Greetings into all who read this missive!
On February 21st, I went to Ealdormere's first ever event geared entirely for children. I'd like to describe a bit about what went on, and encourage people to pass this information on to whichever kingdom/baronial officers are responsible for children's activities in your area.
Children have been a hot topic in Ealdormere for a while. More and more people are having them, and bringing them out to events. We've recently developed a set of youth boffer combat guidelines, and we've instituted a children's policy to cope with the unsupervised children that have been a problem at some events. There's been a split opinion about the role of children at events, with some people feeling that children are their parents' problem, and some feeling that the SCA is a family organization and we should do more to include members of all ages.
The event was called "A Kid in King Cennedi's Court" and was run not only for children, but in part by the children. Activities included all of the types of activities of which adults would normally get to partake during events, but aimed at the children and youth instead. There was a whole range of classes, boffer combat including a number of tourneys, merchants geared toward and priced for children, games, dancing, a lunch counter and feast with a menu of period foods that are more commonly liked by even the youngest children, and a soft drink "tavern." There was even a playgroup room for the "under 3" set. While all of the activities were supervised by adults, older children assisted in running many of them. If my memory is correct, about 130 people were at the event, approximately 50 of which were under 18 years of age.
Adult activities for the day were limited to a colouring contest and card games in the Adults' Corner, a table wedged in one corner of the main hall, out of the way of the other activities.
There was even youth royalty chosen (by names out of a hat) for the evening portion of the event. The youth royals got to sit at head table, had access to the royalty room, and held a court of misrule after feast. The king and queen were chosen from the 10-17 year olds, and the prince and princess from the 4-9 year olds. Youth entourage and youth heralds from the same age groups were even chosen to assist them in their duties. A brief class after they were all chosen highlighted for their youthful majesties and highnesses, their ladies-in-waiting, their men-at-arms and the heralds exactly what the "job" of royalty and entourage was, and what they would be doing for the rest of the event.
As Princess and sole adult royal in attendance, I was given the honour of "crowning" the youth royals in a mini-ceremony before feast. Upon consultation with host baroness, we decided to sit with our retainers and the rest of the feasters, and let the youth royals have head table to themselves. The queen and princess even gave out favours (provided for them by the event staff) to the entertainers during feast. The youth court was a blast, and it was a pleasure to see how much of the routine that they had picked up just by watching real courts in the past. They gave out a couple of "favours" and the prizes from the day's activities, and did a great job.
Talking to the children there was a real eye-opener. Some of them stated that it was the first time they had truly felt like they were really part of the SCA. One girl told me that it would go down as one of her most memorable moments ever. The youth king was thrilled because, although he'd come in second in the tourney for his age group, he got to be the king and give out the tourney prize to the fighter that beat him. Everyone there had a fabulous time. Even the adults enjoyed themselves, despite the fact that they really had nothing to do other than watch the children participate. (Talk about the tables being turned!)
I plan on encouraging each of our baronies to hold a similar event. Having even just a couple of these events a year would go a long way towards making the youth of our kingdom feel more included. If anyone would like more details, or would like to be put in touch with the event organizers for tips about planning a similar event in their kingdom, please contact me. I'd be more than happy to see this idea spread to other areas.
Marion, HRH Ealdormere
Republished by kind permission of the author.