After nineteen summers of being the most popular, well attended, and highly ranked summer program of its kind, there were seemingly few ways for the Experience Christendom Summer Program to improve. And yet, the program exceeded its reputation in 2017, with every available spot filled for the first time ever. Two hundred and eighty-eight high school seniors participated in the program during the months of June and July, getting a taste of the college experience during a week most frequently dubbed “the best week ever.”

“This summer exceeded all of our expectations,” says director of admissions Sam Phillips. “We’ve had incredible attendance in past years — enough to make us increase the number of sessions from four to six — but never have we filled every single available spot before. That’s a testament to the popularity of this program and to Christendom College as a whole.”

Students from the United States and abroad traveled to Front Royal, Virginia, for the Experience Christendom Summer Program. One of the best parts of the week? Hiking in the Shenandoah Valley.

High school seniors traveled from across the United States and from Guatemala, Spain, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, and China to attend this year’s program. During their time on campus, they attended dynamic classes taught by Christendom professors, hiked in the Shenandoah Valley, learned swing and contra dancing, and experienced the vibrant Catholic culture that makes Christendom so distinctive.

When students arrived on campus, many had heard the claim that the week would be the “best week ever,” but some doubted it could actually live up to such a weighty reputation. Peter L. of Alexandria, Virginia, certainly thought that, but he was shocked to discover that the week truly was the best week of his young life.

Students learned theology, philosophy, history, and literature from Christendom’s own faculty during the week.

“I was expecting a great, fantastic week,” said Peter. “Not the best. But what I got was, in fact, the ‘Best Week Ever’ that I have had in my life. Everything was amazing. Yes, it was fun dancing, canoeing, and debating — but there is so much more. The classes were amazing, but the sense of community — of the ‘Catholic Culture’ we talked so much about — is what helped to transform me, both mentally and spiritually.”

Michael F. of Denver, Colorado, agreed with Peter’s sentiment. A private schooler, he initially did not think the week was the best ever. However, thinking it over afterwards, he realized he was wrong, and could not thank the program enough for its impact on his life.

Swing and contra dancing in the Shenandoah Valley? Easily one of the most popular parts of the program.

“I have never met more interesting College students or high schoolers before,” said Michael. “We were able to bond over our similarities and grow in the intellectual and Catholic atmosphere that Christendom provided. I learned what brotherhood is all about and how true community thrives at Christendom.  In my ‘end of the week evaluation,’ I said that while I enjoyed being at Christendom, it was not the best week ever. I take that back. As I was leaving the program, I began to realize how big of an impact the trip had on me and the other people there. The ECSP was definitely the best week ever.”

The week proved to be more than fun for many of the attendees — it was life changing. The lessons learned in the classroom, the chapel, and the culture will stay with them for the rest of their lives, as they work through the rest of high school and eventually college.

Students tested their knowledge and public speaking skills during a debate.

“I met people from Argentina, Mexico, Chicago, Denver, Pennsylvania, Florida, and elsewhere,” said Lydia B. from Falls Church, Virginia. “It gave me a different perspective on my outlook on people and how life is similar but also different from my area. I did end up having one of the best weeks ever. By the end of the week, I was in tears to leave Christendom and all the new friends I made. I learned a lot from this experience and it helped me grow in my faith.”

To view pictures from all six sessions of this year’s Experience Christendom Summer Program, please visit here.

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