Story Telling




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Story-Telling is the Scoutmaster’s opportunity to get close to his Scouts by capturing and holding their imaginations, to extend their horizons, to influence their characters by holding before them deeds of courage, and sacrifice and valor.

The Story is the Thing

Many factors enter into successful story telling—seating of the audience, meeting the mood, dramatic presentation. But first of all: THE STORY IS THE THING.

The question then is: What kind of yarns do boys like? Where do I get them?

Boys like all kinds of yarns, provided they contain action, have sustained suspense, and end in a conclusive, definite manner.

In your own reading, it will happen time and again that you say: "That would make a fine story for the gang." Make a brief notation of the title, the author, where you ran across the story and a sketch map of the plot.

Another place to get stories is out of your own experience. Every man has, at some time in his experience, had a personal adventure which can be retold—a trip into the back country, an ocean voyage, a great fire witnessed.

The field of exploration offers another rich opportunity for the garnering of stories: Byrd’s expedition to the South Pole, Roy Chapman Andrew’s explorations in the Gobi, Lawrence’s adventures in Arabia.

The history of the United States in peace and war is a treasure mine of stories to tell the boys.

When you have found a story which you feel is suited for retelling, read it through until you have its sequence of events firmly fixed in your mind. Then tell it before a mirror to coordinate gestures, timing it at the same time.

If you are to tell a story with your own experiences, guard against the too frequent use of "I"—"I did this," "I did that," "I said," "I acted," "It was due to MY." Tell the story in the second person or by generous use of the editorial "WE."

Telling the Story

The start is important. The attention of the listeners must be caught in the very opening statement. Starting with a long description of the circumstances leading up to the predicament of the hero, of his attire, what he had for breakfast and the lovely afternoon sunlight on distant hills, dispels attention and you are likely to hear an impatient whisper: "Why doesn’t he come to the point?" By saying: "Our boat was overloaded and we were quickly drifting into trouble. Behind us the bay was smooth as a millpond, ahead of us the tide was going out through the narrow inlet with high waves ripping every which way, and it seemed inevitable that we would be caught. ‘Hold her off!’ Jack shouted. ‘Look out—watch that oar’—but before he had finished we were in the midst of what seemed a gigantic whirlpool. The boat was tossed from side to side. Then—a crack one of our two oars had broken…" You get the idea?

Then there must be an ending and there must be no question about the ending. It must be as definite as the railroad terminal at the end of the line. All threads must be gathered together. All business disposed of. All obscure points made clear so that there is no doubt in the listeners’ minds as to what happened to every character presented. And while the imagination has been stimulated throughout the telling of the story, no plot incident must be left to the imagination at the end of the story.

"Tell us a story." Are you prepared for it?

See Also: 

Ernest Thompson Seton on Story Telling

F. Haydon Dimmock's Good Story Telling

A. E. Hamilton's Stories by Firelight and Emberglow

Bibliography for Camp Fire Stories

Green Bar Bill






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.