It’s not what some of you might think. Back when I was fourteen I went to a youth camp at BYU called Polish with Pleasure, which is sort of a poor-man’s version of Especially for Youth (EFY). The idea was to teach young teens etiquette, while also providing a spiritual experience. (I don’t know who came up with the name, but I just can’t imagine anyone male deciding to use the terms “polish” and “pleasure” in the title of a camp for teenage boys.)

Anyway, I had a good time at the camp and learned all kinds of manners that have transformed me into the virtual paragon of sophistication and culture that I am today. I’m less certain of the spiritual value of the program, and my concerns are equally applicable to EFY. They trot out all the usual suspects: Brad Wilcox, Scott Anderson, John Bytheway, etc. And it’s at times a lot of fun and at times very emotionally moving. But my concern is that youth are not taught to distinguish between spiritual and emotional feelings, and in fact, some of the presentations are geared to play off emotions. Just because something makes you cry or sends a tingle up your spine doesn’t mean you’re feeling the Holy Ghost. I wonder if there are a fair number of kids who come away with emotional experiences they’ve mistaken for spiritual experiences, and the implications this might have as they later run into things that challenge their faith.

On the other hand, I usually hear positive things about EFY and other Church-related youth camps, so maybe even purely emotional experiences have some value in a teenager’s spiritual development?

I’m also curious if there are any Polish with Pleasure alumni out there. It’s time to come forward. You’ve been living in the shadows for too long. Please feel free to share your experiences.