Camp inspires youth with ‘knightly virtues’ 0
Members of the sword-fighting studio Academie Duello battle it out during Canada Day celebrations at Burnaby Village Museum in Burnaby, British Columbia, Monday July 1, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
A sword blade swoops down and strikes Devon Boorman in the chest before rattling off his chain mail as a clanging thump rings out.
Despite whatever bruises are beneath the swordplay instructor’s armour, he pulls off his sweat-drenched helmet and shakes his sparring partner’s hand — one example of the knightly virtues he instills upon kids attending his medieval-themed summer camp in Vancouver.
“This is actually a real central focus of the (Knight Camp at Academie Duello),” he said, “This idea of learning integrity, humility, charity, nobility, valour.”
In between sword fighting, archery and heraldry lessons, children ages eight to 14 nominate their fellow pages and squires to receive a chain recognizing whoever’s done the best job emulating warriors from the Middle Ages.
“The kids come for the swords, but they really connect with this idea of practising the knightly virtues,” said Boorman, who was drawn into the life of professional sword fighting after watching black-and-white reruns of TV’s Zorro as a kid.
He recalled one “aloof, gruff, sullen” camper who only showed up because his mother forced him.
“He just got into helping other kids and encouraging them,” the swordmaster said.
“And then at the end he was just right there and so present. That was beautiful.”
Boorman acknowledged how much fantasy literature and Hollywood fare — such as the Lord of the Rings series or HBO’s Game of Thrones — have pushed interest in medieval re-enactments to the forefront of pop culture.
But he said people probably idealize swordplay more so now since it’s unlikely a relative has ever died at the hands of trusty steel.
“I love that I can practise this martial art and we can do it safely and nobody dies.”
Knight Camp runs through August. For more information, prospective knights can check out knightcamp.ca.