It’s easy to conjure up big plans to bag rocky peaks, ford wild rivers, and trek through the backcountry. Maybe you’ve even dreamed of saving endangered species and protecting a small corner of the planet. But turning those dreams into reality is another story. Add up the cost of training, gear, provisions, and transportation to remote locales, and all of a sudden tent camping in your local park may seem like your only option.
But don’t let go of those dreams so easily. How cool would it be to travel on someone else’s dime, with the backing of an environmentally conscious organization to help with focus and logistics? There are plenty of organizations out there that want to encourage your outdoor pursuits by offering scholarships and grant. You just need to find them! Check out our list of some of the best adventure travel grants and scholarships out there. You might just find one that could make your dreams come true.
1. KOA Get Out There Grant
Kampgrounds of America is in the business of camping, so it’s natural that they want to help you get outside with the Get Out There Grant Program. Think up an adventure that’s been lingering on your bucket list and fill out the application for grants of up to $5,000 dollars. Families and groups, as well as individuals, are encouraged to apply.
Video source: Kampgrounds of America Inc
2. American Alpine Club Adventure & Conservation Grants
American Alpine Club grants go toward building a community of competent climbers, protecting the world’s climbing routes, and keeping our mountain ranges in pristine condition. There’s over $150,000 in funds at stake, with grants for everyone from beginners to seasoned craghoppers. Any level of climber can apply for the Live Your Dream Grant, funded by The North Face. The Cutting Edge Grant goes to veteran alpinists wanting to conquer uncharted routes in obscure destinations. Lastly, the AAC and Jones Snowboarding fund two grants for splitboarders, one that’s open to anyone and the Live Like Liz Award for women only.
On the environmental side, there’s up to $8,000 on the table through the Cornerstone Conservation Grant to feed your passion for a healthy environment and thriving climbing community.
3. National Geographic Grant
The National Geographic Society has been funding adventurers since 1890. You can join these elite ranks by applying for an Early Career or Exploration Grant. You don’t have to be young, but you do have to be in the early stages of a groundbreaking conservation, education, research, or technology project to apply for the Early Career or Exploration Grant. Recipients with experience and a track record of success can get up to $30K to fund major projects in the same areas.
4. Outdoor Writers Association Scholarship
If creatively communicating about the outdoors is your gig, you can get anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 to put toward your field research through the OWA’s Bodie McDowell Scholarship. Videographers, photographers, writers, and broadcasters are all invited to apply.
5. Outward Bound Scholarships
Some people dream of getting certified as an outdoor guide or outdoor educator. Others want to take on a leadership position in the outdoor industry. If you find yourself in one of these two categories, it’s hard to find a certification program with a better reputation than Outward Bound. But courses, which can last anywhere from a month to half a year, come with a hefty price tag. Defray some of that cost with Outward Bound scholarships. There are programs for middle school and high schoolers, adults, grieving teens, and veterans. All can be considered for the scholarship program.
6. The North Face Explore Fund
If you’re passionate about protecting the environment, with some creative ideas about how to explore and make an impact, you need to fill out an Explore Fund application. They’ll consider ideas both big and small, and look for a focus on snowsports, kayaking, camping, rafting, backpacking, or hiking.
7. Outdoor Industry Foundation Grants
While the Outdoor Industry Foundation won’t fund your next backpacking trip, they’re a great resource if you want to have an impact in the national parks or along the waterways and green spaces in your community. The National Park Service Challenge focuses on getting urban youth into the parks with a matching grant program. The National Paddle Project funds initiatives that get more people out on America’s waterways. The Hydro Flask’s Parks for All grant funds green spaces in communities all over the country.
Get Paid to Get Outside
If you apply for one of these scholarships or grants and don’t win the award, don’t give up. There’s always next year! The important thing is that you make an effort. After all, you won’t get paid if you never try in the first place.