As a Summit staffer, probably the hardest question to answer upon your return home is, “Well, how was Summit?” Most likely, you will be forced to answer with a simple “Great!” knowing that it is impossible to summarize two months of work, activities, learning, and community in the mountains in a less than thirty-minute conversation. There are simply too many things you want to say.
It’s called the Summit Syndrome. A malady in which you struggle to adequately communicate your experience at Summit to a non-Summitter. Side effects of this syndrome include smiling and nodding politely at the person who asked about Summit — who has now moved on to a whole new topic…while you are busy remembering and aching for all the memories you made that summer. Students also suffer from Summit Syndrome, but if you are a staffer, you know that for you, the syndrome is different and usually much worse.
For you, the past two months of your life have been spent going for Sonic or Jamba Juice runs, watching World Cup games in kitchen while screaming “USA!” the entire time, saluting Dietrich, the green, inflatable dinosaur who resides over kitchen affairs from his perch on top of the paper towel dispenser, eating honey butter and pumpkin rolls, singing Disney songs as loudly as possible while working in the kitchen, going star gazing at Garden of the Gods, having a meeting in the refrigerator at 4:30 every day in afternoon kitchen, jumping into pools fully clothed, taking naps on the inflatable mattress in the middle of the pool, pouring your life into students — all while surrounded by amazing, like-minded people.
However, what truly makes Summit special (and what makes Summit Syndrome that much worse), is the fact that it is a leadership camp. For staff, no theme is more prevalent.
Summit stretches and bends you in ways you have previously never experienced.
As a student in Summit, you are trained in the ways of how to be a leader — when you are a staff member, that training is put into practice.
Leadership skills here are acquired through action not theory. Personally, Summit has taught me two major skills I never before even considered to be integral parts of leading.
First, I have learned the principle that, in order to lead well, one must learn to follow well. In order to know how to have authority, one must be able to know what it is like to be under authority and when to give over a certain degree of authority in order to serve efficiently. This requires meekness and sacrifice.
Second, I learned that a leader must be humble enough and wise enough to know to ask for help when it is needed. If there is anything Summit has taught me, it is my own limitations. As a leader, I must learn to ask for help from my community of fellow believers (whether it be spiritually, emotionally, or physically) so that I might serve the Lord and others to the best of my abilities.
I believe that this is what has impacted me the most while at Summit- this dual learning of what it means to lead as an individual and what it means to live in and lead as a community with the body of Christ. I have learned that, in the past, I have “lone rangered” my faith — striving to live independently of my Christian community at home and missing out on blessings because of it. I understand now the value of and power in the simple act of praying together. I have also received the immeasurable blessing of being counseled by others in Christ, whose maturity in the Lord have enabled them to share precious wisdom with me in times of need.
This is also the main reason a young adult should spend a portion of his or her summer at Summit Ministries. Jamba Juice runs, Dietrich the Dinosaur, and sporadic dance parties to “Hooked on a Feeling” are all amazing parts of staffing at Summit, but they do not compare to the inestimable worth of the relationships forged here, which guarantee to enrich the life of anyone who decides to spend time at the Summit.
I have truly seen the Lord’s hand over this ministry. He has imparted His Spirit in a way that enables the staff to laugh together, pray together, and overcome together. At Summit, you do not simply gain friends- you gain a family. This, and the mere fact that you are able to serve the Lord in a unique way are two reasons why I would eagerly encourage any young adult to come and staff.
Come to Summit. Give up a part of your summer and obtain a blessing.