Award: How Long Until...?
by Baron Modar Neznanich, Volk Herald  

Previously we have discussed the writing of award recommendations. The topic that tends to naturally follow such a discussion derives from curiosity. It can basically be summed up with the question, “How long until I should expect to receive an award?”

Discussion of such a topic may constitute the equivalent of opening a can of worms. It can lead to a tangled conversation that touches on a variety of areas that interconnect without any one right answer. Because of the nature of this subject matter, different folks will approach this subject in different manners. Some will even say that such an issue should not be discussed. 

Why not discuss it?  [See, we’re already off on a tangent…] Well, we’re not supposed to be doing our activities out of a desire for awards. We’re suppose to do things out of a sense of fun and interest; to help folks out of a sense of honor, a respect for others and a desire to give of ourselves. Some people feel that if we discuss the topic, we may be encouraging people to think in terms of getting awards and that would not be right. However, I believe that by trying to explain to folks why the SCA award system works the way it does, it helps prevent confusion, and hopefully prevent those who feel they may deserve recognition but haven’t received an award, from getting their feelings hurt.

For our next tangent, a small discussion on how things work: The SCA award structure is not a merit badge system. By this I mean that there is not a check-box system where an individual can say, “I’ve done A, B and C on this list, therefore I deserve to get Award X.” Many factors come into play when the giving of awards is considered. These can include (but are not limited to) skill/service in an area, knowledge in an area, amount of teaching done, willingness to help, name/face recognition and personal comportment. The Crown (and the members of any Polling Order) take all these factors into consideration when reviewing award recommendations and determining whether to present an award or not. Because this can be subjective, there is no set checklist you can give someone and say, “Do this and you’ll have met all the qualifications.”  The awards will come when they come, but there is a general, normal time frame to look at. 

Before we try to establish what a normal time frame may be, we need to note that there are abnormalities that occur. As anyone dealing with statistics can tell you, extreme cases can make trying to determine an average time span difficult because they can skew the data. [See, another tangent trying to veer us off on a discussion of statistics.] Just as an example, looking at the award records from ten nearby local groups, I have noted the following occurrences that are just a few examples of instances that make determining an average difficult.

        One individual had a span of 11 years between their very first award and their second award, despite the fact they
         were a constant worker and held group offices (and did a great job at everything they did).

        One individual received their first award and then received their second award 7 months later.

        One individual played in the SCA for 28 years before receiving their first award.

        One individual joined the SCA and in 5 years was made a Peer.

        One individual has been active in the SCA for more than 25 years and is not a Peer despite their high activity level.

        Several individuals have received a particular award multiple times.

Why do these extreme cases exist?  [Yet another tangent trying to lure us away from the main topic…] There are a multitude of possible reasons. Suffice it to say that such things have happened, but hopefully they are kept to a minimum.

Finally, after all those tangents, we get to the gist of the article’s subject: how long does it take to get an award?  Well, different people have done different studies on the time between awards, have tried to account for the discrepancies caused by extreme cases, have computed things and have found the following results.

Generally speaking, it is most usual for a person to receive their first award a year to two years after they begin in the SCA. The reason for this is that it usually takes that long for the person to “acclimatize” to the way the SCA works, get involved and get “settled”.  Many Crowns want an individual to have been in the SCA at least six months and preferably a year, so that it is more certain the individual will be staying involved in the Society.

 In a three-tier award structure (such as Calontir has) the current general statistical time between no award and a first level award tends to range from 1 to 3 years with 1.5 years being the average. From a first level award and a second level award usually ranges from 2 to 5 years with 2.6 years being the average. From a second level award to third level (Peerage) the time ranges from 3 to 7 years with 3.3 years being the average. The overall time frame from starting in the SCA to Peerage tends to range from 6 to 15 years, but the overall average tends toward 10 years. NOTE: In each step of this progression, all of the time spans are based on a prerequisite of maintaining a constant attendance level and a progressive activity level.   

 So in conclusion, what do these numbers mean?  In reality…nothing. Awards will come as they come or not come. The important thing is to do what you do for fun and let the awards take care of themselves. And should you receive an award, remember that it is a symbol of the level of skill you have achieved in an activity or the level of service you have given. But it is not meant to be a reward for an activity that you have finished. It’s recognition of the level you have achieved and there is the expectation that the level will be maintained and the hope that you will advance farther. It is also expected that you will pass on to others your knowledge and that you will be an example for others to emulate.

 Further realize that being a recipient of an award means others will seek you out for information, encouragement and guidance. Additionally, when you wear the insignia of an award (medallion, ribbon, etc.) that it acts like a “letter of introduction”, letting people know what endeavors you have been recognized for and thus invites them to discuss matters with you. It also “marks” you as someone who will be watched by others, thus those who seek to better themselves by following your example will scrutinize your actions and comportment. All of this is a weighty responsibility that should be taken seriously.

2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  Ron Knight (Baron Modar Neznanich, OPel)

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