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Thursday, October 1, 2009

So you want to join DARC?

We get this question from time to time so we thought we would post the response here in addition to on our FAQ page.

The Dark Ages Recreation Company was formally founded in 2000, primarily to provide high quality living history presentations centred on the Viking Age to museums. The Company's core principles are the result of discussions going back to the early 1990's. Many of these concepts were derived (if not outright raided) from existing museum interpretive programs, other living history groups, and considerable personal experience on the part of the initial founders. Another key aspect to the activities of DARC is the use of experimental archaeology to re-discover ancient working methods. Although the members of DARC are always keen to meet, and perhaps adopt, other 'kindred spirits', expansion into a wide based 'official' organization is not our intent.

DARC is a fairly tight knit group centred in Ontario, Canada that works as a single organized unit and does not support 'branch clubs' outside of our local area. As a result we grow very slowly.

This means the first question we ask is "where are you"? If you are outside of Ontario, the fit will be very poor. If that is the case we would suggest you join a local chapter of the SCA, Regia, or The Vikings. If none of those appeal you can always start your own group (just don't call it DARC). In rare cases people in remote locations are invited to participate in DARC via e-mail discussions but generally we recommend the Norsefolk email group.

If you are in Ontario then we would suggest that you begin by reading over our website. This explains our interpretive stance, general operation approaches, something about our current work, and even a general description of who is involved. This is quite important, as each of the available re-enactment groups, even in the same time period, have often quite different approaches. For example, DARC does not engage in any combat activities. Note that we have decided not to repeat a lot of basic information on the Viking Age - other web sites cover a lot of that. We do include an extensive bibliography and web links for basic research.

Assuming that what you read still makes you think you would like to join us then the next step is to come out and talk to us. Watch for our upcoming public presentations, or one of our camps inside the framework of the SCA. This gives you a chance to come see us in action. Yes we always look busy, and yes there are always a lot of people asking questions. Do take the time to hang around and talk to us. We are rarely so busy that we don't want to meet new people.

This step is important, because we want to 'check you out' as much as you should be checking on us. Dates should be on our calendar and you can always feel free to email us at We'll pass your email to the person best suited to answer any (specific) questions you have. We do get a lot of questions sent to us and we can't answer them all. Questions that show that you have put some of your own time into the topic are more likely to get an answer than "tell me everything you know about how the Vikings did this".

Normally, if there appears to be a good fit in attitudes and approaches, an individual may be invited up to one of our general workshop / experiment weekends. These are held at private residences, centred on a specific activity (and mostly not living history re-enactments). There will often be a blend of DARC and other interested individuals, but this allows someone to interact with the group on both a practical and social level.

In the past DARC has run two different types of workshop activities.
  • Special Sessions involve hiring an instructor and renting a suitable facility. The assigned workshop coordinator remains in control of each event. Costs are born equally by participants, with spaces limited as determined by the instructor.

  • Open Workshops are held at private homes with limited space and facilities. In this case the host has full control over the access and conduct of the event.

Any active member of DARC can hold a workshop or event at the time and place of their choosing, inviting the whole group or specific subsets of people as they wish. Members of DARC attend or don't as their schedules and interests dictate.

Typically, if there appears to be a good fit in personalities, we will invite people to participate on our closed e-mail discussion group. This gives new folks a chance to come up to speed on what the group is doing, and a better idea of just who knows about what area of research and skills.

An 'active' member of DARC is one who posts on the list and shows up for workshops and non-museum presentations that interest them. There are no group membership fees.

As most of our public face is related to museum presentations, we use a different system internally than most other living history groups. Each public presentation is specifically designed for the institution, and individuals from the pool of active members are selected based on skills, abilities, and experience. This is different from most other groups who use the 'who can show up' method. It is important for members of DARC to understand that they may not be recruited as individuals to participate in specific museum or educational programs. Numbers of participants, skills, or equipment required, may vary considerably depending on each museum or school's requirements. Participation in DARC thus does not ensure inclusion in these programs.

So if you have read this far and you still want to talk, many of us will be at an SCA Arts and Sciences Competition in November, come out and chat!




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      Updated: 4 Dec, 2007
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