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Snowbird Institute

Institute Teachers

0x3a0517 4 snowbird institute

Zach Mabry

Brody holloway teaching the bible

Brody Holloway

Rob preaching at swo college retreat

Rob Conti

Spencer davis preaching

Spencer Davis

Zach Mabry

INstitute Director & Teacher

Theological Training

0x3a9618web 5 snowbird institute

Snowbird Institute students study under the solid exposition of Scripture, both in the worship services at Snowbird (SWO) and in the local church. If accepted to the program, you can take college-level classes in the Bible, Theology, Church History, and Apologetics. To do this, we have credentialed college professors on staff who offer free classes that can be transferred to several Christian colleges. Institute students spend 1-2 years serving in full-time ministry while still pursuing a college degree. 

The unfortunate truth that we have come to realize in our 20+ years of student ministry is that there are areas of Christian study that are often neglected in normal discipleship. After sending several former staff off to serve in local churches, we came to understand that even though our staff could articulate and apply the Gospel they didn’t have the formal theological categories to answer many questions that come up in student ministry. In light of this, we decided to start walking through basic Theology and Church History with our staff, which led to the formation of the Snowbird Institute. 

2024-2025 Courses

  • Hermeneutics
  • Old Testament Survey
  • Bible Exposition 1
  • Bible Exposition 2
  • Theology 1
  • Theology 2

2025-2026 Courses

  • Apologetics
  • Church History
  • Evangelism
  • Hebrews
  • New Testament Survey
  • Philippians

Application closes on June 24, 2024.

Relational Ministry

Spring youth retreat students in share group

One of the key components of the ministry that God has called us to at Snowbird is a focus on relational ministry. God created us for a relationship with him and relationships with each other. So, we train our staff to invest in genuinely building relationships with those whom God has called into our ministry.

During your time here you will be in Community Groups led by our full-time staff and investing relationally in the students with whom you are working. Our Institute students are a part of the staff and will be working in relational ministry not just to the students who attend our camps and conferences but also in the community. Every week our Institute students will be able to take part in our elementary and middle school after-school tutoring program where you get to be a light of the Gospel to the local students in Andrews. You’ll use the skills you learn here to keep making disciples in the next place the Lord calls you to.

Student Retreats

Adult Conferences

Pinwheel Local Tutoring

Vocational Training

Christian school camp retreat in north carolina

When not engaged in class or relational ministry, each of our students is assigned to a different department at SWO where they will gain some skill in a specific vocation. This means that students will also gain practical tools in areas like grounds, maintenance, housekeeping, media, or the office. Also, everyone will earn experience leading our high-adventure recreation elements and guide training on the Nantahala River. 

  • Maintenance & Construction
  • Hospitality
  • Event Programming & Planning
  • Office & Registration
  • Marketing & Media
  • Groundskeeping

Testimonials & Recommendations

Committed to the Gospel

I am happy to commend Snowbird’s ministry. They are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and desire to see young people saved and for them to grow in Christ.

Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Grow in Maturity and Theology

The SWO Institute has had a huge impact on my life. For me, it was a time the Lord really used to teach me about himself and mature me just in everyday life. It also impacted how I serve and care… I really enjoyed the classes that ranged from practical life stuff with Brody to really looking at theological and scriptural knowledge.

Brittany Pleasants, Institute Student

Gospel-Centered Teaching

Choosing a camp is often a decision between a fun, beautiful, adventurous facility or strong leadership and great teaching for your students. At Snowbird, these two things collide. You’ll have an unforgettable experience and challenging Gospel-centered teaching from the Word of God. I love Snowbird Outfitters.

Ben Dockery (Pastor, Christ Church)

University Partners

Leavell College

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) and Leavell College blend scholarship, practicality, accessibility, opportunity and a sense of urgency; all of which make ministry training at New Orleans Baptist Seminary unmatched.

Leavell college logo, nobts

Boyce College

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Boyce College seeks to train students who will serve the church and engage the culture from a convictional and biblical worldview, regardless of the challenges before them.

Boyce college logo, sbts

The College At Southeastern

Southeastern Theological Seminary

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission.

Southeastern baptist theological seminary, sebts logo

Columbia International University

Columbia International (CIU) has equipped students in South Carolina and around the world with a Christian education since 1923. They offer 75+ degrees, online and offline, to students in various ministry and academic disciplines. Over 24,000 CIU students serve in 150 countries around the globe.

Ciu columbia international university

Application closes on June 24, 2024.

Get the FAQs

Our Snowbird Institute students are more than interns.

When you join the Institute, you are joining a Gospel-driven ministry team committed to equipping local churches to make disciples. By God’s grace, we’ve been training, discipling, and sending out college-age students since 1997 — and we don’t have any plans to slow down. We love equipping college students to grow in their faith while engaging others in relational ministry.

If you want to grab a conversation with someone on the SWO Institute leadership team, Jake Schwarting is your man:

The simple truth is that we all grow in our faith more deeply when we’re challenged to walk with others along the way. If you learn more about what drives Snowbird (and the Institute), click below:

Do I have to work at SWO before applying?

No, you do not need previous experience on the Snowbird Staff to get accepted. We will accept applications whether you have worked at SWO or not, but we give priority to students who have worked a summer on staff.

How long is the SWO Institute (when does it start, end, etc.)?

The Institute year goes from August to August. Any student who joins the Snowbird Institute commits to start in August and work through the following summer. 

How many college credits can I get?

We offer 6 classes a year (4 in the fall, and 2 in the spring) on a 2-year rotation.

What classes are included?

  • Apologetics
  • Bible Exposition 1 and 2
  • Biblical Hermeneutics
  • Church History
  • Evangelism
  • Hebrews
  • New Testament Survey
  • Old Testament Survey
  • Philippians
  • Theology 1 and 2

*Institute classes are spread over a 2-year course schedule.

What universities accept our credits?

What is compensation like?

We provide housing and cover most of your meals. We also provide books and give you a $250/month stipend. 

What does a normal week look like?

On most weeks you will spend 2-3 days in class, a day or 2 in your department and 2 afternoons working in the local tutoring program. Whenever we host camps and conferences throughout the year we will all work alongside each other working in small groups with students and running recreation. 

What does life at SWO look like?

We have a really “otherworldly” chance to be a part of a healthy Christian community. We have the unique opportunity to get to live life alongside each other in ministry. You get to be surrounded by a group of people who are daily saturated in God’s Word and intentionally trying to push each other toward Christlikeness. That doesn’t mean that everything is all flowers and sunshine, it still gets tough and the weeks get long, but you have a community of folks here for you whenever you need them. 

What if I don’t want to take classes?

If you don’t want to take the classes for credit you are welcome just to sit in and learn for your own enrichment. If you don’t think college is for you and you just want to spend the “class time” working in a department then we can do that too. 

What if I’m already taking classes at another school online?

If you are taking a full load of classes and don’t want to take the classes offered in the Institute then we will have a proctored “study hall” for you to work on your online work when the rest of the students are in class. 

What will spiritual development and discipleship look like? (How will I grow?)

We will provide you with everything we can think of to help you grow, but at the end of the day, it is up to you to pursue your own sanctification. You will get to sit under solid, expositional teaching from Scripture and put into a small group of other staff, led by a community group leader, but you will only get out of it what you are putting into it. 

Jake Schwarting coordinates our community groups and week-to-week discipleship. And, he would love to share the vision of the Institute with you. Drop your questions below!

What is Americorps?

Due the nature of this ministry and the work we are able to do in the community Snowbird Institute students qualify to volunteer for Americorps (it’s kinda like the Peace Corps… but in America). Anyway, if you apply and get accepted to Americorps then you can earn up to $3,000 a year toward your education while working at SWO. 


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