Summit Adventure’s Immersion Service and Adventure Semester is a Christ-centered semester abroad program designed for college students and gap year participants.
Our semester program includes academic courses in Leadership, Communication, Spiritual Formation, Cross-Cultural Ministry and Outdoor Physical Education. Students can obtain between 16-18 academic credits that can be transferred to other colleges and universities.
During our semester program, students will spend time in Yosemite (Summit’s home base), Ecuador and Patagonia. Adventure elements of our semester program include mountaineering, rock climbing, rappelling, backpacking, cross country skiing and snow camping (if conditions allow). Students will learn technical skills including navigation, rope skills and glacier travel.
During the international portion of our semester, students will immerse themselves in cross-cultural settings through home-stays, language courses and urban exploration. Students will also get an opportunity to partner with local organizations to work on service projects in Ecuador and mission work in Patagonia.
This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Serve in developing nations, climb to 19,000’ in the Andes, backpack and ski in Yosemite National Park, trek and rock climb in Patagonia, all while learning about each experience from a Christian academic perspective.
When you’re not taking classes in Ecuador, living with an Ecuadorian family, or exploring Patagonia, you’ll get to live in Summit Adventure’s base camp, a beautiful cabin in the Sierra mountains heated by a wood-burning stove. This semester is rigorous in its demands, academically, physically and spiritually. But the effort makes it all the more rewarding. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
View the other tabs on this page for a more detailed itinerary, academic prospectus, FAQs, photos and a video from Ecuador.
Click the orange “Apply Now” button to the right to apply for our semester program!
6 weeks at Basecamp in Bass Lake, California
Orientation, Syllabi and Academic Explanation, Classes 4 days a week, Weekend Mini-Expeditions, Community Service with Boys & Girls Club Oakhurst and local churches, Living in Community at Base
5 weeks in and around Quito, Ecuador
Two, 1-week Homestays with Ecuadorian Families, Service at Remanso de Amor and the Happiness Foundation, Exploring Quito and Surrounding Cities, High Altitude Hiking, Backpacking and Mountaineering, Periodic Concentrated Class times, Spanish School, Leadership Internships
1.5 weeks in Patagonia
3-4 days of trekking, 1-2 days of mission work, a 2-day overnight hike to a spectacular crag called the Frey
3 weeks Expedition-Style
1 week Expedition Planning, 14-18 days Sierra Expedition – backpacking, rock climbing, backcountry navigation, outdoor living skills
1 week of Transition and Semester Culmination before Re-entering “Home”
Immersion programs, service learning, and outdoor adventure are state of the art pedagogical tools that attract and develop today’s college student. In the hands of skilled experiential educators, these approaches to interpersonal and academic growth are unparalleled. Since the fall of 2007, Summit Adventure has woven service learning and outdoor adventure into an off-campus college program designed to develop relationship-building Christian young adults. We call this innovative Christ-centered program our Immersion Service and Adventure Semester. The semester will be based in California’s High Sierra, the cities and mountains surrounding Quito, Ecuador and Patagonia. Thousands of students over the years have come to Summit Adventure demonstrating a lack of proficiency in leadership, interpersonal communication, cross-cultural awareness, spiritual growth and physical fitness. As a result, we are focusing our semester program on these five competencies through the courses listed below. We call these 3-credit courses “pillars” because they are foundational to a student’s ability to build relationships in ministry and life.
Semester Program Academic Pillars:
Three credit hours, 2-300 level, suitable for equivalent courses in the general education curriculum, electives, or as major courses. This course will allow each student to develop a coherent personal philosophy of leadership and explore first-hand the challenges of implementing that philosophy in real situations. Critical exploration of a variety of leadership models will be integrated with practical application. Each student will be challenged to think through and develop a distinctly Christian model of leadership. A semester’s worth of expeditions, service, cross-cultural ministry and close knit communal living will help forge a personal philosophy of leadership that corresponds to a Christian worldview and effectively advances the Kingdom of God.
Three credit hours, 1-300 level, suitable for equivalent courses in the general education curriculum, electives, or as major courses. In this course, you will study small group behavior and interpersonal communication within the contexts of current theory, praxis, and Christian community. Course content includes the study of group dynamics, small group leadership, conflict resolution, non-violent communication, and the application of interpersonal interaction theories. Learning occurs in small group travel in mountains, rural settings, and international venues via class discussion, practical experiences, and communal living.
Three credit hours, 2-300 level, suitable for equivalent courses in the general education curriculum, electives, or as major courses. During this course, students will interact with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. These interactions will help broaden their perspectives on people and cultures different from their own. Students will become more effective witnesses for the Gospel because they have successfully transferred learning about others in different cultures back to home and school. They will see firsthand that the Kingdom of God is not only American and ministry must be undertaken with this global perspective. Language acquisition and home stay weeks in Ecuador are included to broaden the cultural immersion experience.
Three credit hours, 1-200 level, suitable for equivalent courses in the general education curriculum, electives, or as major courses. This course provides a hands-on framework for spiritual growth during the semester. It will draw heavily on the spiritual disciplines to complement the cross-cultural, service, and adventure learning the students will experience during the semester. Students will have many opportunities to deepen their faith in a variety of individual and corporate settings. This course is intended to be highly practical because walking closely with Jesus Christ involves much more than engaging the intellect- we must involve our hearts and “hands” as well.
Four credit hours, 1-200 level, suitable for equivalent courses in the general education curriculum, electives, or as major courses. This course will focus on physical education skills including rock climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, back country navigation, and wilderness camping. Students will be challenged both physically and mentally as they learn the various skill sets enabling them to become comfortable in the outdoors. The course will take place in the beautiful and rugged high country of the Sierra Nevada, California, the high altitude peaks of the Andes in Ecuador and beautiful Patagonia.
Summit Adventure’s base in Bass Lake, California. You will have a shared bedroom with a twin bed, dresser and lamp. There is a main living area equipped with a wood-burning stove, men’s and women’s bathrooms with showers, a fully-stocked kitchen, and a library. For 5 weeks of the semester, we will live in and around the city of Quito, Ecuador with Ecuadorian families, in mountain huts, and guesthouses. During our time in Patagonia, we will stay in travelers huts called refugios. The remaining 3 weeks will be spent in the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
We will help you register as a student at a college you can get credits through. You will receive 16-18 credits (in the following classes: Introduction to Leadership, Interpersonal Communication, Spiritual Formation, Cross Cultural Ministry and Outdoor Living Skills) that can then transfer back to your home school if necessary. We will speak to your Advisor and Registrar to ensure the credits will transfer.
Montreat College (North Carolina), Simpson University (California), Ouachita Baptist University (Arkansas), and Great Lakes Christian College (Michigan)
Every student who has been enrolled in our semester program has been able to transfer credit back to their home school, but we will work with your school in advance to ensure that the credits will in fact transfer.
Tuition is approximately $17,250, but varies slightly depending on the accrediting school.
You make payments directly to your accrediting school. Once enrolled as a student at your accrediting school, you will be billed just like every other student. This will allow for a payment plan and/or loans to be submitted.
Most everything! This covers the academic credits, housing, food, equipment, and transportation fees. Transportation fees include: travel to and from Ecuador and Patagonia, as well as within both California, Ecuador and Patagonia.
If you have private scholarships and/or loans, yes, these can be transferred to your accrediting school. If you have Federal Financial Aid through FAFSA, in some cases yes, we can walk you through the transfer process. You may not use discounts given to you by your school or State Financial Aid.
Summit offers scholarships for all students needing financial assistance. These are awarded on a case-by-case basis. A copy of your current Financial Aid package and/or a completed Estimated Contribution Form will be requested for inquiring about Summit scholarships.
Only your personal expenses and transportation to and from Bass Lake, CA at the beginning and end of the semester. Examples being: eating a meal at a restaurant, washing clothes, having a coffee, seeing a movie, or personal purchases.
Bed linens and towels will be provided, and you are welcome to bring a sleeping bag if you have one (rated between 15 and 0 degrees F). Technical backpacking, rock climbing, and mountaineering gear will be provided and you are welcome to bring your personal gear, too. Please see the related “What to Bring for the Semester” list for more details.
Refer to the Registration Packet after being accepted into the program. There you will find information about physical fitness, the gear you’ll need, and logistical preparations. This program will challenge you physically, therefore start regular exercise now. This program will challenge you relationally, therefore be ready to engage in interpersonal communication with those you’re living in community with. This program will challenge you spiritually, therefore give thought to how you want to grow in your relationship with God and others. This program will challenge you developmentally, therefore be ready to take initiative within the community, lead within the classroom (indoors & outdoors), and dig into your identity.
This video includes footage from a variety of Summit Adventure courses in Ecuador. Although it is not exclusive to our semester program, it provides a good representation of the sort of experiences students on our semester program should expect.