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By Abby Wilkinson and Kelly Salomon, The Cardinal Newman Society, March 23, 2018
What better way for a high school student to spend a week or two this summer, than to enjoy a fun and spiritual program at one of the faithful Newman Guide colleges!
A faithful Catholic education can prepare students not only for a career, but for life. To get a taste of the value of a faithful Catholic education, high school students are encouraged to attend a summer program or two (or three or four!) at the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.
These programs are a great opportunity for high school students to strengthen their academic and extracurricular skills, grow in their spiritual lives, get a head-start on college visits, learn from distinguished professors, make lifelong friends, and experience what faithful Catholic education is all about. Moreover, these programs often prove to be the reason why a student chooses to attend a Newman Guide college.
Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla., is hosting a youth conference for high school students on July 14-16. Speakers include evangelist Mike Gormley and Father Eric Scanlan, vocations director for the Diocese of Venice, on the theme, “Called.” There will be opportunities for Eucharistic adoration, prayer, and the Sacraments. Students can register with a group or attend independently.
Belmont Abbey College’s Schola program in Belmont, N.C., strives to cultivate a true life of leisure over three distinct one-week sessions in July. According to the College, students are invited “to slow down, to spend a summer week cultivating the goodness of their souls by reading and discussing classic works of philosophy and literature with friends, having meaningful conversations about the fundamental questions of life, enjoying daily recreational and social activities, viewing films, contemplating beautiful works of art, and spending time in prayer and worship with the monastic community of Belmont Abbey.”
The Benedictine College Youth Conferences (BCYC) Immersion program in Atchison, Kan., allows students to choose from various “tracks” in engineering, nursing, chemistry, biology, voice, evangelization, Great Books, digital storytelling, leadership, or Christian fiction/creative writing. Outside of class, students participate in Bible studies, attend Mass, and engage in a variety of social activities from dances to sports to scavenger hunts. Participants report that they come away from the week refreshed and inspired: “Just being around other great people that all shared the same values and ideas as me has given me so much courage to live a life for Christ back home where people don’t necessarily share my values.” There’s also a BCYC Encounter program, led by current Benedictine students, which is a spiritual weekend conference that focuses on “true relational ministry.” Finally, for the first time this summer, Benedictine is inviting rising high school juniors and seniors to study abroad on a “Journey with Dante,” a three-week trip in Italy.
The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., also offers a wide variety of summer experiences. For those seeking an educational experience, there are weeklong residential programs which focus on business, engineering, mathematics, or theology, in addition to providing opportunities for rising juniors and seniors to experience the nation’s Capital. Catholic University also offers a Summer Band Workshop, which is a nonresidential program open to current 8-11th graders and culminates in a concert at the end of the week, and a High School Drama Institute, which is a three-week program for current juniors, seniors, or college freshmen.
The Experience Christendom College Summer Program (ECSP) in Front Royal, Va., which has a waiting list each year, is offering a choice of six different one-week sessions during the summer of 2018. Intended for rising high school seniors, the program claims to instill in students “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.” Participants attend daily classes in literature, philosophy, history, and theology, hike in the mountains, canoe in the Shenandoah River, sing Irish songs, learn to swing dance, and forge new friendships. As one student said afterwards, “ECSP displayed the true joy that can be found in life. Christians are called to be radiating Christ’s joy and love, and that is just what happened this summer.”
DeSales University in Center Valley, Penn., is offering a Summer Dance Intensive program, Summer Theatre Institute, Summer Video Institute, and CrimeFITE, which helps prepare students for careers in criminal justice. Some programs are offered for a students as young as 14 years old, and others give students the option to earn college credits.
Franciscan University’s summer conferences are popular with Catholic high school students across the country. The three-day conferences take place at multiple locations in the United States, including Steubenville, Ohio, where the University is located, and San Diego, Atlanta, Orlando, Denver, Tucson, Spokane, and Toronto. Teens partake of the Sacraments and hear from speakers like Jason Evert, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Matt Fradd, Leah Darrow, and Sarah Swafford. The theme for the 2018 conferences is “Revealed.” Interested students must apply to attend a conference through a parish/youth ministry group. There is also a leadership conference for select students before each of the Steubenville Youth Conferences.
Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors are all welcome to apply to the Collegiate Summer Program at Northeast Catholic College in Warner, N.H., from July 22-August 4. Students are taught by Northeast Catholic professors each day, as they take classes in philosophy, theology, literature, and politics. Outside of the classroom, program participants hike in the White Mountains, swim in the Atlantic, and visit local landmarks.
Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., offers a two-week Great Books summer program, engaging students in seminars on Plato, Sophocles, Euclid, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Blaise Pascal, among others. In addition to daily recreational and liturgical activities, the program also includes trips to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. A detailed day-to-day picture of what the exciting Great Books program is like can be found on the college’s blog.
Thomas More College in Merrimack, N.H., offers three different summer options for high school-aged students. The Great Books program, which runs July 15-28, will inculcate its participants in a “healthy balance of prayer, work, and play” as they read authors like St. Thomas More and William Shakespeare. This year there are two different New England-centered programs, one involving land and the other focusing on the sea. The Exploring New England I program, runs from June 24-July 7. Students take classes on the robust history of early New England, studying America’s founding, taking trips to historical sites in nearby Boston, Mass. and Portsmouth, N.H., and exploring the college’s beautiful surroundings. The Exploring New England II program arises from a new partnership between Thomas More College and the Wooden Boat School. Participants read stories about the sea, learn to sing chanties, and master sailing on the coast of Maine.
The University of Dallas offers six different summer programs, three located on their main campus in Irving, Tex., and three taking place across the Atlantic. The two-week Arete program in Texas immerses students in the study of classical texts, led by University of Dallas professors. It also features weekend trips into Dallas and Fort Worth to visit museums and enjoy theatrical performances. Also located on the Irving campus, the Summer Music Academy is open to 7-12th graders. And this year, UD is debuting the Summer Art Academy, a five-day program which is also open to 7-12 graders. The University’s study-abroad programs include “Shakespeare in Italy” and “Latin in Rome”, the latter of which is open to students with at least three years of high school Latin. Students who participate in either of these programs and later enroll at the University of Dallas are eligible for a $4,000 scholarship, and past participants have reported higher SAT scores as a result of improved reading comprehension because of these programs. Finally, UD’s “Rome and the Catholic Church” program offers a pilgrimage and learning opportunity in the very heart of the Church. From the tomb of St. Peter to the hills once walked by St. Francis, students are able to study Catholic theology in a location that will make their classes come alive.
The three- and four-day summer camps at Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, allow students to delve deeper into the arts, science, civic engagement, and faith development. The graphic design camp in June is open to 7-12th graders and takes place in the graphic design lab of Walsh’s new Global Learning Center, which features highly-visible manifestations of the college’s Catholic identity. The Drawing Boot Camp, also for 7-12th graders, is helpful in preparing students for university-level art classes; and a cybersecurity program is open to high schoolers. A Faith Development camp is offered to bring the “Good News” to life in the experience of high school-aged participants, while a Civic Engagement program is being introduced for 2018.
For those with adventurous spirits and a love for the outdoors, Wyoming Catholic College’s PEAK program in Lander, Wyo., offers a unique and exciting experience. It runs for two weeks: you can attend either from June 23-July 7 or from July 8-22. Students are given the opportunity to study the Great Books under the instruction of WCC faculty and to immerse themselves in the sacraments. But they are also engaged in a variety of outdoors activities, tailored to the experience and fitness of each participant, including a backpacking trip, fly fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, and more.