On-campus businesses notice an increase in revenue, traffic and overall work during summer, and they owe most of it to the Especially for Youth summer camp.
Businesses like the Bowling and Games Center, Ono Shaved Ice, Jamba Juice, the Museum of Art and the BYU Bookstore receive benefits from the weekly crowds of customers. Local pizza stores make major money because of EFY’s Tuesday Pizza Night tradition.
There are significant advantages to having so many people in one place. Chelsea Luke, a 21-year-old public relations senior from Athens, Ohio, works at the Bowling and Games Center as a student manager. For Luke, seeing the daily droves of EFY kids means more opportunities to work and get more money.
“Some people think they’re annoying, but I think it’s fun to see them, especially at BYU, where they will probably come to college, so it gives them a taste of it. It’s also nice to have options to do stuff; at my EFY all we could do was just hang out, but at BYU they can bowl or play games,” Luke said.
The Games Center even designates a special shift, from 3 to 5 p.m. each day, to handle the free-time hours for EFY participants. Luke explained that a third employee is put on shift and the pay increases during the busier hours.
With more than 700 weekly attendees, the most crowded places include the Wilkinson Student Center, freshmen dorms and the Creamery on Ninth. For those who work campus jobs, the rush hours become even more rushed. Emily Olds, a sophomore from Las Vegas, works at the Creamery grill and knows firsthand the chaos of summer.
“Some of my co-workers like when it’s busy, but I think it’s more of a hassle,” Olds said. “I have been accosted with 15-year-old kids flirting with me while I was taking care of grill orders. One of them even made up a song on his ukulele about me.”
Other BYU students working campus jobs feel the pressure of crowd control. Courtney Mortenson, a sophomore from Kaysville, begins work at 6 a.m. in the HFAC. Mortenson notices the EFY participants staring at her as she cleans windows and vacuums floors.
“It’s hard to get things done when big groups are having scripture study in the middle of everything,” Mortenson said.
But what do participants and counselors think about being on campus?
Maddie Richards, 17, is attending her fourth year at EFY. From Baker City, Oregon, Richards enjoys the Provo campus because she meets more LDS kids, a rarity back home.
“This is the college I want to come to and where I plan on going to school. A lot more come here, too,” Richards said.
Jake Vaughn, an EFY building counselor from Logan, knows the ins and outs of the summer swarms. This is Vaughn’s second year working for the program. Though counselors cannot officially comment on EFY-related events, Vaughn and many others feel that the participants and counselors are targeted as intrusive and annoying.
There may be reason behind the ruckus: Provo EFY sessions have the highest population and popularity. The participants are separated into four color groups in order to better handle the numbers. The people keep coming, and they keep coming to BYU.
Session directors from the past have written to The Universe to apologize for disruptions caused by participants in the library or school buildings.
“These youth come to BYU in the summer, possibly noisy and immature, but they learn so they can go back to where they are from and make a difference in their own lives and the lives in their community,” Jon West, a former EFY session director, wrote in a letter to the editor published in 2011.
“If a kid shows up to EFY without a Frisbee, did he ever really go?” said Jeremy Driggs, a BYU business graduate student from Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Driggs is not the only one who has something to say about the teenagers who come by the carloads each summer. Many BYU students can sense when the army of Helaman begins to invade campus. Monday morning drop offs mean a new week of never-ending ice cream lines. EFY has taken over much of campus for 12 consecutive summer weeks since 1976.
Abby Christensen, a 17-year-old second-time attendee from Delta, doesn’t blame BYU students for feeling annoyed.
“There are 700 students walking around; it gets crazy. I don’t know what to say … I’m sorry?” Christensen said.