Why are you in my camp? – An SCA Rant
When 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.