This past weekend the Shire of Sterlynge Vayle hosted a very intense demo for 65 Girl Scouts and their leaders. The scouts invited us their Weekend on the Water, and we did a mini event for them. There were demonstrations of both heavy fighting and fencing. Every time I went down to check on the fighters and fencers there was a small group – or sometimes a rather large group of girls there watching. We also had an archery range with 3D targets thanks to our marshal of the day who brought them so they could shoot at something besides standard targets. The camp has also recently put in some wood butts for use with thrown weapons – such as axes and knives. This was probably one of the biggest hits for the day, as so many girls seemed to really enjoy throwing things.
We also ran a mini schola with several make-and-take activities such as designing and painting your own heraldry, making Viking tokens, creating a draw string pouch, and learning to use a drop spindle that you have made yourself. The basics of Japanese calligraphy were also taught, and a mini bardic circle ran all day. Additionally, there was a quest for the Golden Snail which ran all day with the girls hunting for riddles and then working to solve them. Girls were also able to head in to the kitchen and help prepare both lunch and feast. The camp volunteers opened the waterfront for the girls to swim or head out in a canoe.
All reports were that everyone had a great time. There was one girl that I sat with at dinner who had to show us all the Viking “bling” she made. I am pretty sure she had at least ten tokens made. She was so excited about it. I heard about many girls who tried everything that came out of the kitchen all weekend – and found a lot of new and different foods they liked.
Feedback from the scouts has been really positive, but I can only see what could go better. Planning something like this always has it’s pitfalls since so much is not in the purview of the defacto SCA “autocrat”. To that end, here are my comments on doing a demo of this sort.
Planning has to start earlier. There is so much more that could be done with better planning. A lot of things were coming down to last minute things. This part goes hand in hand with communication – which honestly, I could have done much better. To break it down to specifics:
- Start the planning earlier, allow for a full year if at all possible. This will allow you to set up a staff, and find those make and take items that will be really awesome.
- See if you can theme the event and have a variety of items to go with the theme. Even if the theme is just “medieval madness”.
- Maybe plan the event so that on Friday night you have two big activities start – making a t-tunic and embroidery. (Time intensive, large groups. could embroider on tunics or embroider on fabric for a further make and take of a draw string pouch.) This would give participants a longer period of time to work on these projects.
- Scheduling – have firm class times. Need commitment from instructors on when they will be there to teach classes. “Drop in classes” in blocks of time. eg: there was a huge number of people up to Throw at the same time. Split it into smaller blocks and have sign ups.
- Locations – put similar things in the same area. fiber-y stuff in one area. Messy things (ink/paints) in a separate area. (move kids in blocks (pods?)
- Site book — include a map of where things are located. List the schedule for the day. List lunch/dinner menu. List main SCA persons names and contacts, basic info on the SCA.
- Demo box ideas for quick make and take items: games such as 9 man morris, embroidery floss and patterns for tracing on to fabrics, mini song books, etc.
- If handling food for the demo – try to get allergy and dietary restrictions as early as possible.
- Create some sort of feedback form for the participants to fill out for us with specifics to the SCA program .
- Large site communications – if phones work – great, check for usable other things like walkie-talkies.
- Water avail at the fields.
Do not try to do it all alone. Delegate things. For the love of your own sanity – delegate.
Keep good notes and have them in one place. I used my bullet journal for this and it worked out really well.
I’m not sure when or even if I will run another demo similar to this, but I feel like I have a good idea of how to really improve the experience for both the girls, and the participants.