About us

Welcome to Ekklesia Mountain High! We are an educational program located at Darren Patterson Christian Academy in Buena Vista, Colorado. Our vision is to see students’ lives transformed through a year of rigorous academics, intensive discipleship, leadership and outdoor skills training, and community living in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our mission or would like us to visit your area.

"Not all those who wander are lost."
~J.R.R. Tolkien
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil.

Mission and Vision

Mission Statement:

EMH exists as an extension of Darren Patterson Christian Academy’s mission and vision. The program seeks to facilitate holistic growth through a unique and caring environment in which students practice and live in true community that emphasizes knowing Christ, discipleship, servant leadership, stewardship, mental and physical toughness, mission mindedness, and the ability to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom setting.


We envision a year of practicing community involvement, through service projects, mission trip, and other experiences within the EMH environment.

We envision a year of strategic leadership development for the EMH students as we use a variety of mountain experiences to challenge and stretch them, and then provide opportunities to practice leadership through interaction with others in the group and the Academy.

Ephesians 5:15-16

We envision a year of biblical world view development, made personal and challenging by the reality of the students living in close community both as the EMH group and in connection with the rest of the Academy.

We envision a year of developing love and respect for the wilderness and all of God’s creation that includes learning what it means to Leave No Trace and understanding why this is important, exploring biblical responses to environmental issues, developing godly perspectives on personal and environmental stewardship, and understanding the significance of these issues for leaders in our culture.

We envision a year of dynamic learning, aided by a significant experiential component unique to the EMH school community, but providing benefit to the students of the traditional school setting as well.

We envision graduates of the program who return to their homes and final year of high school with a much stronger understanding of a biblical worldview and environmental issues, significantly better leadership skills, a more solid understanding of Christian interdependence and community living, and a more highly developed sense of vocational and avocational vision.


Darren Patterson Christian Academy is a private, non-profit, interdenominational preschool through 12th grade academy founded in 1982  memory of 14 year-old Darren James Patterson, who was killed the previous year in a head-on collision. For over 30 years the academy has provided Christ-centered, quality teaching and learning to hundreds of students in support of their parent’s vision for focused, purposeful education.


The Academy offers a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum in both traditional classroom and online formats. Small class sizes and personal attention are hallmarks of a DPCA education. For the last seven years, we have averaged seventeen total students in high school. Our small community allows students to develop strong, real relationships with each other and with their teachers. Many students say they feel their school community is truly a family. Academy graduates have attended a wide variety of public colleges and universities nationwide. The test scores of our graduates are consistently among the top in the nation. Click here to see more about our academic statistics.


Missions are a big part of our high school program. In the last seven years our students have taken mission trips to Mexico, Scotland, Ireland, and Romania. We have also done mission work in our local community and in Denver and the surrounding area.


Every Friday students attend chapel and meet in small groups. Chapel addresses a variety of Biblical issues, and small group meetings allow students the opportunity to discuss what they are learning, further enhancing their spiritual growth.


DPCA also offers a small sports program that includes girls’ volleyball and boys’ and girls’ basketball. We are a member of the Front Range Athletic Association, an athletic conference for Christian schools in Colorado, and we play regularly as guests with public schools in the Colorado High School Activities Association.


In pursuit of community and spiritual growth, the Academy offers a variety of other co-curricular and extra-curricular activities designed to further equip our students for excellence in Christian life and service. Examples are field trips, social gatherings and activities, service opportunities, and an after-school drama program.


School Affiliations


Darren Patterson Christian Academy is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), which is in turn a member of the Council on American Private Education (CAPE). More information regarding ACSI is available from their website at www.acsi.org. DPCA is also a member of the Front Range Christian Athletic Association.


Much more about Darren Patterson Christian Academy is available on the web at www.dpcaweb.org, and in the Parent/Student Handbook, also provided on the website.



“One of the biggest impacts EMH had on me was giving me the confidence to be a leader. I am currently leading my project team for a sophomore design class. I don't know if that's something I would have volunteered for before EMH. It also gave me some amazing experiences I will always remember, along with some good habits to practice. This semester I have started taking an hour at breakfast several times a week as a TAG (Time Alone with God) time. EMH helped me learn how to work well with a team, and that skill has been hugely important as an engineering student.”
~Micah Ritchard, DPCA Graduate
"DPCA is a place of growth. Not only is the growth of the student's academics the top priority but also is their personal growth. I can truly say that the teachers are friends who want the best for me. They push me in my studies, guide me in my faith, and encourage me in my personal growth. I believe that the caliber of academics at DPCA is only matched by the strong character of its teachers.”
~Tanner Brasser-graduate of DPCA



Currently we are not looking for any staff or faculty positions.


Click here to download a staff application. If you would like to teach a particular subject for the school, click here for a faculty application. If you would like more information about employment, contact the administrator, Erik Ritschard.

Risk Management


Because we take this seriously we have fully trained instructors who have a great deal of experience of both leading students iand personal experience in the wilderness setting. Our instructors have often worked and trained with other wilderness companies. Our current instructors have instructed for Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries and Noah's Ark Rafting Company. Instructors have Wilderness First Responder and other rock climbing, general backpacking, and mountaineering training.

You will then ask is our program "safe"? The short answer is no. Although, we would never want a student to get hurt; there is an inherent risk in what we do. That risk though is part of the overall goal of the program. We don’t want to eliminate all risk because then there wouldn’t be growth. In all aspects of this program from the backpack course to the overseas mission trip there is the potential of serious injury and or death. We will do our best to put things in place that will help eliminate this, and our staff will be first aid trained, skills trained to make sure these things are in place. Your students health is most important to us.

Click here for our climbing risks and controls and a list of current instructors and their experience.


Darren Patterson Christian Academy

PO Box 1243

Buena Vista, CO 81211


Phone : 719 395 6046


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