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Newcomer Info

Special Information for Parents and Children

So you have a child and you want to play in the SCA. Or maybe your teenage son or daughter has expressed an interest in joining the SCA. As a parent, you probably have some questions, and hopefully we can provide some answers.
First of all, realize that you are not alone. There are lots of parents just like you, and there have been ever since the SCA started over 35 years ago. Some parents play actively in the SCA with their children. Others do not. There are even adults playing in the SCA today who have been playing since birth, essentially growing up in the SCA.
You may be reading this as a young adult, wanting to play in the SCA. We recommend that you print out this page, and give it to your parents when you talk to them about the SCA. It will help inform them about the SCA and what it means for you and for them if you participate.

The SCA and Your Family
The SCA is first and foremost an educational organization devoted to the study and re-creation of medieval life. People in the SCA recreate period arts, wear period clothes, and participate in tournaments and melees designed to mimic the feel of period combat. There are kings and queens and other nobles, and they hold court and give awards to the populace to reward excellence in fighting activities, service and arts and sciences. At events, there are a variety of activities and plenty of wonderful things to see and do. The SCA can be a fascinating, fun and educational experience for everyone in the family.
People who play in the SCA come from all walks of life. Among our members you will find teachers, lawyers, librarians, students, computer technicians, cooks, flight attendants, business mangers, military personnel, and government workers. All of us share a passion for history and its re-creation. Most of us have interests outside the SCA as well.
In the SCA, honor, courtesy, chivalry and hospitality are not just idle words. They are ideals that we use to guide ourselves. It is not unusual to see a respected Peer of the realm offer to help unload a newcomers' gear from his car. Combatants on the list field rely on the honor of their opponents in acknowledging whether they have been hit. When a hall needs to be rearranged for a feast in 10 minutes, a few quick words and the room is buzzing with activity, and every person is moving tables and chairs in earnest. Though none of us is perfect, all of us try, and it makes the SCA a better place.
Many events will host activities for younger children. Frequently there are "Children's Corners" that host coloring, crafts, and games for younger children ranging in age from 4-12 years old. The Midrealm Page School offers activities that educate kids 8-12 about the Kingdom and about period arts and sciences.
There are also youth combat leagues for Children 6 and up.  A Youth Marshal can answer many questions you may have about what activities are available for kids at local events.

Legal Issues
Anyone attending an SCA event must either have a waiver releasing the SCA from legal liability for injury on file with SCA's membership office, or sign a waiver on site. Because children under the age of 18 are unable to sign a legal waiver on their own behalf, a parent must sign a waiver on behalf of the child. The SCA minor waiver form is available for download here. In order to attend an SCA event, a minor must present this form at the gate where the entrance fee is paid.
Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to be on site without a responsible adult, preferably a parent, accompanying them. If the adult in question is not the child's parent or legal guardian, the adult must be provided with legal documents sufficient to permit him or her to make medical decisions for the child in the event of an emergency. The type of documents necessary will vary from state to state, and you should check with local authorities well in advance of the event to be sure you have time to acquire the right documentation.
If your child wishes to participate in combat activities, whether heavy weapons or rapier, there is still more paperwork and requirements. Keep in mind that 16 is the minimum age to fight heavy weapons or are permitted to participate in rapier activities. The additional requirements for youth combat include additional waivers, medical authorizations, and in some instances, personal supervision by the parent. Contact a Youth Marshal for info on heavy weapons combat and a Youth Rapier Marshal for info on rapier if your teen is interested in competing in medieval combat.

Informed Parenting in the SCA
Though the SCA has many activities to interest and inspire young people in every age group, none of the activities offered are a substitute for you, the interested and involved parent. The SCA looks to a child's parents to be ultimately responsible for the behavior, health and well-being of their child while he or she is at an event. We want to help you by giving you an idea of some of the issues you may face as a parent with a child in the SCA.
We encourage you to ask questions about any of your concerns before you attend your first event, or at any time thereafter. Our Canton Seneschal (i.e. President of the local group) is always available to address your concerns. As the administrative head of the Canton, the Seneschal is the best person to discuss SCA policy and rules, and how they apply to most situations. Our Seneschal can also connect you to other SCA parents who can provide good advice from a parent's perspective, and help you understand the realities of having kids in the SCA.
It is important to remember that most activities in the SCA were designed with adults in mind. Though children are encouraged to participate when they can, supervision is often necessary. We encourage parents to be aware of what activities their child is participating in while they are on site, and to be available to supervise them as needed.
Typically on the battlefield, you will hear a marshall yell, "HOLD!" This is a signal for everyone on the battlefield to stop what they are doing, because someone is about to get hurt. We find that shouting "HOLD!" can be a useful tool off the battlefield to prevent accidents or control an unsafe situation. (Many of us have taken to yelling "HOLD!" at our children even in the backyard at home!) Make sure your children understand that when someone shouts "HOLD!" they are to immediately stop whatever they are doing, look around, and follow any instructions from the adults, because they (or someone else) are probably about to get hurt.
Many of the sites we use are parks and campgrounds, and a good deal of the activities at an SCA event will take place outdoors. All of the typical concerns you might have about your child playing outdoors (ticks, mosquitoes, scrapes and cuts, etc) will probably be of concern at an SCA event. Because medieval clothing is often multi-layered and involves long sleeves, assuring that you are comfortable and well-hydrated, particularly in the summertime, is important. Make sure your child is drinking lots of water during the day. Sunscreen is also recommended for exposed areas, and if your child has allergies, make sure you have brought enough medication. Most events have certified first-aid specialists on site, called Chirurgeons, who can help you if you need emergency medical attention. You will probably have to go off-site if your child requires medical attention from a doctor. A child must be accompanied by a parent or an adult empowered to make medical decisions for the child when they visit the Chirurgeon.
The SCA tries to foster an environment of honor, chivalry and courtesy that often makes an event a much more secure and controlled environment than one would usually find in a modern setting. However, we encourage parents to know their child's whereabouts and who their companions are, just as they would at home. This becomes particularly important at overnight camping events. Younger children should not wander the site unaccompanied at night, and we encourage parents to set curfews and other restrictions as necessary on older children.
Be aware that when an event flyer says a site is "wet," it means that alcoholic beverages are permitted on site. The SCA prohibits the breaking of any state or federal laws, and therefore prohibits the serving of alcoholic beverages to those not of legal drinking age. However, as you are well aware, there is no better protection for your child than your active involvement and supervision. We encourage parents to accompany their child to activities where alcohol may be served.

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Related Pages
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Getting Started in the SCA |  Newcomer FAQ |  Special Information for Parents with Kids