Maine high school sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply for a free wilderness adventure in Baxter State Park this summer.

Every year, Friends of Baxter State Park invites students from across Maine to take part in its Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program. The goal of this program is to cultivate and inspire the next generation of Maine’s wilderness leaders.

Participants will spend nine days backpacking from one end of Baxter State Park to the other while studying wilderness through science, art, storytelling, photography, writing and history. They will climb Mount Katahdin, volunteer with a ranger, and paint with a professional artist. The group will be led by experienced educators from the Chewonki Foundation.

All program costs are paid by Friends of Baxter State Park, so the program is completely free of charge for participants. Sophomores and juniors currently enrolled in a Maine high school, as well as Maine homeschool students in those grades, are eligible to apply. There is a competitive application process with a deadline of Feb. 8. Ten participants and six alternates will be selected in March, and notified by early April.

The program also includes a variety of readings and assignments in preparation for the trip in Baxter State Park. After returning home, each participant will give a public presentation in his or her community. Participants have described this program as “life-changing” and “the best learning experience I’ve ever had.”

Applications must be submitted online by the deadline of Feb. 8. To apply or learn more, visit