South African explorer Mike Horn faces a surprising conundrum: Three years into his Pangaea Project, a four-year round-the-world expedition that promises to chisel young adventurers into global ambassadors for the planet, he is still receiving a dearth of U.S. applicants. The news is a little confounding, considering that in addition to being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students between the ages of 15 and 20, the impossible-to-replicate-on-your-own, all-expenses-paid expedition is worth roughly $20,000.
“We’re not looking for a super jock or even a kid who is necessarily very well traveled,” says Pangaea spokesperson Mary Buckheit. “The focus is on authenticity—a kid who cares about the environment and sustainability, is active and healthy, and will share his message after the expedition is over. This is not about whether this experience will look good on a college application. And it’s not a vacation.”
With 8 of the 12 expeditions—which have included exploring the ice-cut fjords of New Zealand, the mangrove estuaries of India, and the Gobi desert of Mongolia—successfully completed, and applicants for the upcoming expedition to the Everglades already selected, Horn has only two more expeditions to fill: One to the Brazilian Amazon next April and one to East Africa in July.
Think you’ve got what it takes? Check out the Pangaea Application.
If you’re one of 16 selected from roughly 125 applicants from around the globe, Horn will bring you to his training camp in the Swiss Alps, where you’ll be fitness-tested, learn mapping skills, and begin your environmental education. For a quick recap on what goes on, check out the below.
At the end of the two-week camp, Horn and his crew select the lucky eight.
So what’s the secret to being selected? According to Henry Stanislaw, the only American student out of two men and four women on Pangaea’s 2008 maiden Antarctica voyage, it all boils down to outlook. “Attitude is everything,” Stanislaw says. “Like any expedition, a positive attitude makes all the difference.”