By Lauren Sorge
The students’ stay here at Snow Wolf Lodge began with anticipation, many new faces, and breathtaking scenery. We partook in a family style dinner prefaced with some introductions. The evening continued with playing some ‘get-to-know-you’ games and then called it a night early due to many people being exhausted from their long travels. The total number of students is a grand thirty-two, plus about twenty staff. Resulting in our community being about fifty people who will experience life together these next three months.
Saturday morning, we gathered for an orientation given by the program director, Dustin Jizmejan, who also gave the students their next task. One of the many traditions here at Semester is for the students to come together and discuss a code of conduct, or a list of virtues, in which we wish to practice while living here. In addition to this, we needed to have a method of how to reinforce these rules, as well as some punishments for any transgressors. This process took about two hours and concluded with two spokesmen presenting the virtues and the steps in which we will take to enforce these codes of conduct. Saturday afternoon was spent learning about our home and how to be good stewards of this beautiful place.
Sunday morning the staff and students piled into four of the twelve passenger vans we travel in, and set out for church. Upon our arrival, we received a warm welcome from a sweet congregation that has hosted Semester students for many years. Upon the conclusion of the service, we embarked upon the forty-five minute drive to a picturesque river surrounded by bald mountains that surpass the tree line. Our group began the leisurely walk to a pleasant picnic spot to enjoy our sandwiches which we had packed that morning. We spent about two hours enjoying the cool river water and company of newly-made friends. Sunday evening was spent with our small groups, which consist of about five people of the same gender, led by their mentor.
On Monday, the students gathered in the vans and headed out for a hike to Opal Lake. It was a good first climb for those of us still adjusting to the altitude here in Pagosa. As we came over the last hill to see an incredibly peaceful lake fed by a small, crystal clear stream, we could not ignore the wondrous beauty which we had just walked in upon. Our party enjoyed our time in this serene splendor by fellowshipping, exploring, reading and simply admiring God’s majestic creation. As you may know, during the summer months in mountain country it is not unusual for a short shower to occur daily. Our time at Opal lake ended abruptly when we realized the approaching rain clouds were coming upon us; and, by that time, already allowing some rain to escape their shadows. With the sound of thunder not far off, we embarked on the journey back. The rest of Monday was spent studying, playing games, hammocking and was concluded with a campfire and s’mores.
Tuesday consisted of doing many things for the first time that will later be a part of our daily routine. The first of which was our initial lecture, entitled “The Will of God.” This was taught by Dustin, and gave us an excellent taste of the many hours to come that will be spent stretching and challenging every one of us. The next thing we did was gather for a “family meeting.” This was also led by Dustin and is a time to go over the schedule and any changes that have occurred. Dustin encouraged each of us and added some last details of preparation for our classes which will begin on Wednesday. All of Tuesday afternoon was spent doing assorted chores around the property. Our evening was concluded by spending time with our small groups.
With the sounds of pine trees swaying in the cool breeze and sweet laughter of new friends, this group of thirty-two Summit Semester students eagerly anticipate the many adventures, memories, times of learning and challenges which will knit this small community together in these short three months.