Finding your spot in the SCA by volunteering

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Chances are you've read an article called "Advice to Newcomers". These articles offer great tips about how to dress and act. They tell you to talk to people about the activities they are involved in. They contain a lot of good information that you will need, but in reality, the articles prepare you to find a niche and then see if you fit into it.

Faced with the long list of SCA activities, how do you know which one is right for you? You may already have something in mind, in which case those articles are probably all you'll need to read. If you don't really know what you want to do, I'd like to show you a different way to find your place.

The SCA is run by volunteers. If an activity exists, there are volunteers behind the scenes making sure that others can participate in it. Find those volunteers, help them out and you will soon have an extensive idea of what the SCA really is. You will be doing a great service and you might even find out that service itself is what you like to do!

Talk to Autocrats at events and to the Officers of your local group. Ask them what opportunities there might be for you to help with something. If you see people working, ask them if need a hand. It is often said that 80 percent of success is just showing up. The quickest way to learn about something and become an expert in that area is to show up, again and again. Within a short while you'll find that you have become a sought-after and relied upon mainstay of your group's events. In no time at all you're likely to be running some activities - and that's just the beginning of the SCA's ladder.

If you have ambitions in the SCA service area, the way to the top is clearly marked. Show up consistently, do a good job, travel to work in other areas, and let your fellow volunteers know that you'd like to take on more responsibility. Do those things and you're guaranteed to get ahead.

So now you're on the path to discovering the SCA and how things work behind the scenes. There is one important thing you need to be careful about. In any volunteer job, you usually get more out of it than you put in - that's the energy that keeps the SCA going. It's also well known that SCA members who invest a huge amount of time and energy can end up overworking themselves and suffering from burnout. This is easy to avoid if you follow some simple rules.

Don't bite off more than you can chew. There's always more that needs to be done, and while it's tempting to be a super volunteer, the reality is that you're only one person. Give yourself plenty of free time to enjoy the event and the camaraderie, and tell the people you're working with if you feel the need for a break.

Many SCA activities are high-energy sports, and everyone has invested a lot of themselves in the process. As a result, emotions often run high. Be prepared to encounter some of that and to understand that the person next to you may be under significant stress. Respond with your better nature.

Always thank your fellow volunteers for their participation. It's amazing how good it feels to communicate that recognition. On the other side of the coin, don't feel insulted or unimportant if no one thanks you for your efforts - people just forget to do that sometimes.

Mix up your volunteering to keep yourself fresh and broaden your experience in the SCA. If you've washed dishes try joining a setup crew or go hang out at the MOL and be a list runner. You're guaranteed to learn something new and you'll see the event from a different perspective.

~Hobbe Yonge 07:38, 6 September 2013 (UTC)