When students leave Summit’s summer conference experience, they set out on a journey, continuing to unpack hard questions about their faith, purpose, and identity. The two-week session is only the beginning. Some describe their two-week experience as “drinking from a fire hose” with all the information they hear and intentional conversations that they take part in.
“Imagine if you could take this experience, these two weeks, and slow it down. Extend it to about three months in genuine Christian community. Think of the discussions you could have in the classroom and out. You would get to think about not only these ideas, but how they impact and shape you personally, and how you would be able to then take them home to make an impact on the community you live in. This is Summit Semester,” Director of Summit Semester, Tripp Almon, explained to the Colorado Session 2 students.
During Summit Semester, students spend extended time with speakers and mentors. The experience takes place from September to November in Pagosa Springs, CO. Around thirty students each year experience biblical community by serving one another, learning together in the classroom, and exploring creation in the beautiful setting of the Rocky Mountains.
“The experience is hard to put into words, because there are no words to describe this amazing experience,” Jesse Childress, a Summit Semester student from 2016, confessed.
Summit Semester is a time of temporary retreat to look at the world, today’s culture, and one’s own identity in a robust educational environment away from everyday distractions. During the three months, students study literature, history, philosophy, ethics, politics, Bible, and Christian thought with some of the best professors in the world.
Why Summit Semester?
Jesse, as a sophomore in college, made the decision to attend Summit Semester during his time on Summit’s summer staff in California in 2016. Even though it would mean giving up over $50,000 in scholarships, Jesse decided he wanted to make a change. He realized that during his first year in college he had been preparing for the life that he would live in the future, but was not living well in the moment and making an impact in his community in the present. This realization helped him decide to attend Summit Semester that same fall.
“Summit Semester has changed my life, the way I look at the world, the way I interact with everyone, and just simply who I am. Semester didn’t focus on what I am going to do with my life, but rather, who I am as a person,” Jesse explained.
Jesse experienced community that taught him how to have deep relationships. He explained how many guys do not know how to have deep and intentional conversations.
“As men, our default tends to be to go without healthy friendships. Semester is sort of the antithesis of that; you have deep relationships and pursue what that looks like in your life. It’s something that really impacts your whole life, beyond Semester.”
Semester’s curriculum and experience allows individuals to explore their unique God-given identity within healthy community, and helps students grow holistically. For Jesse, taking this time to be alone with the Lord and to seek truth in the context of trusted teachers and mentors particularly deepened his understanding of what it means to be a provider.
“How can I provide for anyone else if I don’t know how to first provide spiritually for myself?” Jesse asked.
Choosing to attend Semester helped Jesse learn how to think well, live well, and love well in the present. The opportunity to grow intellectually and spiritually in intentional community for three months, while being mentored by caring staff, affected him deeply.
“It’s an experience,” explained Jesse, “that has impacted me for the rest of my life.”