Historic Skills Challenge

13 years ago, if you’d asked me the goal of reenacting, I would have cheerfully told you it was to “live, for a few days at least, as closely to the life that was lived [however many] years ago.” If you asked me the same question last week, my answer would NOT have been quite as rosey. But fear not, I've come up with a way to refocus the hobby and it's going to play a large part in my personal goals for 2020.

The Historic Skills Challenge, 2020

Since I started reenacting I’ve discovered something. While there is a tiny percentage of reenactors who view the hobby as I first did, the vast majority seem to only care about one thing: clothing. Material culture, what you are wearing & the stuff you surround yourself with at events, is the overwhelming focus of reenacting.

When we first get started in the hobby, focusing on the surface (clothing) is understandable. After all, everyone in history wore *something*. But at what point do we step back & say, OK, I have enough clothing to get through an entire weekend, what is next? What else is there besides material culture? At what point do we start to go deeper into the “living” part of “living history”? Or the “acting” part of “reenacting”?

While it’s great to ponder these things on my own, I’m really not one to just do it “for myself”. I get greater enjoyment when I share these wild hairs. In that spirit, and in the hopes of encouraging more reenactors to focus on “Experience not Appearance”, I’ve created a little historic skills challenge. A BINGO game of sorts, only for all kinds of historic skills that go beyond just "pretty clothing".

The beauty of this challenge is that you can keep doing it indefinitely. None of these experiences are limited to a specific era, although the skills and materials used to do them will change as history & technology changes. You can choose to spread the experiences across all your favorite time periods, or focus on just one era. You can try and cover the board, or go for “BINGO”! No matter how you choose to participate in the challenge, you will end up with a wide variety of historical experiences, developed skills to deepen your historical portrayal & who knows, maybe you will learn a thing or two along the way.

Personally, I’m printing up several of these “BINGO” cards (the download includes 5 variations) & trying to fill as many boxes with as many experiences, from every one of my favorite time periods, as I can during 2020. Call me a glutton for punishment if you must. I'm hoping that having more historic experiences and skills to focus on during the upcoming year will help break the malaise that I've been feeling with the hobby in general. If nothing else, I'm sure some of these skills will come in handy & several of them make for great date-night options and other excuses to rope friends & family into my strange pastime.

I plan on sharing my “entries” on the Slightly Obsessed Facebook & Instagram pages under #historicskillschallenge2020 & #experiencenotappearance. Feel free to follow along in the fun. I’m excited to see what others come up with for each category and how different eras handle each!

See you in the past!