Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why EFY holds a special place in my heart

So I'm going to be an EFY counselor this summer. There probably aren't enough adjectives in your Oxford English to describe my level of excitement. I only went to EFY once as a teenager, but once was enough to make me want to come back as a counselor. However, I've discovered that many people don't share my same enthusiasm for EFY. No, that's putting it lightly. The reply I get when I tell my friends that I'm going to be an EFY counselor is often much the same: an eye roll coupled with some scathing remarks about teenagers, laced with the pretentious attitude of, "well, I can see how those of baser interests could find that interesting."* I'm pretty good at moving on, but only after some passive-aggressive remark about why they're wrong.

What I really want to say is this:
  • Teenagers take themselves way too seriously, and if there's any category of people who should be allowed as much license to have fun as possible, it should be teenagers. This is what EFY is so good at bringing out. You take a bunch of self-conscious kids growing up in a world that teaches them to be self-conscious, and you play silly games with them or tell jokes they wouldn't dare let any of their friends at school know they think are funny. This is so important, especially for teenage girls. The level of fun and goofing off you get at EFY is so important for teenage girls because it leaves no room for, one, judging other girls, and two, comparing yourself to other girls. These, in my opinion, are two of the most self-destructive activities teenage girls can take part in.
  • It makes the Gospel relevant. Take young 20-somethings, let them teach the Gospel to teenagers, the teenagers in turn teach it to each other, and all of a sudden it makes sense to them why it's important and how it affects their lives.
  • There really is a spirit at EFY. Sure, it gets a bad wrap for its blatant emotionalism, but teenagers really aren't as stupid as we sometimes like to assume them to be. They get the Spirit and they understand how to feel God, if you just teach them how. I have a sticky note on the cover of my EFY handbook with this great quotation by J. Reuben Clark: "[Youth] are hungry for the things of the Spirit; they are eager to learn the Gospel, and they want it straight, undiluted...You do not have to sneak up behind them and whisper religion in their ears; you can bring these truths out openly."

*Read in a snooty British accent for full effect.


Adam Denison said...

Great post, Shelley. My first year at EFY was a turning point for me in my life. My buddy and I went their with the sole purpose of meeting girls, but walked away with a completely new perspective on the gospel. EFY really helped to jump start my testimony. It was at that first EFY that I really found out that Heavenly Father knows who am, and is very much a part of life. Thanks for posting this.

Elisa said...

I never went to EFY. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it ... I would have loved all the boy attention even if it had been mandated by the rules. Maybe if they had held a special awkward kid EFY ... that would have been nice.

I would love to have someone like you as a counselor for anything, though! :)

hannahhosking said...

EFY was such a life changer for me, and I always felt bad for my friends who were so against it and didn't go.

I cannot wait to hear all the stories of awkward EFY lovers. Because I was totally one of those kids.