Campfire Storytelling Series lets teens share their experiences

Traditions are often passed down in the form of stories and myths. Framing experiences in a storytelling narrative makes them more accessible to others and easier to remember. While the concept is as old as humanity, live storytelling is having a resurgence. For example, The Moth: True Stories Told Live is a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. The Moth’s podcast has become one of the top ten most popular on iTunes.

Another example is the once-a-month storytelling event called “Keep Talking” at The Happy Dog in Cleveland. Hosted by two stand-up comedians who choose a broad theme, it invites participants to come prepared to stand and tell their stories. The only rule is that the story has to be true.

This is where Monica Wilson, Heights Libraries youth services associate, got the idea to start Campfire Storytelling Series, a storytelling program for teens. While they didn’t have an actual campfire at the first session on June 12, the group sat outside in a circle and did eat s’mores. They practiced storytelling around last month’s theme, My School Year Hero.

“I thought this would be a great program for our teens because we often end up doing this type of activity anyway in our other programs,” said Wilson. “I also think there’s something magical about sitting outside in a circle telling stories.”

Wilson attended Regina High School in South Euclid. One of her favorite memories from what she called “this wonderful, strange little place” was an affirmation circle activity in her theology class. She learned how to vocalize her appreciation for her peers, turn her experiences into a narrative and also how to listen.

“Being a teenager is an intense time of self-discovery and it’s good to be self-aware. Talking through these concepts, or composing thoughts into a story or narrative can really help people, of all ages, figure themselves out,” said Wilson.

The program continues on Friday, July 10, at 3:30 p.m., with a theme of The Underdog, and on Friday, Aug. 14, at 3:30 p.m., with My Superpower as the theme. For more information, visit, or call the Noble Neighborhood Library at 216-291-5665.

Julia Murphy

Julia Murphy is the marketing assistant for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 9:13 AM, 07.01.2015