The Barony has shown remarkable recovery over the past 4 ½ years since the Investiture of Baron Christopher and Baroness Jamilla. During their tenure the Barony went from 38 (paid) members to 88 at their stepping down (Their tenure lasted 21 months). The Barony is currently at 92 (paid) members, having peaked at 106 between June and August of 2015.
Through most of this time, the Barony was without a Chatelaine, which is part of the problem that we have had with not being able to keep up any sort of recruiting push. Additionally, during his tenure, Christopher’s focus was on recruitment whereas we have shifted our attention more to a retention strategy, focused mostly on the rebuilding of a Baronial culture. Unfortunately, that refocusing, coupled with the lack of a supporting officer for recruitment has caused our numbers to begin to fall.
We believe that our fluctuating numbers are not a reflection of the level of satisfaction with the current state of the Barony, but rather part of the “normal” expansion and contraction the Barony has always gone through, being that a significant percentage of our populace are either active duty military and their dependents, subject to periodic relocation. It has been calculated that currently, only about 14% of our current membership is active duty military or dependent. The percentage of military membership when Christopher and Jamilla stepped down was above 30%. We, however, feel that although we hate to lose our people for any reason, we can work to mitigate the effect on our numbers caused by relocation; both by increasing our local population membership and by creating a functional plan for the constant recruitment of Military personnel and their dependents. We will also see that recruitment of military personnel will in the long run help to keep the SCA as a whole in a better state.
Additionally, we feel that it is necessary that we bolster our newcomer orientation program. Traditionally, newcomers, although generally warmly welcomed into the group, tend to be left to their own devices in terms of learning how to be in the SCA. In many cases this has proved to be very ineffective and people end up getting bored or overwhelmed and eventually drift away in favor of other activities. Although Sir Berold’s SCA 101 program and Citadel University have been programs that have been offered in the past, the frequency of these programs has not been sufficient to cover the needs of the group. To this end we hope to develop an on-going program that will not only be engaging for newcomers, but will also draw out older members as well.
Furthermore, we feel that it is very important to address the problem of inadequacy regarding the youth. Across the society as a whole we see an age gap when it comes to youth activities. Time after time we see that pre-teens and teens are left with very little dedicated activities to engage them. This feeds boredom at events and with the SCA in general, causing many of them to abandon the SCA altogether once they are old enough to choose to not attend events. This is a problem that hits very close to home for us because we ourselves have a pre-teen at home that has quickly lost interest in the SCA since youth combat was halted in our Kingdom. Much needs to be done in this direction and we hope that our efforts here in the Barony, if successful, can become a model for the rest of the Kingdom.
The reasons above as well as others are why the Recruitment & Retention Council was formed. We believe that working together as a team we can accomplish so very much more than one person could ever do alone. This council is intended to be an open venue for any and all members of the Baronial populace to voice their ideas and opinions in the hopes of helping us to stimulate the growth of the Barony as well as to continue to keep our current membership motivated to continue to be a part of this great Dream that we call the SCA. The comment “That’s the way it’s always been” was my impetus to try and develop an active recruitment & retention plan. There is no reason that past trends such as the relocation of military personnel should profoundly impact the Baronial populace if we have a permanent recruitment and retention system in place. If you feel that you want to be a part of this initiative the please reach out to either me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our amazing Chatelaine, Lord Esteban de Leon at email@example.com. We are looking to you, the Mighty Populace of our Great Barony, to step forward and help us make the Citadel the best it has ever been!
(Photo of the Citadel encampment at Grand Outlandish 2017 by Elizabeth McKee)