16-year-old Charlie Knepper transforms from a "city boy" to a competent, confident outdoor traveler.
"Growing up in Chicago as a city boy, I would never have thought I would do a NOLS course. The only expedition I had endeavored was climbing the fierce Sears Tower! At first, I was hesitant and unsure if NOLS was for me. Questions were going through my mind such as: "What are these people going to be like? What food will we be eating? Is it going to be too hard?"
"Growing up in Chicago as a city boy, I would never have thought I would do a NOLS course. The only expedition I had endeavored was climbing the fierce Sears Tower!
Starting my first year of NOLS in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho for a Backpacking Adventure course, all of those questions circling my mind, all the doubt and hesitation, quickly subsided. I realized NOLS was a place where I could make connections with people that I may not otherwise. I also learned many things such as topographic map reading, risk management, and cooking. It was a great course and made me want to come back for more.
The next year was the NOLS course that really changed me.
The next year was the NOLS course that really changed me. This time, I departed from Chicago O'Hare to Boston, then to Saranac Lake Airport in the Adirondacks of New York for an Adirondack Backpacking Adventure course. Once in the field, I applied the information I had learned in the previous year to my new setting. We started learning simple skills that I had learned in the Rockies, but after a few days we started to expand my spectrum of knowledge such as medical procedures, GPS reading, bear food hangs, and advanced cooking. My skilled instructors finely tuned my technical and social skills to make me the best expedition member possible.
The feeling of responsibility and leadership that I gained on this expedition changed me forever. It empowered me knowing that I had accomplished a two-week journey and finished it with all of the techniques NOLS taught me. Now I am back in Chicago and still using many of the things I learned at NOLS, such as navigation, risk management, and how to settle disagreements. I can now confidently take my friends camping without worry, which I would not have been able to say before I enrolled at NOLS. I am proud to say that I am NOLS alumni, and will definitely be taking courses in the future.
I can now confidently take my friends camping without worry, which I would not have been able to say before I enrolled at NOLS.