My Summit Semester experience started off with a little more adventure than I would have liked. I had just finished staffing the last Summit Summer session. I made the trip from Manitou Springs down to Pagosa Springs on a rainy, foggy night beginning at 6 pm. Four other Semester students and all of our luggage was packed into my car and a Summit van that needed to be moved from Manitou to Pagosa for the winter. John and I were in front with the van while Mary Kathryn, Joe, and Bronwyn followed behind us. Driving through the Rockies in fog and rain at night is a sure way to make the drive interesting (especially in an old raised-top van affectionately known as “Muffin Top”) but we made it through with little difficulty. We turned down a road marked with a sign for Snow Wolf Lodge. I looked at the GPS. “10 minutes to go,” I thought. “Almost there.” I turned down another road and the GPS announced that our destination was two miles ahead on the right. “We’re on the home stretch now,” I told John. But as we drove along the uphill grade we began to wonder if we were on the right road. The rain had made the dirt road on which we now travelled extremely muddy and slippery. The van started sliding. When it stopped, the back tire was stuck in a ditch. We got out to assess our situation. John and I had both previously seen vehicles stuck in the mud and knew we would be walking the rest of the way. Even if I wanted to get my car around the van we wouldn’t have been able to because the road was now blocked by the van. I looked at the GPS. A mile of uphill, muddy walking lay before us. Using the flashlights on our phones (which didn’t have service in the mountains), we made our way to our destination only to find a loop for turning around. There were no buildings in sight. After talking it over we decided that the best thing to do would be to head back to the car and drive back the way we came. We splashed our way down to the car, managed to turn it around and then drove back the way we had come. After driving for about half a mile we saw a driveway on our left with two dumpsters next to it. Next to the dumpsters was the sign “Snow Wolf Lodge.” The frustration of the last hour and a half almost disappeared when we saw it. At 1:30 am we pulled into the drive. If you ever come to visit the lodge at night, make sure you turn at the dumpsters and save yourself a good amount of frustration.
Even though that first night in Pagosa was interesting to say the least, I’m happy to say that my time since then has been incredible. There are a few things that make the experience like nothing else I’ve ever been a part of. First, the time we spend in class is very rigorous. Every class period has a large amount of discussion time when Dr. Bauman will ask a student his or her view on a given topic. In most academic settings, the student would give an answer and the professor would say that it is either right or wrong. Here, if I answer a question, I need to give reasons and have logical thought behind what my answer is, and my reason can’t be “because it sounds like the right answer.” As Dr. Bauman would say, “I want to know if you’re good, or if you’re just lucky.” Second, there is very limited cell service around the lodge. While it takes some getting used to I believe it is for the best. Not having instant access to my phone takes away the temptation to pull it out rather than engaging in a conversation and building relationships with the other students around me and if I ever do need to call someone, all I have to do is take a short hike to the top of the ridge behind the lodge and I can get service. Third, every week we have a specifically designated “solitude time.” The idea is to take a break from class, conversation and all other activities and get alone with God, meditate on Scripture, journal or otherwise process the things that we’ve been learning.
Josh Bourg has just completed a summer filled with Summit service. He staffed at each of the three Summit Student Conference locations: California, Tennessee, and Colorado. He is a native of Illinois and recently received his undergraduate degree in History from Bob Jones University. Josh has been impacted by Kevin DeYoung’s work, Just Do Something, and anticipates that God will be faithful to lead him in his next phase of life, possibly toward the realm of athletics. With this in mind, Josh is determined to move forward and allow the Lord to guide his steps.