Three seniors expand their minds at the Summit

Students travel to Tennessee for a conference

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An in-depth conference about worldviews and apologetics isn’t usually what comes to mind when we say “summer”, but for seniors Jillian Unruh, Mitchell Pivovar, and myself, it sounded like something we wanted in on.

Bright and early July 6, the three of us set out in a rented minivan driven by the gracious Ron Unruh to the very small town of Dayton, Tennessee. Upon arrival, the breathtaking smoky mountains surrounded a tiny school by the name of Bryan College. The first thing we were told to do was find our “small groups”. Small groups were a few high school kids having discussions led by a Summit staffer every night about the daily sessions. As Jill and Mitchell went off to their small group, I found mine and my small group leader made me hug a tree. Everyone stared at me like I was stupid. Great, these next two weeks are gonna be just fantastic.

Little did I know, that they would be fantastic and ultimately change my life.

KCC High school principal Ben Williams had told us about Summit Ministries. He used to be heavily involved in Summit and shared with us that it was a great opportunity. We all three decided we should attend, even though we didn’t know each other very well.

A typical day at Summit went a little like this: I would wake up in a dorm room at Bryan College with a randomized home, private, or public schooler at 7 a.m. for a hot breakfast and, of course, coffee.

Jill and I would meet Mitchell, and the three of us would eat breakfast together. Each meal was more entertaining than the last because we sat with someone new every day. At about 8, our first session of the day would begin.

The sessions were on various topics such as abortion, transcendentalism, Islam, Charles Darwin, naturalism, homosexuality, economics, bioethics, and many more. I have a whole notebook full of notes, quotes, and lists of books to read. The speakers were from all over the country from all types of background and were really great speakers.

After the sessions, there was about three hours of free time for Summit students before worship, dinner, another session, and then small groups. During the free time, students could take a nap, play an organized group game like ultimate Frisbee or basketball, hang out in the Student Center at Bryan, or even walk ten minutes to the town of Dayton for coffee and shopping.

At the end of the two weeks, all the Summit students attended a graduation ceremony complete with a certificate stating that we had just completed two weeks of study. On one of the last days, Mitchell and I took a walk down to Dayton to pick up a present for Williams. His favorite coffee house, Harmony House, is there and he says it is the best coffee ever. We all three pitched in to buy him some. While we were planning on bribing him with the coffee in exchange for help on an assignment in his class, we ended up just giving it to him as a thank you present for telling us about Summit Ministries.

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