Alaska Volunteer & Adventure Trip Overview
Alaska, known as the last frontier, land of the midnight sun, and place where your life will change! You’ll visit Homer, one of Alaska’s best-kept secrets near Kenai Fjords National Park. A true gem of an Alaskan town, Homer has managed to slide under the radar of Alaska’s typical tourists. Next, a visit to the fisherman’s haven Seward will bring even more Alaskan culture and adventure into your life. You’ll have the chance to hike to the top of a glacier, whitewater raft down a river surrounded by snowcapped mountains, kayak in a glacial bay while looking for seals, and spend your evenings around a campfire! To top off our adventures we will volunteer at a wildlife conservation center for bears, moose, and more! So what are you waiting for? Join us this summer for the perfect mix of adventure, service, and exploration on this Alaska volunteer trip!
Our Middle School programs are carefully crafted with 9th and 10th graders in mind. These programs are designed to nurture younger teens and introduce them to the world of traveling. Because as you grow, your interests and needs do too. So get ready to explore the very best the 49th State has to offer, connect with nature and local communities, and learn how to be an independent traveler!
During this program, you will…
- Earn up to 20 hours of community service at two volunteer sites
- Whitewater raft up to Class IV rapids in two stunning canyons
- Strap on crampons and literally “walk on water” as you hike across a glacier, or for those brave enough, learn how to ice climb!*
- Spend time in Kenai Fjord National Park and hike to the top of the Harding Ice Field
- Stargaze and, if we’re lucky, even see the Northern Lights!
- Channel your inner musher as we visit an Iditarod training camp and take the sled dogs out on a run!
- Hike to a glacially fed alpine lake filled with icebergs
- Explore the charming town of Girdwood, hike, play disc golf, and adventure to your heart’s content
- Visit the Anchorage Museum and gain insight into the Inuit way of life
- Enjoy delicious seafood fresh from the Pacific
- Kayak in a glacial bay and keep an eye out for seals and other wildlife
*This is an optional excursion
Looking for a longer trip? Come extend your travels by joining our 21 day USA for Older Teens: Hawaii & Alaska Service trip for more service hours and a truly thrilling summer experience!
DAY 1: DEPART FROM SEATTLE (SEA)
DAYS 2-3: ANCHORAGE > WILDLIFE CONSERVATION CENTER > GLACIER TREK
We’ll fly to Anchorage, the capital of Alaska, a city holding 40% of the state’s population yet only the 4th biggest city (in square miles). Here we will explore the city, see what survived the famous quake of 1964 and get an insight into Alaskan history and culture while visiting the Anchorage Museum. Cover more distance on a bike tour.
We’ll spend time volunteering at Alaska’s Wildlife Conservation Center. We’ll have a walking tour of the property with a naturalist guide and immerse ourselves in the natural history of the 13 species of Alaskan wildlife housed here. Working alongside staff and naturalist interns we’ll work on projects to better the lives of the animals through husbandry, maintenance, and enrichment projects. We will even get to feed moose and make “toys” for wolves and bear cubs! Not only is this a fantastic opportunity to give the animals unique experiences, it is a once in a lifetime chance to see Alaskan wildlife exhibiting natural behaviors up close and personal!
While in Anchorage we will take a day trip out for a surreal experience literally “walking on water” as we trek across the Matanuska Glacier. Those who are looking for an adrenaline-pumping experience will have the option to ice climb instead! Our expert guides will help us navigate the glacier to discover stunning formations and bright blue ice.
DAYS 4-6: HOMER
Continuing with our theme of service we will be spending time at a living laboratory on the south shore of Kachemak Bay. This is only accessible by boat from Homer and we will stay overnight in traditional Yurts. Our group will learn about natural history and assist with maintenance and light construction projects.
Once the project is completed we will have a chance to explore Homer, the halibut capital of the world. Our group will go on a stunning hike in Kachemak Bay State Park to an iceberg lake and explore the town of Homer, including the unique Homer Spit, a 4.5 mile piece of thin land jutting into the bay where the harbor, restaurants, hotels, and some of the more historic areas of Homer are located.
DAYS 7-9: SEWARD
Seward is considered one of the best adventure capitals in the state. During our time here we will get our adrenaline pumping while whitewater rafting down Six Mile Creek between two stunning canyons. We will sea kayak in Resurrection Bay and learn about the history of the area, discover wildlife, and check out the coastal rainforest. We’ll also visit the Alaska Sealife Center to provide a close up look at many of the species that make up the waters.
To top off our time in Seward we will experience what many people call the most beautiful hike they have ever done, heading up to the Harding Ice Field at Exit Glacier.
DAY 10: GIRDWOOD
What better way to end a dream trip than channeling our inner Iditarod dog sledding champion? We will visit a camp for the dogs, get to know the team, ride on a circuit, listen to some incredible Iditarod stories, and to top it off, get to cuddle some pups who will someday be racers themselves! Spend the rest of the day hiking, playing disc golf and soaking in the beautiful sights of Girdwood before returning to Anchorage for the final night in Alaska.
DAY 13: RETURN FLIGHT TO SEATTLE (SEA)
Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
What is unique about the USA for Middle School: Alaska Service & Adventure trip?
USA for Middle School: Alaska Service & Adventure provides a trifecta of incredible wilderness, outdoor adventure, and educational service. Whether it’s hiking through glaciers, whitewater rafting, or service at the field station, each day will leave you in awe of some of the most rugged beauty the United States has to offer.
What do students like most about the USA for Middle School: Alaska Service & Adventure trip?
Participants love the mix of city, wilderness, and service as they explore our northernmost state. On USA for Middle School: Alaska Service & Adventure, they will get to see Alaskan wildlife up close and learn the importance of conservation in our service projects along with endorphin-releasing activities like hiking glaciers, white water rafting, and riding with sled dogs!
Who can go on this program? What kind of teen typically goes on this program?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in 11th or 12th grade and approximately 16 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Anchorage, you’ll get your first taste of what it’s like to stay in a college dorm, as we’ll eat breakfast in the dining hall and live dorm-style for the four nights of our stay! Designed for student housing with privacy and security in mind, rooms are available in single suite, double suite and quad suite arrangements. All rooms have single-person beds and private bathrooms.
In Seward and Peterson Bay, we stay in cozy yurts that allow for all our creature comforts with convenient access to the magnificent Alaskan wilderness.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; lunches; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 13 and 24 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need to bring anything special for the community service portion of the program?
Due to the nature of our service being outdoors, please be sure to bring clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, waterproof shoes, and a hat.
A more detailed packing list will be provided upon registration.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen will not need a visa or passport but will need a government-issued identification to get through airport security.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.