College-Bound? Try These Catholic Summer Programs

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 a Catholic college!

A faithful Catholic education can prepare students not only for a career, but for life. Whether or not you plan to attend a Catholic college, a summer program at one of the faithful colleges recommended in The Newman Guide can be enriching and will give you a taste of the benefits of a Catholic education.

Summer 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. Here are some options:

Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla., is offering a 12-day Summer Shakespeare Camp for high school students and rising college freshmen. Attendees live on campus and achieve artistic growth through an immersive academic experience. The University also offers a variety of athletic camps, which are held on campus throughout the summer months for students of various ages.

Belmont Abbey College’s Schola program in Belmont, N.C., strives to cultivate a true life of leisure over two 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.”  A video on the Schola program webpage shows some of the highlights from last year’s program.

The Benedictine College Youth Conferences (BCYC) Immersion programin 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,  Benedictine is inviting rising high school juniors, seniors and graduated seniors to earn three hours of college credit while studying 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. The business program allows students tackle hands-on business principles, applications and competitions through the lens of Catholic Social Doctrine. 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., is offering a choice of five different one-week sessions during the summer of 2019. Intended for rising high school seniors, the program instills 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 on 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 Video Institute, and various sports camps.  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 over 20 locations in the United States, including the university’s campus in Steubenville, Ohio, and San Diego, Irving, 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 2019 conferences is “Belong.” 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. New this year, the university is also offering the Franciscan Academic Experience—June 23-28—a week of learning, social, and spiritual experiences for high school sophomores and juniors. Courses include introductory classes in creative drama, psychology, neuro-psychology, engineering design, philosophy, theology, and more.

High school students and recent graduates are invited to preview the academic community and life of Northeast Catholic College in Warner, N.H., through its Collegiate Summer Program, which runs from July 21-August 3. Students are taught by Northeast Catholic professors each day and are introduced to liberal education through classic texts from philosophy, literature, theology, and political thought. Outside of the classroom, program participants climb Mount Kearsarge, swim in the Atlantic, relax around bonfires, swing dance, visit local landmarks, and more.  This year, students can apply to receive one of ten full tuition scholarships to Northeast Catholic College’s summer program.

For the first time, Thomas Aquinas College is offering its Great Books summer program in two locations: its campus in Santa Paula, Calif., and its newly opened second campus in Northfield, Mass. These two-week programs engage students in seminars on Plato, Sophocles, Euclid, Blaise Pascal, and St. Thomas Aquinas, among others. In addition to daily recreational and liturgical activities, the program also includes day trips to nearby cities. A detailed day-to-day picture of what the Great Books program is like can be found on the college’s blog. This program is offered to rising seniors.

Thomas More College in Merrimack, N.H., offers two different summer options for high school-aged students. The Great Books program, which is a two-week session offered twice in July, 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 the school is continuing its partnership with The Wooden Boat School to offer the Exploration & Adventure In New England program, which runs from August 16-24. Participants read stories about the sea, learn to sing chanties, and master sailing on the coast of Maine.

The University of Dallas offers seven different high school summer programs, four located on the main campus in Irving, Tex., and three taking place at the university’s campus outside of Rome, Italy. The two-week, 3-credit 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. The Summer Music, Art, and Math Academies are also located on the Irving campus. The University’s study-abroad, 3-credit 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. The recently introduced “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 while also earning college credits. Students who participate in any of the programs in Rome and later enroll at the University of Dallas are eligible for a $4,000 scholarship. Past participants have reported higher SAT scores as a result of improved reading comprehension because of these programs.

The University of Mary offers two summer programs for high school students. The Cor Christi Institute program runs for two sessions in July on the University’s campus in Bismarck, ND. This program invites high school students of all grades to encounter Jesus and learn the foundational teachings and practices of the Catholic faith through serious study, good conversation, and wholesome friendship. The Rome Study Pilgrimage will take place June 15-30 and is open to rising seniors of regional Catholic high schools. Students will be able to experience some of the splendors of Rome while also earning two college credits.

For students interested in traveling abroad, the faithful University of Navarra offers a three-week educational program  taught by the University’s faculty beginning on July 1. The program is open to rising juniors and seniors in high school and takes place in the three Navarra campuses in Spain: Pamplona, San Sebastian and Madrid. Students will be immersed in the language and culture of Spain while earning college credit and will have the opportunity to experience the San Fermín festival in Pamplona.

For those juniors and seniors with adventurous spirits and a love for the outdoors, Wyoming Catholic College’s PEAK program in Lander, Wyo., offers a unique experience. It runs for two weeks: you can attend either from June 22-July 6 or from July 7-21. 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 outdoor activities, tailored to the experience and fitness of each participant, including a backpacking trip, fly fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, and more.

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