Friday, June 5, 2015

FFF #20 2015--To EFY or not to EFY??

Do you know what EFY (Especially for Youth) is?  When I was younger, I didn't either.  Here is the link to tell you about it.

Especially for Youth is basically a spiritual and entertaining week of activities, devotionals, and classes with youth ages 14-18.  I think it is based in the United States and I am unaware of any programs out of the USA.  I personally, have never attended EFY.  But as a parent of youth, there are some significant reasons we spend the money to help our youth participate. 

EFY is super expensive--around $500.00 for an overnight session, depending upon which session you choose.  Plus, for us, there is the expense of traveling to and from the session we attend.  Because of the expense, we cannot possible go every year.  But we try to make sure each of our children can attend at least two sessions between 14-18.  We try to coordinate with another family in the area or cousins or friends out of the area who can attend the same session.  That way, we can either share the expense of the travel or we can make sure to see friends and/or family who live far away and renew our relationships with them.

This year, we are doing both.  We are traveling to our session with friends from the area and we are meeting friends who live far away from us.  (My ultimately favorite session was the year a girlfriend and I drove our kids out to Utah and we--the moms--hung out in Utah and Yellowstone the entire week and played until the youth were done and ready to be picked up!  We had way too much fun!) 

Why do Drew and I spend the money to send our youth to EFY?  Well, coming from an area where our children are almost the only active youth in their ward, we want them to know that they are not alone.  We want them to experience the strength and excitement that comes from seeing other youth who live their standards, have fun, testify of their experiences with the gospel, and share that light in their lives.  Those experiences strengthen our youth and help them to have the courage they need to stand up to the pressure they feel in living a solitary life of values and morality.  We live in an area (and I have the feeling we are not the only ones facing these issues) where my children are some of the very few who are not drinking, doing recreations drugs, having sex, using vulgar and coarse language and who are not willing to expose themselves to those kinds of behaviors, even if only through what they see and read, in their classes.  Sometimes my youth are not supported by the adults in their lives for living the values and beliefs they hold.  Unfortunately, sometimes for us that has been in the church as well.  How do you fortify those youth to be able to stand up under those kinds of pressures?
You send to them to EFY where other adults and youth their ages, hundreds of them, support them and encourage them and love them for their valiance and courage.  We send them there to remind them that they are not alone in standing for the values the Lord says are significant and important to Him.

We try to send them the summer right before high school so as they head into that rocky sea of shifting values or the doldrums of virtue, they know who they are, what they believe, why they believe it and understand that they are not the only ones who believe that and feel that way.  (And then we send them again when they are older so they can really enjoy the atmosphere and have fun doing it, making friends along the way.)

When my youth return from EFY, they are different youth.  They glow.  They talk non-stop about their experiences and their testimonies shine.  Some of them have come home and immediately changed things they knew they should have but didn't have the courage to before EFY (like drop a girlfriend).  It is worth every penny, and every sacrifice we have to make, for our youth to have that opportunity to strengthen their faith.

Is EFY right for your youth?  I do not know.  But if you can make the sacrifice to find a way for them to participate in that program--it is worth it, a hundred times over.  I would have loved to participate in something like that as a youth and I am ecstatic and grateful that we have been able to make the sacrifices necessary for them to attend.  Don't just dismiss it!  They have scholarships available too and it isn't only in Utah---they have sessions all over the nation!  Choose one close to you!  Make time and support them in their desire.

this year's theme
Start early!!  In September, log into the EFY website and declare your intent to attend the following summer.  This part is considered preregistration, costs you nothing and you are not committed to attend at this point.  If you are worried about the expense, also fill out the scholarship application for each youth you are sending, as early as possible after September.  Start reviewing the session schedule so you can plan your summer activities appropriately.  Then sometime after the beginning of January you will receive an email notifying you of the date you can register for EFY.  When you register, you will be expected to pay for your session.  Then it is just a matter of waiting for it.  You can still make changes after you register, it is just a little trickier and I haven't had to do that because we are usually pretty set on our plans before we register.

If you can't go this year, plan on preregistering in September of this year and plan for next year!!  When your youth return home from EFY, you will be glad you sent them, and you'll pay for them to go again!  It is that worth it!

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