Photo Credit: Jim Hoffey

Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program

Our flagship program for youth, the Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program is designed to cultivate and inspire the next generation of Maine's environmental leaders. Friends of Baxter State Park has offered this program annually since 2009. The program includes a nine-day wilderness experience in Baxter State Park. This 200,000+ acre preserve serves as an outdoor classroom as participants backpack from one end of the Park to the other, working with a variety of specialists and Park staff to understand the wilderness through science, art, storytelling, photography, writing, history, and recreation. Alumni of the program continue to describe the MYWLP in superlatives such as “life-changing”, “amazing” and “unforgettable.”

Current Maine high school sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. The annual application deadline is February 8 (extended to February 15, 2022). Ten participants and six alternates are selected in March. The program begins in April when participants receive required reading materials and other assignments. They then participate in online discussions and do individual research before going to the Park. After the trip, participants give public presentations to share their experience in their schools and communities. The 2022 Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program is scheduled for August 2 - 10, 2022. 

Thanks to support from generous donors and members of Friends of Baxter State Park, there is no direct cost to the students. Trip leadership and logistics are provided by the Chewonki Foundation, one of the most highly respected environmental education organizations in the United States.

Graduates of the 2015 Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program

COVID-19 Update:

The Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program is on for summer 2022! We were able to run the program safely in 2021 thanks to careful planning and stringent safety protocols. We will have extensive COVID-19 safety protocols in place for this summer as well, including vaccination and pre-trip testing. The 2022 Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program is scheduled for August 2 - 10, 2022. 

Apply Online

The 2022 application deadline was February 15, 2022. The selection process is underway, and we expect to notify all applicants of their status by mail before the end of April. 

Participants in the 2013 Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program on North Traveler mountain. Photo by Will Greene
Participants in the 2016 MYWLP on the summit of Katahdin. Photo by Charlie Caldwell
Barry Dana, former Chief of the Penobscot Nation, teaches participants in the 2013 Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program how to make rope. Photo by Ivy Enoch