Guess what I just did?! I applied to be an EFY counselor again!!!!!!
Remember when I worked as a counselor last summer? Oh! It was the most amazing thing of my life!!!
EFY stands for Especially For Youth, which is exactly what the camp is all about! It was such a blessing to be able to work with the teenagers of the church.
I loved being able to share my testimony though every activity we did! I loved how, as soon as I received the name of my girls for the week, I was instantly blessed with a love for them! I loved having the privileged to be a part of their journey in receiving or strengthening their testimony of the restored gospel. I loved seeing the spirit fill their loud energetic bodies! Their enthusiasm for the gospel couldn't be mistaken. I loved watching them strengthened their relationship with Jesus Christ as they learned about His life and His love for them individually. I loved to see, first hand, all these 14-18 year old kids striving to be better people, to come closer to Christ, and to feel the spirit. I loved going around to to 'lights out' and them begging me for 10 more minutes to read their scriptures.
I loved the goals they would make at the beginning of the week. Some would be silly and fun, like "do at least 20 fist-bumps a day" or "talk about a random animal in every new conversation I have with someone I just meet." But some of their goals were so sincere and impressive....like "everyday, find someone who hasn't been included yet, or doesn't have many friends yet, and make them part of our group!" or "learn a new principle of the gospel every day. And then share what I learned with someone else!"
One week my kids made the goal to "pray a SINCERE personal prayer, on my knees, morning and night." I asked them how they they were going to make sure to acomplish this great goal. They all put signs next to their bed that said "Did you think to pray?" Throughout the week as they reported on thier goals some would say "I prayed, and it started out sincere, but then my mind started to wander and I got distracted.....so I started over. I had to start over 3 times but finally I was able to pray and convey to true feelings and desires of my heart. I was able to feel the spirit and I KNOW that God heard my own individual prayer. And I know that he understands my gratitude, concerns, and wishes."
Sometimes I think my kids taught me more than I taught them.
I LOVED the hard kids! They were always such a pain in my rear...but Heavenly Father never failed to bless me with a sincere love for them.
It was crazy how I would MEET my kids on Monday and instantly fall in love with them all. I would literally have this instant but sincere concern for all of these girls that I didn't even know existed 24 hours ago. Everything I did that week was about them. I prayed for them and thought about them and planned for them and did everything I could possibly do to serve them. And then on Saturday morning I had to say goodbye to them, and never see them again.
EFY was the most amazing experience of my life. No exageration. But that's not to say it wasn't hard. Everyday my first meeting started at 6:30 am and then I was running around busy until lights out at 11pm. The dances were Tuesday and Friday, and sometimes I was just not in the mood to dance. But...in order for the kids to even step from side to side, the counselor has to be dancing pretty crazy. Otherwise they just stand there. Sometimes the kids were brats. Yup. And sometimes I just wanted to put them in a corner and leave them for the rest of the week. Sometimes the teacher of the entire class of 2000 kids stops because some kid was being disruptive...nothing is more horrifying than when you realize he stopped because of one of your own kids. Sometimes your kids run away. And you just have to walk around aimlessly until you run into them. And then when you do, you have to be kind and loving instead of yelling at them. Sometimes one the boys in the group decides he doesn't want to participate anymore because one of the girls in the group ended their day-long fling. (This happened my 5th week. Alexis decided she didn't 'love' Mckay back so he just didn't show up to the Thursday night devo. Brandon, his counselor/ my co-counselor, was in charge of the musical program and so he couldn't go find him...so I had to. I had to break into the boys dorms and go bang on Mckay's door. He opened the door in just his shorts. He was just sleeping and had no idea a girl counselor would be banging on his door. He didn't mean to....but it was COMPLETELY inappropriate! So I told him to hurry and get dressed so we could go. He was tucking in his shirt as we walked out of the boys dorm building. How bad did that look?) Sometimes it's ridiculous and frustrating and exhausting and you just wanna leave and go sleep for a week. But MORE often it's amazing and inspiring and strengthening and spiritual. And those hard, frustrating moments, make the amazing moments even more amazing!
Monday is the day that no one know what they're doing. No one knows each other yet and everyone is just trying to get a feel for how things are going to work.
Tuesday is the first REAL day because everyone is a little more comfortable and they've all made some buddies to hang around with.
Wednesday is really fun! Everyone knows everyone and no one is shy or self-concious anymore. And wednesday night is pizza/girls night! Me and my 10 girls hang out in 2 of the girls bedrooms or in the hallway and eat pizza and candy and drink soda! We have dance parties and we boy talk. Right before things die down I hand each girl a snack pack pudding and a starburst and tell them we are going to have a contest. It's a race! They have to eat the entire pudding (no spoon of course) and then unwrap the starburst in their mouth. The winner never won anything except pride but it was still tons of fun. One week Julia won in record time! All the other girls were still struggling with the starburst wrapper. I asked her where her wrapper was and she said "oh I just swallowed the whole thing!"
Thursday is the day that makes it all worth it. Instead of a teacher or a counselor teaching the classes, the participants teach it. They prepare all week and their lessons are pretty rockin! The whole day is filled with spiritual and inspiring classes. And then there's an awesome musical program (given by participants who gave up their free time all week to practice and prepare) and then there's a testimony meeting where the kids have the opportunity to stand and talk about the things they learned during the week and the things they know to be true pertaining to the gospel. It's incredible to see these 15 year old boys and girls standing in front of 50-100 friends and talk about how they know that God lives. And they know that prayers are answered. And they know that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ, and he translated the Book of Mormon. And if there's something they don't KNOW...they bear their testimony on faith. Thursday is my favorite FAVORITE FAVORITE day.
Friday is all about fun! All the counselors are literally delirious and sleep-deprived and everything just seems hilarious! There are fun dating classes and fun activites and lessons and then everyone gets all dressed up! The boys normally bring cards or flowers for the girls and they escort them to dinner. They even hold their tray and pull out their chairs for them! And then we go to the dance!
Man, this post turned out longer than expected. Sorry about that. I just got carried away. I LOVE EFY!!!! Love it! And I can't wait to do it again next year!!!