NOLS Blog

Browse by Category

Tolerance for Uncertainty & Adversity

By Carolyn Highland on 2/22/17 10:31 AM

It was four in the morning, it was sideways sleeting, and the tent pole cup was broken. I stood huddled in my rain gear, aiming my headlamp down at my tentmate and my instructor, who were lying sideways on the icy snow, trying to speedy-stitch the stirrup back to the tent body before they lost all dexterity in their hands.

It was four in the morning and I was supposed to be snuggled up in my sleeping bag inside the tent, but instead I was outside getting pelted with rain on the side of a snowy mountain, the blackness around me increasing the sense of being in the absolute middle of nowhere.

Read More

Topics: Semester, NOLS New Zealand, Live the Dream, Gap Year

New Courses for Summer 2017

By Molly Herber on 2/21/17 9:50 AM

When we decide to create a new course, it comes from a combination of our faculty’s passion for the area and constant desire for growth, and from what students say they want to see more of.

So, here’s a peek at the new courses you can take starting the summer of 2017. You can focus on service learning, explore the far north of Norway, or walk through the heart of Alaska’s Talkeetna Range.

Read More

Topics: service, Behind the Scenes, NOLS Rocky Mountain, Sea Kayaking, NOLS Alaska, Backpacking, NOLS Scandinavia

When Your Teammate Becomes Your Patient: My First Aid Training in Action

By Sarah Buer on 2/16/17 8:00 AM

Whether you’re deep in the mountains or just miles from town in your local park, wilderness medicine training can come in handy—and even save a life.

Read More

Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, backcountry, Wilderness Medicine

Looking Within, Stepping Forward

By NOLS Blog on 2/15/17 11:56 AM

NOLS was born in a time of tumult in the United States. In 1965 the Vietnam War was expanding, the Selma March paved the way for the Voting Rights Act, the Watts riots raged and Malcolm X was assassinated. NOLS was not an accident. It was a response to a void that existed.

Fifty two years later in another time of considerable division, now is a good time to reflect on our values, our purpose and our place in the world.

Read More

Topics: Live the Dream

Our 10 Favorite Books about Leadership by Women

By Molly Herber on 2/9/17 11:04 AM

[Editor’s note: When I asked folks at NOLS’ headquarters for book recommendations, a small and steady flood of suggestions hit my inbox. The request expanded from a small circle of coworkers and friends to include folks I’ve never met—so many that they couldn’t all make the list.

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes, Books

How to Connect Leave No Trace to Your Daily Life

By Molly Herber on 2/6/17 8:02 AM

Leave No Trace is part of the camping mindset—when you’re out in the woods, your environmental impact is easy to see. But how do we bring that ethic back home with us?

Read More

Topics: Behind the Scenes

My Trials and Triumphs Mountaineering in the Himalaya

By Haley Peel on 1/31/17 4:30 PM

About a year ago, I decided to do something drastic. Something life-changing. Something longer than my typical one-week excursions. I wanted to climb the famous (or infamous) white peaks of the Himalaya.

So, I signed up for a six-week Himalaya Mountaineering course with NOLS in India.

Read More

The Big Picture: How I Found My Grit on a Semester in Baja

By Sarah Buer on 1/25/17 8:20 AM

Tell us a little about your NOLS course.

Three years ago as part of a gap year, I took part in a semester-long, eighty day NOLS course in Baja California.

This course consisted of fifteen students and four highly-trained instructors embarking on a 100-mile hike from San Juanico to Mulegé, a 120-nautical mile sail on the Sea of Cortez from Loreto to just about south of Puerto Agua Verde, and ending with a 250-mile sea kayaking journey from Puerto Agua Verde to a town called Tecalote. (I also received sixteen college credits for my course, ranging from wilderness first aid to Leave No Trace principles!)

Read More

Topics: Semester, Baja, sea kayak, Baja Sea Kayaking, Live the Dream, NOLS semester, Gap Year, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Vulnerabilities into Empowerment: What Alaska Meant to Me

By Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez on 1/23/17 10:53 AM

The more that time separates me from my NOLS Expedition with STEP in the summer of 2013, the more I find myself reflecting on the ephemeral 21 days that I spent in Prince William Sound. Preserved in the haze inherent to all fleeting memories, I remember the physical exhaustion, the arduous and cold days and the ill-fated cooking.

Read More

Debunking 5 Myths about Gear

By Molly Herber on 1/19/17 8:53 AM

Before you head to the store, check out these five myths about gear to make sure you get what you need!

Read More

Topics: Expedition Prep

Instructor Expedition: A Grand Canyon Trip with Friends

By NOLS Blog on 1/16/17 12:49 PM

NOLS instructors write about paddling the Grand Canyon with family and friends.

Ribeye steaks on day eleven? This was not a NOLS course. This was a descent of the Grand Canyon, made possible by the NOLS instructor development fund—the classic journey, with all the iced sodas you can drink and rapids that might keep an oarswoman awake at night.

Read More

Topics: Educators Notebook

This Cold Bug Is Bugging Me: How to Handle Flu-Like Illness in the Backcountry

By Sarah Buer on 1/12/17 9:46 AM

Viral, flu-like illnesses like stomach bugs or viral upper respiratory infections (“the flu” or “a cold”) can be common on wilderness expeditions. While having a cold is never fun, being in the backcountry when the bug decides to bug you can make it that much worse.

Read More

Topics: wilderness medicine, WMI, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wilderness Medicine

Building and Rebuilding: What I Learned on an Alumni Service Trip

By Haley Cushing on 1/10/17 4:09 PM

On the first day of the 2016 Service Trip in the Adirondacks, I remember thinking that our motley crew of highly motivated yet enormously unskilled laborers had quite an impossible mission before us. It was our goal to revamp a bridge and, looking at the bridge spanning across Moose Creek, it looked like a daunting task.

Read More

Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes

Getting Ready: Mental and Physical Prep for My Gap Year

By Brooke Buchanan on 1/9/17 11:54 AM

While sitting in yet another mundane lecture in physics class, my phone vibrates.

Sneakily, I pull it out and glance at my new notification: an email.

I open up my Yahoo app expecting to see a pointless message from some telemarketer, but I’m caught by surprise. I click on the message and see that it’s from NOLS. It says my spot on the Patagonia Coastal Expedition has been reserved. Forgetting I’m in class, I squirm with excitement and the teacher takes my phone away.

Read More

Topics: Expedition Prep

7 Ways to Make Coffee Outside

By Molly Herber on 1/6/17 9:03 AM

The morning ritual of making a hot beverage is precious to many an outdoorsperson (and a pain for the ones who like to get out of camp quickly). Interrupting that ritual could mean a full day of silence until you make up for it by giving up your last Snickers bar or promising to do dishes for the rest of the trip.

You might think that options are limited for making coffee while you’re camping, but you really have all kinds of choices.

Read More

Topics: Expedition Prep, cooking, coffee