Ideas vs. Reality


This is my first SCA internship. Right now, I’m on my first hitch doing conservation work for the first time. I’m living in a large community, cooking and doing chores on a mass scale – all for the first time.

On January 6th, when a fellow member Stamati picked me up in New York to go to Bear Brook we talked at length of what it would be like. What would the cabins be like? How do we cook? How can members plus staff possibly share the space? I’m sure all members were thinking the same thing on their way to Bear Brook, but it’s impossible to understand the reality until you get there. The interesting is this: the reality of Bear Brook is the sum of 29 ideas. I believe this is true anytime people have to work and/or live together.

Here is one example from Education Season at Bear Brook. Every Monday we would have a community meeting to talk about upcoming events, issues from the past weeks at camp that should be addressed, and moments that we shared together as a community that we thought were special. One problem that comes with having a meeting with 30 people is that they can go on for a while, especially if there is a topic that is somewhat sensitive. One such topic of discussion was how long the meetings were and if we should try to make them more efficient, and therefore shorter. Each person had their own idea. In the end, we had long discussions on making the meetings shorter!

As I was preparing to co-lead this hitch in Maine with my fellow members, I had my own ideas of how I wanted hitch to play out. Set chores each day, 15 minutes early to the work site, have a stretch circle, bust out high quality work, and debrief at the end of the day. I wanted us to use the majority of our money on local food from farmers’ markets and avoid driving as much as possible.

The reality, however, is not and could never be exactly my idea of what hitch should be. Our team can handle pitching in on all of the chores, and we collectively decided to not always have a formal debrief each night. And do you know what? I’m OK with that! Barring any major failures/problems in this team, the way things are, are the way things are going to be anyway. The long community meetings of Ed. Season were the result of 30-some people’s personalities developing over the course of the last 3 and 4 decades, and the same is with hitch! It is not the idea that matters, but the reality, which is in turn absolutely ideal. I wouldn’t have it any other way!