Why are you in my camp? – An SCA Rant

campWhen I first joined the SCA nearly 30 years ago one of the first things I was taught is that someones camp is their home and that you don’t just walk in to their camp uninvited any more than you would walk in to their mundane home without knocking at the door and being acknowledged.

Although it hasn’t been reported in a number of years, there have been incidents of people’s camps being stolen from; as in money being taken from inside peoples personal tents. And I happen to know of one recent incident where a person was caught just before entering a persons RV when no one was present.

So there are reasons to be concerned over being aware of who is in your space.

But this problem is more basic than that. For the past three years I have paid particular attention to this issue and I have been more than a little dismayed to realize that there hasn’t been a single camping event that I have been set up at in that time when my camp hasn’t been tromped through by people with no clue whatsoever that they are invading someones space.

And I am not just talking about children running around playing, although that certainly happens. I’m more than willing to give the benefit of a doubt to children who are just being children. We don’t like it when they are running through, but usually a simple request is enough to move them to some place acceptable for their activities.

But I have had adults leave their children in my camp. Children who weren’t even playing with any of the children who are a part of my camp! They just leave their children because they seem to think I’m willing to be a babysitter. Sorry, but West Kingdom Youth Activities rules apply in my camp; if there isn’t an adult who belongs to that child right there then that child doesn’t get to be there.

Oh, and while I am diverging slightly about children, if you are unkind or intolerant to the children who are a part of my household then you will be summarily dismissed from my camp. I don’t care if you are kid friendly or not. Those kids are a part of my family and they have more right to be there then you do. If you disrespect them then you are disrespecting me.

No, I am talking about adults, people who have been in the SCA for years, people who have rank and title and Peerage, who just walk in without so much as a “by your leave” or come tromping through the backfield, LITERALLY TRIPPING OVER CRISSCROSSED ROPES and seem to have no clue that they are walking in to a space that is clearly not meant to be accessible!

Over the past three years I have made a particular effort to make my camp layouts in a manner that should clearly indicate to anyone paying attention where the space is private and where it is public. It doesn’t seem to make a difference.

Now I get that sometimes the issue is “well my friend is there and I need to talk to them” but let me address that. My friends in my camp are my household. There can be a few additional people who come in as “friends of friends” and that’s fine. Members of My Household (and you aren’t members of My Household unless I have told you so) can basically say to anyone they deem appropriate “yes, come in.”

But they can only say that when they are asked in the first place!!!

Just because you recognize someone in my camp doesn’t mean you can automatically walk in. It’s still a courtesy to ask permission to enter if it is anyone’s camp other than your own. It can be the camp of my very best friend and I am still going to ask to enter first or at least stand at the door and wait to be acknowledged.  (No, I’m not a Vampire, but now that I’m thinking about it, Vampire rules regarding thresholds do seem to apply.  *smile*)

Far to frequently over the past three years I have found myself literally surrounded by people who I DON’T KNOW because a friend of a friend of a friend (ad nauseum) just decided they could walk in because they recognized someone. I have had people argue with me about getting out of MY chair when I come back to MY camp. I have had people helping themselves to my households food and water WITHOUT asking. I have had so many people I didn’t know in my camp that I FELT UNWELCOME IN MY OWN HOME!!!!

I also get that when you are camping on the list field that you have a certain obligation to be at least somewhat open to people because the days get hot and people need a bit of shade from time to time.  And I am perfectly fine with that.  I am happy to offer shade and water to someone as they are passing by and in need of stopping for a bit to gather themselves.  But when there are so many people who just help themselves that my own household doesn’t have room to be in their own house then there is a problem. Yes, I ask people to move on. I get treated like the bad guy for it. I have been asked to move away from a private conversation between strangers in my house because they thought I didn’t belong there. You can imagine how well that went over.

And I am greatly in awe and appreciation for places like The Public House that go out of their way to be space and shade for anyone and everyone who need it. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it.  The constant traffic and the need to bring so much infrastructure to be able to set up such a space is enormous.  Being able to manage it with good grace and humor is something that is well beyond my personal resources.

Now there are still people who remember these kinds of courtesies. I have had a few instances over the past three years when people have asked if they could come in or if they could pass through on their way to where they are trying to get to. When that happens I am very willing to let them in or let them pass. This is totally acceptable. But these people are more and more the exception and not the rule.

And I know that I am not the only person who appreciates this courtesy. This past weekend I found myself walking in a direction that put me on a path through a camp and so I asked if it was okay to pass and was not only given permission but thanked for my courtesy. There are people who do remember this courtesy in our organization.

“Oh but the SCA is just one big happy family!” No, not really. Sure, most of the people I know are cool people and I don’t mind having them around. I like visiting with them. But there are people who, even if they are my “SCA family” are still a part of the family I would rather not interact with. We all have the Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bob we’d really rather not invite to the family reunion. The SCA has its share and nothing makes me more unhappy than finding myself suddenly forced to extend the hospitality of my home to someone who I would rather not be there for any number of reasons.

So this is my request: ask. Just ask. Take a moment to stand at the threshold and ask “may I come in?” Doesn’t matter if your best friend in the world is sitting there, you’ll know it’s not their camp so ask someone whose camp it is if you can enter. If you are in someone else’s camp and someone asks you if they can enter don’t assume you have the right to say yes. Direct the request to someone whose camp it is. All we really want to know is that the people who are there are there for a reason and to be able to acknowledge them.

And this is my request: pay attention. If you have even the slightest doubt then go around instead of through. If you are tripping over ropes to get where you are going that should be a clear indication that where you are going isn’t a path. Even if you see other people using it! Why would you make the same mistake others are obviously making?

And finally this is my request: just remember that people’s camps are their homes. Yeah, we’re all great friends at a great big party but that doesn’t give you license to trample over everything and wreck the place. We’re supposed to be more courteous than that.

Thus ends the rant.

About santiagosgrimoire

Magician, Entertainer, Actor, Cook, Leather Worker, Artist and generally very busy.

Posted on June 22, 2015, in Event, SCA and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Fiona MacGregor, GDH

    Fiona MacGregor, GDH.

  2. I had this happen to me at the one Pennsic I went to. I ended up having to use my cooler to sit on half the time because the same person who had been ask repeatedly not to use my chair kept flopping in it and it broke before war was even over. I try to be very conscious of others space even when on a mission for the Crown. Being polite and courteous with win more people over then not. At a recent event I had forgotten a chair and was going to sit under one of the class pavilions when the local Baronage who are good friends told me to rest under their pavilion and use one of their extra chairs which worked out well because I was able to assist one of their scribes wordsmith a scroll. Kindness begets kindness.

  3. I partially agree with your rant and yet…… the other side is that people request the space that they want without considering walkways in between camps and go right up to the *boundaries* of THEIR camp- doesn’t leave a lot of room for options or even courtesies sometimes……and its easy to say go around but that also is not always feasible. I guess what I am saying is usually there are multiple moving parts to the issue

  4. This happened SO OFTEN this last summer!

  5. Sadb ingen Thuathail

    We have recognized and have been discussion just this!

  6. I always ask. I have never been turned away. The “never turned away” could be partly due to having a harp with me, LOL!

  7. I agree completely. I have no idea why this once-common courtesy has gone out the window!

  8. Had this happen at Pennsic this year. First time in 18 years and I’m in the “bad” neighborhood. Had to throw the guy out too, he was high on something and got rude with me when I asked him to leave.

  9. If someone is having a big brew-ha-ha, I generally walk right in with the crowd. Otherwise, I usually call in “Hello in the camp! Permission to enter?”

    I have found myself mistakenly in someone’s camp. I think I’m on a path, but I’m not. Whenever I realize that I’m not where I should be, I quickly try to get where I should be. If there are people out for me to apologize to, I do. Good camp boundaries do not keep everyone out but the do keep people like me from accidentally wandering in.

    I’m glad to hear you are tolerant of children’s lack of adult level social skills. I have them. They aren’t perfect. They follow the rules most of the time but sometimes they forget themselves. They understand that a tent or trailer is a home, a camp is somebody’s yard and a cooler is somebody’s refrigerator. They have a healthy concern for contact with strangers too. Sometimes they get excited and are so in the moment of play they forget. I’m usually within earshot though.

  10. I too have been playing in Ansteorra for 30 years and have seen the same problem. We just aren’t teaching the newcomers proper camp etiquette it seems. In my early days I used to be able to leave my purse laying out in plain site and not worry about anything being stolen. Now, unfortunately, I definitely hide things to prevent pilfering. It’s a sad state.

  11. I agree this is definitely a problem, my household has had many problems in the last couple years and it was worse once we got a perimeter rope. Not just the oblivious ones but the the drunken ones, this year we dealt with one 3 times in one night and ended up with a lady in our house getting all mama bear because he headed towards the tent with her sleeping kids. We usually have lots of people join our Saturday night camp but this was ridiculous.

  12. How fortunate you are that so many people want to be near you! It speaks well of your hospitality and personal hygiene.
    I tend to feel territorial about my encampment as well. But, not everybody does. Assuming your campmates are on board, my only thought is that you might not be defining your boarders as clearly as you think. I haven’t seen a household put up a palisade in years. And even then you’d get the occasional person that would crawl under rather than go around. That’s why you need armed guards. If you have a fence and a gate you’re allowed to tell the kids to get off your lawn, and say, “No thank you. We already have one”, to those silly English knights.
    A big open dragon wing right off the Eric seems by default inviting, especially if you were there yesterday for some class or meeting, or just spent some time visiting with random strangers in one just like it nearby.
    What I’m trying to say, levity aside, is that “polite” varies greatly. And the cues we might have in the modern world that define an area as personal or private are frequently absent in the SCA. And even when you have a well defined “private” space, those tent walls are very thin, and romantic candlelight casts silhouettes.
    Lastly, I’m totally with you on that chair thing. I hope to visit you in your camp soon.

  13. I know I have been guilty of this, mostly in my first 2-3 years in the SCA, At Antir-West war, there were tents that backed up against the war field. I distinctly remember walking behind them and, yes, tripping over their ropes. Someone from one of the camps gave me a nasty look, and I was confused, thinking that I was OK since I was in back of their tent. But, would I walk through someone’s back yard? No.

    I’m only about 5 years a member now, but I have learned so much in that time. This ‘rant’ is a great reminder that I need to be aware of my surroundings. The longer I play, the more I am coming to understand the richness of the game, and to give more respect where it is due.

  14. I’ve seen two opposite incidents of this in the past two years.
    1. At Potrero (super-South Caid), we have a merchant booth, and the merchant row was set up surrounding a stone privy, with two or three paths to the privy for the populace to use. The first time, someone walked THROUGH OUR SHOP (which has our camp behind it) just to get to the stone privy. The second time this happened my house mother (the shopkeeper) stopped another passerby and charged him a dollar to walk through. The third time, she flat out said no, the path is a mere 6 feet further on, please use it!. I think we put up a better wall after that.
    2. We were camped with another barony at Highland War (central Caid) that had several kids. I was in my tent at the very edge (near the camp entrance), when I hear this young voice say “hello?” from said entrance. I stepped out and a kid, perhaps eight years old looked at me and told me his father said never enter a camp without getting permission, but was so-and-so (one of the kids) there. I praised him for his courtesy, then let him in to find his war-friend.

  15. I have yet to have the pleasure of attending an SCA event, but worked at a few small faires in CA…these rules are paramount! Its important to know that your space is safe and accessible to those who should be there. I would never deem it acceptable to just walk into a camp, I like the ritual of asking it feels much safer to me.

  16. I have actually had a person say to me(while sitting in MY chair under MY shade pavilion that was attached to the entrance of MY tent) Do you mind?! this is a private conversation!!!

    I feel that even security should and used to “Hail the camp”.

    • At a non SCA event, here in Oregon, my friend (the head of constab for the event) had to run through someone’s encampment to deal with an incident. As soon as the incident was resolved, he went back to that camp, asked permission to enter properly and apologized for his rudeness.

      So even if you have an urgent need to enter quickly, you can still make it right later.

  17. Doesn’t that have a lot to do with how that person’s household trains them in how to deal with that specific thing? My head of household told us what to do and what not to do about going into different camps. And we were told to say “Hail _____” before asking permission to come into their camp if we were looking for a certain member of their camp or just to hang out. So I completely understand your rant, though I don’t think our camp had that problem.

  18. Reblogged this on Student-Made History and commented:
    Blackrose would love it very much if you asked.

  19. angela goodyear

    we put up a large shade area at Uprising (Barony 1000 Eyes, Kingdom or Artimesia) we try to have an entrance on either side for a walk through. my pet peeve is people sitting on my coolers. they just do not get it when asked not to sit on them they come back later and do it again. for the most part people ask to come in and are nice about it. but I have seen the same things you are renting about. THANK YOU FOR BRINGING THIS TO OTHER ATTENTION. please be kind and ask before entering our getting into or on a cooler.

  20. As a new person (literally just a few months in), I really hope I don’t end up camping next to you at some point, because you absolutely terrify me of accidentally stepping over a boundary I may be unaware of. In my few months here, I have heard many comments about how the numbers are dwindling, and people discussing ways to help the SCA increase its members…but posts like this, that get shared on the “New to the SCA” Facebook Page (where I found this, because I am new and still unaware of a lot of things) frighten away people like me.

    Do you have valid points? Yea you do, and I completely understand your frustration – but you express this in a way that makes me as a new person scared to go to events and meet other people out of fear of accidentally forgetting some “long known common courtesy” because everybody has been in the SCA 30 + years and already have their cliques and way of doing things.

    Maybe it’s uncomfortable having people you are unfamiliar with in or around your camp, but its equally uncomfortable going to an event as a new person and assuming to know all the rules and courtesies that we are expected to show.

    I get it though, this is your personal blog, and you have a right to discuss whatever topic you want with as much venom as you desire – so maybe this comment is also directed at people who share this post to “SCA for the NEW player pages” – I think a much more appropriate post for a “newbie” page would be a post educating new players on how to recognize a boundary, and how to identify a household vs something you can just wander into…especially if that encampment is on the Erik (is that even spelled right? I don’t know because I am new) because at the last event I was at (Crown) there were some really cool looking encampments that *I think* may have been households – but as a new player they looked more like public spaces to go meet new people due to their placement and setup, but I was too afraid/shy to go ask, and this post only reinforces that.

    I wonder if you are a peer? It looks like it because your SCA resume seems impressive – and I also see you’ve taught classes. With your experience teaching classes – perhaps a good way to address this would be teaching a class, where you educate new people on these topics that we don’t know or understand, while helping us feeling welcomed. Maybe as a new person I misunderstand what the SCA is about but I thought it was about chivalry and politeness and was a welcoming place.

    And just a thought here but – maybe (just maybe) people who camp on the Erik should set a example and be more welcoming, because due to its placement, it seems like a place where new people can stop and learn and meet others.

    • santiagosgrimoire


      I’m sorry you think I’m so scary. Truly. As you correctly point out, this is my personal space and I wasn’t the one sharing this information around. I write for me and maybe a handful of others who understand precisely where I am coming from. The fact that my recent posts seem to have ‘gone viral’ is not really a matter I have much control over.

      Let me point out however that these posts and my ire are directed at people *who should already know better*, not at new people like yourself. As I specifically said —

      “No, I am talking about adults, people who have been in the SCA for years, people who have rank and title and Peerage, who just walk in without so much as a “by your leave”….”

      It’s pretty obvious when someone is already a “well established” person in the SCA, and as such should know better how to deal with things.

      It’s also pretty obvious when someone is new to the SCA and doesn’t know. When that is the case I’m always quite happy to discuss and teach. I have brought many a new person to the SCA during my entire time and have taught classes for newbies on many occasions. I am also thinking it’s time to do so again because clearly there is a need.

      You are reading “venom” while everyone else seems to be reading “frustration”. I’m not sure what to do about that other than to reassure you that there is no “venom” intended.

      You may wish to continue to consider me a cantankerous old coot or whatever. Heck, I’ll own that because I am a cantankerous old coot, but I would like to suggest that you take this post, print it up, and find someone you do trust, a Peer or whatever, who has been in the SCA for longer than you have and sit down to have a discussion with them about it.

      Test your perceptions, test your interest, test your courage when it comes to approaching people. I think you’ll find that very often the people who have been around are a lot less scary then you seem to think I am, and are actually quite willing to work with new people.

      I wish you well on your journey. There is a lot to learn and a lot to grow in.

  21. Thank you for this and maybe even a bigger thank you for taking the time to reply to Newbie. As another cantankerous old coot, I can relate to just about everything you shared. I know that our household works hard to teach our new members the older traditions while remembering that even the newest person has something to share. I think where we come up short, and perhaps others do as well, is in failing to teach those not associated in some way with our household the old traditions. “Hail the ship,” “Leave it cleaner than you found it,” “We are all presumed to be of genteel birth but nobility is earned.” Teaching classes on the traditions and histories is wonderful but only those who are already at least a little curious will attend. I think some of us cranky old farts might need to get better at teaching by example.
    Lie du Bosc
    Barony of Sun Dragon
    Kingdom of Atenvledt

  22. Well said,, seeking permission to enter is a pleasant respectful greeting. Enjoy it!!

  23. I found this on facebook and i see so many people doing this, I am guilty in the beginning as well. Thank you for posting this to let others know common curtsy to others spaces.

  24. Fionnghuala Ruadh inghean Ui Choncobhair

    Yup, two years ago at Gulf War, our camp had “camp crashers”. They told gate that they were from Eldern Hills (never seen in my life, none of us had), so they were told to set up in our camp. They had no food, no water, only a tent. That whole week pretty much sucked for us.

  25. Elizabeth NEIL

    Thank you for your words, my name is Lady Elizabeth from Artemesia, and as a second generation it is esspetialy difficult to remember that camp is haven, and a time to relax, its not necessarily a party zone. Your words came from frustration, however they reminded me to always show respect to those around me, sometimes I do forget,and I don’t realize that some actions can be down right irritating. Also I am certain that others will take valuable lessons from this post. Again, thank you!

  1. Pingback: Theft Isn’t Schtick | Santiago's Grimoire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: