Today is the first day of registration for Especially For Youth, and I am waiting in the queue: #276 of 325 people waiting in line. The website reminds me, “Please remember that applications for EFY are NOT prioritized on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. Every application received will be considered equally in our random selection process.” But I am on the computer anyway, and I like the feeling that all of us queuesters are so excited to have our children meet at EFY.
In this crowd, someone will undoubtedly have something snarky to say about EFY, but make no mistake about it: this is a big deal for my children. We live in a ward with about 25 active youth — and ours is one of the main “youth wards” in the Stake — so the prospect of mingling with a horde of Mormon youth is pretty exciting to them. My oldest daughter attended EFY two years ago at the University of Utah, and she still corresponds with some of the people she met there. This year we are going for the BYU experience. (We have nothing against the Midwestern EFYs, but this gives us a convenient excuse to visit family in Utah.)
Their excitement for EFY also reveals something I take to be important beyond this event: as members of the Church, we benefit from feeling like we are part of something bigger than our own life project. We are repeatedly encouraged to be contributing members of our families, wards, and communities, partly for our own good. If my children are asked to live standards that are not embraced by their neighbors and classmates, they can take strength from the fact that many other youth are facing similar challenges. As a father, I am grateful that they will have the opportunity to meet some of those youth this summer.