What Youth Tellers Want & Need – Part 7 of 7

This is the seventh of seven parts on gleaming from personal experiences as well as experiences of the 100+ youth who have taken the stage – live and virtual – through Story Crossroads since 2016. We support youth beyond the stage through Youth Teller Reunions as well as Live & Virtual Story Camps.

7-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Choosing the “Right” Words – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Friend/Listener/Mentor – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – The Storytelling Birthday – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Combining Talents – REVEALED
  • Part 5 – Ownership of Events & Beyond – REVEALED
  • Part 6 – Virtual Options – REVEALED
  • Part 7 – Wishlist Stages – TODAY

Youth burst out exciting ideas for stages – old and new.

Beware that I did not have a formal survey done. In fact, my two oldest kids – aged 10 and 12 – made me smile when I asked where they would like to perform…while having control over jitters.

My 10-year-old son took the traditional approach and wanted to tell at libraries. He would then want to venture onto bigger venues such as the Viridian Event Center. Interestingly, this is linked to the West Jordan Library…so technically still a library. But it is bigger in all regards. It was where we launched Story Crossroads in 2016.

My 12-year-old son decided that he wanted to improve his stories and be taught by someone to polish them up. He wanted to participate in the district-level storytelling festival that happens to feed into Story Crossroads. So far, he has not had teachers who actively teach and encourage their students to take part in that district-level event. Though, I am told that anyone can ask to be part of the district-level event if approved by a teacher. He knows that he would have to earn any spot with Story Crossroads and this is where to begin.

So, sniff, sniff, love how my boys think.

Now, are you ready for some incredible ideas?

My oldest has his eye on the GIGANTIC stage being built at The Living Planet Aquarium in Salt Lake County, Utah. He then listed the Smithsonian – National Air and Space Museum. He has always loved space and that would be his celestial-level dream.

But it does not stop here. He wanted to be the storyteller for a roller coaster at Lagoon. People could bring their own earbuds for the sounds of the story or be blasted somehow. He said that there are such things as VR Roller Coasters (see video of five of them) and perhaps something could be merged that way.

He imagined being the official storyteller of a laser tag arena to add to the intense adventure while people played.

Finally, he wanted to combine his beat-boxing skills with storytelling and perform first for a school stage and eventually at a Hip Hop concert.

Wow, wow, and more wow!

Why tell you all of this? Will this match the wishlist stages of the youth around you?

Maybe, maybe not.

The point is…have you asked? And…as truly anything is possible with enough commitment and imagination…is there any way you can make these wishlist stages come true?

I can realistically make a call at the Aquarium and propose the idea. Obviously, it would be easy to link up with libraries. Maybe youth can perform alongside a regularly scheduled storytime – combining story-reading with storytelling?

But what if those venues are closed? In lock-down?

Are there any libraries doing virutal programming? Could virtual backgrounds reveal these dream stages?

Don’t let something like a lock-down keep you down.

Brainstorm and be as awesome in ideas as our youth.

Be there for our youth – today.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

And…our next 5-part blog series will be “The Checklist: How to Set up Virtual Events” with the first part out on August 17, 2020.

What Youth Tellers Want & Need – Part 4 of 7

This is the fourth of seven parts on gleaming from personal experiences as well as experiences of the 100+ youth who have taken the stage – live and virtual – through Story Crossroads since 2016. We support youth beyond the stage through Youth Teller Reunions as well as Live & Virtual Story Camps.

7-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Choosing the “Right” Words – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Friend/Listener/Mentor – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – The Storytelling Birthday – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Combining Talents – TODAY
  • Part 5 – Ownership of Events & Beyond
  • Part 6 – Virtual Options
  • Part 7 – Wishlist Stages

Youth have more than one talent, and storytelling is one of many.

When it is the first time for youth to learn storytelling, then focusing only on that talent is best. Though the second, third, fourth, or any other time after that initial instruction needs to be exploring what the youth enjoys beyond the art.

One of my favorite combinations was a youth teller who told a personal story while doing Karate. Obviously, Karate was important to the movement of the plot. He had the right amount of kicks that enhanced rather than distracted from the whole experience. He ended up being one of my top youth tellers for that year of Story Crossroads and moved along to the National Youth Storytelling.

We have plenty of adults that combine other talents with storytelling.

Although coming from an adult, I have always been fascinated by what Dustin Loehr contributed to the storytelling world with merging his tap dancing to the tellings. I could tell you of the time when he flew into Utah, needed a tap board, and I was scrounging and taking pictures of different wood panels to see if they “would pass inspection” the day before performance….

Though once on stage, his way of tip-tapping different sounds and postures to represent different characters was inspiring. We certainly will want him to perform at Story Crossroads again.

Any talent can combine with storytelling.

Music and dance are always brought to mind, though what are different genres and styles?

To get the brain-a-bubblin’, here are some music: Blues, Jazz, Rock and Roll, Country, Soul, Dance Music, Hip Hop.

Normal, right?

Notice that dance and music often overlap.

Have you heard of: Enka, Isicathamiya, or Frevo?

Here is a highlight of one of them, and I will let you explore and learn about the other two.

Enka = Japanese semi-traditional singing style and folk wardrobe, mixed with modern and traditional instrumentation and influences…yet see some youth at a pep rally combine this style with “Let’s move” by BeyoncĂ© – could there be some kind of combination with storytelling? Though, experience Enka and an interview with the singer, Hitomi Idemitsu…and the reason she is attracted to this style is that “Enka has stories in it.” Hmmm.

What about in the dance world: Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Ballroom.

Though have you heard of: Demi-Character, Bugg, or Ghumura?

Again, here is a highlight of one of them, and I will let you explore and learn about the other two.

Demi-Character = Classic ballet though must focus and portray a character in a…story, many competitions are out there for it and here is one youth with a “swimmingly” wonderful story dance.

Back to the youth in your life.

More talents are out there than music and dance. What else could youth combine with storytelling and draw them more so in the art than ever before?

  • Photography – with big enough pictures, projections on stage, or virtual means – this talent can be amazing with storytelling. Plus, I recently learned about PechaKucha.
  • Cooking – sometimes the cooking can be shared after the performance – the aromas can enhance the overall experience – or can be shared on screen of making/baking while telling. So many food stories around the world. David Novak had bread baking in an important Gilgamesh scene. Here is an article about it.
  • Fashion – how can the change of wardrobe help in the telling of a story – can more than one teller take the stage or can this be done solo – Pippa White (interview with her – she admits she did not call herself a storyteller until later) loves to do a simple switch of hats for historical representations while Darci Tucker (interview with her) has been three characters in one performance due to strategic layering. Why cannot youth do this with a twist? Does it always need to be historical…perhaps modern or even futuristic? We had youth tell 1-minute or so stories for the Story Train that stopped to the past, present, and future. The youth had to dress up to match their time period and story. The future ones…were fantastic. Actually, all were wonderful.

And this is only a sneak of talents that can make it to stage or performance in one way or another.

Brainstorm with youth.

Are they great at foreign languages? Can there be bilingual storytelling? What of visual arts beyond photography? Pottery? How can that tell a story?

How can anything truly be used to tell a story?

Yes, teach the basics of storytelling without the combining first…though there is no harm is letting youth know that you love their fill-in-the-blank talent and hint that you would love to see what they do with it for storytelling after learning how to do “pure” storytelling without the embellishments or add-ons.

You will be amazed.

Be there for our youth – today.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

And…Spread the word about our upcoming Story Camp for youth aged 8-17 in mid-August of two kinds: Limited-Sized/Proper-Distanced as well as Virtual.

What Youth Tellers Want & Need – Part 3 of 7

This is the third of seven parts on gleaming from personal experiences as well as experiences of the 100+ youth who have taken the stage – live and virtual – through Story Crossroads since 2016. We support youth beyond the stage through Youth Teller Reunions as well as Live & Virtual Story Camps.

7-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Choosing the “Right” Words – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Friend/Listener/Mentor – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – The Storytelling Birthday – TODAY
  • Part 4 – Combining Talents
  • Part 5 – Ownership of Events & Beyond
  • Part 6 – Virtual Options
  • Part 7 – Wishlist Stages

We have birthdays, unbirthdays…and even storytelling birthdays.

For some of us in the art, we clearly have a year or month in mind. Do you know the exact day? When was it that you considered yourself a storyteller?

Let us be diligent in reminding the youth of their own storytelling birthdays.

We can distinguish between the storytelling birthday to the professional anniversary.

Me? September 7, 1994. This was when I decided to test a story out with my coach as a sophomore high school student–failed miserably–and then decided to not quit despite doubts.

However, this day was not what I count toward being a professional storyteller. Anything with work or paid opportunities tends to be dubbed an anniversary instead of a birthday.

My three years of high school plus four years of college are known as my apprenticeship time. I volunteered my talents as a storyteller through founding the Brigham Young University Storytelling Club.

Interestingly, I have a clear date for my storytelling birthday though only a month and year for the professional time.

Back to the youth in your life.

Help determine each youth’s storytelling birthday. Here are ways you can do that:

  • Date of first performance
  • Date of first date of workshop(s)
  • First date they prepped a story
  • Educated guess as to the time and allowing the youth to choose a specific date if not known.

If the youth remembers “August 2019” but nothing more, then have the youth choose a favorite number between 1-31.

No matter what date is chosen/determined, then honor it though a certificate of some kind.

Beyond the storytelling birthday, make sure to offer a certificate for any event or workshop they participate. These are important momentos that track and celebrate their storytelling journey.

Yes, encourage the youth to save the program or flier…but a certificate is that “something special.”

If you want to be really thoughtful, then create a Google Sheets or document that tracks the youth you have mentored or helped. You can send storytelling birthday cards in the mail…or at least a postcard…or even an e-birthday card.

When there is a birthday, people are wanting to “live” as long as possible within the art. Youth need to know that people care if they continue on the path of storytelling.

Be there for our youth – today.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

And…Spread the word about our upcoming Story Camp for youth aged 8-17 in mid-August of two kinds: Limited-Sized/Proper-Distanced as well as Virtual.

What Youth Tellers Want & Need – Part 2 of 7

This is the second of seven parts on gleaming from personal experiences as well as experiences of the 100+ youth who have taken the stage – live and virtual – through Story Crossroads since 2016. We support youth beyond the stage through Youth Teller Reunions as well as Live & Virtual Story Camps.

7-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Choosing the “Right” Words – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Friend/Listener/Mentor – TODAY
  • Part 3 – The Storytelling Birthday
  • Part 4 – Combining Talents
  • Part 5 – Ownership of Events & Beyond
  • Part 6 – Virtual Options
  • Part 7 – Wishlist Stages

Everyone talks about having adult mentors for youth tellers…when that is the wrong beginning.

Youth first need friends in the art, then listeners, and finally mentors.

When I delved into storytelling as a sophomore in high school, I was not drawn into it because of any adults. I had friends who said I was animated and that needed to do something about it. So I looked into the National Forensics League (NFL – yes, a confusing acronym) and discovered “storytelling” as a category.

It was the adult that made me nervous.

Everyone in the high school knew she was an award-winning coach. How many times had she “scored big” with the team she took to tournaments? Tons! That actually made it more terrified to test out my first story with her. After I stumbled and did almost everything wrong, all the coach said was, “Make sure to sign up for more practices.” This worried me.

“What?!? Was I meant to even take this storytelling path?”

Now think of how some youth could feel with these award-winning and highly-skilled professional storytellers.

The big reason most youth participate in storytelling is somehow linked to friends or the potential to gain friends.

My storytelling team-mates and I had some crazy times. We hung out and laughed as we awaited the results. Ah, my hands are still sore from our Egyptian Rat card games. I cheered on competitors (okay, so my team-mates were also my competition but still benefited our team as a whole). There was one girl known as “The Queen of Storytelling” because any time she competed, she ALWAYS went to trophy round…and probably 1st or 2nd place. So many other youth were inspiring and a hoot.

The only adult I remember in the whole Forensics experience was my coach.

Having Story Camps and residencies gives chances for youth to gather and gain those close-to-their-age friends.

That is not enough.

What happens after? Is there ANY kind of reunion or potential hanging out later?

None?

If you said, “None,” then you are not alone. Even long-standing storytelling festivals with participating youth often do not have Youth Teller Reunions. I have brought up a few times with the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival that–as they usually have 25+ youth each year–it would make sense to have some kind of reunion. I know people with Timpanogos, but that is not my organization so I can only do so much.

At least where I have been connected…that is where I can make changes. The Weber State University Storytelling Festival has reunions at the Dinosaur Park in Ogden, UT. Story Crossroads usually has them at Boondocks – fun and arcades – in Draper, UT.

Are you linked to any storytelling festivals or events? Several? You have the potential to bring this up.

You could say, “But gathering is hard now.” Uh, there is the Internet. Zoom. Google Hangouts. Facebook Rooms. And on and on.

This year, the 5th Annual Story Crossroads Youth Teller Reunion will be done virtually in mid-August. Yes, we have permissions from guardians while being free. We are already receiving registrations for it.

We want to propose to the youth the idea of having them interact with other youth tellers from around the world. Their answers will determine everything.

Remember the first post and the talk of Texas, New York, and Florida? What of India, Singapore, Italy, and Lebanon? Hopefully, we can have a sort of pen pal/story pal thing going on.

Do people even know what having a “pen pal” is anymore? You use “snail mail” and write letters on paper back and forth. Postcards are better.

The virtual version could be an email story pal. But that term won’t work with youth today.

How about “TellTale Friend”? Someone you can share your secrets and fears with storytelling. Hopes and dreams. Ideas and inklings.

Besides, if Facebook can use the word “Friend” the same as any other social media, then at least the word “Friend” works.

Adults, have you thought of doing this?

  • Supporting a youth teller by being someplace they tell
  • Finding performing opportunities for youth
  • Setting up performing opportunities for youth
  • Showing up and dedicating virtual or in-person time to hear their latest story WITHOUT comments
  • Showing up and dedicating virtual or in-person time to hear their latest story WITH comments only WITH permission
  • Sending encouraging texts or links to story videos – again, permission from guardians – could send directly to guardian who then passes along the message
  • And so much more

See how this works along the proper order of first Friend then Listener and finally Mentor.

We can adjust our thinking and techniques to be more youth-friendly.

Keep in mind that youth can be all three of those roles: Friend, Listener, and Mentor.

Did you ever see Kindergarteners paired with 6th graders for reading to each other back and forth? They are both kids, though the pairing of youth can be done in many ways.

Can we link elementary youth tellers with high school or even fresh-in-college tellers?

Then what else can the adults do? We can be listeners. Only become a mentor or coach IF you have permission from that youth (and guardians, of course).

I often take my kids to the Utah Storytelling Guild Chapter meetings. When it came time for people to comment on stories for the coaching part, I was pleased that my kids felt comfortable in adding to the conversation. There was not an adult/youth hierarchy. They were equals. Their comments were thoughtful and with a fresh perspective.

Open your mind. Keep brainstorming. Then make it happen.

Be there for our youth – today.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

And…Spread the word about our upcoming Story Camp for youth aged 8-17 in mid-August of two kinds: Limited-Sized/Proper-Distanced as well as Virtual.

How to Best Use the Story Crossroads Discord Server – Part 5 of 5 – Scheduled & Random “Check-Ins”

This is the fifth of five parts on how to benefit the most from the Story Crossroads Discord Server. Discord is a platform that combines features of Facebook, Zoom, and many others in one place. Text, image, audio, and video communications are possible with a network of people of like-interests.

5-Parts:

  • Part 1 – Getting Started – REVEALED
  • Part 2 – Text Channels – REVEALED
  • Part 3 – Voice Channels – REVEALED
  • Part 4 – Adding Resources & Links – REVEALED
  • Part 5 – Scheduled & Random “Check-Ins” – TODAY

If you prefer video approach and/or have these videos running while you glance below:

Discord has a mix of scheduled video and text chats as well as random interactions that enhance the experience.

To look forward to the scheduled to the random, you will want to get to know the other server members. The next step is to see which ones could be friends.

Yes, we have heard of “friends” on Facebook and other social media. True, this does not mean you are best friends. Or even true friends. Though, it at least means that the two of you agree that there is potential for great conversations to collaborations.

When you see who else are server members, you can click on the icons/avatars and see the following:

You can click “Add Friend” and await the request. At times, being “friends” can make the difference during voice/video chat. Depending on set-up, you may not be able to see the video if you are server members but can if you are friends. Bonus: The “User Volume” is handy if you noticed that someone is too loud or too soft when joining voice/video chat. The good news is that this does not affect how anyone else hears them.

You can also have friends who are from different servers…or perhaps you don’t belong to any of the same servers. Though, you can now private message each other and use the @ to mention or give attention.

Otherwise, the host of the discord server–like “storycrossroads”–can use “@everyone” to send a notification/message to each of the server members. This comes on handy when there are scheduled or random voice/video chats or opportunities through the text channels.

Regular Chats

Check to see when the discord server has regular voice/video chats and/or text chats. As for Story Crossroads, we have them every Monday from 10:00pm-11:00pm MDT usually in the “chat-about-stories” Voice Channel. These are informal brain trust sessions where one main person “takes the floor” and can focus on any storytelling-related idea, performance, technology, or any other possibility. The invite link to our Story Crossroads Discord Server: https://discord.gg/KfwNK7Z.

Examples –

Monday, July 6th – Carl focused on stories or repertoire to tell while giving people tours of Antelope Island in Utah.

Monday, July 13th – Tim shared about an upcoming podcast and had us as a sounding board while also hearing advice from regular podcasters.

Monday, July 20th – Stephen will share about his venture with Patreon while also exploring how a storyteller can use recurring revenue subscriptions that can also be done through Twitch and custom-made memberships.

Anytime we have these sessions, the topic jumps around though always connects to storytelling in one way or another.

We plan on having a daytime regular voice/video chat. Anytime we do have these chats, we place it in the #announcements text channel. Please let us know if you have a preference by emailing info@storycrossroads.org.

Plus, if you want to “take the floor” and have an idea that could use some listening ears, then email info@storycrossroads.org. We can arrange a day for you.

Random “Check-Ins”

If you message friends on the discord server, you can have your own one-on-one voice/video chats as well as on the text channels. “Storycrossroads” does not have to be there for it to happen.

Click on your friend’s icon/avatar and see if you can arrange a same date/time together. If you know this person outside Discord–such as through Facebook, Instagram, or in-person–then feel free to use any other communication ways to schedule a time together. Email? Text? You choose.

The only thing we ask? Please keep any conversation family-friendly even when talking adult to adult. Remember, adults are part of families, too. This means clean language and appropriate and positive conversations.

Explore the text channels and unread comments will pop up first. Get caught up and see if you can add to the discussions.

Enjoy all that is possible on Discord.

Discord is best by laptop/computer though there is a free phone app. We have scheduled voice/video chats usually within “Voice Channels” and then “chat-about-stories” on Mondays at 10:00pm MDT. We will eventually have regular one during the daytime. Join us! Again, that invite link: https://discord.gg/KfwNK7Z.

Find our E-Newsletter and Email List Sign-Ups on our website home page at the bottom, the archive page, etc.

See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Look forward to our 7-part Blog Series “What Youth Tellers Want & Need.” And…Spread the word about our upcoming Story Camp for youth aged 8-17 in mid-August of two kinds: Limited-Sized/Proper-Distanced as well as Virtual.