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Outside the Comfort Zone
[07/28/2003] [Andrew Campbell]

After reading the flurry of posts in regards to the recent article, “Amtgard Should Stay Out of Amtgard”, I have a few thoughts about how traveling to other parks is good.

First, let me tell you about myself. With only two and a half years in Amtgard, I’m still a relative newbie. I live in Northern California, a fairly secluded part of the Amtgard world, where I helped build a little shire. It started when a friend in a fencing class introduced me to Amtgard swords. I was hooked instantly. We took it upon ourselves to bring Amtgard fully into the area. It took a lot of work, but we got a good-sized group of people out to our local park and we started hitting each other every Saturday. We used PVC for cores, foam insulation for padding and a healthy dose of duct tape for sword covers.

Those were some great times. Sure, we didn’t really know what was going on in the rest of the Amtgard world, and we didn’t have a clue what the various awards were or meant. I had no idea that the swords we were using would qualify as illegal to any other Amtgard group. At the time, none of that mattered. We were just a bunch of friends hanging out and having fun.

Then we decided to see who else was out there. I had been looking for stuff online in regards to Amtgard, and that’s when I came across the Electric Samurai and the Amtgard Atlas. We decided to contact Wavehaven, a duchy not too far from us, and see if we could go down and visit.

When I got out of my car in Santa Cruz, I saw a whole different perspective on Amtgard. It was a blast as well as a culture shock. That day held both good and bad events. I remember being welcomed by several individuals, including Sir Castings, Dame Ailanthus, Hawk, Turtle, Sir Blackthorn and many others whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know better since that day. I also remember feeling very naive, ignorant and not as good as the people on their field. Our weapons weren’t up to their standards, but they graciously let us use them. There were other things, some good, some bad, about that day that I will never forget, but all of it was memorable and it enriched my Amtgard experience.

I can see where Luke Wyngarde’s article is coming from and share similar feelings on a smaller scale, but if the Wetlands had never gone to Spring War and Clan, and if they had never become a kingdom, wouldn’t Amtgard as a whole be lessened? Wouldn’t it have lessened the Wetlands?

If I had not traveled outside my comfort zone, I probably would still be playing Amtgard the same way that we were in our isolated pocket of the Amt-world. Stepping outside and forcing yourself to grow is what makes Amtgard what it is. To grow sometimes means to cause pain, but only through growth comes betterment.

As for my own shire, it has since fallen apart due to its members leaving the area for college and life. I’m now a proud member of the Shire of Crimson Wood and I hope never to lose the fire that Amtgard first set in me.

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