SUMMA Theological Debate Summer Camp
SUMMA brings together high school students (entering grades 9-12) from across the country to one of the largest and most beautiful college campuses anywhere – the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.
Each day at SUMMA begins and ends with prayer in the beautiful Chapel of the Apostles at the School of Theology. In between stimulating lectures and discussions, campers enjoy hiking, play sports and music, and engage in arts and crafts and other activities.
Working in small groups, campers develop debate arguments, question claims, seek evidence and examine warrants, sharpening their analytical thinking and public speaking skills. At the end-of-camp tournament, each camper debates both the affirmative and negative positions of debate resolutions, which have included:
- Civil disobedience is morally justified,
- Churches should be gun-free zones,
- Christians, Muslims, and Jews all worship the same God,
- Outside the church, there is no salvation.
Year after year, campers tell us that SUMMA marked a pivotal point in their lives by sparking their intellectual curiosity, preparing them for college, and strengthening their appreciation for Christian faith traditions.
“SUMMA was an unforgettable experience that fundamentally changed my life for the better.”
Zaige shares how SUMMA broadened his perspective.
At SUMMA, we believe knowledge and reason are key to building a strong foundation for a life of faith. By exploring life’s biggest questions through theological debate, we broaden our students’ understanding of Christianity and its enduring power to deepen faith, hope, and love.
“SUMMA challenged me to think about my faith more deeply…and I will always appreciate that.”
Abby explored her interest in theology and learned how to think on her feet.
The Rev. Dr. Chris Keller had a big idea: Create a unique summer youth program that would teach high school students how to debate as a unique pathway to explore Christian faith traditions and science, philosophy, literature, politics, and history.
To realize this vision, Chris teamed up with Rev. Cindy Fribourgh and together they founded the SUMMA Student Theological Debate Society. The first SUMMA camp in July 2012 brought together bright, curious high school students to learn how to speak the truth in love.
Sponsored by the Beecken Center of the School of Theology at the University of the South, SUMMA has grown into a nationally known youth program, drawing high school students from across the United States and the globe each July to the University of the South in Sewanee.
“Not only am I more confident in debating with respect, but I feel that my faith has increased substantially.”
SUMMA and the Church with The Rev. Dr. Christoph Keller III
At SUMMA Theological Debate Summer Camp, we strive toward a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. Students learn the critical thinking and debating skills to explore life’s biggest questions and make thoughtful decisions. The program is based on the Anglican tradition, but SUMMA welcomes students of all faiths.
SUMMA campers learn how to connect the Christian intellectual tradition with issues critical to church and society by putting faith together with knowledge from every other sphere of life. SUMMA is raising up a generation of young people that live their faith, enjoy their faith, think deeply about their faith and how it grounds their moral responsibilities in the world.
“I want young people to know in their bones that Christian faith is part of a great moral, intellectual and spiritual tradition in which questions are raised and opposing viewpoints can be voiced and heard in a spirit of love and reason.”