Newcomers FAQ

Just what do you guys do anyway?

Middle Eastern dancing is popular in the SCA

The SCA is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the arts and sciences of the Middle Ages. We’ve been around for over 50 years and have over 30,000 registered members worldwide. We estimate that over twice that number participate without being members.

We share a wide variety of interests, such as dancing, brewing, calligraphy, carpentry, jewelry making, leather working, or sewing. We also study martial arts such as archery, rapier, armored combat, and equestrian activities. If they were doing it in the Middle Ages, chances are someone in the Society is doing it. We learn by doing; if you have an interest in a particular area, there’s usually someone willing to help guide you. 

Common events include tournaments and wars, dances and feasts, cooking competitions, and displays of our artisans’ work.  Whether you are interested in the arts and sciences of the Middle Ages or in medieval combat, we can find something that will interest you!

Is this the same as the Renaissance Faire?

Two SCA Vikings invade the Renaissance Faire

Nope. While many of our members participate in or attend the Ren Faire, the SCA is a different organization and our goals are different. Where the Ren Faire is a performance for the public, SCA events are intended for the enjoyment and education of our members. While we always welcome the public to our events, they are not the focus of our attention.

What commitment do you want from me if I join?

A parade of repentant sinners

The SCA is probably the most relaxed organization you can find. We don’t even require that you be a member to attend events. You participate at the level that’s comfortable for you; some people are regulars at meetings and events, others may make only a few events a year. Some friends we see only at meetings and practices, others only at events. The only commitments you have are those you voluntarily accept.

How much will this cost me?

SCA camping events offer a unique medieval experience for surprisingly little cost.

Surprisingly little. Activities such as meetings and fighter practices are free and many events rely on donations rather than site fees. Large weekend events, such as tournaments and wars charge a small  entry fee, normally less than $20. We provide loaner equipment at fighter practices and can provide whatever you need in the way of garb or equipment for events to help you get started.

How do I get involved?

Sharing a laugh at Twelfth Night

Getting involved is easy – just show up at a meeting or practice and introduce yourself. We’ll take care of the rest. Membership is not required to participate in the SCA, so you can “try before you buy.” Members receive a discount on event site fees and access to our monthly newsletter.  You must also be a member to hold a formal office in the Society.

Where can I get help getting started?

Rapier combat is just one of the many skills you can learn in the SCA

This is the easy part about getting involved in the SCA; pretty much everyone you meet will want to help you, to the point where you might feel a bit overwhelmed. The Shire has an officer whose job is to help newcomers, the Shire Chatelaine. The Chatelaine can answer your questions about the SCA in general or the Shire in particular and provide resources to help you get started. You can contact the Chatelaine through our Contact page.

I’m interested but I don’t have a costume.

Unlike costumes, medieval garb is designed to be lived in.

Neither do we. We wear medieval garb which, unlike a costume, is designed to be viewed up close and to withstand the rigors of daily life. The Shire has a stock of loaner garb available and we can always find someone who can loan you any equipment you might need.  Many of our members are happy to help you sew your own garb and there are others who can be commissioned to make garb for you. Just let the Chatelaine know if you need help getting into garb.

What if I don’t live in San Francisco?

Like many groups in the SCA, war units are made up of members from all parts of the West Kingdom.

There is no requirement for you to live in San Francisco to participate with the Shire of Cloondara; you are free to join any local SCA group you wish. We’d love to have you but if you need help finding a group closer to you, just contact the Chatelaine

Where can I find out more about the SCA?

The Cloondaran sunshade is easily located at events!

Your best resource is the Shire Chatelaine who can be reached via our Contact page. The Chatelaine is always happy to answer questions about our organization.

I’ve got a lot more questions!

We’ll be happy to answer them. Drop by a meeting or practice or contact us. We’d love to meet you!