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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Get the new member to an event. The events are what make the SCA
special, not the local meetings and fighter practices.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.