Ski the Summit: A Unique Combination of Youth Outreach and Adventure

Boom, thud, boom. The muffled noise woke me from my sleep. The wind was howling, and the thermometer in my house said it was -12 degrees outside. The muffled pounding sound was from the Bridger Ski Bowl avalanche crew dynamiting their slopes 20 miles away. 

It had been a tremendous snow year, and I was looking forward to having 70 excited guests at Mount Ellis Academy (MEA) in Bozeman, Mont., for our annual Ski the Summit. Started in the 1990s, Ski the Summit is a combined effort between the Montana Conference and MEA to bring students from all over the state and beyond to worship together and enjoy what nature brings in abundance to Montana: snow.

MEA is located at the base of the Gallatin Mountain Range, 40 miles from Big Sky Resort, 20 miles from Bridger Ski Bowl and 3 miles from MEA’s own ski hill, Bear Canyon Ski Area. Since purchasing access in 1959, MEA has continually operated Bear Canyon Ski Area. During good snow years, students at MEA have the opportunity to ski many Wednesday and Saturday evenings under the glistening lights.

From as far away as New York, students started arriving on campus Feb. 18, 2018. The excitement radiated from every cold little face. Thankfully it had warmed up to -3 degrees, and the check-in process went smoothly as each participant received room assignments and an ID badge along with a warm hat or water bottle.

They came to connect with old friends and meet new friends while banding together in worship and shared anticipation of three days of skiing or snowboarding through some fantastic Montana terrain. 

After a full day on the mountain, we gathered for singing and worship. Elden Ramirez, Montana Conference president, led out on a spiritual journey through the Bible. He retold old familiar stories like Zacchaeus. This one man’s desire to see Jesus to life reminded us that Jesus loves us and wants to have a relationship with us, no matter who we are, where we come from or what we have done.

Students soaked in steaming pools at the Bozeman Hot Springs after worship to relax sore muscles and prepare for more adventure the following day.

Those who did not ski learned other fun skills and engaged in an expansive mini-course program. Some of the activities included learning how to turn wood and make a fancy pen. Others delved into the fine art of cooking and sampled the savory product of an afternoon of work: manicotti crepes followed by dessert crepes. Rock climbing was also a favorite and offered an adventure opportunity students might not usually get to do. Many fine masterpieces from the art class were displayed for all to see.

Abnormally high winds and low temperatures kept us from our tradition of skiing Sunday night at Bear Canyon. Thankfully the weather made a turn for the better with a slight overcast on Monday for a full day at Bridger Ski Bowl followed by a gloriously sunny day and some fresh powder Tuesday at Big Sky Resort.

Please join us for next year’s Ski the Summit. Just contact Mount Ellis Academy at 406-587-5178 or preregister at

May 02, 2018 / Montana Conference