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Alex Phillips

Alex Phillips
Alex Phillips worked as the NOLS European recruitment coordinator. Alex has been on multiple NOLS courses, including an Outdoor Educator course in the Rockies, which she took for professional development while working at an international school in Switzerland. In addition to working for NOLS, she is currently completing her master’s in experiential education at the University of Cumbria.
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Recent Posts

The Alps vs. American Wilderness [Interview with Curtis Bartosik, Part 2]

By Alex Phillips on Nov 10, 2015

In our last post, we talked with Curtis Bartosik, an American entrepreneur living in Paris, about how he balances his passion for the outdoors and day-to-day life in some of the most urban environments in the world. We were curious how Bartosik views the famed Alps, where he now spends as much of his free time as possible, in comparison to the American wilderness, where he first developed his outdoor skills on a NOLS semester. So we went back for more. Enjoy hearing Bartosik’s perspective on what has shaped the Alps both culturally and geographically, as well as their similarities to the American west.

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Topics: Alumni, Leadership Skills, Backpacking, adventure, education, backcountry

How an Outdoor Enthusiast Managed Two Decades in the City [Interview with Curtis Bartosik, Part 1]

By Alex Phillips on Nov 9, 2015

One of the most powerful statements on my NOLS course came from Morgan Hite’s essay “Briefing for Entry into a More Harsh Environment.” The last sentence reads: “You don’t need the mountains to do that.” Hite wrote the beloved piece in 1989, just weeks before Curtis Bartosik began his fall semester in the Rockies. In the years since, Bartosik, an American, has gone on to live in Japan, Hong Kong and now France, where he is an established entrepreneur, member of the board of the American Chamber of Commerce in France, general secretary of the American Legion in Paris and President of the Cornell Club of France. Bartosik’s life choices demonstrate that yes, it is possible to live in some of the most populated regions of the globe, and still connect with the natural world and maintain the values a NOLS course cultivates.

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Topics: Alumni, Environment, NOLS Rocky Mountain, Gap Year, backcountry

6 Tips for Planning a U.S. National Park Road Trip

By Alex Phillips on Jul 30, 2015

A few weeks ago, I visited Utah’s Zion National Park with some friends. When we arrived, we saw countless international groups that had ventured across the globe to explore the famed Utah landscape. While excited for their adventure, I noticed a few insecure faces, and parties that looked ill-prepared to get the most out of their visit, perhaps realizing that the territory was vastly different from what they were used to exploring at home.

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Topics: Expedition Prep, National Outdoor Leadership School, Backpacking, NOLS Southwest, education, wilderness, backcountry, Wilderness Medicine

Exploring Alaska's Brooks Range with My Camera

By Alex Phillips on May 29, 2015

Editor's note: Some students write journals in the field, while others bring sketch pads. NOLS student Stéphane Terrier, however, chooses to go with a slightly heavier medium to record his memories from the field: a DSLR with two lenses. While we typically discourage students from bringing more gear into the field, Stéphane, a PhD student from Switzerland, was adamant that his camera was an essential item. 

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Topics: Alumni, Canoeing, Expedition Prep, NOLS Alaska, Backpacking, backcountry

Joint Perspective: International Educator and NOLS Parent on 21st Century Education

By Alex Phillips on May 23, 2015

We recently sat down with Dr. Beth Pfannl, Head of School at the American Overseas School of Rome, to discuss the role of NOLS in her own children’s lives. As an educator and administrator, Dr. Pfannl has extensive experience evaluating and managing best practice for student growth and development. In addition to being a member of the Board of Trustees of the European Council for International Schools (ECIS) and the American University of Rome, Dr. Pfannl was given the National Distinguished Principal Award from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and inducted into the Association for the Advancement of International Education Hall of Fame. Two of Dr. Pfannl’s children enrolled in NOLS courses during their summer breaks while in college. In this interview, she describes her family’s experience with NOLS and why she recommends it to international families around the world.

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Topics: National Outdoor Leadership School, NOLS Alaska, Educators Notebook, outdoor education, education

Microadventures: A Way of Life

By Alex Phillips on Apr 30, 2015

A few weeks ago, the New York Times published an article praising the concept of the microadventure, or the adventure found in our immediate, local surroundings. As I read it, I smiled. I spent half of my childhood sleeping outside thanks to my parents’ ingenious idea to put a bed under a wall-free lean-to in our yard. My family’s perception of a weekend party was inviting everyone over to play hide and seek on our four-acre, wooded property; there were no guarantees you would be found. In essence, I was raised to be a micro adventurer. It was only on my first NOLS course that I realized how my upbringing had shaped me and fed a desire for adventure both large and small. 

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Topics: Alumni, Backpacking, adventure

The Alps Don’t Have Everything: My Decision to Take an Outdoor Educator Course

By Alex Phillips on Apr 8, 2015

When I first decided to apply for an Outdoor Educator course in the Rockies, many of my colleagues asked me why. At the time, I was working at an international IB school in the sports department, developing an outdoor and environmental education curriculum. I spent all of my weekends hiking and climbing in the famed Alps, so I understood why many didn’t see what would motivate me to fly to the other side of the globe to do the same thing. The answer was clear though. This wasn’t a vacation; it was professional development.

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Topics: Expedition Prep