SCAKids Castle

The Honourable Lady SæhildR barngóðR Website

The Online Home of It Takes My Child to Raze a Village

HOW TO RUN It Takes My Child to Raze a Village

A Collection of essays by THL SæhildR barngóðR

It Takes My Child to Raze a Village (ITMC) is, in a lot of ways, exactly like any other SCA event. It has lots of things going on at once including Archery, Thrown Weapons, Armored Combat, Fencing, A&S Classes, an A&S Bean Count, Merchants, a Lunch Tavern, and lots of fun. What makes ITMC different is that every single activity going on is something in which children can participate in fully. Many of our activities are parent/child cooperative. We also have more “Make & Take” activities than a typical event.

The things that set us apart are our Challenges, our Whole-Group Traditions (Including our Family-Friendly Teaching Court), and our Everyone is Welcome to try Everything format.


Everyone is Welcome to try Everything is the single most important tenet of this event and the main reason why ITMC is so successful. (It's not for the reason you'd expect!)

First of all, let me get one thing straight, SAFETY is very important, and all safety guidelines are very strongly enforced. In fact the only age restrictions placed on activities at ITMC are specifically for safety reasons! For example, children may not participate in combat activities until they meet age requirements and adults are not allowed in the lists unless they are properly youth-authorized or a parent being instructed with their own child (as in our How to Fight With Your Child classes). Where Arts & Science Activities are concerned, some activities are restricted to teenagers and adults because they have safety concerns, and some activities are limited to 5 and under because our youngsters might get hurt if bigger children participate (We have a special Duckling Pond - a room tailored to our youngest youth --and their parents!)

Back to Everyone is Welcome to try Everything, I mentioned in the intro that every single activity going on is something in which children can participate in fully, which is 100% true. BUT! What I failed to mention is that every single activity (Youth Armored Combat and Youth Rapier being the ONLY exceptions) is something that ADULTS can participate in fully. Not just the parent/child cooperative activities (for example whipcording, parent-a-pult, and the Duckling Race), but all of the Arts & Science Make & Take activities, Archery (slightly limited by range-length - there are neighbors!), Thrown Weapons, the hands-on Ballista demo, playground equipment, etc. is open for adults to try. This is NOT a kids' party where adults sit around watching kids get to do the fun stuff, this is a fully-interactive, multi-age, WE ARE REALLY A SOCIETY event.


Armored Combat and Fencing Challenges

We do not have Tourneys or Championships because unauthorized armored combat fighters and fencers cannot participate in a Tourney or Championship. However, we wanted to give even brand new "I just fell in love with this today!" fighters the chance to be honored. (What better way to hook a kid into combat than if they won a tournament their very first day!? And against a kid who has been doing it longer?!)

Therefore we decided to have Challenges and a child or youth who picked up a sword for the very first time that day has as much potential to win a challenge as youth fighter who has been training since age 6! (In fact we have had several Challenge Champions who were brand new that day fighters!)

The Youth Combat Marshal-in-Charge decides how the Challenge will be run. We have had some really neat Challenges:

Rapier Combat Challenge Ideas:
  • Warder Lucien Featherstone tested physical skill using fencing dummies and knowledge using the beepy Div 1 & 2 swords as game show buzzers.
  • Lord Johannes Robertsson used a Scarecrow (wearing a Landsknecht hat) to test specific skills.
  • Lady Brighiida held a Spoon-Egg Race with various obstacles that display rapier skills.
Armored Combat Challenge Ideas:

We have been very lucky to have Master Nyilas Kazmer as our Armored Combat Marshal-in-Charge for every single ITMC so far! He frequently runs the Armored Combat Challenge as a practice and decides on Challenge Champions based on skill and Chivalric behavior throughout the day.

When all of the Youth in a division are authorized combatants (which is frequently the case for Div 3), he runs an actual Tournament. We try to have a Challenge Champion in each division (some years we just don't have fighters that are the right ages!) Our Gold Link is usually chosen from across all divisions. (Please See “On Choosing the Green Leaf, the Gold Link, and the White Feather. . .” for more information.)

Archery and Thrown Weapons Challenges

In the SCA, children and youth often compete at the same level as adults for these activities. AT ITMC, we like to encourage and reward as many children as possible, so we created our own divisions! Duckling (5 and under), I (6-8), II (9-12), III (13-17). Our Thrown Weapons Marshal-in-Charge uses Velcro axes with the Ducklings. Both of these Challenges typically run throughout the day for maximum participation.

Arts & Science Challenges

A common occurrence at SCA Events is an A&S competition (of projects from home) with a Populace Bean Count to decide the winner. The main difference between the ITMC A&S Challenge and other A&S competitions, is that rather than categories by type, our categories are by age. We use the same age divisions as for Thrown Weapons and Archery with the addition of an Adult Category. Also, at the ITMC Bean Count Members of the Order of the Laurel get two extra beans, and ITMC Green Leaf Recipients get one extra bean.

A&S Competitions, or any competitions for that matter, are important for the development of children. Children not only need to learn how to be good losers, but also how to be good winners, and without competitions with clear winners and losers, this can not happen. Competition also challenges the child to take pride in what they are creating, and work harder at it in order to do better next time.

However, competition also needs to be on an equal skill-level basis. It is not fair for a five-year-old to compete with a twelve-year-old. Their skill sets and abilities are not the same.

A&S Divisions

Duckling (5 yrs & Under), Div I (6-8 yrs), Div II (9-12 yrs), Div III (13-17 yrs), Div IV (18+)

Champions decided by Populace Bean Count

  • General Populace receives 5 beans (one per division - however you can put any of your beans wherever you want to put them)
  • Green Lea recipients receive 6 beans (one extra)
  • Members of the Order of the Laurel receive 7 beans (two extra)

We have a form that we require filled out with each entry. (Small children can certainly have adult assistance, both in their project and filling out the form.) Teens and adults are requested to have at least one form of documentation.

Some examples of past projects:

  • Duckling Turnip Soup, Armored Turnips, finger-woven cord, sewing (a small pouch), honey butter
  • Div I period baked goods, an illuminated letter, felting, whipcord, embroidery, clay board game pieces, butter
  • Div II an illuminated scroll blank, candle clocks, sewing projects (pillow, chemise, Jorvik cap, etc.), churned butter, German Snow recipe, a gorget, basket-weaving
  • Div III fencing buckler, henna (handmade recipe and a photo portfolio), Japanese Calligraphy and artwork, an outfit
  • Div IV Anything you would see in any other SCA A&S Bean Count! (Exception - Alcohol is forbidden at this event)

Whole-Group Traditions

We close all of our classes and combat activities around 3:30-4:00pm.
We play some whole-group physical games while the event staff sets up for court!

The Duckling Race

A quacking good time! Families try to beat the time set by the Baron & Baroness (and anyone they choose to include in their family) in a multi-legged race the likes you have never seen before!

The Plague Game

The most fun one will ever having avoiding the Black Death. (Toss rats from your side and try to have the least amount when HOLD is called.)

Family Dragon

A getting-to-know you game that enforces communication skills, etiquette, and creativity!

Family-Friendly Teaching Court

We teach how to accept an award. Then Challenge Champions are announced, in addition to the Duckling Race Winners. Children learn how to graciously win and lose. And our Special Awards are also given out. Occasionally, the Baron and Baroness give out a Baronial Award or a Scroll from the Kingdom.

Ruin-Your-Dinner Ice Cream Social

After Court we have an ice cream social. The reason for this is two-fold:
1. It entices folks to stay for Court!
2. We felt that tacking on a feast would make for a too-long day!

Typically Court is over by 5:30pm -- having dessert before dinner is an excellent treat!

  • For ITMC 1-6 we purchased two 5 gallon Change-Over tubs from the Michigan State University Dairy Store, and a gallon of rainbow sherbert, then scooped away until everyone had as much as they desired (or their Parents said “No more!)
  • In 2015, Horatio Archer (who was dating Lady Bryn at the time) offered his root beer for Root Beer Floats - it was an instant success (and Waaaaaaay cheaper - even with the event paying for the supplies - than the Dairy Store trip, which also had the nightmares of parking on a college campus.)

On Choosing the Green Leaf, the Gold Link, and the White Feather

(This was written prior to the creation of the Order of Defense and not yet updated to include the Bronze Quillion! However the sentiment as far as the choosing remains the same.)

In 2012, we started giving awards to youngsters in whom we see the qualities of a Laurel, a Pelican, and a Knight. The scrolls that go along with these awards include the virtues of these orders and part of their oaths. These awards are truly awesome to give, it is great to recognize youth in a way they (and their parents) do not expect.

Some basic criteria is that we look at the whole youth and their actions throughout the past year and/or their time in the society. I understand that this sounds a bit vague. But each youth is an individual with very different strengths and weaknesses.

I have found that choosing the Green Leaf (youth in whom we see the qualities of a Laurel is often the easiest, because the nature of what they do is easily visible to all. He or she has tried every or almost every Arts or Science Activity offered at the event, entered the A&S Challenge, attended classes, oftentimes even taught classes (at other events or ITMC), discussed their favorite art or science, and eagerly participated in bean count votes. So, far, we have had one stand-out youth all three years.

We (Lady Bryn Archer, my co-event steward and I) have decided to stick to current Society politics and only award the Gold Link (youth in whom we see the qualities of a Knight) to a youth who participates in Youth Armored Combat. If/When the Society makes a fourth Peerage, we will add a fourth award of this equivalence, or if Knighthood is opened up to other martial arts we will do likewise. Every time I attend an event featuring Youth Armored Combat, I spend part of my day observing the Youth in the list. I also watch how these young gentles comport themselves outside the list. Lady Bryn and I discuss these awards in detail leading up to the event, and try to have a number one and two pick in our heads when we arrive on site for the day. Then we catch the youth marshals and ask a few questions about the fighters and sometimes ask the fighters themselves about who is most chivalrous or worked hardest that day.

The White Feather has proven the most difficult to find. The first year we had two youth who served equally, and both were from our Canton, which we debated for awhile. We ended up having two “First Recipients” for the White Feather because we could not decide between the two. Both had attended canton meetings and helped in the making of plague rats, both had come the night before the event and helped with set-up and both had served all day long in the capacity of their choosing. One of those first White Feathers has been awarded the White Feather a second time around, because her service was so far above and beyond any other youth at the event and other events that year. The following year was more difficult, especially because we have decided that we will never again give this award to the same youth multiple times (you can only be made a Pelican once after all!) We looked hard at the youth in our Kingdom and had a few kids we were wavering about. We decided to go with a teenager who sometimes had a bit of an attitude problem, but, who we noticed working harder when he thought no one was looking.

Sometimes, we hear of adults grumbling that they do not think we chose the right youth for these awards. We are aware of these complaints. We don’t just randomly pick a youth, but think long and hard with these very special awards. Sometimes, we go with a youth whom we are aware has some really rough edges, because, we have learned that they will often live up to the standards you set for them. If a kid is being recognized for having a helpful, cheerful, chivalrous, & adventurous spirit, they are more likely to behave honorably.

THL SæhildR barngóðR (Sa-hill-derr barn-go-thr)
formerly Lady Seadhli Tova
(mka Sarah Jean Meyer)
Creator and Event Steward for It Takes My Child to Raze a Village
North Woods Baronial Minister of Youth 2014 - Present
Pentamere Regional Minister of Youth 2006 - 2014

“Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.” ?
G.K. Chesterton