How to Apply
The Early Bird Priority List for Summer 2024 will open on November 15, 2023.
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
View our Tentative Weekly Schedule HERE.
This highly acclaimed program, designed for rising high school seniors, offers participants a unique educational, cultural, spiritual, and fun-filled experience, all for the incredibly low cost of $600.
Each year, more than 300 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, and 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.
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, a hike and cookout on Skyline Drive, swing and contra dancing, singing/talking over a bonfire, participating in a talent show, and attending a debate and an Irish barn dance. These engaging and wide-ranging activities 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
Studying theology should lead a student to a higher understanding of God and His creation. A variety of topics will be covered over the summer, depending on which highly esteemed Christendom faculty member you will have: Scripture study, Theology of the Body, Apologetics, and more.
Philosophy is the handmaiden of Theology, and a subject frequently poorly taught and often misunderstood. Philosophy wrestles with some of life’s biggest questions: What is truth? What is happiness? friendship? What philosophical beliefs underline today’s moral and cultural errors? Is there a proper way to think as a rational being?
- The Moral Imagination in Literature
There is literature and then there is great literature! At Christendom, our faculty will lead you through some thought-provoking short stories and poems. This course will help you see the value of delving deeper into beautiful literature and how it can cultivate your moral imagination.
History is “His story,” — God’s story – and if taught with a focus on the reality that the Truth exists and the Incarnation happened, the study of history can be absolutely thrilling. Our professors will give insights into how one man has made a difference and how God’s hand is ever visible in the history of Western Civilization.
- Political Science
Political science is concerned with the big questions having to deal with how human beings live together in community. In this brief course, participants will look at the history of Western political thought. The class will begin in ancient Greek, move to medieval Europe, and conclude by examining the political thought of modernity with an emphasis on how this history influenced the American Founding.
TENTATIVE WEEKLY SCHEDULE
The all-inclusive fee of $600 includes tuition, room and board, books and activity fees.
Financial assistance is available to anyone who requests it on the online application form.
If offered a spot, you will then be sent instructions about how to pay via credit card online.
In the case that a student needs to drop out of a session, a full refund will be given if requested at least a month prior to the start of the session.
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 into Dulles Airport (IAD) and the College will pick them up.
- Students may also fly into 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.
- Please do not make any flight arrangements until you have spoken with Best Week Ever Coordinator Basia Syski to ensure that the flight times are in accord with the College’s pick-up policies.
Find out more about our campus here.
Rules and Regulations
During their week at Christendom, all participants are required to follow and abide by the Best Week Ever Rules & Regulations.
If accepted to the program, participants and their parents (or guardian) will be asked to read, review, and sign paperwork online agreeing to the terms set forth in the Rules & Regulations.
You can download our Rules & Regulations Agreement HERE. This form is for reading purposes ONLY.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is financial aid available?
A: Yes. Although we have kept our all-inclusive cost for the program to the low amount of $600, 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. When applying for the program, simply select “I am requesting financial aid” to receive a discount. If accepted for the program, you will receive an email with more instructions on your discount and payment.
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. Christendom provides complimentary shuttle services for participants at Dulles International Airport (IAD) and the Vienna Metro Station.* For those arriving at Dulles Airport, we offer pickup directly at the airport. Our counselors meet the participants at baggage claim #6. We also provide the traveling students with the cell phone numbers of the counselors picking them up to assist with communication if travel plans are derailed.
For those flying in, book your flight to arrive at Dulles on Sunday (first day of the program) so that you can take one of the college’s free shuttles. The shuttles will depart from Dulles at 1pm, 2:30 pm, and 4pm. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, please plan on waiting in the airport until those times. On Saturday (the last day of the program), students may book flights departing anytime between 9am – 4 pm.
Please make sure your flights meet these requirements! We cannot pick up students at any other times than those listed above.
*We do not offer transportation to and from Reagan National Airport (DCA). 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.
Q: What is the dress code during the week?
A: During the week, there is a class dress code Monday-Friday from the morning to the early afternoon for classes, lunch, and Mass. There is a casual dress code in effect throughout the week.
Please note that the dress code for the summer program differs somewhat from that during the regular academic year. To make it as straightforward and simple for participants as possible, 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 to bring clothing that meets these requirements. If you have any questions about the dress code or whether or not something meets the requirements, please do not hesitate to contact Best Week Ever Coordinator, Basia Syski.
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 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 to 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, due to the limited staff and resources available in the summer, we are not able to accommodate safely any students who have anaphylaxis during the summer program.
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: 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: Is there an adult in charge while the program is going on? Who can parents contact in the case of an emergency?
A: Yes. The Best Week Ever is a highly organized and carefully managed program. Every hour is scheduled, every counselor has a playbook 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 the cell phone numbers of each of their counselors, as well as the program coordinator, and the Admissions Director. While participants must keep their cell phones in their rooms during the day, all 10 counselors will be with the students and will be accessible by phone. Parents will be provided the phone numbers for the head counselor and staff members before the week at Christendom.
Q: Do you have to be Catholic to attend?
A: No, you do not need to be Catholic to attend either the Best Week Ever 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 we welcome those of other faiths to apply.
Q: Why is the Best Week Ever the most highly-ranked and well-attended program of its kind? Don’t other colleges have similar programs?
A: To begin with, we bring in more than 300 high school students each summer. None of our competitors bring in anywhere close to that number of students – which makes the Best Week Ever the most popular program of its kind. As far as being the most highly-ranked program, it is based on the participants’ 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. The majority “agree” that they enjoyed their experience–with an average five-year ranking of 4.74 out of 5. 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 is 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 10 of our current students to serve as counselors for the program – 5 men and 5 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 students. The professors get to know each student by name and dine with them daily at lunch. The admissions office team is present to the students through the program, 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 fanatic” 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 residence halls. We have the men in one residence hall and the women in the other. There is no intervisitation allowed. The counselors live in the residence halls with the participants. Laundry facilities are also available to the students in the residence halls.
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! The admissions office staff members are on full alert during the summer program and make themselves very accessible each day. The VP for Enrollment, Director of Admissions, Associate Director of Admissions, Admissions Counselor, and the Best Week Ever Coordinator are at lunch each day, there to sit with students and talk with 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. So, there are numerous opportunities to have questions answered!
Q. Some colleges give scholarships in the amount of the cost of the summer program if a participant eventually attends. Do you do anything like this?
A. We offer a special Best Week Ever scholarship worth $8,000 (at the rate of $2,000 per year) to those summer program participants who apply to the college by October 1, are accepted, and then make an official campus visit during the 2024 Fall Semester.
Please note that Christendom is not test-optional, so those considering applying to Christendom will want to take the SAT, ACT, or CLT no later than August 2024 to be eligible to advantage of the special BWE application deadline and scholarship offer.
Q. Is there an age requirement to attend?
A. To be considered for admission to Christendom College’s undergraduate program, applicants but be at least 17 years of age at the time of matriculation. Since the Best Week Ever is designed for students seriously considering attending Christendom following senior year of high school, for Summer 2024 participants must have a birthdate of 8/15/2008 or earlier.
Students who will be entering their senior year of high school in the fall of 2024 (i.e. current high school juniors) are invited to apply for the 2024 summer program sessions. To get a head-start, interested students are encouraged to sign up for the Early Bird Priority List which will open online on November 15, 2023.
Summer 2024 will mark the 26th year of this wildly popular program, which boasts more than 4,000 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 4.74 out of 5 on an exit survey.
This is the most popular, well-attended, and highly-ranked pre-college summer program of its kind. Attendance is competitive, and with a waiting list each year, interested students should not delay in applying.
Nothing is better than the Best Week Ever.
Experience these classes led by Christendom College’s fantastic professors:
- Scripture Study & Theology
- Literature or Political Science
Enjoy a wide range of activities, including:
- Canoeing and kayaking
- Contra-style Barn Dance
- Hike and Picnic at Skyline National Park
- Parliamentary Style Debate
- Game Night
- English, Philosophy, Theology, and History Classes
- Canoeing and kayaking
- Contra-style Barn Dance
- Hike and Picnic at Skyline National Park
- Parliamentary Style Debate
- Game Night
- English, Philosophy, Theology, and History Classes
- Swing Dancing
- Irish History Lecture
- Barn Dance/Irish sing-a-long
- Talent Show
- Italian Dinner
- Candlelight Rosary Procession
- Swing Dancing
- Barn Dance/Irish sing-a-long
- Talent Show
- Italian Dinner
- Candlelight Rosary Procession
Summer 2023 Counselors
John Paul Vander Woude
Hello! I am the oldest of seven kids and I live on a farm in Nokesville, Virginia. I attended the Best Week Ever twice and both times I enjoyed it immensely. I am excited to be returning as the head counselor this summer. I decided to attend Christendom because I knew that it would help me to become the man God wants me to be, and in my junior year here, I can affirm that I feel fulfilled and at peace with my decision.
Ever since I was a toddler, I have loved watching, talking, analyzing, and playing sports. I also enjoy singing and I was involved in musical theatre throughout my high school career. Here at Christendom, I am a captain of the basketball team, I altar serve, and I work in the athletic department as the equipment manager. I also like to perform at various concerts or open mic nights that Christendom offers. Additionally, I recently returned from my junior semester in Rome, which was incredible. Overall, it has been such a gift to be involved in the activities I love while being able to frequent the sacraments and attend classes that are based on the Truth. I am excited to meet all of you and to share what I can about Christendom College.
Hey guys, my name is Mikey Evich and I’m from Ashburn, Virginia. I’m the second of five kids and I have been homeschooled basically my entire life. I just finished my sophomore year at Christendom, and this will be my second time as a BWE counselor. When I was in your shoes I hadn’t really heard of Christendom and never understood why people were so hyped about it until I attended the Best Week Ever myself. It was an experience I’ll never forget and is quite truly the reason I decided to come here.
I’m a huge sports fan, especially of teams that are based out of the great city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. At Christendom, I play basketball and baseball both of which I’ve played my entire life. I’m also in the golf club. I work in the student life office and in the gym as an intramural coordinator. I look forward to meeting all of you guys this summer and helping you on your first step in your collegiate journey.
Hi! I’m Anna Hsu, and I’m the second oldest of seven kids. I live in Front Royal, Virginia, and it is such a blessing to have an amazing Catholic college so close to home! I had heard a lot about Christendom from my older brother, but it wasn’t until BWE that I really knew this is where God wants me to be. I had the privilege of winning one of the Padre Pio Full-Tuition Scholarships, and I have already had so many fun experiences during my time at Christendom. I participated in Women’s Soccer, Shield of Roses, Swing ‘n’ Sundaes, intramural sports, and Advanced Studies. I also love singing and playing music with friends, attending Laudamus Te and daily Mass, and all the events put on by the Student Activities Council, especially the dances!! I am super excited for my first year as a counselor, and I look forward to meeting you all!
Hi everyone! My name is Nora Ross, and I am from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was very eager to attend The Best Week Ever, and was surprised to see that the week far exceeded my expectations! I was so happy to be surrounded by an authentically Catholic community and to be taught by professors who truly loved what they were teaching. Having spent time here as a student, I have experienced the extent of Christendom’s community, and it is one of the biggest blessings in my life! Here I have been given the chance to grow intellectually through classes based in truth, and I have been able to grow as a person, surrounded by good friends who want to pursue a life of virtue.
At Christendom, I play on the varsity volleyball team and I participate in intramurals. I am involved in the pro-life club Shield of Roses, I am a member of the Holy Rood Guild, and I enjoy swing dancing with my friends at Swing ‘n’ Sundaes. My favorite Christendom tradition is the Laudamus Te holy hour on the first Friday of each month and I am blessed to have ample opportunities to grow spiritually through daily Mass and adoration. I have loved my time here at Christendom, and I am so excited to be a first-year counselor! I cannot wait to welcome you to Christendom and show you all that I can about this wonderful school; until then, you will be in my prayers!
Hi, everyone! I come from the Grand Rapids area in Michigan, and although I am the third of ten children, I am the first one from my family to come to Christendom. I am one of those students who never attended The Best Week Ever…but yes, I am still here regardless! Ever since my first visit, I was convinced that this was where God wanted me. The community welcomed me with open arms, I was surrounded by an authentically Catholic presence, and the Shenandoah valley made my “country girl” side feel right at home. Having the opportunity to attend Christendom is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given, and I couldn’t be any happier!
In my freshman year at Christendom, I participated in choir, the college’s theater group The Christendom Players, taught piano to several children of alumni, and co-led a women’s group that met to discuss authentic femininity. I also participated in intramurals and Advanced Studies and assisted Admissions as a student ambassador, all of which I’ve continued doing throughout my sophomore year as well. I also joined the Student Life team as a Resident Assistant (RA) this year, which has been an amazing experience. I LOVE dancing, especially swing dancing, and I’m also into all things musical—whether singing, playing piano, or fiddling.
I am so excited to meet you all this coming summer as a second-time counselor. Although I never attended the Best Week Ever as a student, my time as a counselor sure enabled me to have the Best Summer Ever, so I hope you’ll enjoy your time at Christendom as much as I do! See you soon!
Hi! My name is Chase, but you can call me Chase. I’m from Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I’m the baby of the family with three older sisters and the first to attend Christendom. I’ve been in public school for my entire life so life at Christendom is a breath of fresh air for a black sheep like me. I’m involved here with the tennis team, intramurals, swing dancing, and chamber ensemble. I could not be more happy with my decision to spend the next four years at Christendom!
I heard about Christendom from the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College and fell in love as soon as I stepped on campus. The instantaneous sense of community is something I will never forget nor cease to thank God for and I have an inkling that you just might see what I’m talking about at the Best Week Ever this summer. I can’t wait to meet you guys and share my love for Christendom with you this summer!
Hey y’all, my name is Ceci McFadden, and I’m the fifth oldest of eleven children from Front Royal, Virginia. This is my third and final summer as a counselor for the Best Week Ever and I am super excited! Growing up around Christendom, I thought I knew what the college was like, but when I attended the Best Week Ever, I realized how much I didn’t know about this amazing place! In fact, I attended the Best Week Ever twice, and had a wonderful and eye-opening experience both times! I am so happy to be a counselor, one of the students selected to help high school students to experience the school I love so much!
As a Theology major with a Literature minor, I love studying here and am so blessed with the education I receive and the wonderful Catholic community I am privileged to be a part of.
At Christendom, I have had ample opportunities to grow in my faith, and as a person. I enjoy singing and playing piano at the many musical events the college organizes. I have run on the cross-country team and played on the college’s softball and volleyball teams and I love to participate in intramural sports as well. This semester I was selected as president of our pro-life group, Shield of Roses, which shuttles students to pray outside of an abortion clinic every Saturday. I have also held several on-campus jobs and I sing in the choir here at Christendom. I am so excited to meet you all and share with you what I have been blessed to experience by attending Christendom College!
Hey everyone! My name is Andre Morales and I am the fourth oldest of nine children, coming from Northern Virginia! I attended the Best Week Ever in 2020 and during the week, I truly fell in love with the tremendous joy and peace present throughout Christendom’s entire campus and community. Although I thought it was too good to be true, Christendom College is for real.
While at Christendom, I have been able to participate in many of the different clubs, activities, and programs offered here. I greatly enjoy singing in the choir, as well as performing with the College’s theater group, The Christendom Players. I work in the Student Life Office as an assistant, and just recently began to serve as a student ambassador for the Admissions Office. I am a member of our pro-life club, Shield of Roses, and also enjoy taking advantage of daily Mass and adoration. In my spare time, I love to run, compete in intramurals, and play guitar and bass, especially with friends and family.
I am very grateful to return to the Best Week Ever as a second-year counselor this summer and look forward to meeting all of you! God Bless!
Hi everyone! My name is Catherine Thomas and I am from Corpus Christi, Texas. I loved growing up on the coast, and I went to a private Catholic high school less than a mile from the Gulf of Mexico. I’m the first person from my family to attend Christendom and I love it here! I had been thinking about attending Christendom since middle school, but coming to the 2020 Best Week Ever really cemented my decision to choose this school. So far the things I have enjoyed most about Christendom are playing varsity soccer and basketball, participating in Advanced Studies, the musical events put on by the Student Activities Council, and intramural sports. I also love the spiritual formation at Christendom, especially the Laudamus Te holy hour at the beginning of every month and daily Mass. My plan is to major in Mathematics and minor in Philosophy. I will be a rising junior this summer, and I can’t wait to meet all of y’all at the Best Week Ever!
Howdy everybody, my name is John Hill and I am the second youngest of six children, which I thought was a lot until I visited Christendom. I went to a Catholic private school until the last two years of high school when I was homeschooled, enjoying the best of both options. I have lived in The Woodlands, Texas, which is just north of Houston, since I was 12, but before that I lived in the NOVA area. I was planning on going to Texas A&M until my sister (a Christendom alumna) suggested I attend Christendom’s Best Week Ever and get a taste of the type of education that my siblings had at a strong Catholic high school in Virginia.
After attending the Best Week Ever before junior year, my college plans radically changed. From then on, I was sure that Christendom was the place for me, because of its readily available sacraments, counter-cultural mindset, and Christocentric perspective on all things in life. Then I knew that if I went anywhere else, I would miss out on these important things that Christendom uniquely has and offers. I was graciously allowed to go again the next year and confirmed my feelings about Christendom, had even more fun and met friends in my own class.
My hobbies at Christendom include playing all sports (especially football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and tennis), singing along with others to any song, and making music with my guitar. At Christendom, I play intercollegiate soccer and intramurals, attend Swing ‘n’ Sundaes, and hope to participate in the musical. I love getting involved in almost every one of the many events that Christendom hosts, especially when they give me the chance to perform. I am also an ambassador, a note-taker, and an Advanced Studies student with plans to double-major.
I know that if you come this summer, your experience will be unforgettable and life-changing, just as mine was! I’m glad I can be there for your Best Week Ever, and I cannot wait to meet y’all!