New to the SCA


The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an international non-profit volunteer educational organization.

The SCA is devoted to the research and re-creation of pre-seventeenth century skills, arts, combat, culture, and employing knowledge of history to enrich the lives of participants through events, demonstrations, and other educational presentations and activities.

Hartwood is the local branch spanning from Duncan to Campbell River, Denman & Hornby Islands to Port Alberni. We have meetings and practices in the Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, and Duncan areas on a weekly, or bi-weekly basis year round. Our regional branches include the Principality of Tir Righ (British Columbia & Bellingham, WA), within the Kingdom of An Tir. (Oregon, Washington, the northern tip of Idaho, British Columbia, the Yukon, and the Northwest territories.).

Newcomers are the lifeblood of any community, and you are very welcome! We recognize some of the habits, customs, and expectations may seem a little confusing or intimidating at first though, so please, don't hesitate to ask anyone for an explanation or assistance. To help get you oriented, we have several resources, including a branch officer dedicated to answering your questions and helping guide you. We call them a Chatelaine, and they can be contacted directly.

There are many ways to introduce yourself to us. We have a Facebook discussion page where we post updates on upcoming practices and events. Some people like to dive straight into an event, while others prefer to show up to an arts & sciences social, or martial arts practice. A listing of our meetings and events can be found on the calendar page; loaner gear for martial arts is often available, but its best to message the officer in charge to ensure 'iron key', as we call it, is available. Contact emails can be found on the officer's page.

Below are bits of advice curated from long-time members; we hope you'll find it useful. If you find that something important is missing, please let us know! We'll be happy to add it.

Welcome to Hartwood! May you enjoy your stay.

How Do I Find Out What Is Happening?

There are many places you can find upcoming events. The most important one is the Kingdom Calendar, which lists all events for the region we call the Kingdom of An Tir (Oregon, Washington, parts of Idaho, and BC). Our Facebook discussion group posts events and practices, and this is a good place to ask questions and get updated information. Finally, you can find a listing of upcoming events and practices right here under 'Calendar'.

Its important to know that not all events will have all activities. Some halls don't appreciate us lobbing arrows at their walls (shocking!), while others may be a little too small for a full ball to take place. Check out the Kingdom Calendar which will list what is planned, and any specific site rules such as camp fire bans, pet allowances, or alcohol restrictions.

First Event

There are many types of events: tourneys; war scenarios; feasts; formal classes; arts & sciences, and bardic competitions. Some events are a single day, others may span a weekend or more and involve camping.

When you arrive at any event, your first stop should be at 'Gate'. This is where you sign in, and either pay or redeem a pre-paid ticket. Non-members will be asked to sign an additional waiver; a copy can be found on the Principality Website if you would like to read it. While non-members are welcome to participate, SCA members recieve a discounted admission.

What should you bring? That depends on what type of event you'll be attending, and what kinds of activities you'd like to participate in. In all cases, your gate fee (or ticket), any required paperwork for minors you are accompanying (see below), an attempt at pre-17th century garb, and any dishes you may require for eating should be brought. Advice on feasting, clothing, and camping specifically can be found below. Beyond that, bring whatever you might like to entertain you and the specific event has facilities for; a period board game, a recorder, or your bow and arrows for example.

Please let us know if you are new, especially if you have sewing skills and have whipped up an exceptional first bit of garb! We would like to welcome you and ensure you know what's happening, but sometimes newcomers are stealthy and we think they're simply visiting from afar.

Safety & Jargon

We have a lot of acronyms and obscure terms that get bandied about. We know this can be a problem and try to avoid them in new company, but if we forget ourselves and you have no idea whats being talked about please give us a gentle nudge and we'll be happy to explain. A more thorough listing of jargon can be found online, but it's more than you need to know to start with.

The most important thing to know is 'HOLD'. Hold is the safe-word we use to ask everyone to stop what they are doing and pay attention to their surroundings; archers will un-nock their arrows, fighters will freeze in place, and spectators should glance around to see what the problem is. Usually it's something simple like a bit of armour has come loose, or an animal has wandered onto the range; once it's rectified, activities carry on. If you see an imminent safety risk, everyone is empowered to call 'Hold!'.

Always listen carefully when a town crier belts out his notices; some may be important and relevant to your interests, such as activities beginning, lost items, or someone leaving their car lights on.


We consider ourselves a helpful and polite society, so we observe all the courtesies. Nod and bow to all in passing and in greeting. Call each other 'milord' and 'milady' as appropriate. Offer to lend a hand if you can.

In the SCA, we have ranks and titles given to us. In some cases, such recipients may wear a fancier circlet, such as a coronet or crown; wearers of fancy circlets warrant a deep bow. For more information, see Forms of Address.

If you attend court, it is polite to be attentive and quiet unless otherwise invited by the court herald or the Royalty on the thrones. Even conversation at the back of the hall can disturb others who are straining to hear the business at hand.

Note that each campsite is someone's "home", so we respect campsite boundaries, and ask before crossing them.

What to Wear

As a newcomer, the SCA asks only that you "make an attempt at pre-17th century clothing". Suitable clothing (also called "garb") helps you to get into the mood, and helps you fit in with others at the event.

The basic kit includes:

  • tunic and trews for men and children (and even women);
  • long gown for women (if not doing tunic and trews);
  • belt as needed;
  • pouch for belt, or shoulder bag (to hold necessaries such as car keys, ID, cash, etc.);
  • cap or hat is optional (and highly recommended for outdoor events);
  • any footwear to protect your feet.

A basic tunic could be as easy as a super-long, long-sleeved T-shirt, or a long "poet's shirt", belted; if you are up for sewing, you can easily make a tunic from a plain cotton bed sheet. We can help!

Trews (trousers) can also be simple, like pull-on plaid pyjama bottoms; we won't see the elastic waistband under the tunic!

A gown is ideally simple, ankle-long, with long sleeves. You can use a tunic and long skirt to get the same effect, or a shorter gown with a skirt under. Note that cleavage is subject to sunburn at camping events, so protect yourself!

Headwear completes an outfit! A simple coif, with or without a simple straw hat works well for camping. If you luck into a wool hat blank, it can be worn as is, or configured to taste.

For those wanting to explore clothing ideas, there are many online sources for inspiration, including Cynthia Virtue's.

Pot luck

Many of our feasts are potluck, giving some people opportunity to try out medieval recipes, and all of us a chance to share food.

Head cooks sometimes post suggested dishes according to name, such as "first name A-H, bring dessert." You need not follow the suggestion; however, most will, to prevent another bread-and-butter-only potluck! The dish should be enough for 10 small servings (for a couple, that would be 20 servings, or two dishes with 10 small servings each). Your dish should be accompanies by serving ware (labelled to ensure return), and an ingredient list (so we don't kill anyone). Observe food safety procedures (see "don't kill" comment!).

If you don't cook, your local grocery has easy options of breads, butter, cheese, pickles, and so on. We have an article that may provide some ideas. Serving ware is needed.

If you cook, roast beef with a cumin rub is perfectly medieval. Many modern dishes are suitable, and some, with an adjustment in ingredients, can be made more medieval.

If you consider yourself an expert cook, check out Gode Cookery for recipes redacted from manuscripts!

Tableware is important! At minimum, have: bowl, goblet, spoon, and napkin. Portions tend to be small, but many, and all leave the table full. As you attend more feasts, you'll sort out the details (such as a metal tankard is wrong for hot drinks), and add a knife, small plate, something to carry it all, and a plastic bag for delayed clean-up later.

Cleaning your tableware should never be done in the bathrooms. You will be told whether you can use the kitchen, or if a wash station is being set up.

Of course, as you prepare to leave the event, be sure to clean up, as our custom is to leave a place cleaner than we found it.

More information on all of the above can be found in our Library page, in the 'Food & Feasting' section.


Be prepared for all weather! We in Hartwood, and the Kingdom of An Tir, generally don't let a little weather slow us down. Bring what camping gear works for you, and make it comfortable. Many of us include sun/rain shelters in our gear for cooking and lounging.

Sites will sometimes have "quiet areas" and "noisy areas". It's a somewhat arbitrary designation that may help you decide on your campsite, staying up with the revellers or getting up with the sun/children. Note that each campsite is someone's "home", so we respect campsite boundaries, and ask before crossing them.

Have a good sleeping kit! A good sleep will offset any discomforts of the day. Changing into dry clothes to sleep will help you sleep better. The Current Middle Ages website has an excellent article on keeping warm at a cold event.

Bring enough food and water, as both will be consumed in quantities that might surprise you.

Be sure to protect yourself from the sun with a sun hat and sunscreen; even cloudy days can leave a nasty burn.

Have a set of clothing for the end of the event in a zip-loc bag, or other waterproof container. If it's been a wet event, packing up in dry clothing is more comfortable.

Remember to clean up your campsite when you are done: our custom is to leave a place cleaner than we found it.


Just as people had children in the Middle Ages, so do we! They dress the part, and enjoy some activities directly with adults, other activities with children's categories, and still other activities for children under the supervision of their parents. We don't provide child-care (baby-sitting services), yet activities are available for both parent and child.

Children have been known to actively create and provide messenger services, carry water to thirsty fighters, and even help with set-up and take-down of camps. One enterprising crew create a trash and recycling service - true entrepreneurs!

Courtesy is expected of even the young ones, and here is a good place to practice.

If you intend to bring a niece, nephew, friend of the family -- any child that you are not the legal guardian of -- terrific! But to avoid frustration and disappointment, please download the form found here: and have it filled out and signed by their parent, along with a photo copy of that parent's ID, before arriving on site. Please note that everything other than the name and signature can be blacked out; it is simply for a comparison. Gate will not retain this.


Many of us have pets that we'd like to include in the SCA experience, and, when event site rules allow it, we welcome them.

SCA rules require that all pets be under control at all times, usually on a leash, and all droppings picked up and disposed of appropriately. Keep in mind that others may have reason to avoid pets, and so respect their space and their wishes. Note that "My pet is just being friendly" is often viewd as aggression, and permitting it could result in an invitation to leave.

Help your pet enjoy the event by ensuring they have private space for their comfort, sufficient shelter from the weather, adequate food, and easy access to potable water.