Tuesday, February 19, 2013

All about EFY, part 1

How do I condense all that was EFY into one post? I don't. I can't. I'm not sure how long this will take since I continue to look back at my experiences the summer of 2011 and learn from them.

I'll begin with the good stuff.

My last summer of doing EFY was a multi-state, multi-position, multi-team extravaganza.After applying to be a building counselor (BC), I was invited to be a field coordinator (FC - one of the peeps in charge of the sessions) that summer for the Idaho team after the girl who had been selected decided not to work EFY. I was thrilled. Overwhelmed. Excited. Nervous.

Because of my complete lack of experience in the upper echelons of EFY-dom, the office staff tacked me on as an extra BC/extra FC to another team in Provo for the first two weeks so I could learn the ropes. It was a great team to be with. They were close, they were funny, they were experienced. We had some pretty crazy moments those weeks with scheduling conflicts, weather issues, kids missing, false reports (luckily) of abductions, etc. that the team handled incredibly well.

Even though it was a whole new look at EFY, I was thrilled to be back. Those first weeks I had boundless energy. Boundless. I was just sprint places sometimes because I had too much energy that I had to work off.

This year I embraced my half-blindness and wore a scull and crossbones eye patch to games night. Counselors often dress up that day with crazy hats, funny sunglasses, weird suspenders, etc. I was just going to go with the patch and leave it at that...until the first group of youth showed up to my station ready for me to teach them a game.

Now, I'm an extroverted person who gets a lot of energy from people paying attention to me. I like the attention. I like performing and making people laugh and cheer and have a good time. That being said, I should not have been as surprised as I was when my already-high energy level combined with the attention of eager teenagers, funny games, and an eye patch to produce a dirty, old Scottish man pirate voice out of nowhere. I truly was not planning on it. It just kind of popped out. And lasted the rest of the night. I was yelling, I was haranguing, I was explaining twists on the game, I was announcing winners all in this dirty old man pirate voice.

The teenagers - especially the teenage boys - loved it and responded in kind. I had kids saluting me the rest of the week and yelling "Oy there, Cap'n!" whenever they saw me. I felt a little sheepish about it the next day when we were all dressed up and supposed to be spiritual. The kids would call out to me in pirate-ese and I would quietly answer back, slightly chiding them for being irreverent,  but chiding them with a twinkle in me eye and a burr in me throat and a slight grimace to me lips. Because you can't not play along. If someone trusts you enough to invite you to play pretend with them, you just gotta.

Another bonus to the patch was that it was cool enough to land me a spot on one of the front pages of the counselor training manual the next year. I'm a big deal.

Also, please ignore the hair. It was the summer of trying to grow my hair out and never having time to go get it trimmed. It looks bad in about every picture, but particularly bad in this one because I had been running around.

It wouldn't be a true post about EFY fun without mentioning the dances. I've always loved them. I have injured myself several times at them, but I have always loved them. I love seeing kids come together and let loose and forget about stresses or concerns and just have fun for a few hours. My heart always warmed when I would see particularly mature kids - guys and girls - seek out those who weren't having a good time and ask them to dance. I couldn't help but smile watching guys conference together and then boldly split up to go ask girls to dance. They thought they were so cool. And they really were.

Being part of management, I saw dances a little differently this time. More people sitting in corners, more concerns about modesty or inappropriate dancing, more stresses setting up and taking down equipment, more frustrations with counselors who weren't paying attention to their youth or not quieting them down after the dance was over. But I also had the chance to float between groups and dance with lots of kids and counselors. I had the power to see problems and then work to correct them. Plus I got to DJ sometimes. Turns out DJ-ing is really fun. It's about power and control and playing cool music you want to listen to and leading dances. All at the same time.

Counselor freeze! The kids would get so weirded out when all of the counselors suddenly stopped moving. And then they realized they could pose us.

Line dances! They're only not cheesy at EFY.

Double Dream Hands with some youth on stage. If you don't know what that is, look here. Yes, I do know that whole dance.

I loved being able to teach counselors, to buoy them up, to offer advice, to laugh with them. I wasn't as intimately involved with the youth anymore - which I missed terribly - but I had some great experiences being able to teach large groups of young women about the empowering doctrines of their eternal identity, the true nature of an eternal, equal, celestial marriage, and about the blessings and lessons from family through The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

I met incredible youth and counselors and saw new places as I floated from Utah to Arizona to Utah to Colorado to Idaho. I tried a burrito with fries in it down in southern Arizona (and P.S. it's really good. It will kill you, but it's really good). I mastered completely unloading and loading a bag of technical equipment at airport security in record time. I drove all night through the Arizona desert and danced in the sunrise to the Black Eyed Peas with one of my health counselors. I cooked hundreds of pancakes for counselors after Fast Sunday. I invited 60 counselors to my house for a movie night outside with a movie projected on a sheet hanging from my deck. I tried to learn how to break dance from a real DJ. I slept little, fretted much, laughed more, got a horrible hacking cough for several weeks, organized, planned, surprised BCs with late night Taco Bell runs, felt cool using walkie talkies, lived in ill-fitting polyester polo shirts, felt the Spirit every day, and made unforgettable memories.

I have finished my EFY counselor run - it felt right to end it when I did - but I would love to come back as a teacher (maybe session director too...???) in the future. I have a lifelong love for the youth of the church, and can't wait to work with them again. Our future is in good hands.

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