The Newcomer's Guild was established with the expressed purpose of helping
those new to our group feel welcome. In order to accomplish this the guild
heads are given the opportunity to take these wide-eyed wanderers by the hand
and guide them into the Knowne World. Some of the best times I have had in
the SCA have been working with people who, by their sheer wonder, reinforced
my reasons for joining this group. I would like to help you find that same
sense accomplishment as your "children" go out into our world.
The people who attend
Newcomers' Guild meetings are most often those who, after seeing us at an
event, have gone to the trouble of seeking out more information on what we
do. They take time to go to the classes you hold so they can learn what makes
us tick. This is a very bold move for them, and you should do everything you
can to make them feel at home.
There are many ways to take these newest members by the hand and walk them
through our kingdom. Most commonly, there will be a series of classes held
at a specific place on the same day and time every month. Most sub-groups
will have a "graduation" for those newcomers who have attended a certain number
of classes, usually six, not necessarily consecutive. At these graduations,
the new members are called up at court and given a token of some sort to recognize
their achievement. Graduation ceremonies can be tied to one or two specific
regular events, such as an Anniversary, Arts Tourney, or another traditional
tourney within your area.
Although this is the most common method of instruction, the size of a group
may be more conducive to a mentoring program. This method lets the chatelaine,
or Newcomer's Guild head, guide the new member to a mentor within the group.
Mentors should be well-established members who are willing and able to spend
time with a new member. They should also be well versed in the structure of
the SCA and not pass on mis-information or gossip. They should spend time
with the new member at events, perhaps car-pool to distant events, go with
the new member to guild meetings to introduce them to the populace, in general,
make them feel welcome.
When the Mentor feels the new member has a good grasp of our group they
should be able to recommend them for graduation. If, however, the Mentor
feels the new member is not really understanding what we are about, it is
their prerogative to ask the chatelaine or guild head to reassign the new
member or to request that contact be broken. This is a game. It should be
fun, not a chore for anyone.
There are others who might attend newcomer's classes. Surprisingly, I have
often seen long-term members at these meetings, sometimes because they are
from another kingdom and want to acquaint themselves with Caid and our customs.
Members who have been in Caid for years may see a class you are holding that
would fill an information gap for them. Just because someone is an "old-timer"
doesn't mean they aren't still learning. By letting the populace of your area
know about new or particularly interesting classes, you can help us all to
To help you in your class planning, I will send you all a series of class
outlines. These are meant as a guide to help you structure your classes. Since
membership in Newcomer's Guild is so very fluid, you can't expect the same
people to attend the first class and finish with the same people with which
you started. The best you can do is recommend that, even after a member has
graduated, They should pick up the classes they missed.
Also, you may want to hold certain classes that have a tie-in with upcoming
events; an Arts & Sciences discussion just before Arts Pentathalon, a
class on feasting just before a Coronation or Twelfth Night, or a class on
court etiquette just before your scheduled graduation ceremony.
Please feel free to do different classes from time to time. You don't need
to get bored. This will show through to the new people and they may lose their
enthusiasm. This is the last thing you want.
When you are through with everything, your "children" have graduated and
are busy with their own offices, groups and lives in Caid, you should be able
to look at them with a warm feeling of having helped a stranger become one
Mistress Ygraine o Gaerllion Fawr