One of the main pillars of Terrasylvae, and every guild within it, is the belief that everyone is welcome around our fire. We welcome newcomers in with open arms and are excited to get to know them. Each new face brings something to Terrasylvae we hope will make our group stronger as a whole. But as the group grows and more people join, we are faced with challenges that only occur in a large group.
Challenges for Newcomers
It has been such a long time since I was a Newcomer that I have to constantly remind myself what it was like and what newcomers may be feeling as they join our vibrant group for the first time. Not only are they trying to learn how to fence, which includes all the rules and customs that exist in the group, they are trying to get to know many new faces and fit into our eclectic group. This can be challenging and/or overwhelming. This pressure to fit in and learn at the same time is why I believe we only retain about 20% of all newcomers. Over the years, I have noticed that the newcomers who stay are the ones who:
- Come with a friend or find friends quickly
- Are recognized publicly by the Officers of the group
- Are included by the other Initiates, Novices, and Swordsman.
Challenges for Current Members
Typically we only think that Newcomers face the challenges of a large group, but that is not the case. As the group grows, members who have already established themselves have several challenges that can be tough to face. For starters, in a smaller group current members can receive more focused attention from the Officers and members of the group. With the influx of newcomers, current members may also find themselves not knowing who everyone is suddenly and a sea of new faces can be difficult when you feel you’ve finally got everyone’s name down. In either case, the sense of change is always hard.
It is at this moment that the current members of the group must take a more active role in the group’s dynamic. As the group grows, current members must seek out individuals who will give them the focused attention they need. They must also take the initiative in turning Newcomers into established members of the group, otherwise the feeling of change will not go away.
Challenges for Officers
Officers are not exempt from the challenges of a large group. In reality, they are on the front line. As the group grows, Officers are pulled in more and more directions, splitting their attention between all those are need it. I certainly can’t do it alone and without my Officers, I would be a useless Captain. My hearts hurts when I know that I’m not able to talk or recognize each of the members at practice. Whether I’m busy with running practice or addressing issues, I’m not always able to focus on each member like they deserve. That’s why I’m so proud that I can trust each of the other Officers to take my place and watch over the group when I can’t. But as the group grows, the need for more Officers becomes apparent and will be resolved shortly.