Obtaining an award in the SCA takes a lot of hard work and volunteer time. People have to notice you, see that you are taking on responsibility, and then write to the King and Queen about you and request that you be given an award. It doesn't just happen as a matter of course. You have to earn awards.
When I first came into the SCA, I came into a Household immediately. My household was a loving group of families, but it was not a household that taught classes or gave awards. I thought that was just the way it was in the SCA. I didn't know any better until I moved to Austin, TX and the folks there were horrified that I had been an active member for 5 years and still hadn't been given my Award of Arms. They were also dumbfounded that I knew so little about the SCA and had no idea how to really make anything; no Arts and Sciences training. I was mortified.
Then I moved to the Emerald Coast of Florida and settled into the Shire of Arenal. The folks there welcomed me immediately and made me feel right at home. They started teaching me how to do things I might enjoy right away. When they learned how small my income is, they began making and donating things to me like a medieval chair, 3 chests for my sewing and weaving, an Inkle loom, a Chinese braiding table, and cushions for my chair. They have been wonderful to me and helped me enjoy my experience so much more.
I have leaned more in the past two years than I had in the seven years in the SCA prior to this! It has been so much fun. I have also been to my first week long War, Gulf Wars XX, where I got to learn even more from people all over the country. There were over 3000 people at Gulf Wars when I went. That's a lot of folks all decked out in Medieval garb and armor, teaching and fighting battles. At night we would sit around the campfire with our pavillions around us, drink coffee or mead and tell great stories of heroic deeds. I loved it!
It took me two years to finally obtain my AOA, but then it was the first time I had been shown what I needed to do and how to do it. I worked hard those two years and was very gratified when I received my award. I knew I had truly earned it. Huzzah!!