Integrating old and new

Retaining new members is an important job of the chatelain; it may be the
most difficult job, too. The key to success is to get the new people
involved, and to make them feel welcome. Try to offer them something that
can not be found elsewhere. There are many ways that this may be done. Here
are a few suggestions:

  1. Have a new members orientation meeting (after recruiting) to explain
    the SCA and to let people get acquainted. See Appendix II for a sample
    orientation meeting outline.
  2. Match each new person with an experienced person for a couple of
    months. The experienced person can answer questions, help the new person
    get ready for an event, introduce the new person to others, etc. There can
    even be a gradutation ceremony at the end of the mentoring
    relationship.
  3. Give new people a New Members Packet. (Every group should organise one
    appropriate for themselves.) This relieves the pressure on experienced
    members to try to explain everything, as well as pressure on the new
    person who does not know what questions to ask. The New Members Packet is
    explained in the previous section.
  4. Have activities that help the new people and the old people interact.
    Some suggestions of this sort include: a garb making session, a cooking
    session and feast, a class on calligraphy or any hands-on activity.
  5. Have a "How-to-go-to-an-event" meeting before a nearby event. Explain
    what to take to an event, what not to take, what to expect, and how to
    act. (It is never too early to tell people that they are expected to
    maintain SCA standards of courteous and responsible behaviour.) Help them
    find lifts or car pools, (or at least maps), feast gear, garb, etc.
  6. Get the new member to an event. The events are what make the SCA
    special, not the local meetings and fighter practices.
  7. Invite the new members to do non-SCA things with local SCA members,
    such as a video party, a pizza party, or bowling or just going out for a
    drink. These informal gatherings can be reassuring to the newcomers,
    because they are more confident of what is expected of them.
  8. Do not expect everyone to have the same SCA interests. College age
    members will often have different interests than the older members.
    Respect those differences and let people be themselves.
  9. Throw a mini-event for the new people. This provides a place where new
    peole can learn what an event is like, without as much pressure.
    Established members often have more time to help out newcomers at a
    mini-event.
  10. Give new people a job, get them involved. Include the new people in
    what ever is happening in your group. They can help with the pre-cook for
    a feast (been there and got me hooked!), help do the layout for the
    newsletter, etc. (I do not recommend, however, giving brand-new members an
    office.)
  11. If the newcomers are a family, do not forget the kids. Have activities
    that interest everyone. Why not contact the local Children's Guild or the
    Kingdom Guild Head.
  12. Find established members (perhaps from other groups) who have
    interests the same as your new people, and introduce them to each other.
    For example, if the new person is interested in fighting, introduce the
    new person to a friendly knight or fighting instructor at an event.