Do you want to go to Peru? If you are a U.S. resident (excluding Puerto Rico) between the ages of 9 and 14 (as of June 3, 2009), this contest is for you! (If not, skip ahead to the P.S.)
National Geographic Kids is currently running their Hands-On Explorer Challenge for 2009. You need to write an essay of up to 300 words about the interesting things that you have found while exploring your world, take a photograph of your essay topic, and submit both (along with your parent's permission) to the contest. There are some pretty specific requirements for the photograph, so read the contest rules carefully. Exploration and the environment should be key themes for your entry. If you need some inspiration, you can see examples of last year's winning entries that won a trip to Australia!
Fifteen grand prize winners go to Peru with their parent/guardian for twelve days this summer (end of May/early June). If you win, you will learn about the culture of Peru, including tribal medicine, Inca rituals, and Peruvian dances. You also get a new digital camera to record the event, which includes a visit to Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. All entries must be postmarked by February 5, 2009, so get writing! Good luck!
P.S. For my friends outside of the U.S. (as well as my friends close to home), check out the extensive listing of free National Geographic E-mail Newsletters on everything from photography to living green. There are two newsletters specifically aimed at kids & education: My Wonderful World (for parents & kids to share) and Education Update (for teachers). Enjoy!