Experience Christendom Summer Program | Christendom College

Admissions & Aid

Experience Christendom Summer Program

“I came to the week with rather high expectations, as it was advertised as ‘the best week ever.’ The program not only met my expectations, but surpassed them by a landslide.”

– G.B. San Jose, CA, ECSP past participant

Students who will be entering their senior year of high school in the fall of 2019 (current high school juniors) are welcome to register for the Summer 2019 programs. Summer 2019 will mark the 21st year of this wildly popular program, which boasts close to 3,500 alumni since 1999. Each year, hundreds of high school students spend a week on campus and describe the week as one of the best weeks of their lives, ranking it on average 4.75 out of 5 on a survey.

Registration for the 2019 Experience Christendom Summer Program is open. Spots are quickly filling up and a waiting list will soon be implemented for some of the sessions. Check the registration page for updates on available spots. 

This is the most-popular, well-attended, and highly-ranked pre-college summer program of its kind. It’s just that good.



Each of the 5 sessions will have approximately 45-50 students in them. TENTATIVE WEEKLY SCHEDULE

  • Session 1: June 9-15
  • Session 2:  June 16-22
  • Session 3: June 23-29
  • Session 4: July 7-13
  • Session 5: July 14-20


This highly acclaimed program, designed for rising high school seniors, offers participants a unique educational, cultural, spiritual, and amazingly fun experience, all for the incredibly low cost of $500.

Each year, over 280 rising high school seniors take part in the program, and leave campus with a new appreciation for the liberal arts, Catholic culture, true friendship, and the beauty of God’s creation evidenced in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

With a waiting list each year, the program helps students better understand the benefits of a liberal arts education, taught from a Catholic worldview, encompassed by a vibrant Catholic culture.

A number of the participants each year are somewhat hesitant to “go to school” during the summer, even if just for one week, but the vast majority of them — 99% — end up being blown away by what they experienced during the program (We wish we could say 100%, but there’s always one or two people who like to be the Eeyore of the group).

Students spend their mornings taking a variety of liberal arts classes (Philosophy, English, History, and Theology), then, after Mass and lunch, students spend their afternoons and evenings enjoying a number of recreational and social events. Activities generally include: canoeing on the Shenandoah River, hike and cookout on Skyline Drive, swing and contra dancing, singing/talking over a bonfire, bowling, participating in a talent show, and attending a debate and an Irish barn dance. These activities are absolutely amazing and show the participants that you can still have good old fashioned fun in a moral and Catholic environment!

One of the highlights of the program is the opportunity the students have to meet other young Catholics like themselves who are trying to live good, Catholic, well-balanced lives. Through this program, they make friends for life, and learn more about all that Christendom has to offer. In fact, students continually say that they feel closer to their new friends whom they only knew for a week, than with their life-long friends from back home. Why? Find out for yourself by attending one of these programs next summer. There is no real way to explain it – you just need to experience it (or read the testimonies of past participants)






All courses are 50 minutes long and are taught by full-time faculty of Christendom College.

  • Scripture Study/Theology
    The professor leads the students in a thorough study of one of the four Gospels, giving great insights into deep theological questions, or focuses on different important aspects of the faith, giving explanations into deep theological questions.
  • Philosophy
    This class will try and answer some of life’s greatest questions. What is happiness? Friendship? Why study philosophy and what effect can it have on our lives?
  • The Moral Imagination in Literature
    This course will focus on the theme of men and women faced with the need to make moral choices, often in difficult and agonizing situations. The students will read and discuss a series of short poems and stories which dramatize this theme in various contexts and settings: ancient and modern; political and social; scientific and religious.
  • History
    Depending on which session they attend, students will either be introduced to the glorious achievements of the West, and to the role of Christianity therein or learn some fascinating details about the ins and outs of World War I.



The all inclusive fee of $500 includes tuition, room and board, books and activity fees.

  • Financial assistance is available to anyone who requests it on the online registration form – you will then be sent instructions about how to pay via credit card online.
  • For those not requesting financial assistance, please note that registration is not considered complete until payment in full has been made.
  • Refunds will be given if requested at least a month prior to the start of the session.
  • Payment must be made at time of registration via Paypal.

Christendom College is located outside the town of Front Royal in the beautiful and historically rich Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Front Royal is the site of the north entrance to the famed Skyline Drive—a spectacular scenic trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains—and lies only 75 miles west of Washington, DC.

  • Students can fly in to Dulles Airport (IAD) and the College will pick them up.
  • Students may also fly in to Reagan National Airport in DC, but they would then have to take the metro to the Vienna Metro Station (Orange Line) where the College would pick them up.
  • In any case, do not make any flight arrangements until you have spoken with ECSP coordinator Clare McDermott to ensure that the flight times are in accord with the College’s pick-up policies.

Find out more about our campus here.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is financial aid available?

A: Yes. Thanks to a number of our generous benefactors – most especially Mr. and Mrs. Jack Murphy –we are able to give out financial assistance to those who request it. Although our all-inclusive cost for the program is kept low – $500 – we understand that even that amount might be a financial burden on a family. We never want anyone to decide not to attend the ECSP program due to limited financial resources – EVER!! When registering for the program, simply select “I am requesting financial aid” in order to receive a discount. Once you submit that form, you will receive an email from the college with more details.

Q: What can I expect during the week at Christendom?

A: “The Best. Week. Ever.” At least that’s what so many of our past participants have said. But for specifics on what that looks like, check out the tentative weekly schedule. Each day is jammed-packed with great events, activities, and classes – you will definitely go home tired! It’s the perfect mix of activities.

Q: Do you provide transportation to campus for those flying in?

A: Yes. We provide complimentary shuttle services for participants flying in to Dulles Airport (IAD) or Washington Reagan Airport (DCA) at the beginning and end of the session. Please note, though, that for those flying into Washington Reagan, our shuttle service picks students up at the Vienna Metro Stop. Students choosing to fly into Reagan can access the Blue Line metro directly at the airport and then transfer to the Orange Line until they arrive at the Vienna station, which is the final stop. For those arriving at Dulles Airport, we offer pickup directly at the airport. Our counselors meet the participants at baggage claim #6. In over 20 years of doing this program, we have never left any students behind – so please do not be worried. We even provide the travelling students the cell phone numbers of the counselors picking them up to assist with communication if travel plans are derailed.

We offer pick up shuttles services at 1pm, 2pm, and 4pm on the Sunday of each program. Drop off services are offered throughout the final day (Saturday), from as early as 6am until 3pm.

Please wait to book your specific flight until you have confirmed times with our ECSP Coordinator, Clare McDermott. If arriving outside of those designated times, there is a very good chance that we will not be able to pick you up.

Q: What is the dress code during the week?

A: During the week, there is a professional dress code Monday-Friday from the morning to the early afternoon for classes, lunch, and Mass. There is a modesty dress code in effect throughout the week.

You can read a description of our professional and modesty summer program dress codes here.

Please note that the dress code for the summer program differs somewhat from that during the regular academic year. In order to make it as straightforward and simple for participants, the summer program dress code does not include all the variables of acceptable attire that would be included during the regular academic year.

The dress code is enforced during the session, so be sure you bring clothing that meets the requirements. If you have any questions about the dress code or whether or not something meets the requirements, please do not hesitate to contact ECSP Coordinator Clare McDermott.

Q: Are students required to participate in all activities? Can they opt out of certain events?

A: All attendees are expected to participate in the various activities (e.g. classes, daily Mass, various dances, hike, etc). This means students are expected to go to daily Mass, attend class, participate in the dances, go to adoration, and get involved with in the various daily activities that are offered. For the parliamentary debate and talent show, students are encouraged, but not required to speak and perform. That everyone is involved in everything during the week is one of the reasons the program is so effective. Students have the opportunity to branch out of their comfort zones and try new things that perhaps they normally would not have done.

Q:  If a student has a food allergy are you able work with them?

A: Christendom’s kitchen staff strives to accommodate the needs of students with basic food allergies and provide suitable food options. If you have a food allergy or dietary restriction, please let us know and provide detailed information on your situation so our dining services can look into your dietary needs to ensure we are equipped to accommodate them during the program.

Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate any students who have anaphylaxis.

The Mayo Clinic defines anaphylaxis as a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.  It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to, such as peanuts or bee stings.  Food allergy is the main cause of anaphylaxis.  Symptoms include a skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and shock.  If not treated right away, usually with epinephrine, it can result in unconsciousness or death.  Exposure can be through ingestion or inhalation.

Q: Why can’t students with epilepsy attend the summer program?

A: In our experience, for whatever reason, students with a history of epilepsy, have so consistently suffered seizures during the program that we found it necessary for the safety all participants that those with this condition not attend. This has proven to be the case even for those who have not had an episode in multiple years. We are not equipped to handle medical situations such as these.

Q: Is confession available during the week?

A: Yes, confession is typically available twice each day, depending on the chaplain’s availability, and students are encouraged to take advantage of the healing power of God’s grace.

Q: Are current sophomores in high school able to attend the 2019 Experience Christendom Summer Program

A: The ECSP is geared specifically to current juniors (i.e. rising seniors), however, sophomores are welcome to register to be placed on a waiting list. In the event that there are available spots in a session, we will then open it to sophomores on our waiting list.

Q: Is there an adult in charge while the program is going on? Someone that can contact parents in the case of emergency?

A: Yes! The ECSP is a highly organized and carefully managed program. Every hour is scheduled, every counselor has a play book of what is going on, and Admissions Director Sam Phillips is on-call 24/7 during the 5 one-week sessions.  We take our job of caring for each participant very seriously, and want to ensure that everyone has a great time. Once the students arrive, they have all of the cell phone numbers to each of their counselors, as well as the ECSP coordinator, and the Director of Admissions.  While participants must keep their cell phones in their rooms during the day, all 9 counselors will be with the students and will be accessible by phone. Parents will be provided the phone numbers for all counselor and staff members prior to the week at Christendom.

Q: Do you have to be Catholic to attend?

A: You do not need to be Catholic to attend either the ECSP or the college itself.  That being said, the overwhelming majority of participants are Catholic.  If a non-Catholic were to attend the program, they would be required to attend daily Mass, daily adoration, and daily classes in Catholic theology. They would have to be present during the daily recitation of the Rosary and prayers for the road when traveling, and the singing of the Salve Regina at the conclusion of the many events.  It is a very Catholic-focused program, but is certainly open to people of other faiths.

Q: Why is the ECSP the most highly-ranked and well-attended program of its kind? Don’t other colleges have similar programs?

A: To begin, we will most likely have over 275 high school juniors/rising seniors take part in our 2019 ECSP. None of our competitors bring in anywhere close to that number of students – which makes the ECSP the most popular program of its kind. As far as being the most highly-ranked program, it is based on the participant’s survey results that they are given on the last day of the program, where a vast majority “agree” that their week was The Best Week Ever, and the majority “agree” that they enjoyed their experience. On top of that, there are a couple of things that we do that make our program exceptional.

First, we plan the events, classes, and activities to be a true representation of what life at Christendom would be like, and show the students that living and learning as a Catholic should be an integrated – not compartmentalized – experience, where it becomes very natural to be a Catholic and practice the Faith at all times, no matter what is going on around you.

Second, we stress personalization. Sure, everyone says they give a personalized education. But we mean it. We hire 9 of our current students to serve as counselors for the program – 5 men and 4 women. They are hand-picked by the admissions office to be good representatives of the normal “Christendom student.”  These counselors are explicitly told that their lives are on hold for the 5 sessions, and that their only concern is the participating student. The professors get to know each student by name, and dine with them daily at lunch. The admissions office team is constantly present to the students, and they also build relationships with the participants, getting to know them by name as well.  Each student who leaves the program feels like they were part of a family – a great Catholic family – and they felt like they were known by name, and cared for, in their individuality.

Third, our emphasis on the Catholic Faith throughout the program, in all aspects of what we do, shows the students the beauty of the Faith and, for lack of a better phrase, that it is “cool to be Catholic,” and that you need not be a “religious freak” to go Mass daily, or adoration or say the Rosary. They see in the example of our counselors what it means to be a good, happy, moral, educated, smart, prayerful, funny, talented, “normal,” and committed young Catholic person today. And that is so very exciting and encouraging to see!

Q. Where do the students stay when they are on campus?

A. Students stay in our dormitories. We have the men in one dormitory, and the women in the other. There is no intervisitation allowed.  The counselors live in the dormitories with the students too. Laundry facilities are also available to the students in the dormitories.

Q. Will the admissions staff be available to meet with me to discuss the requirements of attending the college and to ask them questions?

A. Absolutely yes. The admissions office staff is on full alert during the ECSP, and make themselves very accessible on a daily basis. The VP for Enrollment, Director of Admissions, Associate Director of Admissions, Admissions Counselor, and the ECSP Coordinator are at lunch each day, there to sit with students and to talk to them about the value of a Christendom education, and to answer their many questions. Additionally, each day there is a Christendom 101 class offered by either the VP for Enrollment or the Director of Admissions. During the 30 minute Christendom 101 session, students are given important presentations on the liberal arts, career outcomes of alumni, the admissions process and financial aid, and all of the many extra-curricular activities that would be available to them if they were to enroll. There is no chance that you could return home without getting all of your questions answered – we guarantee it!

Q. Some colleges give scholarships in the amount of the cost of the summer program, if a participant eventually attends their college. Do you do anything like this?

A. We offer a special ECSP alumni scholarship worth $1000 to those ECSP participants who apply to the college by a certain date, are accepted, and then make an official visit to campus during the academic year during specific times.


Registration Information

The program is geared toward students who will be entering their senior year of high school in the fall of 2019. Current high school sophomores are also welcome to register, but they will be placed on a waiting list. As the sessions draw closer, if room is still available, these sophomore students will be notified in the order in which they registered. As spaces fill up, the registration site will indicate where a session is closed or not.  Once you register, you will receive an email from Clare McDermott, with more information and some paperwork to be filled in and returned to us. Any questions should be directed to Clare McDermott (clare.mcdermott@christendom.edu).