BYU hosts 15,000 for EFY

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This summer marks the 40th anniversary of Especially for Youth. The first session of EFY was held in Provo, a popular location for the summer camp today.

BYU’s residence life department coordinates housing and meal cards for EFY participants.

“The kids are great to work with,” said Sharylann Smith, residence life department coordinator. “We do our best with the housing to make it so they have a good camp experience.”

Smith assists in coordinating housing and meals for all camps BYU hosts throughout the year, including all sports camps, Mission Ready camp, Education Week, and Women’s Conference. The camps occupy the majority of on-campus housing, including most of Heritage and Helaman Halls.

In an average summer, BYU will house 15,000 EFY participants in Provo. Outside of those three months, the EFY administrators remain busy.

“That’s our craziest time in some ways,” said program administrator Sherrie Bangerter. “It takes nine months to plan the three months that we do. We have all our wrist bands, t-shirts and cinch bags to take care of. Everything that we do, the hiring of our counselors, takes the majority of the off-season time.”

Hiring counselors is detailed and time-consuming.

“We probably hired 300 new people this year out of a total of 1,800 applicants,” said J.D. Hucks. Hucks has worked with the EFY program for 24 summers and is in his third year as program director.

Mary Blackner takes a break with her EFY company. There are 15,000 EFY participants over the course of the 12-week period at BYU. (Blackner)

The application process entails a video interview the applicant sends in and then an in-person interview if the applicant is called back, explained EFY counselor Mary Blackner.

This is Blackner’s first year as an EFY counselor, which she is doing for five weeks. She’ll then be a Habits for Life counselor for two weeks.

She said she loves the teaching moments when the kids just have lightbulbs go on, “like when they discovered something new or they really felt the Spirit, because then you feel like you’re being successful,” Blackner said.

EFY participants appreciate the spiritual moments but make sure to have fun as well.

“I love the Spirit and how everyone is unified,” said Taylor Miskin, a 17-year-old from Gridley, California. “It’s so much fun, and the chocolate milk from the Creamery is awesome.”

With hashtags like #teenstakeBYU, it is clear that BYU students can get annoyed having so many extra people on campus during the summer.

“I think it’s just hard trying to find space,” Blackner said. “We’re told to be mindful of shared spaces, but there are so many kids, it’s hard to get through sometimes. When people see us, it’s when the kids are in a free time or leaving for something. So of course they’re going to be loud and crazy because the rest of the day they’re sitting and listening and being quiet. If you think about what they’re doing and not just what your life is as a student, then it’s better.”

Miskin has been impressed with BYU students during his week here.

“Everyone has been respectful,” Miskin said. “That’s going to be me in a few years, and I think that’s pretty cool.”

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