Especially For Youth (EFY), the week-long summer program aimed a strengthening youth’s commitment to the gospel, will be different this year because of COVID-19.
In a production studio at Brigham Young University’s campus in Provo, Utah, two youth explain that EFY will be held virtually this year. The video was recorded as though the hosts were sitting next to each other, but they were actually filmed separately.
The two hosts explained that instead of meeting in person, weekly video messages will be shared every Tuesday beginning on June 23. These videos will highlight some of the best parts of EFY, including thoughts from EFY session directors. The culminating virtual event will be on July 21.
In addition to listening to inspiring messages focused on the Savior, EFY participants will learn to line dance virtually and they will also participate in a virtual variety show.
“Though we can’t physically get together, this will be the first EFY where everyone can attend,” according to an EFY Facebook post. “Share this with your friends and family so they can join in the fun, too.”
Changes for 2021 EFY will be announced on July 21. The virtual events this summer are free to the public. Questions can be emailed to [email protected].
What is EFY?
The objective of EFY is to strengthen youth in their commitment to live the gospel of Jesus Christ by providing inspiring and edifying learning opportunities and wholesome social experiences.
In the mid-1970s, Ron Hills and other BYU employees developed a program to “create an Education Week for teenagers where youth could interact with other young people from various places in the country, rather than just with those from their own ward or stake.” That program was called Especially for Youth (EFY).
In 1976, the first session was held in Provo, Utah. It was nearly cancelled because of low enrollment. On the very day of the enrollment deadline, an envelope arrived containing 25 registrations, bringing the total to 172 participants, which was enough to hold the first-ever EFY.
Two EFY sessions were held in Provo the following year with 863 participants attending. Enrollment continued to grow, and in 1980 four sessions were held in Provo with over 3,600 participants. In 1986, five EFY sessions were held, four in Provo and one in San Diego, California, with a total of more than 4,900 participants. By 1990, EFY had 12 sessions, one each week of the summer, with over 10,500 total participants.
In 1993, EFY decided to hold more than one session during a single week. That year 21 sessions were held with over 15,500 youth attending. In 1999, 46 EFY sessions were held throughout North America with more than 30,000 youth attending. In 2008, a remarkable 109 sessions were held with over 46,000 participants enrolled. When EFY celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016, more than 883,479 youth had attended 1,774 sessions.
Locations of EFY
The traditional overnight-stay EFY programs are normally held on college campuses. BYU is the largest destination, hosting about 13,000 participants each summer. In some limited situations EFY has been held in a hotel rather than on a university campus. The stay-at-home programs which do not involve overnight accommodations are often held at local church stake centers.
Sessions of the Especially for Youth program have been held in the following nations:
- Cape Verde
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
- El Salvador
There are also a number of nations that haven’t hosted an EFY session, but have been invited to participate in sessions in other nations. These nations include:
- Ireland: As of 2009, officially participated within sessions held in the United Kingdom.
- Austria/ Switzerland: Officially participate within the session held in Germany in 2010.
- Iceland/ Denmark/ Sweden: Officially participate within the session held in Norway in 2010.
- Belgium: (Dutch speaking) Officially participate with the session held in the Netherlands in 2010 and 2012.