Saturday, June 20, 2015

SCA Garb Swap Article

So, I was asked to write an article about my Garb Swap at It Takes My Child to Raze a Village, for a Quest Article in the Tournaments Illuminated magazine. Here is my submission:

While I was Minister of Youth in the Middle Kingdom canton of Wealdlake, it occurred to me that there were no Midrealm events specifically aimed at the SCA family, encouraging Society parents and children to attend -- and especially, to participate -- together.  I decided to create one.  "It Takes My Child To Raze A Village" -- ITMC for short -- is that event.  Held for the first time in 2008, the event features child-parent co-operative activities that teach about both medieval life and the SCA community. It is an event, not a "Children's event," everyone can do everything, almost (Youth lists only -  no adult fighting!)  I'm happy to say that it has been so successful in the Midrealm that it has spawned versions in other kingdoms, including a version that has taken [It was not held in 2014] place at Pennsic's Youth Pointe.  Around 2007, someone asked whether or not children would be required to wear garb at ITMC.  (Admittedly, being a child-less individual, I had not thought of this as an issue, and decided to fully embrace the "reasonable attempt at medieval clothing" aspect of the SCA.)

      However, my church had recently held a Mom-to-Mom sale: sort of a cross between a flea market, a tag sale and a car boot sale, by moms to other moms, featuring gently-used kids' clothes and gear.  Now, I did not attend the sale at my church, and in fact I've never been to a modern mom-to-mom sale, but that didn't stop my crazy brain from storming right into the Mom-to-Mom Garb Swap idea.
     The concept: Bring SCA garb that you no longer want or just can't use, leave it at the swap point and browse among tables full of garb from other Society families who've brought the results of their own closet-cleaning.  One mom's trash is another mom's treasure.  Whoever oversees the swap shows folks where to leave their incoming stuff, sorts through things a little and helps to keep the piles tidy, but really, this concept is so simple it almost runs itself.
     Information about the ITMC Mom-to-Mom Garb Swap was included in all our event advertising: The announcement in the kingdom newsletter, the event website, the Facebook event page, ITMC flyers passed out at events leading up to ITMC, and so on. When talking up the overall event, I always mentioned the Garb Swap and encouraged people to bring that first, weird-fitting garb they had made, but could not bear to throw away; items their children, their spouses, or they themselves had outgrown; that seemingly perfect item their child refused to wear; things they had never got around to tailoring and so had never worn and were never going to wear, and so on. --I’m sure that right about now some of you are picturing a specific unwanted item of your own, lit up and spinning like a home shopping special.  And just like a home shopping special, there's probably someone out there right now who would think that your cast-off is exactly what they need.
     In both face-to-face and Facebook interactions, certain Garb Swap ideas were repeatedly reinforced: Children come in all sizes and some are even larger than some adults, so don't worry that a piece of garb is too big, just bring it anyway; you do not have to be a mom to swap; and you don’t have to bring something to take something.
     The day of ITMC in 2008, two six-foot tables were set up under a Garb Swap sign. By lunchtime, a third table had to be added!  It was a popular spot - kids were picking out their own “outfits;” parents were thrilled at finding pants long enough for their ever-taller teens; and people were happily “unloading” stuff they were grateful not to be bringing back home.
     At the end of the day, any leftover clothing is sorted into three categories using the “Clean House” system: “Keep”: things to add to our canton’s Gold Key loaner garb closet; “Trade”: items that go into a ten-gallon plastic tub to save for next year's ITMC Garb Swap; and “Toss”: things to get rid of because they require too much mending, are irreparably stained, are falling to bits like a disintegrating zombie, feel like sandpaper, etc..
     To date, the Mom-to-Mom Garb Swap has made an appearance at every ITMC, including the Pennsic editions at Youth Pointe!  All you need to do your own swap is an enthusiastic organizer, a bit of advertising, a location within the event for the swap to take place, a few tables and a plastic tub to keep leftovers in until next time.

Sarah Jean  is a full-time student at Eastern Michigan University majoring in Elementary Education and Integrated Social Studies. She works as a substitute teacher and part-time nanny. 
SæhildR barngóðR pronounced Sa-hill-der barn-go-ther (both rhyme with "sir") was a generically time-traveling Jewish Celt (named Seadhli Tova) until recently becoming a Norse Lady who wears vibrantly colored apron dresses. She is known for her creation of the Middle Kingdom event "It Takes My Child to Raze a Village" and making peg dolls that bear a resemblance to certain royal and noble persons. She served as the Pentamere Regional Minister of Youth for eight and a half years, stepping down in November 2014.

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