This weekend was the forty-first celebration of Egil Skallagrimson Memorial Tournament, known as Egil’s, in the Barony of Adiantum, Kingdom of An Tir, in the known world of the Society of Creative Anachronisms (SCA). As our family participated, I began to think of all the things that the SCA has done for my family and our kids. Now, granted, not all events will be kid friendly and the SCA isn’t for every family, but for our it has been a good fit.
The SCA has been a good outlet for some unique hobbies. Every family should have some hobby that everyone does together. Our family’s hobbies just are a little different. My kids have picked up boffer fighting thanks to events. What is a boffer? It is a piece of PVC piping, wrapped in a water noodle and duct taped all around to create a sword. Children, and some adults, use them as practice weapons and for mock battles. My kids love the things. I find bits of water noodles all over the house from them creating their one-of-a-kind swords. They are content to just use these at the various medieval events we go to, but they now have block party battles with their friends. I’m sure there are some parents wondering what these teens are teaching their younger sons. My oldest teenagers have even taken it to youth group as an extreme capture the flag or king of the hill game. Another unique hobby that our whole family has taken up is fire dancing. Yes, you read correctly–Polynesian style fire dancing. We first saw it at an SCA event and my husband, who has spun a staff most of his life, decided he could add fire to it. So, he did. He learned to blow fire and then as the kids got old enough, he taught them to do it as well. I am the reasonable one and play fire-safety for them all. My daughter just learned how to use the hand torches this winter and is in love with them. So, if you come over to our house as a guest and stay until after dark, you may be treated to a fire show–complete with staff, fire breathing, poi, flaming sword, and hand torches.
My children have gained new vocabulary from SCA. Poi was one of those. They are wads of wick that are attached to chains. The wick is soaked in white gas and then set on fire. The fire dancer twirls the chain and wick creating interesting swirls. You already have heard the term boffer which is a household word. At our first event, the kids quickly learned the term biffy or plural biffies. Since the events we go to are overnight camping ones, the biffies are very important places. These are commonly known as outhouses. Even when we aren’t at an event and we see a green, blue, or grey portable outhouse, we call it a biffy. Garb is the clothes that we wear to an event. The kids often ask if they can wear their garb to school instead of normal everyday clothes. Some words have taken on new meanings. Men are lords and women are ladies. A car is a dragon, a tent a pavilion. The SCA has enriched our vocabulary through the various events we have gone to over the years.
Every family with young children need a place where their children can learn about the world in a safe way. The SCA events provided that for my family. Every event was a place where our kids could interact with strangers safely and learn manners. If they found something that they liked in a merchant booth, we made the kids ask about it. If they wanted to boffer fight with the kid next door, they had to go ask the child or the parent for permission. One story that stands out took place at An Tir-West War in California when our oldest son was about five. In the middle of the night, he left our tent to use the biffy. We were awakened by a sleepy adult voice asking, “Is this your child? He wandered into the wrong tent.” We could just imagine the look on both our son’s face and the couple in the tent when he unzipped their tent and tried to crawl into bed with them!
Last but not least, the SCA has provided family memories. I realized this when we pulled into Egil’s on Friday night and the older two started to remember the location. It was where they met Cheerio. It was where our memories of House Black Arrow are strongest. We camped near the place where my husband put out Lord Devon’s face (which was on fire from fire dancing) with his chest. The memories continue all the way back twenty-four years to the April event in Portland, Oregon, Genelta’s Feast where my boyfriend proposed to me at court. (I said yes–twice; once for him and once so the queen could hear!) There are many fourth of July War memories from sitting on a rock to watch fireworks, to getting behind the battle lines without knowing it and finding a crossbow bolt streaking across the ground, hopping, and hitting our daughter smack between the eyes. The memories will stay with my kids as they go out into the world and become their own families. They may or may not choose to continue going to events, but they might. Either way, they’ll look back on all the different times we camped at an event and smile–even through the waterlogged Egil’s events.
So, if you’re looking for something to help your family create memories, build vocabulary, unite it in creative hobbies, and give it a safe place for your children to grow, you can look up the closest event. If you live outside of the United States, don’t worry. The known world exists in Australia/New Zealand, Asia, Europe, and Canada. So, take a peak. You just may learn some new and exciting things and begin building memories.