The Snowbird Institute builds on our staff training and summer program to extend for either one or two years depending on the desire of the student.
One of the areas that has perennially set Snowbird apart has been our commitment to disciple and equip our staff. We want this to not just last for a summer, but to prepare them to be the leaders in our churches and communities when their time here ends. In addition to investing in our summer staff, we have developed the Snowbird Institute which will continue this training throughout the year.
To do this, we hope to push our students to grow in several key areas including theological, relational, and vocational training. The intention behind the Institute year is to act as an extension of the mission of Snowbird in equipping students to impact this generation.
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. Insittute 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 clearly 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.
- Church History
- New Testament Survey
- Old Testament Survey
- Bible Exposition 1
- Bible Exposition 2
- Theology 1
- Theology 2
Teacher & Lead Pastor of Snowbird
Snowbird Institute Director & Teacher
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.
Snowbird Student Retreats
Snowbird Adult Conferences
Pinwheel Local Tutoring
When not engaged in class or relational ministry, each of our students is assigned to a different department at SWO where they will have the opportunity to 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. In addition, everyone will earn experience working in high-adventure recreation running our recreation elements and guiding on the river.
- Maintenance & Contruction
- Event Programming & Planning
- Office & Registration
- Marketing & Media
Apply For The SWO Institute
The best way to prepare to be a part of the SWO Institute is to work first on the Summer Staff or in the Snowbird LMNT program. Priority is given to current or former SWO summer staff. We have seen that this forms the best method of onboarding into the SWO Institute. However, we will review all applicants on a case-by-case basis. Applications will be available at the beginning of each summer and will close after week 6 of SWO Summer Camp.
The College At Southeastern
Southeastern Theological Seminary
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission.
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.
Columbia International University
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 are serving in 150 countries around the globe.
Recommendations About the Snowbird Institute Program
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. SchreinerThe Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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 PleasantsFormer Student
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 DockeryPastor, Christ Church
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.
The simple truth, 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:
Or, if you want to grab a conversation with someone on the SWO Institute team, Jake Schwarting is your man:
Do I have to work at SWO before applying?
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?
- Bible Exposition 1 and 2
- Biblical Hermeneutics
- Church History
- New Testament Survey
- Old Testament Survey
- Theology 1 and 2
*Institute classes are spread over a 2-year course schedule.
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.