October 30 – A dense mist obscures the colorful Colorado Mountains. Inhaling the moist morning air, I shiver from both cold and excitement. The report of a twelve gauge shotgun shatters the silence; the first event of the day, a five kilometer race strewn with obstacles begins with a bang. Unprepared for running up hills, crawling in sand and mud, climbing over a wall, jumping hurdles, and avoiding foam-sword wielding ninjas, I lurch forward with the rest of the runners. The run is long, painful, and strangely fulfilling. Thirty-seven minutes later, I, gasping for the cold air, jump over the line of burning gas, which marks the end of the race. Although I did not win the race, the triumph of beating the race itself is fantastic. Yet, the day is just beginning.
The day is an annual holiday at Summit Semester, known as Farvest Hall. Originally named Fall Harvest, one of the former students had trouble saying the name correctly. She constantly reverted to the spoonerism, and eventually the name stuck.
After breakfast, a pumpkin carving competition begins. The five teams of students, which were assigned the night before, have one hour to carve two pumpkins that are judged based on creativity and team spirit. Ferociously brainstorming, drawing, and carving, we toil to beat the other teams. After an hour with no major injuries, the teams admire their work. A few of the results from the hour include an evil face, the Summit logo, the Snow Wolf Lodge logo, and a Death Star of the pumpkin variety. Our labor is rewarded with a hearty soup lunch.
As I am enjoying my meal, I am thankful the running is over and the rest of the day will not require the same level of physical exertion (I feel like taking a nap). Then the next event is announced: an Amazing Race style activity. In the same instant, both a feeling of dread descends on me like a wet blanket on a fire and my competitive spirit quickly boils up. A variety of riddles lead from station to station where we do everything from shooting to competitive dish washing. (Just to make sure we do not get too far behind in the kitchen during the day off).
The first station my team, Team Red, arrives at requires correctly answering five trivia questions in a row. After successfully answering the five trivia questions, we moved on to the second half of the station. Here we had to do our best to complete certain tasks in under a minute. The worst of these is drinking four unknown liquids, which are ominously identified only by a number, and flicking the cups so they land upside-down. A few of the fluids include deceptively dyed vinegar, onion puree, and garlic radish blend. The look of painful disgust on my teammate’s face as he drinks (sometimes chews and then swallows) these fluids is hopefully not comparable to anything I will ever see again. With that we are off to the next station.
This station includes tossing eggs, balancing eggs, building a platform for eggs, and carrying eggs. The key feature of this station is eggs. After cracking many eggs and bad puns in a half respectable attempt at these challenges, we were off to the kitchen.
Who says washing dishes is not fun? Whoever it is, they may be right, unless you only have ten minutes to make the kitchen as clean as possible. The frantic frenzy of team members cleaning dishes, stove tops, mats, handles, and counters is quite exciting, as well as exhausting. The ten minutes are over, but we cannot leave the kitchen without some food. A bowl with about two liters of jello in it slides onto the table. Sixty seconds later, the bowl no longer contains two liters of jello. Why is it that “earning points” is good enough motivation for college students to slurp down a mass of jiggling gelatin?
The next station involves defrosting a t-shirt which is mysteriously frozen into a zip-lock bag filled with water. Fortunately, we had many tools to help us free the trapped shirt: rocks, rocks, and rocks. The rocks seem to work the best, so we use them. After the shirt is mostly unthawed a volunteer/victim slips into the chilly fabric. Standing ten feet away, the rest of our team squirts paint onto the shirt. It is a work of post-modern art that could (in my arrogant opinion) sell for millions.
Running to the next station my team stumbles upon the border of District 12 from The Hunger Games. The entire team has to slip sneakily through an electrified wall made out of caution-tape. The biggest challenges are that each gap can only be used once and if anyone touches the caution tape, the whole sequence starts again. Once the entire team succeeds without a member turning into a soldering pile of electrified person, we boldly charge forward.
The best is reserved for last. Skeet shooting with a twelve gauge and target shooting with a .22 caliber rifle brings joy to most American hearts and sometimes to a Canadian heart, like mine. Throughout the day the mild snaps of the .22, interspersed with the bold booming of the shotgun, ring around the property. Shattering a clay pigeon with a gun is a challenging and entertaining activity.
The entire day wraps up with a costume party and movie-themed snack dinner. During the costume party I go to a photo both, fish for candy, and pin the mustache on the wolf. Prizes are given for the best costume, best marksman, and various other things. The prize for the best team goes to Team Red!
Overall, the day is a great time of community and fun, but really it is just an intensified instance of the fellowship and enjoyment that is ever present at Summit Semester. We do not usually have to run a five kilometer race or carefully balance eggs blindfolded, but the team spirit, great attitude, and community is just as fervent on a day to day basis as it is during Farvest Hall. The studies and academic challenges are more difficult than the events of Farvest Hall, but by giving and receiving encouragement we push through as a team.
Daniel Vander Hout comes from the great white north of Canada. After participating in the Summit Student Conference in Manitou Springs, Daniel had less than a week at home before deciding to fly back out to Colorado to attend Summit Semester. Daniel is certain that God has a plan for his life, but he is currently unsure of the exact direction that his career will take. At Snow Wolf Lodge, Daniel can often be found deeply enthralled in strategic games with fellow students and the staff. At home, his favorite hobby is solving jigsaw puzzles while listening to audiobooks. He expects that the Lord will use Summit Semester to stretch and grow him academically.