Throwback Thursday – 5 Favorite EXPO 2017 Moments

What a whirlwind. Somehow it’s already January 2018, kids are back in school, and CYT winter sessions are well underway. But today we’re throwing it back to June 2017 when the sun was hot, school was out, and we spent the best four days of the entire summer at the 2017 CYT EXPO!

Last year about 200 students, 120 leaders, and 110 spectators from all across the nation came together in sunny San Diego to “Seize the Day”. Throughout all leadership training sessions, theatre Master Classes, meal times, and activities, here’s a brief look back at 5 of our favorite EXPO 2017 moments.


The photo booth is always a hit and let me tell you, theater kids sure know how to take entertaining pictures. Popular themes include (but are not limited to): pictures with food; spelling CYT with arms; funny faces; dramatic scenes. Don’t worry, the photo booth will be back for 2018!

Find your pictures from the photo booth here! 



Speaker, author, and CYT Chicago alum Jon Jorgenson performed several spoken word pieces and shared how performing can be used to influence people and change lives. He also led a workshop and spent time just hanging out with the students and leadership!

Want to see what Jon’s working on next? Follow his facebook page and subscribe to his YouTube channel!



Who doesn’t love a good laugh? The Improvathon teams train every year for several sessions before coming to EXPO, and their hard work definitely shows! Congrats again to the 2017 Improvathon Finalists – CYT San Diego‘s “Yoda King of New York” and “Newsboyz II Men” – and the 2017 Improvathon Champions, CYT Kansas City‘s “Black and White and Rad All Over”!


4 – PARTY LIKE IT’S 1899

Dressing like a newsboy, watching the Broadway recording of Newsies, and dancing the night away with 200 of friends? That is definitely an example of seizing the day! What kind of radical opening night party will we have this year??



Each morning we had some awesome worship led by CYT alum, students, and friends, but one morning was a little different from the rest. Due to another event taking place next door, we moved our worship outside and had an acoustic set to start off the day! It was definitely a hit. Maybe we’ll have an acoustic set again?

CYT EXPO 2017 was a blast! I know, this post probably made you miss it. But don’t worry, your chance to “be radical” at the 2018 CYT EXPO is coming up fast! Registration opens on February 1!! Get stoked!



Hey Ho EXPO – Meet Scott Smith!

Scott Smith, college pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church, will be joining us at EXPO for our Morning Devotions! Keep reading to get to know more about him!

Hey Everyone Coming to CYT EXPO!

Cards on the table right away, I’ve made my kids watch Newsies with me twice this month in preparation to be with you all in just a few weeks – which basically makes me Dad of the Year – Ha!  Seriously, we are so excited to be with you all at CYT EXPO this year, as we learn what it means to Seize the Day in our lives.

A few things you need to know before we meet in just a few weeks.

1) My wife is RAD, simple as that. And she is a Rockstar CYT Teacher (I’m biased, but she is)  

2) Our kids are the BEST of us! Our daughter, Hope, is already a CYT kid, and our son, Silas, tries to sing every song he can while substituting the word “poop” as often as possible – he’s a three year old boy, so…. 

3) I am praying for you. I really am. In fact, we, the Smiths, are praying for you. EXPO is a first for me, as I’m sure it is for some of you, and we are excited for the week! 

4) We are going to get real. Life is quick, and Love is crucial. So, we are going to look at what Jesus says about Seizing the Day together and how we can follow His Lead in becoming the change we want to see.

OK, we’ve got Mission Bay, awesome programming, food, fun, workshops, friends (old, new and soon-to-be), music and of course our nationwide CYT family coming together in just a few weeks.  So get pumped!  Stoked to meet you all at EXPO!

Singing the wrong words to Newsies songs all month – driving my wife crazy,


Who, What, Wear – EXPO 2017!

Hello, CYT! It’s Rachael Baciocco (ChocoTaco) with the Who, What, and Wear of EXPO 2017!! EXPO is only 15 days away, so I’m sure you’re wondering about all the exciting details we have planned. I’ll let you in on a few, but we have to save some of the fun for EXPO!


WHO: EXPO is for YOU! Are you 12 or older? Are you a CYT Teacher? Area Coordinator? Parent? Student? Whatever your role, you are invited! Registration is still open, so get signed up here!

WHAAAAAT?? We’ve got prizes, food trucks, CYT Ninja Warrior, and MORE! Here’s a quick sneak peek at the “what” of EXPO 2017!

Win awesome prizes from our Opportunity Drawings! (items include Apple watch, iPad mini, gift cards, free EXPO 2018 Registration, and more!)

Remember those delicious food trucks? That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, “That’s What Cheese Said” is back, along with other returning trucks AND some new ones!! This year we have a couple of different trucks coming each night! We have a wide variety of options, including Organic Food Truck, Epic EatsHana Hou to Go, and Cucina Caprese Monaco. Check them out! You can purchase food truck vouchers at the Info Table for $13!



CYT Ninja Warrior?! Whaaaattttt?? Get a team of Newsies together and compete to see which team can Carry the Banner from Start to Finish the fastest!! We have the course posted on our Facebook page, along with the descriptions to each station. Take a look and start training with your fellow Newsies for CYT Ninja Warrior!!

WEAR: Each day of EXPO we wear our CYT Swag loud and proud. Here’s what the CYT EXPO Staff will be wearing each day, so why not “twin” with the staff? Make sure you pack these items, or if you don’t have them you can buy them at EXPO at a special EXPO discount!


Tuesday: We’re wearing our CYT EXPO Staff shirts, so come decked out in your Affiliate’s gear to represent your group! Make sure you bring some Newsies attire too though…Tuesday night we’re going to “Party Like it’s 1899”!

Wednesday: Wear your CYT Tank and/or your CYT Trucker Hat! Remember those cool retro tanks we released at the 2015 EXPO? Well they’re back, and in fun colors! You had the chance to purchase them in green or teal, and now you can get them in black or pink! Add them to your CYT Swag collection at EXPO!



Thursday: Time to pull out the good old “I HEART CYT” shirts. We’re wearing those on Thursday! Wear your I HEART shirt and tell the world you love CYT!



Friday: What’s your favorite piece of CYT Swag? Get dressed Friday morning wearing your favorite CYT shirt/hat/accessory!

And THAT, my friends, is the Who, What, and Wear of CYT EXPO 2017! Get your Swag, get excited, and get ready to Seize the Day at CYT EXPO 2017!


Get hyped for HYPE!!

Are you hyped for HYPE?? Lydia, our National HYPE Director, is! We had the chance to ask her a few questions, so take a look and see why she’s excited about EXPO!

What has been your favorite thing about EXPO in the past?
My favorite thing about Expo – which hasn’t changed from the first Expo I went to in 2010 – is that it feels like a giant family reunion. Every year that I go back, I get so excited to see friends from around the country that I only get to see once a year – and to make new friends that I will love seeing again next year. No matter where we live, CYT people are all the same deep down, and there’s nothing that makes me happier than when we all come together each year.

The whole group picture from last year’s Expo!

As the National HYPE Director, what is your goal for the students who attend EXPO? What can HYPE students expect at this year’s EXPO?
My goal for Expo is three-fold – 1) for HYPE students to grow in community with one another and build strong relationships that will continue throughout the year; 2) for HYPE students to share strengths and challenges from this last year and learn from one another as they collaborate for the upcoming year; and 3) to learn leadership skills in specific areas that they can take back home with them and put to use right away.

What part of EXPO are you the most excited about?
Such a difficult question! I think I’m most excited to see all these amazing student leaders face to face and have incredible conversations with them. I keep in touch with them throughout the year, but there’s nothing like seeing them in person and having those meaningful conversations.

Bonus question! You just opened your first show as director – CYT North Idaho’s Snow White and the Prince! Congratulations! Do you have a fun moment from the process you can share?
Thank you so much! The entire process has been more fun than I can even say, but one poignant moment that stuck out was when I was driving over to Coeur d’Alene after a tiring day of teaching. Even though I was exhausted from teaching, I felt so much joy and excitement at seeing my cast for rehearsal. And I realized that – while I love getting to work for CYT, Inc., from home – being involved in a show again after about 3-4 years away reminded me of why I love CYT so much. It felt like I was coming home – and that’s why we do what we do – so that we can allow other people to feel the same way about CYT. The cast and artistic team and staff have been such a joy – the whole thing has felt like a dream come true.

What I love about this picture is that the choreographer, Charlsie Johnston, and I are both CYT alumni working on our first show together. She was a CYT-North Idaho student and I was a CYT-Spokane student – and now we get to work together on this fun show! 🙂

Lydia is such a blessing to leaders and students all across the country. We are so thankful for her and for all that she does! Congratulations on your show, Lydia, and we can’t wait to see you at EXPO!

Are you registered for EXPO yet?? Get online and register today!!

EXPO 2017: Bullying Survey

EXPO 2017 is coming up soon! Each year at EXPO we meet with our Affiliates from across the nation to train our students and staff and to discuss rellevent topics. After feedback from many of you, this year we will be having a conversation with leaders and students about the topic of bullying within CYT. It’s a tough one to tackle, but not one we should shy away from either. We promise to handle this topic with care. We want to help empower students and leaders to be a part of the solution, and together, help ensure that CYT is a “no bully zone”.

In an effort to start the conversation, we have created an anonymous form (COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS) for anyone to share their insights on bullying in CYT. Again, these are meant to open the conversation, in a safe place, and hopefully shed some light on what our students are dealing with. We will only share information that is appropriate, and the form requires that the person submitting agrees to their answers being used at EXPO.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Please help us out by by filling out this form and sharing it with students and adults in CYT. Thanks everyone!

Click Here: Bullying Survey for EXPO

EXPO 2017 Keynote Speaker!

We are so pleased to announce our Keynote Speaker for EXPO 2017: Jon Jorgenson!

As a CYT alumnus from former CYT Chicago, Jon understands our world and CYT Culture! We are so excited to have him share his passion and expertise with us.

Jon Jorgenson is an author, speaker, and spoken word poet whose YouTube videos have been viewed by more than 15 million people. Jon partners with numerous organizations including Awana International, Moody Bible Institute, the Willow Creek Association, and hundreds of other churches, colleges, and conferences all over the globe. His spoken word poetry provides a dynamic and creative experience that captures the imagination of audiences everywhere. As a former Broadway actor, Chicago native, and very lucky husband, Jon hopes to provide a fresh, unique voice to some of life’s most difficult and challenging questions.

We recently sat down with Jon for a Q&A.

Our theme verse for the conference is Hebrews 10:23-25. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” How has this verse been meaningful in your life?

Every opportunity I have ever received came at the hands of someone who was spurring me on toward the person God had created me to be. We’re often blind to the gifts, abilities, and callings that God has bestowed upon us. And even if we could see them, we’d probably be too afraid to take hold of them. My life is a recurring story of Christ like mentors throwing a microphone in my hand and saying, “Go, do someone constructive with what god has given you.” To me, this verse is about seeing the God-given beauty and potential in all people, do playing our part by drawing it out of them.

I know you are a CYT Alumni, what was your favorite CYT production and why? (Bonus if you have a photo. Double bonus if said photo is somewhat embarrassing.)

My favorite CYT production was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat. I got to play a brother and Pharaoh, which essentially meant I never left the stage. I felt real bad for the costume moms, or whoever had to handle my costumes though. I’m a sweater.

What advice do you have for current CYT students?

The community you have around you right now is so special, and it is unlike anything else you are ever likely to experience. Do not take that for granted. Enjoy it, and take an active role in making the community even better.

Any last thoughts before we see you in June?

Come find me. Say hello. Tell me your story. And let’s take a picture.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from Jon and learn more about his experience with CYT, Broadway, and in ministry! To register for EXPO 2017 visit our EXPO site HERE!

CYT Dallas’ Heart is Beating Strong!

Are you involved with CYT? Were you at Expo this year? Guess what! You are impacting others and showing them the heart behind CYT without even realizing it! Take a look at Ruth Bennett’s (CYT Dallas’ Board Member) take-away from her time at Expo.

“I attended CYT EXPO in San Diego a few weeks ago and came away with some definite impressions of what this thing really is and what Tyler has been trying to communicate to us while he follows God’s lead to get this going for CYT Dallas.
May I share some observations?
First, I’m very thankful that the first national gathering I attended was the one that the young people attend to compete and perform. The improv competition was gut-busting worthy and the showcase each city performed (a dance and song from a musical they had done) showed their dedication to great art.  My favorite take away regarding the young performers:  when J. Mark McVey (who has performed the role of Jean Valjean 2000+ times) compared the life of that character to his own, marking bitterness, forgiveness and then a heart of abundant generosity. During his presentation he would sing songs from Les Mis that most young people would scoff at.  But these CYT students – who have all labored and struggled to perform these same songs – stood to their feet over and over with great praise and admiration for this tenor in anguish.  It was noteworthy for several reasons but I was excited that this level of respect for theater was well taught to our young and that they want to value it and carry it on.
Secondly, I was with Tyler…THE Tyler.  My, how you all treasure this young man! It was endearing to me to see how well regarded he is by all of you and to confirm what I felt I knew…he is very gifted, very respected and highly sought after.  Currently, Tyler wears all 3 hats (AD, MD, AC) while we begin this great engine.  (Yes, I’ll pause while you say a quick but passionate prayer for him.)  My time with all of you seated in me what each role truly is and the significance of what Tyler’s role has been for us thus far.  Applications are being taken…
Lastly, during leadership sessions, every aspect of what CYT does and what that should look like was covered.  Interestingly, each city had slightly different ways to accomplish the same things and CYT INC gladly received new ideas that sounded like they would help the experience. I learned a lot.  I also had a driving need to see the CYT Warehouse in San Diego where all of their props, costumes and set design happens.  Magically (thank you God) the Area Coordinator for San Diego offered to take me there.  It was crazy unfathomable!  Wow! Show after show all laid out in fabric and wood in a massive building of pathways and ladders.  My take away: My guide, Katrina, took me to Mt. Helix – Paul Russell told us about this outdoor amphitheater on the top of a mountain when he and Sheryl visited with us on a trip they took to Austin.  Along the way she told me many stories but my favorite was that she was raised strictly Catholic and has never been comfortable with praying aloud.  She said it was always taught as a private, silent conversation with God.  It was irreverent to say “Jesus” out loud. When her daughter got involved with CYT there was a barrage of praying aloud that shook her (Katrina) a little bit and she took some time to adjust.  She said that the thing that has blown her away is that, in the presence of CYT leaders, her daughter quickly became a vibrant prayer with no hesitation about praying aloud.  The young leaders there began a bible study and invited the CYT kids and this has made all the difference in this family.
My CYT EXPO 2016 summary?
1 – I can now see the path we are on quite literally.
2 – We are blessed to have Tyler as our seed for growth. We will listen carefully to his thoughts.
3 – We are about to make this come alive for Dallas families and set some awkward kids in their element!
Thank you to each and every participant in EXPO that shared ideas and pitched their passions near me.  It’s an honor to be on board.
Ruth Bennett
CYT Dallas”

CYT Dallas is coming alive!! Keep that heartbeat going strong! We believe in you and we can’t wait to see your impact on the community!Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.06.17 PM