What Youth Tellers Want & Need – Part 1 of 7

This is the first of seven parts on gleaming from personal and 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 – TODAY
  • Part 2 – Friend/Listener/Mentor
  • Part 3 – The Storytelling Birthday
  • Part 4 – Combining Talents
  • Part 5 – Ownership of Events & Beyond
  • Part 6 – Virtual Options
  • Part 7 – Wishlist Stages

The future is bright with youth storytelling.

There is more going on than most people realize. Even professional storytellers are unaware of how many youth are already involved in the art. Where Story Crossroads resides – Utah – is where youth storytelling is the most active in all the world.

Recently, we have been in contact with people leading amazing youth mentorship and performance opportunities from India to Singapore to Italy to Lebanon. Within the United States, other strong areas are Florida, Texas, and New York. Sometimes youth involves 5-year-olds to 17-year-olds while others lump in the college-aged adults when talking about “the next generation of storytelling.”

But what do youth want? What do they need? How does this affect how to work with youth in developing their storytelling skills?

We will take this one at a time during this 7-part blog series.

Let’s Use the Right Words.

Some adult storytellers cringe when using the words like “contest,” “competition,” and “winner” when promoting the art.

Yet…the competition side of things is what originally drew me into the art. And I am not alone.

Storytelling is a “nice” art. We cooperate and collaborate and have not as many divas than, let’s say, the theater world. To throw in words that indicate levels or ranks or anything like that tends to rub against the grain of many professional storytellers.

But, as a high school student, earning medals and trophies was awesome.

I started storytelling as as sophomore in high school. It has now been 27 years. I am not looking for medals or trophies anymore. My motives have significantly changed. But would I be around today had there not been some level of competition? Probably not.

Some people prefer a softer word such as “showcase.” The National Youth Storytelling has gone by several names. It originally was National Youth Storytelling Olympics (NYSO). Perhaps it was a little dangerous to use “Olympics,” though that word already implies competition. Later, it was called National Youth Storytelling Showcase. Some of the Board hated the idea of choosing “the best.” Suddenly, all the finalists received trophies or plaques but they were all the same. There was not the ultimate ambassador or winner anymore.

Now consider what older youth are hungry for…events that are set-up like The Moth. This is more than a competition. These fall often in the ultra-short personal and true stories (5-7 minutes) and usually categorized as “slams.” And these slams? They can even be ruthless and involve booing. Usually, there is only applause or cheering for “regular” competitions.

The counter of these slams though still in that competitive world would be Myth-Offs. These are more popular in Europe though bit by bit have made appearances in the United States. Now we delve into competition but in the folkloric world.

See a pattern?

We can still have the “nice” words to promote storytelling with the youth.

Consider something else.

The vision of Story Crossroads existed for a long time but what was the catapult? Someone over a city-level storytelling festival wanted a county-level storytelling festival for their youth to take part in. The result? Story Crossroads launching in 2016 instead of 2017 or much later. You have the need of moving to the next level to the next level.

If you don’t like “winner,” then you can still use “selected” and “chosen.”

Now another twist.

The surge in podcasts has an edge of competition to it as well. Not everyone gets to air on a show. There is risk and anticipation. “Will my story be the one?”

When we have open mic or other events where anyone can be part of something, it can be wonderful…and other times not as enticing.

Still have these “nice” events, though please think about what youth are being drawn to and adapt your offerings accordingly.

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.

Dreaming and Doing (Day 4–A-Z Blog Challenge)

7643768808_4b80d307aa_bEnjoy all of these A-Z Blog Challenge posts. Versión en Español se puede encontrar a continuación o haga clic aquí para ir allí. Haga clic en mí para saltar a la parte española. Also look forward to the Story Crossroads crowdsourcing campaign May 1, 2015.

“D” is for Dreaming and Doing.

Dreams start with a little idea that wants to get bigger.  The longer you dream, the bigger that dream has a chance to grow and turn into something even more fantastic.  But dreams do not stop there.  It must become reality to survive. Some people open their eyes and the dream is lost.  Some people linger with the ideas, then later on the dream withers.  Some people become those dreams by doing what is necessary to make them reality.

I have had many dreams.  Not all dreams have made it to the reality part because there was no “do.”  It is never the size of the dream that is daunting and too much.  If little to no time is dedicated, it is only natural that the dream will die.  Or become dormant.  A dream can still grow when worked on later.

That is how it has felt with Story Crossroads.  At the first Story Crossroads Community Planning Meeting, we had 28 civic, education, arts and storytelling leaders attended and shared input on June 3, 2014.  I had everyone fill out four different post-its to stick to four different poster-sized papers stuck onto the walls based on their reactions to the vision of Story Crossroads and what organization they represent (or answered as an individual if not associated with any particular group).  These four areas were:  Needs, Wants, Beliefs, and Emotions.  When people filled out the answers for themselves, they had to place the post-its to the right category.

Here is a sampling of those answers that represent what most people wrote—


  • Process to extract stories, ways to document and record stories with audio and film
  • Forum for communication, bridging generations and segregated community groups
  • Funding, Money and Sponsors
  • Buy-in from the community organizations, libraries and schools, senior centers and clubs
  • Cultural competency and cultural sensitivity when working with other cultures globally


  • Ability to sustain every year
  • A center where this can happen along with cross disciplinary discussions with a focus on excellence
  • Engage all ages—connect generations—and engage all cultures


  • We have the talent, the focus and the means to create a world conference.
  • Story is part of human nature and needs to be embraced. Telling stories can make them memorable, enjoyable and repeatable
  • Everyone has a story and by sharing we enrich each other.


  • Excited and elated
  • Overwhelmed
  • “Wow! How Groovy!”

We could have done the above activity and stopped there.  Yet, even the act of everyone standing up from their chairs and placing the post-its onto the large posters moved the dream forward.

Our talks of “what ifs” could transform from that “overwhelmed” emotion and on to the “excited” side.

David NovakHere is what I shared in a blog post named “Mythical Storytelling Network: Dreams of Reality” on the concept of “what ifs”:

Our dream ideas as storytellers to further the art in the minds of the general public are often hindered by our working within the boundaries—whether drawn by us or others.  We look at current situations and censor ideas purely from what we think is true or unchangeable.  Sometimes people dare to see something more.

Then came newfangled Brain Trust Sessions at the 2008 National Storytelling Conference.

One session in particular broadened my mind to think of possibilities I may never have discovered otherwise.  With Brain Trust facilitator/National Storyteller David Novak as well as some conference attendees, the premise was given:

  1.  The answer “No” did not exist
  2. The answer “Yes” was always followed by “If”

Once those “Yes” answers are created, then work on them.  Pick up the telephone and call someone.  Write that email to make a connection.  Do something.  For if you do not, then the dream will lay dormant and never reach its potential.

While at the Utah Early Childhood Education Conference, the author Richard Paul Evans said, “Take risky action….Dream, then do it!  Promise to think of at least one “what if” today.”

Well, Mr. Evans.  I do that.

I want to be a dreamer and a doer.  How about you?

We appreciate Steve Evans granting permission to use the picture he took of the ladies from Ethiopia.  You can find all of his images here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/babasteve/.  We also love the inspiration of David Novak also pictured here.  Learn more about David at www.novateller.com.

Aquí lo tiene.
7643768808_4b80d307aa_bSoñando y haciendo

Rogamos disculpen esta traducción al español que hemos utilizado un software de traducción. Estamos en proceso de hacer que las personas ayudar a traducir estos A-Z Blog Desafío puestos, así como todas las demás entradas del blog.

Sueños comenzar con una pequeña idea de que quiere obtener más grande.  El tiempo que le sueño, el sueño más grande que tenga una oportunidad de crecer y convertirse en algo aún más fantástico.  Pero los sueños no se detienen.  Debe convertirse en realidad para sobrevivir. Algunas personas abran los ojos y el sueño se pierde.  Algunas personas permanecen con las ideas, después el sueño se apaga.  Algunas personas se convierten en esos sueños, haciendo lo que es necesario para hacer realidad.

He tenido muchos sueños.  No todos los sueños han llegado a la realidad porque no hubo un “no.”  nunca es el tamaño del sueño que es ingente y demasiado.  Si poco tiempo dedicado, no es sino natural que el sueño va a morir.  O inactivos.  Un sueño todavía puede crecer cuando trabajó con ellos más tarde.

Eso es lo que se ha sentido con Historia encrucijada.  En la primera historia Encrucijada Comunidad Reunión de Planificación, tuvimos 28 cívica, la educación, las artes y la narración los líderes participaron y compartieron el 3 de junio de 2014.  Yo tenía todos llenar cuatro diferentes post-its de atenerse a cuatro diferentes tamaño cartel de papeles pegados en las paredes de sus reacciones a la visión de la Historia y qué organización Encrucijada que representan (o respondieron como un individuo si no asociados a ningún grupo en particular).  Estas cuatro áreas fueron:  necesidades, deseos, creencias y emociones.  Cuando la gente llena de las respuestas por sí mismos, tenían que colocar el post-its para la categoría adecuada.

He aquí una muestra de las respuestas que representan lo que la mayoría de la gente escribe-


  • Proceso para extraer historias, formas de documentar y registrar historias con audio y película
  • Foro para la comunicación, salvar las generaciones y grupos de la comunidad separados
  • Financiación, dinero y Patrocinadores
  • Con el interés de las organizaciones de la comunidad, las escuelas y las bibliotecas, centros de jubilados y clubes
  • Competencia Cultural y la sensibilidad cultural cuando se trabaja con otras culturas en todo el mundo


  • Capacidad de mantener cada año
  • Un centro donde esto puede ocurrir junto con transversal las conversaciones con un enfoque en la excelencia
  • Involucrar a todas las edades de las generaciones de todas las culturas y entablar


  • Tenemos el talento, el enfoque y la manera de crear una conferencia mundial.
  • Historia es parte de la naturaleza del ser humano y debe ser aceptado. Contar historias puede hacer que sea inolvidable, agradable y repetibles
  • Todos tenemos una historia, por el compartir nos enriquece mutuamente.


  • Emocionado y eufórico
  • Abrumado
  • “Wow! Cómo Groovy! “.

Podríamos haber hecho la actividad anterior y se detuvo allí.  Sin embargo, incluso el acto de pie de sus sillas y se coloca el post-its en los grandes carteles se trasladó el sueño.

Nuestras conversaciones de “qué ifs” podría transformar a esa “agobiado” emoción y a la “entusiasmado” lado.

David NovakEsto es lo que he compartido en un artículo de un blog llamado “Red Narración Mítica: los sueños de la realidad” en el concepto de “qué ifs”:

Nuestro sueño ideas como narradores de seguir el arte en la mente del público en general se ve afectada frecuentemente por nuestro trabajo dentro de las fronteras, ya sea por nosotros o los demás.  Nos fijamos en las situaciones actuales y censurar ideas puramente de lo que creemos que es verdadero o inmutable.  A veces las personas se atreven a ver algo más.

Luego vinieron inventos Brain Trust en la narrativa Nacional 2008 Conferencia.

Una sesión en particular amplió mi mente a pensar en las posibilidades que quizá nunca han descubierto lo contrario.  Con Brain Trust facilitador/Narrador Nacional David Novak, así como algunos asistentes a la conferencia, la premisa era:

  1.  La respuesta es “No” no existe
  2. La respuesta es “Sí” fue siempre seguido por “si”

Una vez que los “Sí”, las respuestas son creados, entonces trabajar con ellos.  Levantar el teléfono y llamar a alguien.  Escribir el correo electrónico para realizar una conexión.  Hacer algo.  Porque si no lo haces, entonces el sueño se han estado inactivos y nunca alcanzan su potencial.

Mientras que en el Utah Conferencia Educación para la Primera Infancia, el autor Richard Paul Evans dijo, “toma acción arriesgada… .Sueño, entonces no lo dude.  Promesa de pensar en por lo menos un ” ¿qué pasaría si?” hoy en día”.

Así, el Sr. Evans.  Tengo que hacer.

Yo quiero ser un soñador y un hacedor.  ¿Qué hay acerca de usted?

Agradecemos Steve Evans conceder el permiso para utilizar la foto que tomó de las damas de Etiopía. Usted puede encontrar todas las imágenes aquí: https://www.flickr.com/photos/babasteve/. También nos encanta la inspiración de David Novak también se muestra en la imagen. Conozca más acerca de David en www.novateller.com.