By Tristan Lyons
The Summit Semester is truly a blitz of activities and learning during the first week. Though there’s always the initial slow time of getting to know people, after a few days of fellowship, the hours really begin to blend together while relationships grow. This development has been a great experience so far, and the friendships that have arisen in such a short time are quite impressive—but more on that later. Highlights from this week include our first class time, a hike up to “the Cross,” and our first solitude time; I’ll touch on each of these points briefly as well.
I think that the reason friendships can become so strong here is that we consider each other to be family—when we all come together it’s actually referred to as the weekly “family meeting.” Of course, it helps that we spend nearly every waking hour together, participating in work crews, studying C.S. Lewis, and learning side-by-side. Deep conversations (and . . . less deep ones) really can have a great effect on one’s friendships, and we’ve plenty of conversations to go around here at Snow Wolf Lodge. Roommates get to know each other quickly, but since our group is relatively small we all know each other at this point. Considering it’s only been a week, I can’t even imagine what the friendships will look like by the end of our three months here.
Of course, perhaps the main highlight of this week is that we started our first classes with our professor, Dr. Bauman. Bauman has done an excellent job of challenging our worldviews in an attempt to “change how we think” . . . or, perhaps, to make us begin thinking in the first place (as is likely the case with me). The difference between our classes and those you’d find at a typical college is that we’re individually challenged on our thoughts and remarks. This can be difficult at times, but it’s done wonders to change the way that I personally build up opinions. I’m really looking forward to seeing where and how I’ll grow in the future because of Bauman; as challenging as it is, it’s exciting as well.
Another activity from this week is what’s known as “solitude time.” Simply put, everybody needs a break from the crowd now and then. Semester really addresses this well by scheduling solitude time weekly for around 90 minutes. Each student picks out their own personal spot, and this spot will be the one that they return to every week until the end of the semester. This effect really is great for concentration and studying, and it’s really a special experience. I picked out a nice spot for my hammock behind our outdoor classroom, underneath an aspen grove. Once the trees start changing colors, it really should be a memorable view. During my time, I read a bit of Psalms, but mostly just contemplated the events of the week. Solitude time is really enjoyable for me personally, and I’m glad it’s something we can all experience (just not quite together).
The last thing that I’ll mention is our hike up to “the Cross”. The Cross is about 10 feet tall, and sits just at the edge of the ridge that surrounds Snow Wolf Lodge. From my seat on the porch as I’m writing this, the Cross is visible just along the tree line. It’s really quite special, as it was constructed and raised by the very first Semester students in 2006. The hike took the group about an hour-and-a-half, but the view from the top is definitely worth the trip. The funny thing is, the trail isn’t very distinct, and only really remains because of the years of Semester students making trips up to the Cross. We left a stone at its base engraved with 2017, representing an eleven-year legacy.
To wrap things up, Semester has been really special for me so far. It’s something not quite like anything else I’ve ever done. While the lack of technology does make me miss my family and friends, “detoxing” from my phone has been indescribably healthy. I’ve already made some really good friends, and I’m definitely excited to see what the future will hold for the group. I think Semester is already something I’ll remember for years to come, and the things that I learn here will hopefully last just as long.