26 Teenage Girls Can Get the Trip of a Lifetime — For Free

free trip
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I’ll admit it: When I opened the door of my North Florida home this morning, the 54-degree air almost sent me scuttling right back to bed.

And yes, I’m well aware how balmy that temperature sounds to most of the rest of the country in December. In fact, I know a lot of people who relish the yearly arrival of crisp air and snowfall. (I just don’t claim to fully understand them.)

But if the cold’s never bothered you anyway — and you happen to be an adventurous 16- or 17-year-old girl — we found a pretty sweet way for you to keep on walkin’ in a winter wonderland, even at the height of summer.

And by “walkin’,” I mean hiking, climbing, kayaking and exploring in the majestic mountains and fjords of the Pacific Northwest.

Better yet? It’s totally free.

You just have to be lucky enough to get accepted.

Want a Free Trip? If You’re an Adventurous Teenage Girl, You Might Get One

Inspiring Girls Expeditions is the coolest organization I’d never heard of. It sends teenage girls on life-changing adventures to cultivate curiosity, leadership skills, confidence and success.

And even better? You don’t have to be a star athlete or in the top 2% of your class to be chosen.

“Expeditions are not rewards for past academic achievement,” the website states. “We are looking for girls who have a genuine interest in science, art, critical thinking and the outdoors, and who wouldn’t normally have opportunities to experience those things outside of school.”

And right now, Inspiring Girls is accepting applications for three incredible-sounding summer journeys.

First, there’s Girls on Ice – Alaska, which is open for applications to girls from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, California, British Columbia or the Yukon. You’ll “sleep under the midnight sun and explore an Alaska glacier from June 16-27, 2017.”

Next up is Girls on Ice – Cascades. The lucky team will explore Mount Baker, an ice-covered volcano in Washington state, from July 16-27, 2017. Even better? Girls from anywhere in the U.S. and even other countries are eligible to apply.

Last but not least, there’s Girls in Icy Fjords. This group will “explore Bear Glacier and its marine environment” near Seward, Alaska, while also learning to kayak. It runs Aug. 11-22, 2017 and is also open to applicants from anywhere in the world.

All three expeditions will last 12 days and be made up of a team of eight or nine teenage girls and three instructors. Girls must be 16 or 17 years old on June 1, 2017 to apply.

Thanks to support from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Interior Alaska Climate Science Center and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks — and generous gifts and grants from other individuals and sponsors — these expeditions are 100% tuition free.

Food and gear are covered, too. All you need to pay for is getting yourself to the start location. (And if even that sounds like a stretch, no worries: Inspiring Girls is willing to work with you on raising money for a portion of the cost.)

While you’re exploring the gorgeous Pacific wilderness, you’ll conduct scientific field studies with glaciologists, oceanographers, artists and mountaineers. You’ll also learn more about glaciers, develop critical thinking skills, and explore the connection between science and art.

Pretty freaking sweet, right? Like, where was this program when I was 17? (Yes, even this thin-skinned Floridian would be willing to brave the cold for this opportunity!)

But before you start searching for your other snow glove and booking your summer flight, hold on. Here’s what you need to know about applying.

What is Inspiring Girls Looking for in an Applicant?

Although the opportunity would obviously be an incredible resume-builder, Inspiring Girls specifically mentions that it’s not looking for girls who are simply looking for a resume or college application boost.

Rather, the screeners look “for girls who will each contribute in a unique way to the team. Ideally, you will… teach each other. Therefore, we do not choose girls based solely on their individual applications — we choose the team as a whole.”

“We look for a cross-section of culture, ethnicity, religion, lifestyle, outdoor experience, and hometowns, with a strong emphasis on girls who might not otherwise have such an opportunity.”

That’s both good news and bad news for hopeful applicants.

On one hand, you have a real shot at getting in, even if you’re not already a badass wilderness science nerd.

Inspiring Girls is looking for a “balance of interests” which includes science, of course — but also art, politics and philosophy. As long as you’re willing and able to learn, explore and do some physical tasks, you’re totally eligible.

But the company’s openness to a variety backgrounds and skill sets also means you can’t bank on your stellar grades or past experience as a trail guide to guarantee you’ll get in.

But since the application itself is also free, you’ve got nothing to lose (except a few kilojoules of body heat) — and a whole lot of awesome to gain.

Head over to the Inspiring Girls Expedition website to get all the details about each expedition and start the application process. And if you have more questions, you can reach out directly to the team at [email protected].

Applications are due Jan. 31, 2017.

Good luck — and stay warm out there!

Your Turn: Will you or an adventurous girl you know apply for one of these incredible summer expeditions?

Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her writing has also been featured in the Ms. Magazine blog, The Write Life, Word Riot, Nashville Review and elsewhere. Find @JamieCattanach on Twitter to wave hello.