Frequently Asked Questions
When are applications due?
Applications for our 2019 expeditions will open in mid-December 2018. The last day to start your 2019 application is February 1, 2019.
When will the teams be announced?
2019 expedition teams will be announced in late March 2019.
What are the dates of the expeditions?
Please visit the home page for the dates of the various expeditions.
I am stuck on the first page of the application. How do I proceed?
Be sure to check your birthdate! If you are not within the age range then unfortunately you are not eligible for Inspiring Girls Expeditions and will not be able to proceed with your application. Click here to view our eligibility requirements.
Note : The default birthdate is today’s date – be sure to change the year to the year you were born, as well as the month and day.
Do I have to fill out multiple applications to apply for the different expeditions?
For all of the English-speaking expeditions (Girls on Ice Cascades, Girls on Ice Alaska, Girls on Ice Canada, Girls in Icy Fjords, Girls on Rock, and Girls on Water) you only need to complete one application. To apply for Girls on Ice Switzerland please fill out its separate application (in German or French). If you are fluent in English and German or French, you may fill out both the general Inspiring Girls Expeditions application as well as the Girls on Ice Switzerland application.
Do you accept late applications or provide extensions?
To be fair to all girls who apply, we do not accept late applications and do not make exceptions to the deadline.
How long does it take to fill out the application?
The time it takes to fill out the application will vary by person. On average, it takes at least several hours. You can find a preview of the application on our "About Applying" page. Please note that you must have two teacher recommendations (only one is required for Girls on Ice Switzerland) completed before the application deadline.
Eligibility (Age / Residency / Language / Nationality / Food restrictions / Homeschool / Physical requirements)
Which expeditions am I eligible to apply for?
We welcome applications from any and all girl-identified youth.
Our applicants must meet the age and country requirements below:
US and Canada expeditions: 16 or 17 on June 1, 2019
Switzerland expedition: 15, 16 or 17 on June 1, 2019
U.S. Expeditions Eligibility:
We accept applications from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and countries not identified as high income economies here. We give strong preference to applicants currently living in the U.S., regardless of citizenship. While we accept international applications, we rarely select more than one applicant living outside the U.S. on any expedition. Girls on Ice Alaska and Girls on Water prioritize applications from Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. Girls on Rock prioritizes applicants from Rocky Mountain states and the Southwest, including Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Nevada.
Canada Expedition Eligibility:
We accept applications from girls living in Canada, regardless of citizenship.
Switzerland Expedition Eligibility:
We accept applications from German- or French-speaking applicants. We require at least a very solid B2 level of German or French, preferably a C1 or above (see Wikipedia for details). We give preference to applicants living in or close to Switzerland.
Do you make exceptions to the age limitations?
To be fair to all girls, we do not make exceptions to the age limitations. We realize that there are very mature younger girls who would do fine on an expedition or that by luck you might turn 18 just days before the deadline; however, we have decided it is only fair to be firm with the advertised age limits. If you are not eligible because of age, please check out some of the other amazing programs that may be of interest to you on our alternative opportunities page. If you are considering applying in the future, or just want to hear about what Inspiring Girls Expeditions is doing, please sign up for our listserv by clicking 'Join our mailing list' in the footer of our website.
What expeditions do you offer for people outside the age range?
Inspiring Girls Expeditions does not run expeditions for those outside of the age range. If you are interested in similar opportunities that are available to different age groups (and genders), please see our alternative opportunities page.
Do you have or will you have any similar opportunities for boys?
We do not have a similar program for teenage boys, but we are fully supportive of others who want to create opportunities for boys. Inspiring Girls Expeditions is focused on introducing high school girls to science in a single-gender environment that fosters their self-confidence as they learn to work together as a team. If you are interested in programs that include backcountry travel or science, but are not eligible due to gender, please check out our alternative opportunities page for a few programs that might fit your needs.
We welcome applications from any and all girl-identified youth.
Can I apply for the Girls on Ice Alaska or Girls on Water expeditions if I am not in the Pacific Northwest, California, or Alaska?
If you are not from the Pacific Northwest (YT, BC, WA, ID, OR), California, or Alaska, but you have a good reason why you would like to attend the Girls on Ice Alaska or Girls on Water expeditions, please indicate in the application form that you would prefer the Alaska trip and state the reason for your preference. Your application will be considered, but we do give priority to applicants from Alaska, California, and the Pacific Northwest for Girls on Ice Alaska and Girls on Water.
Do I have to speak English in order to participate?
Inspiring Girls Expeditions strives to be as inclusive as possible, but our utmost concern is the safety of everyone on the expedition team. If you do not have the ability to understand and respond quickly to important instructions in the expedition language then your safety and the safety of the whole team may be affected. All US expeditions are conducted in English, and Girls on Ice Switzerland is conducted in German or French. If your English is at a level where this would not be a concern, then you should submit an application. Girls on Ice Switzerland requires participants to have at least a very solid B2 level of German or French, preferably a C1 or above (see Wikipedia for details on these levels). Preference will be given to applicants from Switzerland and surrounding areas.
Can you accommodate my dietary restrictions (example: peanut allergy, celiac disease, vegetarian)?
In most cases, Inspiring Girls Expeditions is able to accommodate different medically required diets. We can accommodate dietary preferences such as vegetarian as well; however, we cannot guarantee that all dietary preferences can be accommodated.
Please make note of your dietary restrictions and allergies on your application. If you are selected as one of the finalists, we will work with you and your doctor to make sure that you will be happy and healthy on your expedition. We mainly cook group meals, so we are careful in our meal planning to work out what we can eat without causing allergic reactions. In some cases, if it becomes expensive to accommodate your needs, we may ask that you bring some of your own snacks or ask your family/guardian to help contribute so we can remain within our budget. If you have further questions, please contact us.
I am not currently enrolled in school. Can I still apply?
Yes. You do not have to be currently enrolled in school to apply, but you will still need to complete two recommendation forms. Your recommendation forms may be from those who play a strong “teacher” role in your life. Please have them describe the “teacher” role they have in your life. For example, the director of a play you have been in, the leader of an organization you are involved in, an athletic coach, or a work supervisor may be acceptable. Family friends do not generally fit this role, unless they have also played a specific teacher role in your life. Recommendations written by family members are not acceptable.
Can homeschooled students apply? What can be used instead of the 2 teacher references?
Yes, homeschooled students are eligible! Your recommendation forms may be from those who play a strong “teacher” role in your life. Please have them describe the “teacher” role they have in your life. For example, the director of a play you have been in, the leader of an organization you are involved in, athletic coach, or work supervisor may be acceptable. Family friends do not generally fit this role, unless they have also played a specific teacher-type role in your life. Recommendations written by family members are not acceptable, even if they are your homeschool teacher. Please look to your community for alternatives if this is your situation.
What are the physical requirements for each expedition? Do I need to have any special outdoor skills?
While we do not consider fitness as a limitation during the application process, Inspiring Girls Expeditions is a physically and emotionally demanding program. For the Girls on Ice and Girls on Rock expeditions, physical demands on our team members include carrying a backpack of up to 40 lbs while walking over uneven inclined terrain for 5-8 miles. You will sleep at high elevation (6,000-9,000 feet, depending on the expedition), and climb as high as 10,800-13,000 feet. You will experience strenuous hiking, scrambling over rocks, traveling off-trail, crossing streams, as well as roped-up glacier travel. For the Girls in Icy Fjords and Girls on Water expedition, you need to be able to swim, and be able to hike over uneven terrain. No kayaking experience is necessary.
If you are selected to participate on a team, we will send you training tips and guidance to prepare. We encourage girls of all shapes and sizes to apply. We will, however, expect and encourage you to prepare in advance to be in your top physical condition for your expedition, so you can gain the most from the program.
Do you provide all necessary technical gear (ice ax, crampons, harness, kayak, etc.)? What, besides personal clothing, do I have to bring?
Inspiring Girls Expeditions provides all gear, safety equipment, and technical clothing that you will need to live and travel in the wilderness. You will need to provide basic toiletries and personal clothing. We will send a detailed packing list if you are selected and work with you to make sure you have everything you will need.
Do you offer assistance for the travel cost?
While our expeditions are tuition-free, with food and gear costs covered for the duration of all expeditions, we expect you to make a contribution toward your travel cost to get to the expedition starting location. If your family is unable to pay for flights, we ask you to fundraise a modest contribution. This helps us provide more experiences for more girls, and it helps you feel committed to being on our team. We will share strategies with you on how to do this. If you are chosen for the team, we will work with you and your family to discuss options for covering your travel costs.
Are the expeditions limited to girls with financial need?
No, girls from all financial backgrounds may apply. We are looking for a diverse team and we look at all aspects of a girl’s interests and background. As a free program, however, we do want to make an effort to provide an experience to girls who might not otherwise have a chance to have an experience like this.
Do you provide all necessary technical gear (ice ax, crampons, harness, kayak, etc.)? What, besides personal clothing, do I have to bring?
Inspiring Girls Expeditions provides all gear that you will need during your expedition, including mountaineering boots, ice ax, crampons, harness, ropes, kayaks, paddles, life preservers, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, backpacks, food, down jackets, gaiters, etc. You will need to provide basic toiletries and personal clothing. We will send a detailed packing list if you are selected and work with you to make sure you have everything you will need.
I am applying for Inspiring Girls Expeditions. How do I request a recommendation form?
When you are logged into your application, submit “Recommendation Request #1” and "Recommendation Request #2.” Enter your teacher’s first name, last name, and email address. When you click “Send Invitation,” an email will be sent to your teacher with information on how to log in and submit a reference form for you. If your teacher tells you they have not received an email, please ask them to check their junk mail. If they still have not received it, try re-sending the invitation and fill out a support form. The support form can be found in a link in the text below the recommendation requests. If, after all of these steps, you continue to encounter problems with the system, email email@example.com.
Who should I ask to fill out my recommendation forms?
We would like at least one recommendation form to be filled out by a teacher at your school. The other recommendation may be from someone who plays a strong “teacher” role in your life, but may not be at your school. For example, the director of a play you have been in, or the leader of an organization you are involved in. Family friends do not generally fit this role, unless they have also played a specific teacher role in your life. If you choose to ask someone who is not a school teacher, then please have them describe the teacher role they have in your life.
If you are homeschooled, please ask those who have played a teacher role in your life, as described above. Recommendations written by family members, even if they are your homeschool teacher, are not acceptable.
How many recommendations can I have?
The application system only allows two recommendations. If you find out that a reference cannot fill out the recommendation form, you may delete the recommendation request and send a new one to someone else. Please make an effort to stay in touch with your recommenders and encourage them to submit the recommendation – everyone is busy and sometimes they have just forgotten! We strongly advise that you do not submit your application until both of the recommendation forms are complete (you will not be able to reassign a recommendation request to a different teacher anymore after submitting your application). However, if it is getting close to the deadline, we recommend that you submit your application regardless of the status of your recommendations, but continue to remind the recommender.
For Girls on Ice Switzerland you only need one recommendation.
What if my recommendations aren’t sent in by the deadline?
It is your responsibility to remind those who are providing your recommendations to fill them out prior to the deadline. An application will not be considered without two complete recommendations.
Are emailed recommendations accepted?
We do not accept emailed recommendations. We use a recommendation form. Our recommendation form is not the typical recommendation that a teacher would fill out for a college application. Our form is a series of 10 multiple choice questions and 2 text-box questions limited to 900 characters. The student needs to initiate the process through her application account in order for your recommendation to be linked to her.
The goal of your recommendation is to explain to us why an Inspiring Girls Expedition will change the life of this girl. We are not as interested in what she has done in the past, we are more interested in hearing what she could do in the future if she is given this opportunity.
A student requested a recommendation from me. What do I do?
If a student has requested a recommendation from you, you should have received an email. Please check your junk mail if it is not in your inbox. Follow the directions to login to your account. Once logged in, you will be taken to a page with the student’s reference request and additional instructions. If you run into errors during this process, please have the student re-send the request and fill out a support form within their application account. If, after all these steps, you are still experiencing issues email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a teacher submitting a recommendation for my student. Can they see what I’ve written about them?
No. Applicants cannot see what you have written, though they will see that you have completed the recommendation form for them.
Volunteers / Employment Opportunity
Does your program need chaperones?
Our program does not use chaperones. We have a very carefully balanced student-to-instructor ratio to control our impact on the land. Our instructors are active scientists, artists, or professional guides. We are also always looking for volunteers for the beginning and end of the course to hike in excess field gear – it would be great to have you as a volunteer. That is also the best way to learn about the program and see how you might contribute in the future. Please visit our volunteer page to learn more.
I’d like to volunteer for your program. How can I help?
We would not be able to run a large program like this without the help of many dedicated volunteers! We have several areas in which we often need help including advertising, editing expedition photos and videos, fundraising, post-expedition equipment cleaning and repair, and gear fairies, who help carry gear up and down the mountain at the start and end of each expedition. If you are interested in helping with these activities, or have a skill you think could be useful to us, please visit our volunteer page to learn more, and email email@example.com to be added to our volunteer listserv.
You can also help by donating clothing or gear, including collecting clothing and gear from your friends or family. There are specific items that we can most use, so please contact us for more information before collecting or sending gear. To learn more about donations visit our donate page.
Spreading the word about our program and encouraging people to donate is another great way to help our program. Please contact us if you have ideas for getting donations from your community.
If you live in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest, another way to help is through the Fred Meyer Community Rewards program. If you link your card to our program, every time you shop at Fred Meyer and use your Rewards card, you are helping Inspiring Girls Expeditions earn a donation. This is at zero cost to you, and without impacting your existing Rewards Points. Link your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to Girls on Ice at www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards. You can search for us by our name, Girls on Ice , or by our non-profit number: LV634 . Note that we do not otherwise have any connection to the Fred Meyer (Kroger) corporation.
I’m interested in being an instructor for your program. Do you have an opening and what are your requirements?
Our instructors are actively working professional scientists, artists, or mountain/kayak guides. We are not currently seeking instructors, but if you are a scientist, artist, or guide (including graduate school), with strong field skills, please feel free to contact us. We are also always looking for volunteers for the beginning and end of the course to hike in excess field gear – it would be great to have you as a volunteer. That is also the best way to learn about the program and see how you might contribute in the future. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our volunteer listserv and visit our volunteer page for more information.
Safety and Risk Mitigation
Do instructors have to pass a Criminal Record Check?
Yes, all instructors and program coordinators go through a federal background check that is required when working with minors per University of Alaska Fairbanks requirements. Instructors also have to complete required trainings on working with minors.
Do all instructors have wilderness first aid training?
Yes, all instructors have Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training. Each expedition also includes an experienced professional guide. For the Girls on Ice program our professional mountain guides have additional certifications (AMGA/IFMGA/ACMG) and for the Girls in Icy Fjords, we have a professional kayak guide with additional certifications.
Do instructors carry satellite communications devices for emergencies?
Yes, they carry a satellite phone as well as a Delorme inReach.
Do instructors have avalanche training and carry avalanche gear?
Avalanching in the summertime is rare, but possible. We mitigate avalanche risk by choosing routes that don't cross through avalanche terrain. The majority of the course is spent in areas that are safe from any avalanche risk. In addition, instructors carry shovels and probes and are well versed in how to use them. Although it's not required, most of the instructors have at least a Level 1 AIARE avalanche safety certification, and many also have Level 2.
What ratio of IFMGA/AMGA/ACMG guides do you operate with? Do all staff receive training on roped glacier travel, including crevasse rescue?
Our instructor teams work closely together and have overlapping skills. At least one instructor is a certified mountain guide (ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide/CAA L2 accreditation) or a professional kayak guide. All instructors are experienced with wilderness travel and several have significant field leadership experience (for example, leading wilderness scientific field teams or other wilderness youth programs). All instructors for the Girls on Ice expeditions have glacier travel and crevasse rescue training.