An apprentice is an associate of a member of the Order of the Laurel. Within the greater SCA community, the role may be considered under the broader term of belted student ¹; equivalent roles are squire (Order of Chivalry) and protégé (Order of the Pelican). An individual becomes an apprentice by entering into a formal relationship with a Laurel Peer with a commitment to skills predominantly within the Arts & Sciences.
Often, an apprentice is a student to a Laurel prior to both individuals accepting the formal relationship; however, this is not a rule. Likewise, many apprentices aspire to become Laurel peers, themselves, but this is not always the case. Additionally, an individual does not have to be an apprentice to become a Laurel, nor does being an apprentice guarantee being elevated one day.
The core elements in the apprentice relationship are:
- The Laurel passes on skill knowledge and social etiquette to the apprentice
- The apprentice is expected to perform to a high standard of quality and knowledge
- The apprentice's conduct of self is a reflection upon their Laurel
Expectations, activities, interaction, and other factors within the apprentice-Laurel relationship vary widely throughout the Known World. Some Laurels may lay out specific projects or tasks for apprentices to undertake; other Laurels may act more as a guide or archetypal 'sage'.
In the Known World Handbook, 4th ed., Sir Nikolai Grigorevich Petrov (MKA Craig Israel) provides the follow three tips for all belted students¹:
- Don't be in a hurry - This is a serious commitment, and a hasty decision can have a substantial negative impact on one's SCA involvement.
- Define the relationship - Provide a clear concept of what the relationship is for both individuals upfront, including make-or-break details.
- Monitor the relationship - Maintain clear communication with one another, especially in regard to concerns.
As with differing relationship styles, apprentices and their Laurels may choose to acknowledge and/or represent their agreement in different manners. Some Laurels may present the apprentice with a formal document to be written by both of them; some may provide a physical item to the apprentice and present it at a court. There is no kingdom law or cultural standard as to how this is done.
Within the greater SCA, apprentices may represent their role by wearing a green belt. However, the Kingdom of An Tir makes no mention of such in its current Kingdom Laws for An Tir (PDF). See Sumptuary Laws for more information on apprentice belts.
The role of apprentice is not officially recognized within An Tir's and the Society's Order of Precedence. It provides no rank and no official privileges. It is a job/relationship description, and not a title. As such, it is incorrect to say "Apprentice so-and-so" as this infers a title. Rather, it's preferred to use "So-and-so, apprentice to Mistress/Master Goodlaurel". Apprentices are expected to hold themselves to "Peer-like Qualities".
¹ Petrov, Sir Nikolai Grigorevich (Craig Israel). "On Being a Belted Student in the SCA". Known World Handbook. 4th ed. Hanna, R. Wesley, ed. Milpitas: Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., 2010. 18-19. Print.