I remember almost 20 years ago at my first war camp in Ruantallan, back in the Baron Andrew and Baroness Leanne days. I showed up with my fire irons and a bunch of raw meat. It was my first SCA camping event and I was gutted to find out that SCA campers did not actually camp medieval. I believe there was a Prince or Princess or something there, so there was a canvas tent (which was for some reason a big deal then) but there were a lot of Coleman stoves, and when I asked where I could cook my meat on the fire I was told I couldn’t. I got looked at like I had two heads when I set up my great grandmothers dutch oven and irons at my camp with no fire. I never did cook my food, but I decided that “The Dream” needed some help to match with my visions of the SCA, it is just no one listened to 20 something year old kids back then and I was politely told to bugger off. So I did for a while… and went to an event or two a year but avoided camping events where I and my vision were not welcome.
The Foresters were first thought up in a gas well yard in North Western Alberta in 2012. I was working for a fire fighting company in British Columbia at the time and while there was lots of money, there was not much to do but think about fun someday, but not now… I was on one of those rotating schedules which guaranteed that I was never going to see an SCA event again, and the closest shire was several hours south in Grande Prairie.
I eventually decided to come home and try my luck here on the east coast again. This may or may not have been the responsible thing to do financially but at least I could go to SCA events pretty much every month. The Foresters came into existence in May and June of 2013 with myself and Jason being the first members. Jason at his first event asked; “What is it that we (the SCA) actually do? is it just sitting around and drinking rum?” I gave him the Foresters Guild pitch and he was in. Matthew also showed interest and later became a member when his schedule permitted. Jason spends a great deal of his time with SCA children and is always looking for the next new thing to try.
Jason embodies the independent spirit of the Foresters
In 2013 I built the substructure of what the group would be, and wrote a letter temporary that outlined what we did. I asked several people to help, seeing skills and interests in them that I did not possess and our first real meet up was at Summers End 2013. There for the first time my dutch ovens were used at an SCA event. This was progress as far as I could see.
It was at this event that Maria came up to me and asked; ” What is this Foresters thing and how do I become a member?” I already quite liked her after our almost fist fight some months before but I asked; “Why do you want to be a member?”
“Because I am sick of doing (deleted expletive) dishes for the (deleted expletive) other group” was her reply.
Maria came to work with us and has likely engaged in more work and hardship with us than she ever would have otherwise, but she has since grown to a leadership role with us. I like to think that was positive.
Maria embodies the Forester philosophy of perseverance
2013 ended with six members. A pretty good start for a new would be guild where the members did not produce pretty works of art made from silk but instead smelled like beer, bacon, and sweat, were covered in soot and burns and suffered from blisters and callouses.
2014 saw the expansion of the group to fourteen members and we began to go on hikes and canoe trips outside of the SCA. This and an expanded roll in the SCA saw us called into court on a number of occasions and even encouraged us to undertake the spit roasting of the great whirly bird. A massive twenty plus pound turkey. We also did some volunteer work that year, doing some site maintenance and firewood collection for one of the event sites.
I was contacted by Chris, an old friend from many years previous whom had been involved in the SCA when he was younger and he was wishing to get back into the fold now that there was an outdoor group that allowed him to make use of his interests and skills. Chris is a modern day homesteader who brings a great deal to the foresters with his knowledge and skills and of course his great sense of humour and infectious laugh. The foresters was a safe place in the SCA away from the trappings of court where he could excel and contribute and does so at an incredible level. His skill with an axe is only eclipsed by his generosity and gentle nature.
Chris embodies the work ethic of the Foresters
The winter of 2014-2015 was harsh and filled with adversity but still we pushed forward towards our goal of becoming an official SCA guild. There was still snow on the ground at our first camping event of the year and it was at this event that we were joined by Amy. A mother of three, Amy knows a thing or two about work, but she is also technically skilled and helps a lot behind the scenes. Amy also bridges the divide between SCA camping and an interest in real primitive camping. This interest makes her very enthusiastic about the Foresters and what it is we are trying to accomplish. She is a tireless defender of our goals and a leader in her area for the group and the SCA at large.
Amy with her banner embodies the Enthusiasm for the Foresters
As 2015 pushed forward we were informed that we were going to receive our Royal Charter. This meant that we needed to create one and get ready for the day when the King and Queen of the East would arrive to present it to us. A new applicant to the group. Cindy offered to draw up the charter for us. A daunting task that would frighten away all but the heartiest of scribes. While she enjoyed camping, her skills were more suited to using a pen than an axe and so we put her to work none the less. Cindy made oak gall ink and scribed our charter on goat skin parchment and was present as our chronicler when the charter was received from the royals.
Cindy embodies the bravery one expects in a Forester
At the time we received our charter our guild could count twenty one members with others whom had not yet applied but had verbally expressed an interest. One of the positive aspects was the number of young people whom were interested and those without a background in wilderness camping and survival whom simply wanted to learn. In 2015 the SCA was no longer a place where people that wanted to cook on an open fire or sleep under the stars were told politely to bugger off. I think this is progress.
The Foresters march into Royal court to petition for a Royal Charter
King Omega holds aloft the Wardens Horn before presenting it to the Newly Chartered Royal Foresters
As the East Kingdom Royal Foresters Guild continues to grow into the future, it is with high hopes that we look to happy trails. When it rains we will be wet, when it snows we will be cold, and we will enjoy the sun while it is out. All of the members, active and inactive, past, present, and future are members of a brotherhood and sisterhood where we seek to encourage and support one another through successes and failures and in so doing we hope to inspire others to chart their course and follow it to whatever conclusion they wish to see. Without the members we would just be a couple of guys around a fire in the woods. It is really the SCA that has allowed us to showcase our talents and to make use of them in ways that benefit the whole society. I think that is pretty positive too.