Or, making a new friend might just make them feel that much more welcome at an event and want to come back.
It is easy to go to an event with your own group of friends (and many of us go to events specifically because of those people), but I have discovered that it is even more amazing to go to an event with my own household and still have another host of individuals that I look forward to seeing and geeking with.
Last week Gianetta posted another letter to the Kingdom of Atlantia's Facebook page that I feel is worth posting here as well (with her permission, of course). I have placed it below for you to read.
"My friends are here." Count 'em - that's four words. I met a charming young woman at an event this weekend and chatted with her briefly. I don't know if she's new to the Society or raised in it, but she said that she drove an hour in an un-air-conditioned car yesterday (yes - in that horrid heat and humidity that was yesterday). When I said, "Oh, wow," (remembering my days of no AC in my car), she shrugged and said, "My friends are here."
I posted some graphs here maybe six months ago about SCA membership and event attendance. I came to the conclusion that membership stopped growing and leveled off when the recession hit. I also concluded that location and weather were the biggest factors affecting attendance at events. I have met MANY fabulous new people at events this summer. We do NOT have a kingdom-level shortage of newcomers - that is NOT what this post is about, but when I think of membership leveling off, then I have a great time at an event, I want to do something to make our Society start *growing* again. It hit me yesterday that "My friends are here," is the key to retaining both newcomers and old-timers. Why do you go to events and local activities? Because your friends are there.
If you are like me and want to see our Society grow, I challenge you to meet and make friends with newcomers and other folks who look a bit lost at events. Introduce yourself and get to know them - these are great people I'm meeting at events. Find out what interests them and brings them to the SCA. Invite them to help with whatever you're doing - trust me when I say that a newcomer who helps at one event likely will be back for another. Make sure they feel wanted and needed at local activities and events. Make their reason for coming back to your next event or activity be "my friends are here."
Newcomers - Scadians are among the best people in the world. Some of them are shy or slow to warm up to new people (hint: they're not being stand-offish on purpose). Every person I've introduced myself to this summer has been friendly and happy to meet me (or good at faking it!) when I introduce myself. If you find yourself at an event where you don't know a lot of people, I challenge you to introduce yourself, say you're new and hoping to meet people, and ask if you can help with anything - people putting up or taking down pavilions always appreciate help. The kitchen often can use assistance. Water-bearers are always appreciated. They will be grateful for both the offer of help and the gesture of introducing yourself, and they'll be genuinely happy to have met a new friend.
I see good work with newcomers elsewhere as well. Atlantia University has been having a track each session that specifically caters to newcomers. Introduction to garb type classes, classes on Court etiquette, beginning dance, calligraphy, embroidery... you name it. I also have seen some local groups going out of their way to host special classes for their newer members to help them learn about SCA culture while making their first garb. These people hit the ground running and feel like part of the Society from the very start. It would be fantastic if we all followed these examples and took just a bit of time at any event we attend to introduce ourselves and make the new members welcome.