At the End of Summit Semester: Going Home


by Jacob Wilhelm (Ohio)   

As we prepare to leave Snow Wolf Lodge and our newfound family here at Summit, a lot of things run through our heads.

One thing that runs through our heads is what we have learned while we have been here. We have studied the Bible, literature, different ways to think, and we have learned to live head, heart, and hands while we have been here. We also have learned a lot about relationships while we have been here.

It is going to be different going home. While here at Semester we have gotten into daily routines and habits. Breakfast at 7:50, singing the doxology before every meal, and Amazing Grace every night after dinner. These are all things that we have taken for granted while being here. While we hope that some of the scheduling of life and other habits we have learned here will carry over into our lives back home, some of these things will leave a hole in our hearts.

It is going to be weird not singing the doxology before each meal, and weird not sitting with 45+ of our favorite people.

There has been a huge disconnect from the outside world while here at Snow Wolf Lodge. Only having access to the internet and social media on Sundays pretty much keeps us out of the loop of news headlines and other things going on in the world. Most of us students are going to feel a huge sensory overload when we get to our first big city on our drive home or our first big airport on our flights home. It will be weird to see people hustling, talking on their cell phones, watching TV, or using their phones excessively. Even on Sundays when we have access to the internet, you often see students walking around town together, playing games or having a good conversation over a cup of coffee. Summit has taught us that good community and conversation are, most times, better than technology. While we are going to try to take as much of this home with us as we can, it will be hard; the world outside of Summit Semester is technology-driven, and people are not good at having natural conversations. So we want to take this home, and use technology as a tool instead of a crutch. We will all have to be careful when starting conversations to not be too pushy with people.

We have learned to live head, heart, and hands while we have been here, and part of that involved our intense study of the Bible, literature, and philosophy. So, for the parents of Semester students, if your students come home and you notice some differences in them, this is not a bad thing. You may find your student willing to ask a question like “Can a sentence really almost take us beyond the confines of this world?” (Thanks Dr. Hartenburg). Or maybe someone says the fruits of the Spirit, and your student says “Wait, wait, wait…. Did you say fruits or fruit of the Spirit? The Bible only says fruit singular” (ask your student about this). You might also find your student sitting quietly reading a book instead of playing video games or watching TV. Hopefully, you will find that your student has a little bit of a better work ethic when they come home. After doing over 60 hours of work throughout the semester, a lot of us have learned many new skills, and have an appreciation for using our hands. So hopefully, all of these things will manifest themselves in a good way, showing growth, not in a way that sounds like your 17-22-year-old son or daughter has become a know-it-all. We have been warned against sounding like know-it-all’s, but if it happens every once in a while, maybe just offer some grace.

Living with a group of 17-22-year-old kids in a confined space for three months is not easy.

For those of you who have been praying for the staff and faculty, THANK YOU! It has been really good to get to know and live in a community with this group of 45+ people. It has not been easy, but I think through the challenge, we have all seen growth in our lives. It is easy outside of Snow Wolf Lodge to just hide if someone makes you mad. Here at Summit Semester, there is no hiding. If you have a conflict, you have to go talk it out, and work through it; it’s the only option. So, I think we have all grown in our ability to listen and respond in kindness when dealing with adversities in relationships.

We have all learned a lot this Semester.

We have learned how to interact with other people well, we have learned about many different worldviews and how people think. We have also learned that learning and asking good questions is imperative to have good conversations and to grow in our lives. We have learned to use our heads (knowledge), our hearts (caring for people in relationships), and our hands (using our hands to glorify God in everything that we do). While going home is certainly going to be hard, and may require a few days, or even weeks to recover from the culture shock and loss of community that we will be feeling, we hope that we can bring all that we have learned back home and apply it to our lives. If we can have good conversations, ask good questions, be in good relationship with the people around us, all while putting into practice some sort of healthy rhythm to our lives, Summit Semester will have been a truly life-changing semester for each and every one of us.