Christendom College’s high school summer program is referred to as The Best Week Ever by its close to 300 participants each year. After spending a week on the campus with 60 other like-minded rising high school seniors, participants return home amazed by their experience. They routinely relate that they fell in love with the integrated academic classes they experienced, the joy-filled and enthusiastic professors, the scenic campus overlooking the Shenandoah River, the opportunity to grow in their Catholic faith, and above all, the Christendom students who serve as counselors each year. This summer, seven veteran counselors will return to take on this leadership role while three new counselors join their ranks to help give the students an experience like no other.

During each of the five one-week sessions, the counselors play an important role as both leader and friend. As college-aged students who are just a couple of years older than the participants, the opportunity to represent the college and lead the visiting students in all their activities is a highly sought one.

According to former participant Madelyn, the counselors were amazing.

“I had so much fun, met many wonderful people, and learned a lot about Christendom College in the course of the week,” says Madelyn. “Before the program, I was not very interested in attending Christendom, despite my parents’ urging to consider it more seriously. During my time there, however, I was very impressed by what Christendom College has to offer. The counselors in particular made a real impression on me. They were strong Catholics, responsible, friendly, and well-balanced people, and they knew how to have fun — even during their fifth week of the program. Now, Christendom is up on the very top of my college list. Thank you so much for such a wonderful week.”

This summer, rising Christendom sophomores John Paul Vander Woude, Sarah Jackson, and Cecilia McFadden will join the returning seven counselors to share their love of the college and to make a lasting impact on the participants.

“I am so grateful and excited to be a first-year counselor for this year’s summer program,” says Vander Woude. “Being a counselor is important to me because when I attended The Best Week Ever, the example and character of the counselors was a driving influence on my decision to attend Christendom as a student.”

Vander Woude, the oldest of seven, was highly pursued by many colleges to compete on their basketball teams. In the end, Vander Woude chose Christendom because of its integrated Catholicism, rigorous academics, and the ability to play varsity sports.  After being accepted, he was also awarded the college’s Thomas S. Vander Woude Memorial Scholarship (named after his late grandfather), and he now competes on the college’s varsity basketball and soccer teams.

Jackson is the first in her family to attend Christendom, although a number of her siblings attended the summer program before choosing to go elsewhere for college. She loves being at Christendom and has great interest in dance, singing, musical theater, and sports. Throughout high school, Christendom was not on her radar until she was encouraged to attend the summer program in 2019 — ultimately leading her to apply and attend.

“My time here at Christendom has been nothing short of a joyful experience full of deep spiritual and personal growth,” says Jackson. “I love being a student here, so naturally I want to share my experience with others. As a counselor, I can offer a glimpse into the vibrant student life here and share my experience in a personal way to prospective students. I want participants to understand the joy you can attain through attending Christendom, and I will do this to the best of my ability by serving as a counselor.”

New counselors John Paul Vander Woude, Sarah Jackson, and Cecilia McFadden.

McFadden, the final new addition to the team this year, is following in the footsteps of her brother, Dominic, who previously served the college as head counselor for the summer program. The fifth oldest of eleven children, McFadden grew up around Christendom her whole life but only truly came to know it from attending the summer program. Now, as a student, she is fully immersed in the education, extra-curriculars, and on-campus employment. She enjoys singing, swing dancing, piano playing, working in the admissions office, and running on the cross-country varsity team.

“I love being a student here and am so blessed with the education I receive and the wonderful Catholic community I am privileged to be a part of,” says McFadden. “I can’t wait to help other teenagers discover Christendom College and learn to love it as much as I do.”

Vander Woude, Jackson, and McFadden will join head counselor George Schuberg, Claire Guernsey, Brian Hicks, Caroline Howerton, JP DeJak, Caroline McDermott, and Zach Hsu this summer where participating students can expect to have the time of their lives.

The most popular, well-attended, and highly ranked program of its kind, The Best Week Ever is entering its twenty-third year this summer and will be offering five one-week sessions for current high school juniors. Participants take classes from Christendom’s faculty, attend daily Mass and adoration, and participate in a variety of recreational activities including canoeing and hiking in the Shenandoah Valley, performing in a talent show, playing dodgeball, participating in a parliamentary-style debate, and learning to contra and swing dance, all while making friends with other young Catholics along the way.

Already more than 50% of available slots have been filled for the 2021 summer program. To apply, please visit www.thebestweekever.com.

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