What would Lollapalooza be like for a Latter Day Saint? There wouldn’t be any drugs or alcohol, Jane’s Addiction would most certainly NOT headline the event, and the extent of lewd and lascivious behavior would be an extremely light dose of NICMO (Non committal make out, please see future post). Participants would be tweens and teens, all dressed like American Eagle catalogue models, cheerily prancing about the campus of BYU like an animated Disney songbird, randomly chanting quaint cheers learned from their youth counselor.
Welcome to the world of EFY.
While not an official pilgrimage for Mormons, few can deny that attendance at EFY is one of the unofficial rites of passage of the Mormon Church. EFY is like a spiritual buffet, a “Choose Your Own Testimony Adventure” if you will, where excited/annoying teens can hear from a broad range of speakers from John Bytheway (“Being a Mormon Teenager is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!”) to former Miss Utahs (“Choosing the one-piece swimsuit may have cost me the pageant, but my integrity and chastity were intact.”).
While the aim of EFY is to ensure that all Mormon teenagers have a testimony of something church related for at least one week, there are several unofficial goals that teens have sought to accomplish since its inception. These include but are not limited to:
Being the “cool kids” that bring their own sound system to listen to Metallica/Disturbed/Slipknot depending on the EFY era attended.
Creating haunted houses in the dorm rooms.
Find a girl/boyfriend for a week to hang out with, write to them for 2 ½ weeks afterward, have a tearful goodbye, then forget about them.
Request racy music at the nightly dances and have it played.
Make fun of everyone who cries at the final testimony meeting.
It should be noted that, while countless teens have tried, no teenager, no matter how jaded, has ever been able to make it through the final testimony meeting, a.k.a. “The Gauntlet”, without being touched by the testimony of at least one unfortunate individual whose harrowing tale of being the outcast from their school/ward brings the house to tears. This culminating moment, when they utter the words, “you guys” dramatic pause, “are the best, and truest friends I’ve ever had.” will inevitably bring the house down, and not a dry eye will be found. Hugs are freely given, and hymns are sung all the way back to the dorms.
Unfortunately, being “cool” at EFY may not translate to a higher social ranking back home. The only way to keep one’s newly discovered testimony and spiritual strength back in the real world is to play “Taking it Home With Me” from the annual EFY soundtrack every day 7-8 times. That, and some prayer, of course.