Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by OCF Communications

OCF’s two conference centers each host an internship and fellows program–EXSEL at White Sulphur Springs in Pennsylvania and PEAK at Spring Canyon in Colorado. Whether as interns (first-year participants) or as fellows (second-year participants), young adults have participated in EXSEL (Experience, Serve, Lead) or PEAK (Purpose, Excellence, Authenticity, Koinonia) and gained valuable life experience, spiritual development, and more along the way.

Read on to learn about these programs from current and former program participants, and learn more and apply for these programs via links at the end of the page.

Lucy Barry, EXSEL Internship ‘21: “One theme of my EXSEL year would have to be fellowship. I learned a lot about what it means to live in fellowship with God; constantly talking with Him and seeking Him for wisdom and strength, and the goodness of being aware of His presence in the littlest things. Along with that, I also grew so much through living in fellowship with other believers. Long workdays, cozy evenings, laughter, getting to know one another really well, and knowing I’m part of a community showed me how difficult it can be to foster true and deep fellowship, but also how crucial that is for us as the body of Christ.

“Fellowship with brothers and sisters is soul-food when my personal resources run dry, and the Lord so often uses things like camaraderie in a hard job to give us joy, or a welcoming home to pour out His peace, or tea with a mentor or friend to speak directly to us. Fellowship with Christ and His body is an incredibly beautiful gift, and EXSEL certainly helped me to know and appreciate it more.”

Ashley Helmer, EXSEL Internship ‘22: “After thinking of an assortment of words that could describe EXSEL, the only word that seemed to do it justice is ‘change.’ When coming to White Sulphur Springs for the first time on the day of the internship, I knew that this place had something special about it. Day in and out I never noticed anything different about myself or the person I was becoming, but it wasn’t until I looked back that I realized how much I grew.

“Through many long days and weeks of working jobs that weren’t always enjoyable, my attitude and perspective started to change. My love for my fellow interns and guests changed, so that I started to enjoy serving them. After daily studying Scripture with others, my perspective on what it looks like to live in a Christ-centered community changed. When thinking back to that year I remember many lows but can recall countless highs. EXSEL is not for the faint of heart, but to those who persist, you will not go unchanged.”

Emma Grace Will, EXSEL Internship ‘20 & EXSEL Fellows Program ‘22: “EXSEL played such a pivotal role in my maturity as a believer in Christ and taught me many of the practical skills I would need in my adult life. As I think about how those two years could be described, the word that continually comes to mind is simply ‘experience.’

“From giving formal presentations to a large audience to making maple syrup from scratch to the ins and outs of decorating a conference center for the holiday season to being prepared to give a defense for the hope that we have, the wide variety of experience I was able to glean from EXSEL helped prepare me for a future living in this world but not of it.”

Micah Hartman, EXSEL Internship ‘21: “’Important’ is the word I picked. It is so important that we learn how to grow in the Lord because He is the one who sustains us. The devil tries to come after us all the time, so we need to learn how to arm ourselves against him. The EXSEL program is a wonderful opportunity to take a year and grow in Christ with fellow believers that honestly become family. You learn what it means to work hard and grow in the one who first loved us. To Him be the glory.”

Jack Merz, EXSEL Internship ‘20: “My word to encapsulate the EXSEL discipleship program is steadiness. The internship came about at a turbulent point in my life, and I am grateful for the steadying and stabilizing effect the year had on me. The EXSEL internship was an excellent opportunity to experience growth in my spiritual walk, develop professional skills, and serve in something larger than myself. My time at White Sulphur Springs allowed me to gain more clarity in understanding God’s will as well as understanding how my personal gifts and talents can be used.”

Ian Wooten, PEAK Internship ‘23 & PEAK Fellows Program ‘24: “The word I choose to describe my past and present PEAK experiences is ‘dare.’ The definition of dare is to ‘have the courage to do something.’ From doing loads of dirty dishes to discovering truth from an eclectic selection of books, having the courage to think and act is probably the greatest gift I have received.

“By being bold in my faith and confident in my heart, I have learned that being willing to dare is a valuable asset to one’s bettering. One example of being daring (in a positive manner) is the programs, ‘Academic Discussion.’ A combo of a book-club and Socratic seminar, the only objective is to connect, synthesize, and share our thoughts based off the readings of that week. This is where I learned how to interact with authors and have meaningful discussions. Maybe this has encouraged you to do the same! Go out and be curious!”

Cecilia Lee, PEAK Internship ‘21: “The PEAK Internship taught me wholeness, or how to heal the divide in my soul. In academics, I practiced confronting cognitive dissonance. I learned to prioritize undivided attention and focus fully on that which was before me, whether a book, an academic discussion, or a conversation with a guest.

“Because of the continuity between work, academics, and spiritual formation, I began to understand that an undivided life is a life which does not ‘compartmentalize’ God but acts out worship in every realm, whether washing dishes, shoveling snow, or praying with my fellow interns. And I began to truly believe that God is never separate from us. The PEAK Internship provided the perfect opportunity for me to practice the presence of God in prayer, work, and every moment between.”

Ready to apply?

Applications open in December of each year and close at the end of the following February, and accepted applicants then begin EXSEL or PEAK that following August.