Getting Involved in the SCA

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There are the fringies who go in order to dress up and party. Then there are the rest of us. Most fringies were usually turned off from getting involved any further because of Garb Nazis and/or the clique-ishness that can happen with pointy hats and the peerage. Just remember that SCAdians were the geeks in high school, we are all human and have our pecularities. Some fringies object to the politics of the core. The truth is, is that whenever you get two or more people together politics are bound to happen. If you're like me and actually like history, crafting, theatre, and don't drink very much or very often then here are some tips for getting your feet wet.
The Society cannot operate without volunteers. Sites need prepping, people to run the event, and cleaning up afterwards. Unfortunately, not enough people are willing to do the work so the same people end up filling in the blanks, which is how you get Pelicans and burnouts. Many hands make light work is an old adage, but very true.
What do you like to do? If it's working with your hands, then take a class. There are classes for everything from cooking and basic sewing to metalwork and fighting. They are great to find out if you like the particular activity without investing a lot. If you like to work with people, then sign up for a shift or two at gate. Volunteers are always needed at gate and it's a great way to meet people as well as getting an idea for the event's schedule. If you have a theatre background or are simply loud, then offer to do town cry. Heralds are very welcoming and willing to train newbies. The chirurgeons (medics) are always looking for new members, although you do have to have a curent blue card and first aid/CPR certification. If you are not that much of a people person and have good computer skills, most SCA websites look like they were designed by drunken monkeys.
Now you know what you like to do, the question is how to go about it. Email the autocrat before an event and offer your services in specific areas. Subscribe to email lists because volunteers are often solicited there. There are even lists for guilds such as heralds or chirurgeons. While checking in at gate, see what slots they need filled.
There are competitions for various activities. Obviously there are the martial competitions, but there are also ones for the Arts and Sciences. There are generally standards for each level of experience. For example, they tend to go easier if you are new (either to the Society, competing, and/or the craft) and giving constructive criticism. Once you know better, the stricter the judging becomes.
Then there are what I like to call the Cookies. These can be literal or metaphorical. For example, I love being a herald: they give me bacon for being loud (a household gave me some bacon for warning them before doing town cry early in the morning). They tend to feed the Gate Trolls with sweets and water, and someone even gave me a pack of Super Mario Brothers fruit gummies because I laughed at the box that peeked out of their bag as they were signing in. I got a wooden comb for just doing a gate shift at Acorn War. Also at Acorn War, Macha agreed to let me do town cry for moot (aka court without Princes, Princesses, Kings, or Queens) from horseback.
And, of course, there are the awards. Contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily have to "know the right people." True, you do generally have to be recommended by members of the populace, but if you do get involved, you will inevitably get noticed. Normally, active members here in An Tir receive the Goutte de Sang after one to two years of participation. This can take more or less depending on how active you are.