“This isn’t a bubble wrapped school trip, this is a Polar expedition

The Polar Academy is now internationally recognised as an organisation which really delivers true life changing opportunities to the children and families who need it the most.

Working with the ‘invisible’ children – the victims of bullying, abuse or children crushed by a lack of self-esteem and confidence – the Polar Academy helps build them into leaders and role models, to truly inspire thousands of other young people, so that they too can reach their full potential.

The training is unapologetically demanding with the goals set often being beyond what most can dream of – our children always succeed.

The Polar Academy, was founded by Craig Mathieson, Explorer In Residence at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and committee member of The Explorers' Club Great Britain & Ireland Chapter. Craig is passionate about inspiring the next generation of leaders and explorers and using his own experience of ‘inspiration through exploration’ to do so.

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What we do

We unlock the vast potential within young adults and turn them into positive role models for their community and families. Each year The Polar Academy will inspire and motivate thousands of young adults, positively demonstrating that by ‘inspiration through exploration’ anybody can achieve their absolute potential.

How we do it

The Polar Academy conducts visits to schools and offers a selected number of the young adults, between the ages of 14 and 17 years old, a truly once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of a major Arctic Expedition. This expedition will be beyond anything that they have ever determined to be possible and will positively change the lives of the participants and their families. Returning to the UK as true role models they will have a wide ranging and positive impact on their communities, as each participant will give back to their peers and community a programme of positive outcomes – each participant is tasked with inspiring a minimum of 3000 other young adults in their community.

Who we are

The Polar Academy is the brainchild of, and is run and managed by, Craig Mathieson. Craig is an accomplished and respected explorer, having led the first dedicated Scottish expedition to the South Pole, taken a 16 year old youth to the North Pole and led many other expeditions to the Arctic. In 2013 he was awarded the title of “Explorer in Residence”, by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Together with his team of professionals from the SportsScotland Glenmore Lodge, the National Outdoor Training Centre, they make up the training and expedition team.

Why we need to do it

Passionate about inspiring the next generation, Craig has shared his experiences with many schools. The replies he received to questions such as “what do the pupils aspire to?” and “what motivates and inspires them” led him to conclude that irrespective of social background, many young adults have very little self-confidence and motivation and are of the general opinion that they will not be able to achieve anything significant in their lives. Craig decided to do something about addressing this; it was out of this experience that the concept of The Polar Academy was born.

Donate via PayPal

If you would like to make a donation to The Polar Academy via PayPal, click the DONATE button below.

If you would prefer to send a cheque or bank transfer please give Craig Mathieson a call on 07419 133637 or email info@thepolaracademy.org

Donate via JustGiving

If you would like to make a donation via JustGiving, click the DONATE button below.


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“What the Polar Academy offers is hope. Hope to kids who are struggling to see their way; to parents that their kids will gain the resilience to carry them through life’s many challenges; and to the many school children who have heard of our kids’ experiences that they too can achieve incredible things.”

— Parent of Pupil

“A while ago I was one of the invisible teenagers in my school, I had no self-esteem, and no confidence. Mental health problems appeared for me because of the hard time I’d had in school and out of school. Then the Polar Academy came into my life late 2017. It came at a time in my life where I really needed it. I am not the same person I was two years ago, in-fact far from it. I have achieved so much. I have climbed mountains, seen the northern lights, been to ice caves, trained for months on end and skied across Greenland for days. I am so much more confident and resilient than I was. I have done unimaginable things that I would’ve never dreamed of doing. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the Polar Academy.”

— Graduate pupil 2019

“The Polar Academy experience has altered my mindset and general approach when it comes to things I otherwise might’ve thought insurmountable. I’m also sure it helped a great deal with my university application and will continue to help me in future. The achievement of something so uniquely challenging stands as a testament to my capabilities. My mindset has changed substantially. Less of the ‘no, I can’t’ and more of the ‘yes, I absolutely can’.”

— Graduate Pupil 2016