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Author Topic: Sensible Precautions for Youth at Reenactments  (Read 4654 times)
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Miss Ruth
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« on: October 16, 2013, 05:50:39 PM »

Alright, I wasn't exactly sure where to put this. Since I started doing the sewing end of reenacting, my family and I have wondered a few things about the actual reenacting part of it. So my question is: Is it dangerous for a girl to go to a reenactment without her dad along? Because if I ever do get to a reenactment...  Roll Eyes it will be by myself. Maybe with a friend. So do any of you ladys know if there are a lot of dangers for young single girls? I'm doing the short skirts thing, etc., but I realize that some people don't care. How likely is it for a girl to get harrassed while at a reenactment? I know the men on this site are very kind and courteous, but not all guys are like that. So, any advice?

I haven't been very enthused about sewing lately, but I think it's because of the lack of active 'playing'!  Cheesy Otherwise you would still be being flooded with questions!  Tongue

Thanks a lot! And men that know other reenactors, I'm ready to hear what kind of guys you've met, too!  Smiley
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 06:42:29 PM by Elizabeth » Logged

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Micaila
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2013, 05:55:17 PM »

Ruth,
I absolutely do not recommend attending events alone at your age.
Among other things, most event coordinators require all minors to be accompanied by a legal guardian/parent.
Even if this is not the case, most events are open to the public, and you never know who will show up, or how they may behave.
Please do not attend events alone.
Micaila
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melissamary
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2013, 05:58:35 PM »

I started reenacting when I was 17 and neither of my parents accompanied me.  However, I was a member of a young girls' group at that time so I had at least six other girls my age and also a chaperone at events.  Don't go to an event alone--you never know what may happen--but definitely look into joining a group or a society somewhere around you.  Groups like those can be very helpful in finding out about events, getting a group to go, and meeting other people in the hobby.  Even if you don't have the opportunity to join a group, at your age it's not a great idea to go to anything in the heat, around strangers, and/or far away alone.  I've never personally had a problem with anyone but I know that an unaccompanied minor is not the best idea for liability reasons.
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BetsyConnolly
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2013, 06:04:23 PM »

I started reenacting when I was fifteen, and went to events without my parents. However, I was part of a civilian group and thus had friends who could look out for me. At most, my parents would drive me to events and observe from afar; most of the time, they dropped me off and picked me up later. I have never, not once, been harassed (either by a man or a woman) at a reenactment, except for vignettes I have been a part of, and then I have usually been good friends with the people "harassing" me Smiley

That being said. reenactments are part of the real world and the real world has dangers, and most events are open to the public. And you're right, not everyone is nice and not everyone has the best interest of 13 year old girls at heart. The reenacting community has always been good at looking out for one another, but you're basically relying on the kindness of strangers and therefore it's best to, as the proverb goes, call on God but row away from the rocks.

As in the real world, you and your parents should use common sense and trust your instincts. If an event doesn't feel safe, don't stay there. Don't leave your personal belongings unattended. Don't go out walking by yourself in a secluded place where you might be surprised and overtaken. Do not trust strangers carte-blanche with your personage or your belongings until they have proven to be trustworthy. (I'm saying all this outside of any suggestions on period etiquette or what you should and shouldn't do - we're talking about modern safety, so that's the answer I'm giving you.)

Perhaps your parents want to day trip with you to a few events until you can find a group of civilians you can join up with at events. As Micaela says, this may be a moot issue as most minors need parental supervision at an event.
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Betsy Connolly
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2013, 06:24:48 PM »

I thought I'd better provide a male voice, although my thoughts are pretty much in line with other posts.

In our unit, anyone below the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, regardless of gender.  We do this so that a parent is available in the rare event that there is an accident -- it is a real bummer to be waiting for a parent to arrive on site if you need medical treatment.  And for both genders, this introduces a "chaperone" whose presence can project that a young reenactor is being taken care of and watched.

Speaking of male reenactors, most are very decent folks who take on added graciousness as they work to live the lives of people of the 1860's.  My wife said she had never been "Good morning, Ma'am'ed" so many times in her life as she was at her first reenactment.  But then there is the flip side.  Some of the male reenactors look at an event as a chance to live free of some of the constraints of home.  Intoxication isn't rampant but occurs more frequently than we would like to think.  And when under the influence, some men can become dangerous elements.  At one event I had to physically separate one soldier from a lady I was escorting when he evidently thought he was being charming.

The bottom line is that no one underage - male or female - should come to an event alone.  One of the posts mentioned going with a group.  Really, joining a group is one of the best ways to stay safe.  The members watch out for each other as well as giving a younger person some companions and, if the other civilians are knowledgeable, someone to learn from.  And by being in a group who can do things with other members, you avoid standing out as an isolated lone individual.

I hope you can find a good group to participate with.  From my experience (25 years), reenacting is a great hobby where you meet lots of warm and interesting people.  You just have to exercise care for the environment of an event.

Michael Mescher
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2013, 06:42:00 PM »

Ditto to the good advice given above! It's very possible to attend events with a spirit of enthusiasm and optimism, not fear, when one takes basic, sensible precautions and makes good, common-sense arrangements.

Events are much more fun when you have a purpose; many times, it's joining in with a group of like-minded living history enthusiasts that provides a base for those purposes, so it makes sense to get companionable with a citizen-focused group (detached entirely from the military is great!) and start your network of honorary aunties, uncles, and grandparent-types who will be pleased to have a charming, enthusiastic young woman under their wing for an event.

You strike me as a young woman who doesn't have a "chip" on her shoulders, one who would be very comfortable with an adult friend as a chaperone/companion, and willing to abide by good advice and requests during an event. That's a HUGE asset.

As you're developing your network, consider looking at volunteering at local historic sites, where you get a chance to dress out, learn more history and interpretive techniques, and make some great friendships; contact citizen groups and see about joining them for off-season working days or day-trip events (where your parents might not be directly with you the whole time, but are nearby just in case.)
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MaryDee
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 10:30:57 PM »

The groups out here in the Pacific NW also require an adult to accompany a minor.  There are liability issues!  I believe that in many cases, it's OK for the parents to designate another adult.  In this case both parents should provide the designated adult with signed permission including permission to seek medical care in an emergency.  That's what I  had when I took my 13-year-old grandson to Gettysburg last June (the permission specified the boy's uncle and adult cousin in addition to me, since I couldn't accompany the boy on the battlefield, where he was a flag-bearer).  

You might look into this possibility--a mentor designated by your parents--if your parents can't or won't come.  On the other hand, your parents just might get interested in re-enacting!  

I remember a recent thread in which someone suggested a museum or living history site (I forget which) near you.  Have you had a chance to check this out?   
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 10:56:29 PM by MaryDee » Logged
The Sewing-Bird.
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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2013, 07:24:12 AM »

To add to all of these very sensible precautions, I will add one more:

Going to an event alone is usually B-O-R-I-N-G.

I did it once (I was in college) and the only people I really talked to were the Lincolns. That was my last reenactment for years (and was my first in years; I suppose I was desperate to do SOMETHING). I had some sewing and knitting, and talked a little bit to another artist, but other than that it was just a day of walking around in funny clothes signifying nothing. Find a group or con some friends, and have a chaperone ? they can introduce you to new people more easily (especially when you're feeling particularly shy).
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Anna Worden Bauersmith
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2013, 08:48:52 AM »

I firmly believe no one should attend an event alone, regardless of age or gender. Life happens including illness and accident.

In terms of personal safety, to my knowledge, there are no events that require background checks on participants. This does mean almost anyone can be in attendance at events including convicted sex offenders and those who have committed violent crimes.

Personally, I have had one incident of post-event stalking. I caught the attention of one man who I did not give my contact information to. He was a problem for several weeks including emails, phone calls and hacking my previous website and Yahoo Groups. I was very, very uncomfortable. I have been leary at events ever since.

It is essential to attend events with people you know well. Have them meet your parents. At events, be aware of people and where you are. Don't wander to unpopulated areas, don't leave each other alone, stay with your group at night, take a friend to the bathroom, etc. When I first started as a teen, our group implemented a "help" signal for group situations. I recently heard of group that keeps bells in their tents for evening emergencies. (I happened to find a cow bell that weekend.)

Sorry to be the dark cloud.
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BetsyConnolly
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2013, 09:25:36 AM »

Anna, thank you for sharing your story. I hear all the time that "reenactors look out for one another" and have found that to generally be the case, but the skeptic in me knows that it only takes one person...

Another point I want to make - day-tripping is okay. You and your parents may feel more comfortable if you come home at the end of the day, or if you stay at a motel (more secure). Always, always, always follow your gut, and listen to your instincts, and if something doesn't feel right, then it's not right.
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Betsy Connolly
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2013, 01:28:03 PM »

I have nothing to add to the wonderful advice of the more experienced ladies on the board, but I'd like to second the notion to make or find friends who will go to reenactments with you - it makes the event much more entertaining.  If you're planning on attaching yourself to a military unit I'd also highly recommend that you get to know the gents you'll be staying with well.  I had the good fortune to make a friend who's in a battallion and he introduced me to everybody in the unit (which prevented the awkwardness of having to introduce onesself to strangers.)  It also helps if you talk with the unit ahead of time about what sort of work you want to do - if you can cook for them, wash their things, etc., to fill time and help them along.
From what I've observed, there's not a lot of rabble-rousing or indecent behavior from the gents (except for one very amusing American soldier at an 1812 event, but that's another story.)  The other men at the event will probably be more than happy to help you if you feel threatened by somebody - the last thing they want is for somebody they know to feel harassed or uncomfortable!
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2013, 05:12:17 PM »

I'd also like to add that these precautions have nothing to do with being female; they are sensible for young men, as well. Offenders are not always seeking women as their victims. Boys need the companionship of friends and chaperones, and the use of their own discernment, just as much as any young lady.

99.9% of living history enthusiasts are tremendously wonderful, and will take you in as additional family. We all want to help our friends avoid the .1% that make bad choices.
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Maggie Koenig
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2013, 05:36:17 PM »

I started reenacting at the age of 13 with the support of my parents who did not participate but carted me to events and meetings.  I joined a local group (and another when I was 15 after I moved states).  Both groups were great about me joining and keeping me looked after.  Both groups also insisted on meeting my parents which reassured everyone that I wasn't going to do anything stupid while I was at events without a legal guardian on the grounds.  The first group I was with had many younger ladies my age that I hung around with so I was always out and about in a group.  The other group I got to be good friends with the adults and was, likewise, never really alone. 

On top of the advice already given I will add that you have the added burden of being on extra special really good behavior the entire time you are under the "protection" of people who are not your parents.  Make sure someone with that group knows where you are at all times, right down to a quick mention that you are running down to the ladies.  This is a big one, I had a young lady in my care leave the event grounds with people I knew well without telling me, it was the last time she ever came to an event with me and I made sure her parents knew the reason.  You must also be aware of your personal behavior such as keeping to period standards of modesty, making sure you aren't using inappropriate language, yelling or screaming out of context, being polite and helpful to the adults watching over you and stuff like that.  Basically, don't make it so that they ask you to not be back.  Also, make sure you are never a burden to those you are with.  My parents always made sure I had money to make phone calls (and later a cell phone) for emergencies, spending money, food, my own chair, dishes, water source, gas money if I was sharing a ride to an event ect.  The burden will also be on your parents to pick you up promptly so an adult is not forced to wait with you until your parents come at the end of the day. 
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Maggie Koenig
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NoahBriggs
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2013, 02:02:47 AM »

A lot of this boils down to "be aware of your personal space and those around you."  When you walk somewhere with friends, casually look around you to see who is around, who's following, potential places where someone could jump you (unlikely) and so on.  You can also use available reflective surfaces to look behind you without appearing to look behind you - your own mirror in your purse, car panels, car mirrors. puddles, ponds, &c.  The idea is to notice trouble far enough ahead that you can get away from it before it gets too close and/or causes problems.  Of course, this is good advice in the 21C as well.
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Elaine Kessinger
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2013, 07:32:17 AM »

I want to reiterate something Mrs. Koenig said, when you find a group make sure you are not a "burden."

No re-enactor of any age can foresee every issue, but each should be aware of the courtesies of splitting the cost of provisions. You should not expect an adult to pay your way simply because you are a young or a lady.
Your parents might appreciate your making a budget for each event and discussing the amount of each line item. The "little things" sometimes add up and you don't want someone not as familiar with events saying, "why do you need to pay so much for that?"
(If you'd like it to look "period" you might create a period envelope with your money for the event and hand it to your chaperon, who would pay your share of the larger expenses from that money and dole out an allowance of "spending money.")

For day trips, plan on splitting transportation costs and food/ice costs.
For over-night events, plan on splitting transportation, food/ice, extra water/wood, and emergency hotel.
For long trips to events, plan on splitting transportation, food/ice both at the event and while traveling, extra water/wood, extra candles/lamp oil and matches, hotels during travel and enough extra for your trip to be extended a full day. (You'll probably be able to return the "extra", but better to have it in case you need it.)

Do your share of the work to make the event come off too. If your group is cooking take your turn gathering wood, maintaining the fire, watching the cooking, doing the dishes, and keeping the cook company. If your group has a display take your turn person-ing the display. If your group has tentage, be there to help put up and take down the tentage.

In an age before immediate communications and GPS, one used the tell-a-person network to locate people. So when you go away from the immediate camp area, tell a person where you're going so you can be located when you are needed.

...and yep, use your own common sense for the situation at all times... if you feel uncomfortable, you probably should remove yourself from the situation with haste.

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Miss Ruth
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2013, 02:01:19 PM »

Wow!  Cheesy I didn't expect this many replies! Thanks everyone! Very good advice that I use in modern day, too! I'm glad to hear that most reenactors are nice.  Smiley That's always good to know. Mrs. Clark, I usually get along VERY well with adults.  Smiley I don't mind a chaperon AT ALL! Also, I always feel very lazy if I leave someone by themselves to do the work!  Cheesy So yes, I think going with people is definitely the best way, then. I'm pretty sure I could always find some friends to go, anyway (Theresa and Bascha, anything in NC I am sure we will all try to make, right?!  Wink Cheesy) Thanks, Mr. Mescher! I'm glad you had a few 'scary' experiences to let me know that not everyone has a good experience!  Smiley Hey, I have a lot in common with a lot of you ladies! We all started our reenacting stuff at 13!  Cheesy I don't think I will get around to going to an event until I'm about 16-17 anyhow, but all this will still apply, I'm sure!

Thanks again, everyone!  Grin
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« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2014, 08:22:49 PM »

Liz, would you mind making this a pin? There is some very good advice in this thread that I wouldn't want to get lost in the shuffle.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2014, 11:41:28 AM »

I can make it even easier... blog article! Cheesy And yep, I'll pin it in the meantime!
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