Story Class 1.1 – The Big Picture

The first two sessions of our 8 week story class deals with two big pictures: 1. an overview of story structure and the hero’s transformation. 2. The pivotal moment where the hero sees the big picture and chooses the greater good – or not. The whole story and all its elements revolves around this climactic moment, the elements are as follows:

Five Stages of story structure:

1. The Call to Adventure

 Example: Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived at the edge of a forest. She always wore a red riding hood that her grandmother had made for her. One day her mother called her: ‘Little Red, would you take this basket of goodies to your sick gran on the other side of the woods?”

2. Debate and preparation

“Sure, Mom,” she replied and set off.
Her mom called after her: “Just remember Rad, there is a wolf in the woods, so stay on the path and do not stray.”

3. The Journey (tasks and team)

Little Red skips into the woods singing to herself. She is tempted to pick flowers for her gran. She hears mom’s voice in her head, but she picks them anyway. She meets the wolf and innocently tells him where she is going. She follows his advice and take the wrong path…

4. Ordeal and reward


Little Red and the Wolf
Little Red and the Wolf

When Little Red gets to Grandma’s house…all is not well. Gran looks very ill indeed. “Gran, why are your eyes so big? Your ears? Your mouth?” So much the better to see you with, hear you with, SWALLOW YOU WITH…


5. Return

A wood cutter hears a disturbing snoring sound from grandma’s house. He finds the wolf, cuts him open and sets the two women free. Yes, Little Red is no longer that little and she never wore the red hood again…

Four Forces for change

1. The hero with the goal: Little Red Riding Hood with a basket for Grandma.

2. The guide who supports: Mom with her advice

3. The obstacles which tempts and distracts: The sick grandma who may like flowers, who must be reached asap…

4. The enemy who opposes: The hungry wolf

Three levels of character

1. Action that can be seen from the outside: Little Red wheres her riding hood everyday, she accepts the challenge without hesitating and she skips into the forest.

2. Attitude that reveals internal motivation: She is eager, innocent and full of energy, motivated by fun and adventure.

3. Awareness that comes from seeing the big picture: she learns about making mistakes and failure, but also about strength and courage. She is now more grown up and far less naieve.

These work together throughout the story in a certain sequence. In the first class last night we played with Little Red Riding Hood. Above is an analysis of the story according to the elements of story structure. What you will not find here is the depth and meaning we each gained from the experience for our individual lives. For that you need to join us next week when we deal with the story of Jona in the belly of the whale!

Here is more info on our story class

Alternatively, whach this blog as we play with the questions :

What stage of the story are you in right now?

What forces work to help you transform your life?

What really drives you as hero of your life story?

How can you use all this in helping others be their own hero’s?

Dr. Petro Janse van Vuuren

Keep Them Safe Stage 3, part 1 – The journey begins

Klapmuts soup drinkers giving the thumbs up
Klapmuts soup drinkers giving the thumbs up


on the first and second days, it was pouring with rain. When the clouds finally cleared, the mountains were covered in snow. Needless to say, very few kids came to the activities. This proved to be the first of many unforeseen obstacles on the road to running a successful holiday programme.

Because of this, PITCH teams adapted their plans and issued new calls to adventure. They nursed the kids through their doubts and fears with hot soup and warm smiles and an explosive first week line up! .  

For over 3 months we recruited, trained and nurtured about 200 adult volunteers to get them ready, so that they can get us ready. Then the time for preparation simply ran out and the Journey was upon us.

On 11 June Bafana Bafana scored the first goal of the Fifa Soccer World Cup and the following Monday on 14 June KTS kicked off. It was rainy and freezing cold but all over Stellenbosch courageous teams stood ready for kids who needed warm food and entertainment.

It is now nearly 2 weeks later and numbers are increasing every day.

But where do the kids come from? How did they know to come and where to come too? How did they know what they would find when they got there?

While the journey started form the adults and organisers, the kids still needed to be Called to Adventure.

You may have read earlier that we are designing 2 journeys simultaneously.

  1. Keep Them Safe: a story about adults putting together a holiday programme for kids during the Fifa Soccer World Cup
  2. The Perfect PITCH: a story about kids and young people playing and working to express themselves through Arts, culture, sport and entrepreneurship

Of course it is not true that the holiday programme started with marketing. In actual fact, the compassion days each community had to organise in preparation for the holiday programme also functioned as marketing events for the kids and young people.

Many communities followed these up with various events like talent shows and modelling competitions to get the kids’ attention. At the same time we, As back bone team, appointed a group to run a marketing campaign in schools to advertise the programme

At all these events the 3 elements of the Call to Adventure were taking into account:

  1. Who is the target audience? What are their characteristics, strengths and weaknesses?
  2. What do their Ordinary Worlds look like? How are they stuck?
  3. What is our promise to them?

But something went wrong with the marketing… when KTS kicked off, only young kids arrived. There were very few, if any, young people older than 11.  What happened?

One reason was that the schools that were visited with the marketing group were mostly primary schools, so the older kids never heard the Call. Although all Secondary Schools were also targeted, few opened their doors for the marketing group.

Also the holiday programme was designed so that young kids would play from 9 to 12 and the older ones from 11 to 14:00. This was hard to advertise and communicate it seems. Youngsters who did arrive came early with the little ones and then left when they saw too few of their own age there.

When PITCH teams saw this trend, many came up with good ideas in the first week to get youngsters on board. Some paraded through the streets with music and mega phones calling the kids out of their homes and out of the streets. Others changed their programmes by using the older kids who came early to assist with the young ones. Eventually in some communities the two sepearte programmes have now just fused into one.

Finally, a team of photographers and writers have added their weight to our project and have taken it upon them to make the project more visible in the local media. We ar forever thankful to them.  Thank you to the adult Asset Builders of Stellenbosch.

Eventually we are noticing that the best Call to Adventure for the older kids is the content of the programme itself. The longer it runs, the more friends tell each other and the more kids and young people pitch for the perfect PITCH.

The Perfect PITCH programme is its own ‘perfect pitch’.

Why? Because kids, but especially young people are full of fears and doubts and it takes time for them to overcome these and commit fully to the adventure. Maybe more on that next time as we go a little deeper into the design of the programme itself and look at The Perfect PITCH – preparing kids for their journey.