22 Ways You Know You’re a NOLSie

By Rachel Dranoff

Nov 8, 2016

Mountaineering as a team
Photo by Ben Fox.

Reflections on returning to society after a NOLS course. You know you're a NOLSie when…

  1. You put off sleeping indoors on a bed for at least a week
  2. You wear the same outfit 3 (or 4?) days in a row without thinking about it
  3. You inform everyone around you that you are going to pee
  4. You have a deep appreciation for fart jokes
  5. You maintain intentional eye contact in every conversation
  6. You avoid using gendered words, y’all!
  7. You actively build community like your life depends on it (wait, doesn’t it?)
  8. You change your text alert to a gentle exhalation—who needs an adrenaline rush every biiing?
  9. You rename your contacts Lil Boo and Amped, because humor and levity go a long way
  10. You continue to buy nonperishable items at the grocery store
  11. You start the day with sun salutations and end the day by reading climbing books in bed
  12. You absentmindedly tie your granola bar wrappers into the beginning stages of a water knot
  13. You find yourself repeatedly saying "strong work!" at the climbing gym—thanks Mike!
  14. You avoid television like it’s the plague unless the Olympics or Planet Earth are on
  15. You alter your communication style to match designated personality quadrants
  16. You ask reflective questions in conversation like: In what ways have you changed? How would you like to grow? What supports your highest self?
  17. You are utterly unfazed by petty drama and stressful deadlines because in comparison to bushwhacking for 14 hours in unyielding, plastic mountaineering boots while carrying a 60-pound pack (or two Jacques!), it just doesn’t seem like a big deal.
  18. You orient yourself using the cardinal directions at all times
  19. Entering an outdoor store immediately brings a sense of deep, inner peace
  20. You want to plan as many adventures as you possibly can!
  21. When are we going back?
  22. Really, when are we going back??

Learn more about finding your own NOLS experience here.

Written By

Rachel Dranoff

Rachel was born and raised in Boston, MA. Her early love of the outdoors was inspired by digging in the garden and scrambling over rocks in the White Mountains. Once she discovered larger landscapes out West, her appetite for adventure and storytelling deepened. Rachel currently splits her time between teaching elementary school art in New England and instructing field courses for NOLS.

Up Next


When You Should Wear Cotton in the Outdoors

Students hike along a single track trail past dry grass and reddish rock outcroppings in the Southwest
Photo by Reece Robinson

Some experienced campers’ favorite advice is “You should never wear cotton,” sometimes using the dramatic catchphrase “Cotton kills.”

The first NOLS courses in the Wind River Range vigorously stuck to the “no cotton” philosophy, wearing wool for every layer, head to toe and inside and out. You can imagine for yourself what a 1960s-era set of wool undergarments might have felt like.

Read More