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.


  • 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?


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 3 of 5 – Voice Channels

This is the third 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.


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

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

You can talk–with or without video–and even share screens and watch storytelling videos and such together.

Sounds a lot like Zoom? Yes, many of what you can do with Zoom can also be done in Discord.

You can have virtual storytelling guild meetings, places to share ideas on story-crafting or other adventures, as well as any number of networking opportunities.

While not the ideal place for performances such as through Zoom, Facebook Live, or YouTube, Discord still offers a great place to welcome anyone who simply wants to “chat” or “talk story.” People can chat for a few minutes or hours upon hours.

While Text Channels have the pound sign, Voice Channels have the megaphone you can see circled in red below. All server members with their handles are listed underneath the chosen Voice Channel as you can see with “storycrossroads.”

If at least two people are there, go ahead and chat. We don’t have to be there.

This image to the left shows “Voice Connected” when you are successful for jumping on the voice channel. The red arrow points to the phone image/”x” for how you leave or disconnect or “hang-up.” Clicking the microphone can mute/unmute while the headphones allows you to deafen/undeafen others through your computer.

By default, your microphone–assuming you have one built-in your device or connected–comes “on hot” or active. You can change it to only be on when you click an assigned button like the space bar. Though, I find it best to not worry about buttons. Simply use the mute/unmute option instead!

Setting Up Your Microphone and Video

By clicking on the gear button, you can make sure that your microphone and video work for Discord. Although you may have used your device for other voice-related platforms like Zoom, you still want to check and test while in Discord. Tech is funny that way.

This screen will then pop up and go to “Voice & Video” under “App Settings” in the left column.

Then, by clicking “Voice & Video,” you will see this “Voice Settings” screen:

Your input and output will be different. Do the mic test. Then scroll down on this same page until you see “Video Settings.” This is what it looks like:

Again, test the video.

If you have trouble with your video or seeing people who claim that their video is on, then click out of the video channel (disconnect/phone-“X” image) and then go back in. This will not be as reliable as Zoom but there is practicably no delay when speaking.

Here is what it is like when you are alone without video on (or at least storycrossroads):

The bottom “bar” has the usual camera image (turn on/off your camera), the computer with arrow image (share screen, includes files and/or video), the microphone (mute/unmute), and the red phone/”x” (disconnect/leave).

When others join in, here is what it could look like:

Three Voice Channels for Story Crossroads Discord Server:

For any of our three Voice Channels, keep it family-friendly. You can message a friend on the server like you would for Facebook Messenger and “meet” in any of these channels.


This can be any topic of storytelling…or even unrelated and needing to chat.


This is usually where our scheduled voice/video chats will take place. The main focus is having one person “take the floor” and share an idea for story-crafting or any other story-related ideas. Throughout our lives, we need to be there as a support. Join us on Mondays at 10pm MDT by using this direct Discord invite: https://discord.gg/KfwNK7Z.


If people want to talk specifically about folktales and/or perform folktales, then this is the best voice channel. However, we will never have any formal performances on this Story Crossroads Discord Server.

What are you waiting for? Feel free to talk!

We may add more specific ones as time goes on. At least you have the basics…and the next blog post will be on voice channels. Only a couple…but some tips on how to troubleshoot and such.

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