14, 2017
Kryssy OSullivan profile image

Kryssy is a stay-at-home wife, a mother of two boys, and is happily enjoying every second of her chaotic life.

What Is The Society For Creative Anachronism?

Maybe you have seen something about it on a television show, or the internet. Maybe you have seen it from (although some brag in a discreet way) a celebrity, or maybe you've heard of it from just a friend. No matter where you may have seen it, the S.C.A. (Society for Creative Anachronism) seems like a strange, funny world at first.
And for the experienced, there has been so much publicity that it has some people in the group turning their heads and saying, "Oh no... Not another one!"

Well, first thing first... Don't let the "Pennsic War" be your first adventure. If someone mentions wanting to take you to "Pennsic", or the "Pennsic War"... Run (or just walk away). Many people need the extra space, or treat the event as a 24/7 party place. For newcomers, a party isn't all that great as it seems. It's a place you need to enter cautiously on your first time. And at some times, that person bringing you just may not care about your health or safety. In fact, it can get quite dangerous. Especially for those more naïve than they think they are. Many newcomers do not really return. But those who do, they come back wiser and trying to not attempt their first time. Each year provides lessons to learn.

Now, if that hopefully did not scare you away... It's not that horrible of a place as it sounds. You may want to start out with a bit of research. Yes, that may seem endless. The S.C.A. has been around for 50 years now, believe it or not. The history is amusing, and quite amazing. To think that it all started from an outdoor party in 1955 between a bunch of friends, that turned into a second party event, which really needed a name to hold a reserved spot, and VOILA! The Society for Creative Anachronism was born. (Honestly, the website gives such a better, more amazing backstory. Please see link below for more.)

As you search, you can also come across many videos people have recorded. Some are oh so very serious, and some are full of lighthearted fun. It is also another way to familiarize yourself with what the S.C.A. is about, instead of only reading about it. You can really get an insight by viewing videos. The search is full of endless articles, blogs, merchants, stories, videos, and so much more. It really is it's own world, and it also is international.

That's A LOT of Scadians, if you ask me...
That's A LOT of Scadians, if you ask me...

Where Do I Go From Here?

After you do some research, keep in mind that you are fairly new. It is not recommended to act like a know-it-all as you very well may end up ignored, when you need help. Yes, many love to help. But if you are a know-it-all, some believe that you could need a lesson in ignorance, even if it means through sarcasm. (For those who may not know: Ignorance (noun): lack of knowledge or information.)
This has happened at times. But in the end, most of us do love to help each other out. Not all though, because there are the loners, and the cliques, and groups who don't look too fondly upon outsiders. Keeping a mental list is best, because you don't want to step on toes and cross into unwelcome territory.

If you do come across those who love to help, ask them what they have to say about the S.C.A. and their view. There is plenty to learn, and each person may provide a unique view. Some are even so kind as to make friends, and let you follow them for a day, at an event. But, before you get to that point...

Garb and persona.
Finding something simple, like a tunic, belt, and pants may be the best route for your first time. You more than likely don't know what kind of persona you want to be. It takes time, and is something that should not be rushed. It may come to you soon, or it may come to you later. Although, the crime committing types of persona are best avoided. Pirates are slowly getting events, and their selves, as well as others, in to trouble. Gypsy persona are sensitive persona type. Especially with the fictional television types being portrayed, and the nonfictional getting upset. Ninjas are portrayed as thieves amongst some, and are not taken too kindly, or welcomed, by others. Dressing up as a fairy, or a mythological creature is not the greatest idea either. It is considered a "bad garb" idea, and can get you onto the "bad garb" list that some people hold. So does garb that mismatches, such as one part Middle Eastern, one part Indian, one part German. It is best to really do your research, and take it slow. But like said, a tunic, a belt, and pants are your best bet as a first timer.

Events are truly another story.
Each event has a purpose. It is best to attend a local event, first, and to learn the basics of what it is about. If you can shadow another Scadian (who is well seasoned in this), then that's great! It can provide a better learning lesson, and an even more fun experience. Just make sure you don't hold them back too much. Some have battles to be fought, merchant booths to tend to, children to care for, and so forth. It can also be a wonderful way to become friends with people. And when the day comes where you are ready to go off and explore on your own, create a sort of safety plan. Always let friends know where you are going, and what you plan to do, just in case. There is a dark side to the S.C.A. as much as there is anywhere you go. Safety is always best in numbers, and with a plan in mind.

After attending several events that are about a day long, slowly work your way into events that are more than a day long. There are several that are a few days, to a week long. Sometimes, there are ones that are longer. Usually, the longer the event, the more preparation it takes. If you have a Scadian friend who has been into things for a while, talk it over with them before you do anything. Sometimes, Scadian friends really have the best advice. (And some just want the amusement to watch you fall on your arse.)
You're pretty much going camping, S.C.A. style. And this can actually get pretty amazing, and costly. There are Scadians out there that do a medieval style of "glamping". Such styles can be easily found by a search engine, or Pinterest. This can be very costly and quite difficult to set up and tear down. Especially on your own. If you're up to it, then go for it! If not, then awesome! More often than not, simple is usually best. It is usually best to practice setting up in your backyard, or someone else's if they let you.
Although some people would be glad to help you, once you get to that long S.C.A. event, you have to remember that others have their own plans as well. So if you're setting up alone, you're more than likely tearing down alone. And making it a complicated "glamping" style may just be best saved for those with experience. Do what is convenient for you, and it saves a lot of time. Don't do anything to impress others. It may be stunning and beautiful, but you're taking up precious time, when you could be doing other things. After all, you're more than likely going to get things muddy/dirty, wet, squished-bugs, or such. Nothing ends up perfect, after an event. Even garb gets quite dirty. Nothing comes out perfect, and expecting such is unrealistic. It just happens.

Now, about the infamous/famous Pennsic...
Pennsic is one of those events that are an S.C.A. anomaly, and best saved for last. It is a two week long event that contains "Peace Week" and "War Week". Many tend to come for a few days to a week, in between the two weeks, as it is the peak of parties and events. "War Week" is a time for battles, and "Peace Week" is more of a time for a lot of preparations, setting up camp and straightening out what needs to be straightened out. It gets very wet, and muddy. Or it gets too dry and sweaty, and dusty. It is very unpredictable. But we all work through the event to make it amazing. And "we", meaning up to, and over 10,000 people. On the major years, usually there tends to be at least 15,000 or so. It becomes it's own city for two weeks. People come and go. And it gets busy. The buses that run through (Yes! Tiny buses! Very helpful!) get over-crowded. Expect to (sadly) walk a lot.

If you are camping at Pennsic for the first time, it may be best to camp with a local group, like a Barony. That way, you get the feel of what it is like, and can get an understanding of how things work. All camps are different, and definitely work differently. Some provide food. Some do not. But your local Barony might as well be your best bet.
As Pennsic is a whole different world, it is often best to do your research, and listen to the advice of others. At some point or another, even the most useless sounding advice may come in use. And it may even save your life. Like said, there is a whole other side to Pennsic... A dark one. And getting caught up in it can be harmful. Or deadly. Attending Pennsic for the first time is like learning to ski... You don't go down the advanced slopes, when you are just starting out and learning.

As being in the S.C.A. is it's own medieval world, there are many skills you can learn and do. From dancing, to music... To selling as a merchant, to fighting for your kingdom... The possibilities are endless. Some are as simple as being a peasant and working hard.
Although, it may become sensitive for some, as some people willing choose a slave persona, working as a slave for others. Sensitive issues like this do happen. But it needs to be kept in mind that these are willing, free people. You are a willing, free person. If you choose a sensitive persona of any type, you have to be prepared for what may come with it. As said, the possibilities are endless. Be who you want to be, as long as it is realistic to medieval times. And yes, politics do happen, as well as religion. Sorry, but you can't be a king or queen, prince or princess, or any reserved (so to say) type, unless you work for it. It is a long, tedious process, and it can be rewarding. But as I hear, definitely well worth it. And it is not a good idea to impersonate such. As long as you put your heart into it, you can work your way along. Nothing is (too) impossible. But it definitely builds to your (real) personality (and persona!).

The S.C.A. being it's own world, has so much to offer that it really is endless. As long as your heart desires to be in it, and you have the effort and strength, you can go far. Some have chosen to make a living this way. For others, it's just a side job, or side project. When you get out of it what you put in to it, it can feel very rewarding. But always remember, look before you leap... Think before you do. And help is not that hard to find, if you look in the right places. It is an open door, and you are welcome to be who you dream of being, and the life you imagine living during the time period. So if you choose to join us, well, hello! I hope this has helped you to learn a little bit into what you need to know, and the never ending learning process... So if you're looking to travel and want an adventure, as well as to leave your mark (or badge, or device), this just may be an adventure for you to try!

Merchants Row at Pennsic... Scadian equivalent to a huge mall. (Seriously, there are A LOT of merchants. MUCH more than this.)
Merchants Row at Pennsic... Scadian equivalent to a huge mall. (Seriously, there are A LOT of merchants. MUCH more than this.)
The many Kingdoms.
The many Kingdoms. | Source
Children can get in on the fun (even if it means getting to attack grownups in a giant (water) battle, at a fort) in the SCA!
Children can get in on the fun (even if it means getting to attack grownups in a giant (water) battle, at a fort) in the SCA!

Final Thoughts...

Would you give the S.C.A. a try?

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© 2015 Kryssy Bruckheimer

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