SCAIowa resources have been created to help with the recruitment and retention of new members to the Society for Creative Anachronism across Iowa, but since geographic borders mean nothing to our online world, it may aid the Kingdom of Calontir and beyond. The SCAIowa Garb Guide actually predates the formation of the SCAIowa resources, but nonetheless it was designed to aid in recruitment and retention in the SCA. Chatelaines and recruiters across the SCA may find this resource as useful as we have in the past, but we do have some suggestions about best practices for its use in recruitment and retention.
The recruitment process is not simply a process of flipping a switch and people suddenly becoming members. The participation of new members evolves over time as they join us and the resources and information that they need evolves over time as well. Some resources are designed to be used in the first introduction of the SCA to the new and potential member at recruitment opportunities such as demos. We have found in the past that the SCAIowa Garb Guide best fits a little further along the process rather than right at the beginning. Many times after people have begun to discover the various aspects and activities within the SCA, they also begin to discover their path and begin to refine their game and the historic clothing they wear while they participate. That is to say that early on new members often take the easiest route open to them to historic clothing and later on, as they find their footing, they refine their clothing options. This is a good time to assist them by using the SCAIowa Garb Guide.
Some new members have an idea of what they would like to wear early on in their participation but lack the historic understanding or even simply the vocabulary to describe what they want. They may have a vision of what they would like to wear but don’t know what we call it. Again, this is one of the reasons why we created the SCAIowa Garb Guide. A recruiter can sit down and scroll through the various entries with the new member and help them to discover an option that works for them. This isn’t a resource that will provide them with all of the information they need to create a garment but hopefully it will aid them in discovering what garments they want to create. To access most of the resources that focus on creating a specific style you need to first know a little about the style in order to find them. Simply knowing the right terms to search for can make all the difference in looking for resources online.
Another important aspect to the SCAIowa Garb Guide for new members is helping people to achieve early success in their participation. Many of us have seen people who strive for a lofty goal and when they fall short, they find themselves frustrated and wanting to quit. One of the reasons we include examples of a variety of difficulty levels is to aid new members to reach towards an achievable goal but leave them with loftier goals to reach for as their skills and knowledge increases and after achieving early success.
Having utilized the SCAIowa Garb Guide myself since 2012 and having used it at many demos and recruitment opportunities, I can also personally say that on occasion this resource is useful at demos, but it is not something to lead with. We have developed other resources over the years such as recruitment binders of information, photo albums and slideshows that are more useful at demos to connect broadly with an audience. However, if the target audience is mainly interested in crafting and sewing or for the rare potential member who we connect with at a demo who wishes to see examples of clothing worn in the SCA, the garb guide can be useful.
In summary, for recruiters and Chatelaines the SCAIowa Garb Guide is another resource constituting a tool to place in your recruitment toolbox as we all attempt to bring more members into our amazing hobby.