On Saturday evening, a group of seven NOLS students on an Alaska backpacking course, was attacked by a brown bear while hiking up a small creek in the remote Talkeetna Mountains. Four of the students suffered injuries as a result of the attack.
For those who have sent prayers, positive thoughts, and good spirits in the direction of the injured students and their families. Thank you. For those who have posted messages on websites, both positive and negative, we thank you for your care and concern.
In the aftermath of the attack, these students acted bravely, and their immediate priority was to care for those who were injured.
Within an hour, authorities were responding to an electronic distress signal. The first responders to reach the scene called for additional help and the circle of care expanded. With every passing minute, the circle of care widened until it swept across the worldwide community that is NOLS.
Some have asked "what will NOLS do in the future?" Will NOLS review its policies? Absolutely. NOLS is a school; learning and educating are our primary mission. NOLS will conduct a thorough review of the attack. We will not forego the potential to learn and to gain strength from this unfortunate event. That is the essence of education and the essence of NOLS.
Each and every one of us has an opportunity to learn from this encounter. We must ask ourselves, “Would I be prepared to respond to the needs of others in a similar situation?” For my own part, I hope I would respond as well as some of these young people who were on the ground on Saturday night. The word "responsibility" requires that I prepare myself to respond. Our students were preparing themselves; their test came early. Our test as NOLS goes on.
Tori Murden McClure
NOLS Board Chair