Campus prepares for EFY takeover

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EFY participants walk across the BYU campus in 2015. BYU hosts over 15,000 youth attendees every summer. (Maddi Dayton)

It’s that time of year again: the quiet, relatively empty BYU campus will soon be filled with thousands of high-school aged students chanting EFY cheers, lining up at Jamba Juice and walking arm-in-arm to classes.

As EFY participants pack their bags and prepare for one of the 25 Provo sessions of the week-long camp, campus departments are making preparations of their own.

Most EFY students stay in Heritage Halls and eat breakfast and dinner at the Heritage Halls cafeteria, the May-to-August cafeteria located inside the Heritage Halls Central Building.

Mary Johnson, head chef at the Heritage Halls cafeteria and assistant manager for BYU Food-to-Go, said preparations for EFY start in January when she puts together a proposed menu.

Savannah Hopkinson
The Heritage Halls cafeteria in the Heritage Halls Central Building serves EFY students and other camp and conference participants every summer. (Savannah Hopkinson)

“We try to take the feedback from the year before and always update the menu to something we think they’d be more interested in,” Johnson said. “Some items I bring back; some items are brand new.”

For example, the cafeteria will be serving ribs for the first time this year but will be repeating some menu items, like hamburgers, from previous years, Johnson said.

The Heritage Halls cafeteria needs to hire about 90 employees each year to run the facility, a process that begins in March. Johnson said the cafeteria is still hiring and has a good way to go to fill needed positions.

The majority of the cafeteria’s employees are high school students. Beginning last year, the cafeteria began allowing anyone from the community and not just BYU students to apply for positions.

“In the years past, we’ve easily gotten all of our employees from the college students,” Johnson said. “That’s who we like to go through first to support the campus and support them. But it just hasn’t been a reality to get just college students.” 

Johnson said EFY students will eat at the Cannon Center for the first week of sessions, and the Heritage Cafeteria will begin feeding EFY participants June 3.

Heritage Halls Office Specialist Kristen Hansen is also busy making preparations for EFY. Nine Heritage Halls buildings are used for summer camps and conferences, she said.

Hansen estimated more than 1,000 EFY participants stay in the buildings each week. A team of 14 students and 10 hall advisers work during the summer to accommodate the visitors.

“We have a team of conferences assistants who we hire specifically for the summer to work with conferences,” Hansen said. “We train them on check-in and customer service during the week and then checkouts and helping get the buildings prepared for the incoming week.”

Provo EFY participants escort each other on the BYU campus in 2014. (Elliott Miller)

The conference assistants typically only have a few hours after one group of participants leaves to prepare for the next group.

Chuck Andersen, the activities support supervisor for BYU custodial, joked that his team goes into a dark corner and hides to prepare for EFY.

“The first noticeable difference is the college kids tend to make a different sort of mess than high school kids,” Andersen said. “I don’t mean to throw high school kids under the bus or anything, but it’s a different mentality.”

Andersen said EFY participants go through hand soap, paper towels and toilet paper more quickly than BYU students. He also added the high school-aged participants tend to throw wet paper towels on the ceiling, clog toilets and place gum in different places.

“Other than that, it’s similar to day-to-day activities,” Andersen said. “It’s just kind of ramped up a little, if you will.”

Dining Services Assistant Director Joe Tiapson said although the Cougareat sees a small influx in business because of EFY, the impact isn’t notable since BYU Catering and Food-to-Go handle the majority of EFY participants’ meals.

“The Cougareat is meant to serve 7,000 people a day,” Tiapson said. “So it’s not more than the Cougareat can handle. We’re definitely far busier fall and winter.” 

Tiapson said the Cougareat’s renovations are taking place in phases to have as minimal impact on the campus community as possible. The entire dining area is currently down, he said, but about a third of it will be back by the time EFY starts. About half will be back by summer term, and it will be completed by Aug. 12.

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