Three weeks in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the University of Utah, one week in Provo, Utah, at BYU and three weeks in Greenville, South Carolina, at Furman University — this was Mary Briggs’ summer. She spent seven weeks as a counselor at FSY.
FSY, which stands for For the Strength of Youth, officially began in the U.S. in 2022. The program spread outside of the U.S. so that youth around the world could experience something close to the U.S. program, EFY.
In 2019, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that EFY would be discontinued in 2020. In it’s place, FSY would come to the U.S. COVID-19 delayed the program until 2022.
The setup of FSY matches the format of EFY. Youth across the world gather for a week of classes, games, activities and dances. Each company, usually made up of 10 boys and 10 girls, is led by two counselors — one man and one woman. The counselors are paid young adults from the Church.
Each session of FSY has session directors who oversee the youth during the week. While classes may vary from session to session, the schedule is the same.
Mary Briggs, a junior studying communication at BYU-Idaho, first heard about FSY from her friend and MTC companion. She thought the program sounded fun and decided to apply.
The counselor application process for FSY is simple. Applications usually open at the beginning of the year. Applicants will send in a recorded interview and then participate in a group interview. The female spots fill up fast.
As a counselor, you don’t get to decide where you go. The FSY board decides where they will send you. Travel expenses are covered by FSY and counselors are paid per week for their time.
Briggs described the life of an FSY counselor in two words: hectic and fun.
Counselors watch over and lead their group during FSY. They are there to answer questions, lead get-to-know-you games, share devotionals and encourage the youth to grow and make friends.
Briggs described what each day of the week looks like for a counselor. Saturday you get to know the other counselors and the campus. On Sunday you go to church — in South Carolina, members drove 15-20 minutes to shuttle the counselors to church. On Sunday night you meet the leadership team and the FSY session directors; you are assigned your co-counselor.
“The rest of the week consists of devotionals every morning and then classes and fun activities like games night and pizza night,” Briggs said. “We have a couple of dances throughout the week.”
Briggs loved every minute of her seven-week summer adventure, but some of her favorite moments came when listening and participating in the classes. Briggs shared several experiences from this summer when she felt her testimony strengthened as she watched youth learn and had some of her own questions answered.
“My biggest testimony that I gained this summer is that God is aware of his children and His plan is perfect,” Briggs said. “Being able to see these youth get answers to their own questions and to have that happen for me as well — it was awesome.”
Briggs got to watch as a young man in her company wrestled with whether or not the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. By the end of the week, he stood up and shared his experiences with the company; after attending FSY, he could not deny that God was real, that Jesus loved him and that the Church was true.
FSY is a five-day conference. Youth are encouraged by their parents and leaders to use that time to strengthen their faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ and to build and make new friendships.
“You just become like a little family throughout the week — doing all these activities together,” Briggs said. “I always cry every Friday when they have to leave.”
This summer BYU-I hosted FSY for two weeks.
More information about FSY can be found on the church website.