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Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Summer to Remember

Warning: This post is lengthy and is all about EFY.  It may also contain inside jokes. Sorry for you outsiders.
This summer I was blessed with the incredible opportunity of working as an EFY (Especially for Youth) Counselor.  Through this wonderful experience I was able to meet many wonderful youth, counselors, and session directors who helped strengthen my testimony.  These wonderful people and the experiences we had together have changed my life forever.  I couldn't have spent my summer doing anything else more rewarding and life changing.

Week 1-- Provo 1b
The first week of EFY was spent with the "League of Shadows".  We were a group of new counselors who needed to be trained in the ways of EFY.  We spent many hours in training meetings- which we loved so much. The best part of this week was shadowing returning counselors and their companies.  I was able to meet many wonderful youth this week who made me that much more excited to be spending my summer as a counselor.  Along with the youth, I shadowed with some incredible counselors who quickly became great friends.  We were blessed to shadow two incredible returning counselors who showed us the ways.

Counselor napping at it's finest

Games night

The shadow counselor life

Week 2-- Provo 2b
My first week as a real counselor!  I was blessed this week to work with 3 amazing co-counselors, and two shadow counselors.  Being in a quad with 42 youth wasn't always the easiest, but we managed to make the best of it while creating great memories.  Keeping track of 42 teenagers isn't as easy as it looks, but with a great group of kids and great co's, we had a fantastic week.  I learned a lot of patience this week and, believe it or not, I learned to love each of those 42 kids for who they truly are.

Shaved ice for days

We love stickers!

Pizza night with Sister Boyle!

Company Karaoke

Family picture

Week 3-- Denton, TX
My first week traveling was not one to disappoint.   This was a small session which meant as counselors, we all became great friends.  I loved that aspect of this session.  We had an amazing session director who really connected with the youth.  My co-counselor for the week was phenomenal.  We had so much in common and worked so well together the whole week.  We had some pretty amazing youth this week.  22 youth were a whole lot easier to keep track of than 42.  I learned a lot about being patient with Heavenly Father and His timing this week.  I was reminded that He has a plan for His children, and we need to trust in it.  Together as a company, these youth grew so much spiritually.  Denton, TX will always have a special place in my heart.

Co's 4 life

My girls

The boys

We love dancing!

Ultimate back rides are a thing

Discover the Book at
Angelic family picture

Week 5-- San Antonio, TX 1
I had a week off between Denton and San Antonio.  It was a much needed break, but I was ready to get back into the groove of EFY.  I was so excited to be back in Texas.  This session was about twice as big as Denton, but since we were in San Antonio for two weeks the counselors still got really close.  The San Antonio team was one of the bests!  This week I had the opportunity of working with my little brother's counselor as my co-counselor.  It was kind of a crazy coincidence, but not really because coincidences don't happen at EFY.  Everything happens for a reason.  It was fun to work with Fano and learn why Zack loved him so much.  Again, we had a fantastic group of kids.  22 youth again this week to learn and grow from.  I learned this week that these youth all come to EFY for a reason.  They are not placed in their companies by random chance.  Heavenly Father has his hand in everything and these youth are place together for a reason.  This company had so much in common, and they did a phenomenal job working together and helping each other through their trials.

My co died on the first day, so one of our participants worked his magic and brought him back to life

Pizza night!

My girls

Photo shoot?
Heads float at Trinity University

Family picture

Week 6-- San Antonio, TX 2
I loved being in San Antonio for 2 weeks.  It is such a fun place to be.  Another week with another great co. This week my co and I became great friends.  I was a little worried about this co-ship at the beginning of the week, but by the end of the week I was sold and had a new best friend.  We were blessed with 21 amazing youth this week.  Again this week, I was reminded that there are no coincidences at EFY.  We were all put together for a specific reason.  The Fourth of July fell on the Friday of this week.  Although it was a bummer to miss out on all the festivities of the holiday, we made the best of it.  It was really neat to see the spiritual side of the Fourth.  I learned this week to pick my battles with my youth.  Some things just aren't worth the fight when it distracts from the spirit.  And every youth is different and needs different things from EFY.

Pizza night!

The men

Secret counselor meetings

Celebrating America!

Great Fourth with an even greater co

Marvel Monday

Texas Tuesday

My girls

The whole fam

Week 9-- Provo 9a
Two weeks off between San Antonio and Provo were killer.  Once I caught up on my lost sleep I didn't know what to do with myself.  I was so ready for this week to start and to get back in the EFY swing of things.  Yet again,  I had another fantastic co.  This session was huge and it took us a while to find each other, but once we did we got to work.  I only had 8 girls this week which was crazy and great.  Together with the boys we had a company of 20.  It is amazing the difference between 20 and 22.  I loved this small group of mine.  We were really able to bond and become life long friends.  Provo sessions are different than other sessions and I was a little worried coming back to Provo, but this group of kids made the transition so easy.  This week I learned to really follow the spirit.  Often times the spirit can speak wonders to the hearts of the youth during silent periods.  I learned again that each group of youth is different and it is important to adjust week to week based on the group you have been given.

Pizza night gymnastics

Pizza night

Sometimes I had to be responsible for all the keys

Crazy co

The boys

Rebel with a cause

We may have stolen a phone and taken selfies

Great week with a grand coco!

"If you aren't touching someone, you aren't close enough."
My ladies

And the whole family

Week 10-- Provo 10b
This was such a bitter-sweet week because it was my last week.  I went into it ready to give my all and end with a bang.  I was placed with one last amazing co-counselor.  This was the first week that I knew my co previously.  We had joked about being co's, so when it happened we were so excited.  We worked so well together and constantly bounced off each other.  Ideal co-ship right there.  This was my first week with the older group of youth.  I was nervous before I met my kids, but once I met them I knew it was going to be a fantastic week.  I was blessed to work with 14 amazing girls this week.  I was worried about keeping track of all 14, but they made it easy.  With the 12 boys we made a company of 26- a big happy family. I am so grateful I got to work with the older group once this summer.  I loved my younger kids, but it was just a different experience with older.  We had a fantastic group of youth who really came together over some trials we had throughout the week.  I learned this week that not only are the youth placed with the other youth for specific reasons, but I was placed with all my youth for a very specific reason as well.  I learned so much from these kids.  I was able to get really close with almost all of them.  They were our children and we were their mom and dad.  I didn't want EFY to end, but since it had to I couldn't have asked for a better group to end with.  

Last great co

Magic Monday

They're crazy

Soul Retrievers!

Family Cinnamon Roll

My boys


The beautiful ladies

The struggle is real. FHE

We loved each other from day 1

The whole family

My experiences from this summer will forever be cherished memories.  I have made many life long friends.  I wish everyone could have the opportunity to work somewhere where the spirit is a constant and the atmosphere is so happy.  My life was forever changed my 153 spectacular youth of the church, 8 amazing and spiritually strong co-counselors, incredible session directors, phenomenal coordinators and BC's, teachers, and kind and loving counselors.  My testimony is stronger than it ever has been before.  I know that the Savior of the world atoned for all of our sins and sufferings.  As he was suffering in the garden and on the cross He was thinking about me.  He was thinking about you.  He did it because He loves us.  Joseph Smith was an incredible man.  He put his faith in God and did incredible things.  He restored the true gospel to this Earth. He translated the Book of Mormon with the aid of Heavenly Father.  What an incredible book.  I testify that it is true.  If you don't know that for yourself, read it.  Pray about it. Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.  Heavenly Father knows each and every one of us individually.  He loves us and wants the best for us.  We need to trust Him and His timing. 

Counselor- Master of napping

Counselor- Master of napping

Counselor- Master of napping

Counselor- Master of napping

Sometimes the engaged counselors dance with pictures of their fiance's

Dance duty swag

The Alamo with some stellar people

Counselor model training

Sometimes you want to by face wipes in TX, but they think you might steal them.

Love these girls.  America!

My sister from another mister and the best BC ever

Denton BC team.  Loved our girl talk

I had the incredible opportunity to learn from one of my favorite seminary teachers.  He taught phenomenal lessons that the youth really connected with.  He is an incredible teacher.  Love Bro Hedlund!

River Walk in San Antonio with great company

Sometimes counselors match even without the polo

Life long friends

Colored pants Friday!

River walk and ice cream

My apologies to any one who doesn't understand my EFY humor or appreciate my EFY stories.  But this is a part of me.  It will be something I cherish forever, and I love talking about it!  So if you are thinking about applying to be a counselor or want to attend as a participant my advice to you is "Come join us!" "It's so much fun!"

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