What does the guild do?
It is the purpose of the Foresters guild to research, recreate, educate, and demonstrate historical tools, methods, equipment, and techniques for living, camping, traveling, and cooking in the outdoors or in wilderness locations. Members are always making garb, tools, and outdoor gear to test against nature. We organise hikes, canoe trips, and wilderness camping.
At outdoor SCA events the guild will typically be in charge of the campfire. We see to the firewood collection, and maintain the flame safely at bardic circles and at the evening merry-making. We provide water or pump extinguishers to put the fire out in the event of an emergency and work with event stewards and provincial or state natural resources departments to determine if fire permits are needed in dry conditions. At some events we cannot do this and have no role.
We also set up displays of outdoor cooking on the fire. Many members spit roast meat and even cook cakes, bread, or pies in dutch ovens or period cauldrons. There is always something tasty at the forester camp.
At indoor events we occasionally have an outlaw or poacher whom we have arrested to bring before territorial representatives such as a baron or the king.
Additionally the Foresters strongly believe in service to our Kingdom and its people. A Forester should be ready and willing to be called on for assistance at any time, whether it be to help set up a campsite, serve a meal, or wash dishes.
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How do I become a Forester?
First consider your desired level of involvement. The Foresters welcome friends and followers whom are not official members but wish to join us in the outdoors for hikes, picnics, and other excursions. Most of our activities are open to anyone. Friends and followers can also sit in on Swainmotes (our public meetings), but cannot be promoted in rank and do not take part in business meetings and cannot vote on guild business.
The benefits of membership include the ability to earn promotions in the guild rank structure, the ability to earn guild awards, to vote on guild business and bring new business forward. As the Foresters Guild grows we hope that we earn a reputation for honor and service, and thus respect and trust will be one of the greatest benefits of membership.
To become a member of the Foresters guild you have to submit a Foresters Guild Application.
Once an application is received by the guild you are considered a probationary member. If you prove to be of good character and an asset to the guild your probationary status will be lifted. At that point you may remain an independent forester with no right to vote or promotion or you may become a sworn member by taking upon yourself the Forester Oath to protect the Greenwood and obey the laws of the guild, the SCA, and to be helpful to others. Once you are a sworn member you are considered a full member of the guild.
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How do Foresters dress?
Foresters typically wear lower class garments as it is an occupation and not a noble pursuit. Many Foresters choose to adopt a lower-class persona specifically for the guild. Noble foresters whom are high court officials wear the fashions of the day with refinements not seen on working forester’s garments, but keep in mind some refinements make travelling through forests rather unpleasant!
Historically Foresters received an amount of cloth each year as part of their payment from their employer; green for summer and grey for winter. As such within the guild we wear green; whether it be a tunic, dress, or hood. This gives us the added benefit of being a very “visible” guild.
There are plenty of period examples of women hunting and traversing forests in full-length dresses, so it can be done. Many women wear dresses that allow for outdoor activity and some women dress as men.
Fibre content is an important decision when creating garb for Forester activities. Linen and wool are encouraged not only for accuracy, but also because they have properties that will keep your body temperature regulated if you are met with inclement weather. Remember that your garb should work in all weather conditions so layers and quality fabric are a must for life in the outdoors.
Promotion to higher ranks is partly dependent upon your historically accurate garb and so there should never be anyone dressed in conspicuous colours at a forester meeting. How you dress when not attending Forester guild activities is up to you.
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Is there a rank structure?
All probationary members start with no rank. When the probationary status is lifted and the oath is taken the first rank given is the apprentice rank of Underforester. This assumes that you have proven yourself at a few camping events and you have the appropriate skills. In general if you can survive SCA camping, light a fire and cook on it and your garb is good quality and not pink, you can be elevated to the rank of Underforester.
The rank of Forester is open to those that have all of their period gear and skills practiced to a high level of proficiency. Not only can you survive SCA camping but you should be able to camp in most wilderness locations comfortably and have proven your skills to the group. Foresters also assist new members and are moving towards mastery of their craft.
A Master Forester has not only proven his or her skills to the guild on many occasions, they are also an ambassador for the guild who identifies primarily with the group above all else. They should be able to accomplish any and all skills with ease and have impeccable historical accuracy standards.
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Are there officers?
The main officer is the Warden or principle officer of the guild. Addressed as Honorable Warden in meetings or just Warden informally, the Warden of the Forest or Warden of the East is responsible for the initiation of all new applicants to the guild, submitting all reports to East Kingdom, and all meetings and events the guild has. The term is two years and occasionally a warden serves multiple terms.
The guild also has a secretary and treasurer whom assist the warden in the day to day business of running the guild. The Warden may also appoint Deputy Wardens known as Keepers for regional groups. The Keepers assist in collecting information for reports and present it to the Warden as well as organizing local events and activities.
Lastly the guild has Grandmaster Foresters. This is an honorary position comprised of all of the former Wardens of the Forest. When a Warden completes a full two year term he or she is referred to as a Grandmaster. This is not an elevation but a position within the group as a teacher and advisor. The Grandmasters of the guild will advise the Warden on all matters but are always subordinate to him or her. Other officers may be appointed by the Warden if needed.
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Are there any guild awards?
There are three awards within the guild. The Order of St. James Gaulbert (members are known as the woodwards) is a recognition of high achievement in A&S related to the forest arts, or in recognition of ongoing service to the guild. The Order of St. Hubert (members are known as the rangers) is a recognition of a high standard of wilderness skills. The Order of St. Eustace (members are known as regarders) is a recognition of martial prowess. Further information and application forms can be found on the Documents page.
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Are there women foresters?
Yes of course! We are still growing but at times women have made up two thirds of the member list. On average however the group is about evenly split between men and women in general membership. The officers and leaders however tend to be made up mostly of women members as with many other areas of interest within the SCA.