What story is your facility telling? Part 2

Author: 
Christin Baker

If you remember from the last blog post on Storytelling I outlined a three-act structure script. 

If you were to pick up a screenwriting book, it would break down a script into three acts and describe what needs to happen to your main character(s) in each act. You can find it in every movie you’ve watched. It is known as a formula, and it works.

Act 1 - Set up: Introduction of the hero, the main characters, the situation they are in and the struggles they might encounter.

Act 2 - Confrontation:  The hero encounters an obstacle that prevents him/her from achieving their goal.  The hero(s) will hit their “lowest point” or “point of change” in Act 2 and we as the audience feel the hurt and pain of their struggle and failure before they rise up in Act 3.

Act 3 - Resolution: The story reaches the most dramatic moment and the hero(s) goal is achieved.  

You can view almost anything through a three-act structure; including the first time someone walks into your facility, a swim lesson session, a soccer season, an annual campaign and even your employees' purpose for their work. 

For a practical example, we will use the natural three-act structure that comes from a Summer Camp experience. 

Act 1 - Set up: Introduction of the hero, the main characters, the situation they are in and the struggles they might encounter.

The arrival of the campers, the introduction of Counselors and organizing the campers into groups or cabins.  

Act 2 - Confrontation: The hero encounters an obstacle that prevents him/her from achieving their goal.  The hero(s) will hit their “lowest point” or “point of change” in Act 2 and we as the audience feel the hurt and pain of their struggle and failure before they rise up in Act 3.

Campers are trying something new; archery, horseback riding or other activities that might get them to move outside of their comfort zone.  Their ultimate goal is to learn a certain skill at the end of the week and now they come to that part where they are struggling to do this.   When learning a task or trying something they fail at before they succeed,  the camper feels far away from their goal.  Never fear though, in the end, the hero always wins.

Act 3 - Resolution: The story reaches the most dramatic moment and the hero(s) goal is achieved.  

At some point towards the end of the camping experience, there is a special campfire or a special tribute given to each camper for achieving a new skill or rising to a new level.  The camper leaves camp with a stronger sense of self and self-confidence they can carry throughout the year.  

Because Summer camps tend to be away from the hustle and bustle of regular life it is a program that lends itself towards a classic three-act structure.  I believe that many programs could be thought of in that and then the program directors can be intentional how they treat the participants like the hero of their story.  A program like Swim Lessons is a great example.  Take a moment and think about how a child new to swim lessons has an introduction and a difficult or scary part of the lesson but then gains confidence at the end.  

How can your program enhance the experienc of each child by enhancing the three act structure?