I wish I could be a reenactor but…I don’t have the time!
When I polled a group of hopeful reenacting recruits, one of the most common hindrances that holds folks back from joining the hobby is a lack of time.
Well, I’d like to start off by saying that…it doesn’t take as much time as you might think.
Just like any other hobby, the amount of time you put into reenacting is completely up to you. Some reenactors are constantly acquiring and creating new impressions, others stick to just one or two. Some reenactors attend an event almost every weekend, while others attend only two or three events per year. As with many hobbies, if you don’t have a lot of time, start small and work your way up.
If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, here are a few bits of advice for easing your entry into the reenacting world:
1. Start with an impression that you can buy. 20th century impressions are particularly good for this, but you can buy a whole impression for Civil War, Revolutionary War, or many other periods as well. This is not the route I recommend for everyone, but if you don’t have a lot of time, it can really take a load off your shoulders. In many cases, buying your gear is only slightly more expensive than making it yourself, and for 20th century periods such as WWII, it’s your only option anyway.
2. Find a group that doesn’t have event attendance requirements. Some groups require you to attend a certain number of events per year to be considered a member; others do not. Try to find a group that is more forgiving in this respect, and talk with unit leaders about your predicament. They should be understanding. If they’re not, then it’s not the right group for you anyway. My first six years in the hobby were spent attending no more than two events per year.
3. Find a group that does a lot of events that aren’t far away. Events that are less than 2 hours away are often viewed as “close”, so if driving time is an issue for you, ask potential units about what events they attend and how far away they are.
4. Participate only as much as you are able to. Some events run from Friday night until Sunday afternoon, while others are one-day affairs. Stick to events that are shorter in length. If you can’t find short events, then attend only part of longer events. The Vietnam War events that Marc and I do are Friday night through Sunday morning, but we often arrive around 7am on Saturday and are gone by 6pm the same day. We miss out on some stuff, but it’s better to participate a little bit than not at all.
If you’re currently hoping to start reenacting but have held back because of a lack of time, I hope that those bits of advice will help you to take the plunge into what can be a very fun and rewarding hobby.
As always, please leave a comment if you have other commentary or further questions.