When Laura McGrath of Elk Grove, Calif., boarded her plane to Virginia, she was not excited about spending a week at Christendom College’s “Experience Christendom” Summer Program, but she was surprised by what she found.
“I was a little worried about some of the rules, and thought that perhaps things might be a little more boring than exciting at the program,” McGrath said. “However, those thoughts were quickly reversed.”
The program, which brought 103 students from across the United States, Canada, and Ireland to the Shenandoah Valley, held three different sessions. Two one-week sessions were held June 20 to 27 and June 28 to July 5, and one two-week session was held July 12 to July 24.
“The program was packed full of incredibly fun, never-ending activities, which are filled with and led by amazing people,” McGrath said. “By the end of the camp I was sure that I had experienced the best camp ever, and I could not wait to come back and experience more.”
McGrath was so excited about coming back to campus that she actually decided to forgo her senior year and she will be entering Christendom this fall as a freshman.
The students enjoyed a wide array of recreational activities including canoeing down the Shenandoah river, hiking on the famous Skyline Drive, attending a Major League baseball game, bowling, learning to swing and contra dance, playing competitive sports, and touring nearby Washington, D.C.
The fun extended into the classes as well for McGrath. “Christendom’s classes were the most surprising part of the summer program. Most times, thoughts of classes are not always the most exciting, but at Christendom, the classes were educational, interesting, and fun,” she said.
Taught by Christendom’s own faculty, students attended classes in philosophy, literature, history, and theology. Mass, rosary, and Benediction were part of the daily schedule as well.
William Hegedusich of Helotes, Texas, also was surprised by what he found.
“The intimate relationship between teachers, students, priests, and staff surprised me. Teachers ate lunch with students, went on hikes, and played sports with us. Even in the short amount of time we spent there, the teachers learned our names, and came to know some of us fairly well.”
Hegedusich describes the faculty-student relations, the great social activities, and the academic rigor as reasons why Christendom College is now at the top of his list of potential colleges and universities.
“I came to the school with indifferent thoughts, but now I have great thoughts about it,” he said.
“The program routinely changes lives,” Director of Admissions Tom McFadden said. “Sometimes just a week of authentic Catholic classes and culture is enough to show students that there is a better way of life out there than what our current culture offers.”
Jonah Selner of Burnsville, Minn., was glad to see that there were other people his age who were serious about their faith who also had “vibrant personalities.”
“The camp encouraged me in my spiritual life, to go above and beyond what I normally would have done,” Selner said.
Garianne Seawright of Winter Park, Fla., had a similar experience. “I was shocked to find that I was not living my faith to the fullest and I am grateful that I was given the tools to do so in the future. This camp gave me new goals for my faith and my academic career,” she said.
“One of the best ways to determine if a college is right for you is to visit,” says McFadden. “And spending an entire week living the life of a Christendom College student is very eye-opening for our program participants each year. Year after year, we hear back from the students who say that their time spent on campus was the best time of their lives. It’s so great being involved in such an extraordinary program that changes lives forever.”
Due to a continued increase of interest in the program, tentative plans are currently being made to have four different “Experience Christendom” Summer Program sessions in 2010. To read more comments or quotes from participants, or to learn more about the program, click here.