|Duties to Squires
The formal mentorship between Amtgard knights and squires is one of the strengths of our organization. Part of why it works is that the relationship, while formalized in the rules, is also very personal. This means that each knight and his or her squires get to figure out the best system for themselves. My squires have enriched me more than any other part of Amtgard. I have enjoyed and grown from my service to my kingdoms, my company, striving for fighting and crafting excellence, my awards and many other parts of our game, but the 13 guys I have put a squire's belt on have affected me and made me the Amtgarder I am more than anything else. I work hard to make sure I am helping my guys with their Amtgard goals as best I possibly can. The times I have failed my squires weigh on me mightily.
In concrete terms, I try to help in the following specific ways. I help them set goals. I help them achieve those goals. I track their progress. I talk about what Amtgard means and what knighthood means and try to instill the dedication to our game and society that I think is vital to knighthood in them. Ideally they will end up believing this deeply enough and acting on it so that they are already thought of as knightly before they ever come before a monarch or Circle of Knights for knighthood. I also represent them to the monarch and eventually the Circle of Knights.
To set goals, I meet with my squires formally every year or two and reaffirm their progress and that their goals haven’t changed. I specifically believe that a squire should have the goal of knighthood in mind for a long term goal. Some of my closest friends in this game don’t share that goal and they make fantastic friends, company mates and Amtgarders. They just aren't the right squires for me. Informally, I try to stay close enough to my guys to know if their direction is changing without waiting for a formal meeting.
As far as helping them achieve their goals, I do different things. I believe I owe my squires striving for swords as many fights as they want. If one of them wants to stay late doing individual sparing or playing “work off the warriors,” I consider myself obligated. When I can’t provide hard enough competition or good enough training on some specific, I try to bring in experts to challenge or teach them. One of the advantages of having been in the game so long is that I have a deep set of contacts to help with things like that. For my squires who are trying to master the service part of our game, I help them by telling them all my planning and organizational strategies and by giving them all my materials. I help them when they have opportunities to do hard things. I have even autocratted some of Amtgard's biggest events with my squires to help train them to be able to do it the next year without me. Leadership is similar. I help train them how to get elected and how to be a good park monarch, champion, regent or king. For the serpent minded, I make sure to train them if I can or to get them in touch with some one who can help if their specialty is different than mine.
Talking to my squires is a vital part of how I try to help. I don't expect that they all have the same opinion about Amtgard and knighthood that I do, but I want to make sure they all believe in these concepts and are looking to strive to make our organization and the institution amazing. Further, there are times when parts of Amtgard and knighthood are unfair, unbalanced or otherwise subtly wrong. It’s key to do everything I can to help my guys understand these issues and cope with them as best possible. Reacting with cynicism or anger makes these things harder on the individual and worse for the organization.
Every player in Amtgard will occasionally be missed for a deserved award. I take it as my job to minimize how often that happens to my squires. Still, I have to be careful about this because I know that some monarchs (poor ones) might be influenced enough by my reputation or oratory to give awards carelessly. Better than talking to monarchs, I try to instill in my guys the notion that awards can be taken as well as given. You might get skipped for a rose if you make a decent feast but if you make the best feast ever, it’s pretty unlikely. There is no limit to achievement in this game and awards are designed to encourage excellence. As such, if my guys are falling short of excellence to any significant degree, I won't ask the monarch to award them but rather I will ask them to do more.
Seeing a squire achieve the long term goal of knighthood is one of the most rewarding parts of Amtgard. I know that I don’t get any of the credit, but it’s nevertheless a great day. I make sure I know as much as possible about what kind of ceremony my squire will like best, which guests he wants in attendance and what will make it amazing. We talk about whether a vigil makes sense, if he has a preferred belt style or artist, and many other key questions. I organize the ceremony in conjunction with the monarch and ensure all the regalia of knighthood will be taken care of among the gifts.
These are the duties I feel like I owe to my squires and I strive to achieve as many of them as possible as often as possible. I encourage any of you in a mentorship role within Amtgard to consider doing the same.
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