BYU YA Hosting Tips!

A bunch of the YA Tech Crew in Portland, OR(?) – February 2007

So I wanted to post today on a more nostalgic topic and throw in a lot of random pictures associated with that topic. For those of you who may not know, when I was in college I spent all four years on the tech crew for the BYU Young Ambassadors. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I truly feel like I grew so much as a person and had amazing opportunities to share the gospel with others.

The BYU Young Ambassadors is a singing and dancing group that tours nationally and internationally with the goal of spreading joy and the gospel of Jesus Christ. While the show itself is not at all preachy (mostly Broadway show tunes) I have seen how it has lifted people’s lives and been an influence for good around the world.

Lexie, Amy and me in Hong Kong on tour – May 2007

Right now the Young Ambassadors are having a hard time getting the funding that they need to continue their program. BYU charges a minimal fee for venues to have the YAs come and perform which doesn’t really cover the costs of rehearsal facilities, costumes, props, technical equipment, music licenses, travel or directors to lead the group. They rely heavily on donations from outside sources. So I would like to put out a plea on behalf of the Young Ambassadors for donations. Any amount that you can give will be appreciated. Plus, until March 15th the CEO of Omniture, Josh James (a former YA himself) is matching all donations 3-to-1! So even if you can only donate $10 it’s like giving $40 to the Young Ambassadors!

So, if you’ve ever seen a YA show, or had a friend in the YAs, or (especially) if you were ever a YA yourself please consider going to and help perpetuate the wonderful legacy that is the Young Ambassadors.  I’ve already donated some of my own money and I think it’s a great cause for others to get behind as well.

YA Tech Crew 2005-2006 in Nauvoo, IL – May 2006

Now, since I didn’t want this post to simply be begging for donations I thought I would finally write a post about some of my experiences in YAs that I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile. Particularly – host homes. Whenever the YAs are on the road they are hosted by families in the area that they are performing. After staying in dozens of host homes in my four years of YAs I had lots of wonderful experiences. I thought it might be good to post some tips for anyone who is hosting YAs (or any other BYU group for that matter).

* Note: These are only suggestions. Please don’t feel like you can’t host BYU students if you can’t do any of these. We were always just grateful to have somewhere to rest our tired bodies at the end of the day and it is SUCH a blessing to have anywhere to go. *

Me in front of the restaurant where I almost ate a cricket to be polite – Hong Kong 2005

  • Please actually have somewhere for us to sleep. We’re not real picky, air mattresses are great, or even sleeping bags on the floor. But please don’t just point to a rug and plan on us sleeping on the floor all night with no blanket or pillow. (Yes, this sounds strange but it happened to me)
  • Try to repeat your name for your guests. In my four years of Young Ambassadors I stayed in well over 50 host homes (it might even be closer to 100 but I’ve totally lost track). For someone like me who has a really hard time remembering names it was really tough to keep track of the name of my hosts. Which always made me feel horrible because I was so grateful for their hospitality! So call your spouse and kids by their names when you’re talking to them to give your guests a chance to hear the names again. Also, major bonus points if you have your family name on display somewhere in your house. I was always grateful for that in the mornings when I was trying to write a thank you note and trying to figure out the right spelling for our host family’s name (is it Anderson or Andersen? Are there two t’s in Bennet(t) or just one? Maiersperger?!? Uhm, maybe we’ll just not put a name at the beginning and just dive into the note…)
  • If you can – offer to let us do our laundry. When you’re on an extended tour and working hard all day long in a dirty theater or out dancing your heart out on hot stages your clothes get pretty stinky. Combine that with the fact that we have limited clothing options each day and will likely have to re-wear those clothes in a day or so and pretty quickly we’re sharing more than just joy with those we meet. If you have a washer and dryer and don’t mind us throwing in a small load of laundry you could be one of the favorite stops on the tour. There were few things better than having clean clothes on tour.
  • We talk about ourselves a lot, tell us about yourself! I loved visiting with host families. I learned so much about different people and lifestyles that just fascinated me. Don’t think your family or location is that interesting? One of the most interesting places I visited was Albuquerque, New Mexico – no joke. Don’t underestimate what your family has to offer.
  • Les us join you for family scriptures and prayers. This may sound silly, but this was one of my favorite things. While I was up at school I couldn’t read scriptures at night with my family because they were in California. I LOVED reading scriptures with other families and getting to participate with them in their little family rituals. It really made me feel at home.
  • Show us how your shower works. I don’t care how self-explanatory you think your shower is – it’s not. I spent more time in host homes trying to figure out which way the shower turned on, or how to make the water hot than I care to think about. So as silly as this may sound, take a minute to show your guests which way to turn the knobs to get the hot water to go on, or warn them that the water takes a minute to warm up, or that it runs out suddenly.  They’ll be very grateful for your quick tutorial 🙂
  • Let us know what time we need to leave in the morning. Our groups run on really tight schedules and we don’t really know how far you live from the stake center or what traffic is like in your town. Let us know when we should be downstairs for breakfast and what time we need to be out the door to get there on time. Don’t be afraid to give us a solid time even if you have a pretty flexible morning routine. If breakfast is the last thing before we leave add about 5 minutes to however long you think breakfast will take so there’s enough time to load up the car.
  • If you would like to have tech crew or band – ask! As a technician it was hard sometimes to get to a host home that was disappointed not to have performers. I totally understand wanting to have the fun people that you watched on stage in your home. Plus technicians generally are the last ones to get to come home, and have to leave earlier in the morning. I know we’re not exactly a convenient lot to host. But, we do some interesting things and generally have interesting stories to share about what goes on behind the scenes. So, if you are some of the awesome people who would like to host technicians, let the person coordinating host homes know!  You’ll learn some fun things about what goes on behind the scenes and your guests will be really grateful to know that you’re not disappointed to not have their performing counterparts.
  • Food advice. We work hard all day so we often come home hungry. But we’re also generally fed REALLY well while we’re on tour, so we might be stuffed. Don’t be offended if we aren’t hungry enough to eat the snack you might have prepared when we get back from the show, but know that we will probably be very grateful if it’s there. In the morning, don’t feel like you have to have an elaborate breakfast planned out, we’re happy with cereal or toast (although a little bit of protein can be helpful to keep us going all day). If you’re packing us lunches they don’t have to be fancy either, just do whatever’s easy! Also, if you are planning that we’ll put together our own lunches with whatever you’ve laid out just plan that time into whenever you want us to be down for breakfast so that we don’t end up being late.
  • Ask your guests to offer one of the prayers. I was always so touched when our hosts would pray for us in their nightly or morning prayers. I know it may sound trite but I really could feel their prayers helping us get through those long tours. However, I also appreciated a chance to offer a prayer and ask for blessings for the people who had opened their homes to us. There’s not always much that we could give in return for the hospitality granted to us, but I liked to be able to do what we could.

Most importantly, just know how grateful we are for your hospitality. We wouldn’t be able to have the opportunities we do without your kindness so THANK YOU!

* Any other past/present YAs have other hints that you’d like me to add to this list? Post them in the comments below! *

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