On each day of the week of July 21st to 25th, 2014, a group of dedicated and aspiring young knights and maidens gathered in the mezzanine of Arena 2 in Wetaskiwin.
It was the scene of KnightHaven Medieval Day Camp held annually in Wetaskiwin. The camp, filled with archery, swordplay, drama, music, crafts and medieval games, is designed to provide the young people with fun activities while instilling an extended set of skills.
“The most important skill these young people will leave the camp with is an understanding of the value of teamwork,” explained Instructor Randy Tribiger. “We divide the group into 2 camps or villages. They work together to decide on a name and war cry for their camp. Each day they are challenged with selecting a village elder. They are also required to work together to solve a variety of problems throughout the week, during which they must show respect by using proper titles and manners and generally be tolerant of each other. We try to provide a balanced mix of camaraderie and competition.”
During the camp the young warriors learned how to make their garments and tunics, as well as acquiring and practising skills in archery and sword fighting.
KnightHaven’s participants used foam and latex weapons, but the campers were also taught that there is a need for real protective armor during the hand-to-hand combat. Although foam and latex may not impart serious injuries, a quick, hard slash can still hurt when battling in a medieval competition.
KnightHaven is a local recreation business that focuses on the medieval historical time period from about 900-1500 AD. The organization was created approximately 16 years ago to provide participants with the opportunity to put into practise chivalry, swordplay, honour and combat.
“We have been operating with 50-60 members in Red Deer and upwards of 20 in Edmonton,” explained Tribiger.
During the camp, participants were provided the opportunity to role play and imagine what it would be like to be in Western Europe during the time, 900-1500 AD. Hundreds of feudal lords and kings were constantly moving from region to region, battling for additional property and power. Wealth was measured by land ownership, not money, so if you didn't own land, you worked or fought for those who did. Soldiers and knights loyally engaged in hand-to-hand battle using swords, axes, longbows, crossbows, stones and daggers. Castles were built throughout the landscape using natural terrain such as hills and rivers to strategically increase protection and ensure the safety of the lords and kings and their families. In many cases, the castles were huge and contained entire cities. Behind the protective stone walls were living quarters and sources of food and water for the nobility and their families, the servants, and in some cases, even the army.
But alas, on Friday, July 25th, the new knights and maidens left Arena 2 and re-entered the real world of sneakers, shorts and t-shirts….but armed with an increased understanding of the value of tolerance and respect for other people.
For more information about KnightHaven camps or the club, go to www.knighthaven.org