Explore Maine's Rivers, Trails, and Waves

Chewonki Leadership Expeditions

Join the 2024 Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative!

Thanks to generous funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act, the Maine Department of Education, and the Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative, we are able to provide these amazing two-week summer programs at no cost to participating families. 100% of all expenses, including clothing, equipment, food, and transportation will be provided.  

The Maine Department of Education has also released a searchable list of 66 organizations offering 177 different FREE outdoor learning opportunities all across the state! No matter which program you choose, this is a fantastic chance for kids to get outside and explore.

Select your summer learning adventure for teens, grades 8-10:


Maine Appalachian Trail Backpacking Trip

A two-week backpacking trip through the 100-mile wilderness and beyond.

Available Dates

June 23 – July 6 (waitlist only)
July 10 – July 23 (waitlist only)
July 28 – August 10 (waitlist only)


Maine Northwoods Canoe Trip

A two-week canoeing adventure along with the wild rivers of Maine.

Available Dates

June 23 – July 6 (waitlist only)
July 10 – July 23 (waitlist only)
July 28 – August 10 (waitlist only)

Sea Kayaking

Maine Coast Kayaking Trip

A two-week coastal kayaking journey.

Available Dates

June 23 – July 6 (waitlist only)
July 10 – July 23 (waitlist only)
July 28 – August 10 (waitlist only)

FAQ and How to Apply:

With three programs and nine dates to choose from, there’s something for everyone this summer. This zero-cost program is fully grant funded for families that meet the eligibility requirements. 

Is this program really free? 

100% free for participating families, thanks to grant funding provided by the Maine Department of Education through the American Rescue Plan. Families can also request reimbursement for transportation costs to and from our basecamp in Wiscasset, Maine. There is no financial commitment on the part of the participating family.  

Is my child eligible? 

Participants in this program must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a Maine resident
  • Must be in grades 8-9-10
  • Family household income must be less than or equal to the state average household income of $91,557. Applicants will be asked to submit a copy or photo of their most recent 1040 tax form.  Families with extenuating circumstances are encouraged to contact us for more details about this income threshold.   
  • Student must provide a statement that explains why they are interested in this program, and what geographic, cultural, economic, or social barriers have prevented them from participating in similar programs in the past.
  • Student must have an interest in one or more of the following: ecology, outdoor education, outdoor recreation, education, tourism, hospitality, environmental stewardship, or conservation of Maine’s natural heritage.
  • Must meet the physical and emotional Essential Eligibility Requirements for a two-week backcountry travel program

How long is each program?

Each program is 14 days in length. We start and end at Chewonki in Wiscasset, Maine. 

What kind of equipment and clothing does my child need? 

Once enrolled in a program, you will be provided with a packing list. Our team will work with your family to provide any clothing or equipment you need at no cost. 


Does my child need any camping or boating experience to participate?
No. During the application process we will do an assessment of your child’s skill level and pair them with an appropriate group. Our experienced outdoor educators and trip leaders work with children of all skill levels. 


Can my child apply for more than one program?

Our goal is to provide these experiences for as many Maine students as possible. Depending on interest, we may be able to offer students a waitlisted spot for a second trip. 

How do I start the application?

Click the button below or follow this link.

Part 1. Fill out the Eligibility Questionnaire

Part 2. We will schedule a brief phone call with the parent/guardian to answer any questions and learn more about your child.

Part 3. Eligible families will be invited to enroll in the program, create a family account, and submit the required forms.

Do you have questions about these grant-funded programs?

Please contact us!

Email: outdoors@chewonki.org

Phone: (207) 656-5001

Jen Adams

Director of Outdoor Programs

Zachary Whiting

Associate Director of Leadership Expeditions

Elly Thomas

Trip Coordinator
Maine Department of Education

American Rescue Plan Act GEER, Reverted EANS Funding received from the USDOE support the implementation of this project. The project has an award totaling $6.6 million dollars of which 100% is federally funded and directly attributed to project implementation. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by the USDOE or the U.S. Government.

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