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Why Car Camping With Kids Was Harder Than My NOLS Course

By Alyssa Walker on 9/18/18 7:45 AM


Photo by Alyssa Walker.

On our last family car camping sojourn, a three-day affair two years ago, we learned that two- and four-year-olds are too young for anyone to enjoy any aspect of car camping. There were diapers. There were legions of biting insects. There was not one, but two kid backpacks. There was a frog potty. There were tantrums. Everything was sticky. It rained. We were too close to our neighbors. Fun, but not. At all.

We took a break for a year, thinking two potty-trained kids, at a minimum, would help. This time, we resolved, would be better, more fun, the stuff of memories and traditions. Our children, at four and six, were ready. So were we.

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Topics: Tolerance for Adversity, Live the Dream, expedition behavior, kids, parenting, car camping

What You Learn on a NOLS Semester

By Brooke Ortel on 8/30/18 9:10 AM


Photo by Jordan Cranch.

On her Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator semester, Erin Phillips skied backcountry mountains, canoed whitewater rapids, and hiked more than 100 miles across the Utah desert. Each new landscape brought fresh experiences, including the day she and her coursemates hiked for hours to reach a water source in the desert’s slot canyons and danced in celebration.

The desert awakened another kind of thirst as well, a burning curiosity about the beautiful and harsh environment that surrounded her: “Escalante taught me a very special lesson: to stop. To stop doing and start listening.” 

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Topics: Semester abroad, Behind the Scenes, Semester, culture, leadership, outdoor semester

Research Connects Wilderness Experience with Stronger Problem-solving Skills

By Shannon Rochelle on 8/28/18 9:11 AM

Photo by Justine Cornelison.
 

Last summer, the Antler River was a knee-deep stream flowing through a broad meadow deep in the mountains of Alaska. Now, it was a moving lake, flooding the entire meadow.

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Topics: Semester abroad, Behind the Scenes, Semester, Research, Problem Solving, leadership, outdoor semester

Gender-inclusive Communication for First Responders

By Ben Lerman on 8/23/18 8:23 AM


Practicing a patient assessment during a course. Photo by Luis Camargo.

As a medical provider in the wilderness, it’s important to not make judgments or assumptions. For example, rather than assuming a patient is low risk for a spine injury, you can use a focused spine assessment to gather information relevant to your decision.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, Inclusion, communication

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls when You’re Camping

By Molly Herber on 8/21/18 8:39 AM


Photo by Charlotte Klein.

Waking up to the buttery smell of hot cinnamon rolls is one of the best ways to start your morning.

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Topics: Expedition Prep, recipe, cooking, "cinnamon rolls", backcountry recipe, backpacking recipe

Case Study: Finding a Sick Person High in the Mountains

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 8/15/18 9:05 AM
Photo by Ashley Wise.
 

Recertify

The Setting

You are a Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer working with a team to sweep a trail in the central Rocky Mountains in response to a vague cell phone report of an ill person somewhere on the trail. Eight miles from the trailhead at 8,800 ft. (2,680 m) you find the patient sitting on a log. After introducing yourselves, and with the patient's permission, you and the SAR team members begin an assessment.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, altitude illness, case study

How Climate Change Might Impact Your Next Backpacking Trip

By Brooke Ortel on 8/13/18 8:50 AM


Backpacking in New York. Photo by Kirk Rasmussen.

It’s a familiar scene: piles of food and gear, a trusted backpack unzipped, ready to be (carefully) stuffed full. You’re getting ready for your next backpacking adventure in the mountains.

As you run through your mental checklist, your friend casually asks, “So, you’re going to see those glaciers while they’re still there?” You pause, thinking for a moment. They’re only half kidding.

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Topics: Wyoming, Backpacking, Environmental Stewardship, Alaska, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, climate change

Quiz: Managing Altitude Illness

By Ben Lerman on 8/8/18 8:44 AM
 
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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, altitude illness, quiz

Tolerance for Uncertainty: Sea, Mountains, and Culture on a Patagonia Semester

By Molly Herber on 7/30/18 7:01 PM

Enjoying rainbows in Patagonia. Photo by Ignacio Martínez.

“Learn, just learn about this unique and remote place in the world, connect with the people, nature, history, and its wild places—the glaciers, ice fields, rivers, lakes, islands, and sea.”

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Topics: chile, Semester, Sea Kayaking, culture, Live the Dream, mountaineering, Semester in Patagonia

NOLS and the Wilderness Risk Management Conference: 25 Years of Facing Challenges Together

By Molly Herber on 7/25/18 8:28 AM


Crossing a river. Photo by Eric Page.

While taking my instructor course to teach for NOLS, we spent a lot of time talking about decision making. For example, would we cross this river using the snow bridge or a wading technique—the bridge looking like the more comfortable option compared to the guarantee of wet boots, but which might collapse and dump us into the chilly water anyway.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, WRMC, Wilderness Risk Management Conference

7 Fishing First Aid Hazards (and What to Do)

By Ben Lerman on 7/18/18 8:35 AM


Photo from NOLS Alaska

You’re enjoying a beautiful day at your local fishing spot. Fish are rising everywhere and you’ve hooked three big brook trout already. But your day can easily take a turn if you accidentally walk through a patch of poison oak. Or get stung by a wasp. Or slip on the rocky shore.
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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, Wilderness First Aid, fishing

The Top 3 Leadership Lessons You Won’t Learn in an Office or Classroom

By Liz Townsend on 7/10/18 8:51 AM


My rope team heading back to base camp. Photo by Liz Townsend.

You might think that seven years of working in the business world would have taught me about leadership. Yet the best lessons I’ve learned have come while climbing rocks and mountains and hiking miles into the wilderness, where traveling with companions over steep snowy passes and through thick forested valleys has forced me to face leadership challenges in ways that I rarely encounter inside.

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Topics: tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, Backpacking, MBAs, Live the Dream, leadership, NOLS Custom Education

Pay It Forward: How My NOLS Semester Helped Me Lead My Own Backcountry Trips

By Carolyn Highland on 6/27/18 10:00 AM


Photo by Carolyn Highland

November 21, 2012 was one of my favorite days on this planet. Up until this point, the idea of identifying a favorite day had seemed impossible, like choosing your favorite drop of water in a rushing river. But this was a day that made you realize if you couldn’t identify days that made the shortlist, you hadn’t yet experienced the type of day worthy of it.

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Topics: Semester, skiing, NOLS New Zealand, Live the Dream, leadership

Case Study: A Hot Day Becomes a First Aid Situation

By Tod Schimelpfenig on 6/25/18 3:23 PM


Photo by Ashley Wise

THE SETTING

You’re leading a canoe trip for a group on the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park in Texas. It’s been a hot trip, with temperatures well over 90°F (32°C) day after day. Today, the group started off with a long morning hike up a side canyon, and now you’ve been paddling for several hours, floating lazily along, watching birds swoop around the limestone cliffs.

Suddenly, your observations are interrupted by yells for help downstream. You paddle quickly to a beached canoe and several people on shore. One of your participants is shouting something about a seizure.

Another participant is lying on their back in the sand. Their legs are quivering, but their arms seem to be moving normally. The other participant insists this is a seizure—you’re not so sure.

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Topics: first aid, wilderness medicine, case study, heat illness

Snow in May: Leadership in the Face of Uncertainty

By Sarah Delany on 6/18/18 10:01 AM


Photo from Pixabay.

Postholing is a gamble at best; the unstable snow holds a person carrying a pack one step and collapses the next, leaving you up to your knees in snow when you least expect it.

When my Leadership Development class from Bates College rolled into the NOLS Northeast campus in Gabriels, New York this spring, the last thing I could have imagined was that I would find myself hip deep in rotten snow, moving slower than imaginable, and pondering whether or not I would have to set up my tent in the dark.

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Topics: Backpacking, Live the Dream, NOLS Northeast, NOLS Custom Education, Bates College