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My Path to Outdoor Education from a Semester in Alaska

By Katiya Gombar on Jul 15, 2019

Editor's note: Katiya took a semester in Alaska in the summer of 2016 and became a NOLS instructor in May 2019.

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Topics: study abroad, Semester, Live the Dream, Alaska, leadership, story

Why We Leave Phones Behind on NOLS Courses (and why you should do it more often)

By Molly Herber on Jul 1, 2019

Photo by Molly Hagbrand.

Cell phones are becoming better adventure tools every day. You can find what feels like endless apps for navigation, trip guides, even stargazing.

So why, when you look through a NOLS equipment list, is a cell phone nowhere to be found?

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Topics: technology, Live the Dream, wilderness, story

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Next Hike is LNT-Approved

By Emily Folk on Jun 24, 2019

Photo by Trip Davis

As an experienced outdoorsperson, you're aware of the rules. After you've enjoyed a hike, camping trip or some other excursion, you need to make sure you've left an area the same way you'd like to find it.

That respect is at the core of the Leave No Trace principles that protect the natural beauty of wild spaces.

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Topics: LNT, Environmental Stewardship, leave no trace, education

I Don't Need to Be an Extrovert to Lead: Reflections on Backpacking in Alaska

By Natasha Gold on Jun 18, 2019
Photo by Natasha Gold
 

In January 2018, I was perusing the internet for outdoor schools on a whim that perhaps I would apply to a program. I stumbled onto the NOLS website; instantly, I wanted to go.

I found an 8-day women-only backpacking expedition in Alaska. I liked the idea of a women’s only trip and I have wanted to camp in Alaska since I was little.

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Topics: Live the Dream, Alaska, all-women, leadership, story, women in leadership

Case Study: Treating a Feverish Patient

By Tod Schimelpfenig on Jun 13, 2019
Photo by Nicholette Hilbrich.

The Setting

You’re a biologist working out of a remote ranch on the sagebrush plains of southern Idaho. It’s early May. You ride and walk daily to survey herds of pronghorn as part of a research program. One of your classmates goes to bed feeling lousy—achy, nauseous—and wakes up feeling worse.

Knowing you have training as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), your colleagues ask you to take a look at this poor fellow.

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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, first aid, wilderness medicine, case study, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, flu-like illness

Winter & Spring 2020 Expeditions Now Online

By NOLS on Jun 11, 2019

Kayaking in New Zealand. Photo by Lisa Moen.
 

Summer's here, and we want you to savor every single late-evening walk and early morning paddle.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, education, backcountry skiing, Prime, splitboarding, announcement, spring break, affinity

Taking a NOLS River Expedition

By Rob Motley on Jun 5, 2019
Photo by Austin Danicic
 

“It’s impossible to be bored running a rapid,” according to Fabio Oliveira.

He would know. Despite spending 289 weeks in the field as NOLS instructor, he’s never gotten tired of leading river expeditions. A long-time instructor from Brazil, Fabio has spent the last five years primarily teaching whitewater courses that are full of rapids, cheering, and giggling.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, canoeing, kayaking, River, leadership, whitewater rafting, NOLS Expeditions

Wilderness First Responders: #lowkeysuperheroes

By Eric Johnson on Jun 3, 2019

Practicing splinting a broken bone. Photo by Taylor Bach.
 

At age 41 I have repented of some of the bad behavior of my youth. No longer will I leave fish around the tents of my friends when we camp in bear country. Nor will I begin my pre-trip safety talks with the phrase, “What could possibly go wrong?” And, if possible, I will read the rapids and then run them instead of running them and reading about them later in camp when I finally find the guidebook. 

To this end, or rather, new beginning, I enrolled in a Wilderness First Responder course with NOLS this spring.

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Topics: Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

There and Back Again, a Patagonia Tale: The Patagonia Cultural Expedition

By Jen Antocci on May 29, 2019

Photo courtesy of Alex Chang - Cornell Leadership Expedition.
 

I was sitting in my doctor’s office, awkwardly fussing with my johnny gown and glancing down at the NOLS health form in my hands. My doctor comes in and after some formal chitchat I ask her to complete the health clearance for this month long hiking and cultural expedition in Patagonia.

“A month of hiking? Sleeping in tents? In South America? Are you being punished?” she half joked. “No, I’m paying to do this” I joked back. “Well good for you, I don’t even like going out in my backyard.” She signed the form and I left the office, mentally checking off the final item on my expedition to-do list.

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Topics: Patagonia, culture, Live the Dream, story, cultural expedition

Research at NOLS: How NOLS Courses Help Prepare for Extended Expeditions in Space

By Shannon Rochelle on May 23, 2019

 

How can NOLS courses help us plan for long duration space flight? You may know that NOLS works with astronauts and other NASA staff, taking them into the backcountry for experiential lessons in expedition behavior, teamwork, and leadership.

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Topics: leadership education, NOLS Leader, NASA, Research, education, science

USNA Midshipman Turned NOLS Instructor

By Mike Titzer on May 16, 2019
 Photo by Nick Valentine

It was the second week of our course, and our hiking group of US Naval Academy Midshipmen sat on the side of an Alaskan mountain overlooking a giant herd of caribou.  

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Topics: leadership, nols instructor, Alaska, military, service academy, US Naval Academy

Case Study: Bucked off a Horse

By Tod Schimelpfenig on May 15, 2019
 
 
Photo Credit: Kelsey Wicks

The Setting

You and a companion, both proud and confident Wilderness First Responders (WFR), are hiking a wilderness trail when you are passed by a horse pack string led by a young cowboy. You exchange pleasantries and fishing tips.

Suddenly, one horse nips at another, a horse kicks, and then horses seem to be going everywhere. The rider’s horse rears and bucks; he falls off and lands on his head and shoulder.

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Topics: decision making, Wilderness First Responder, first aid, wilderness medicine, case study

5 Things I Learned from Going on a Paddling Expedition with My Spouse

By Ashley Drake on May 13, 2019

Going on an expedition is one thing—going with your spouse can be something else entirely. NOLS Instructor & Custom Education Operations Supervisor Ashley Drake shares how, with intentional planning and plenty of good humor, adventuring with your spouse can be some of your best time spent outdoors.

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Topics: River, inspiring women, whitewater rafting, NOLS Expeditions

Finding What Makes Others Tick on a Baja Semester

By Alison Peterson on May 8, 2019
Photo by Alison Peterson.
 

Two months into our fall semester in Baja and dinner had just ended, wrapping up a weary day of classes and cleaning the kayaks. I strolled over to my coursemate, who was writing on the beach, asking if I could join in. In waves, a few more came to join us.

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Topics: NOLS Mexico, Baja, inspiring women, story

12 Days That Changed My Life: A Homestay in East Africa

By Steve Stoddard on May 6, 2019

Photo courtesy of Steve Stoddard.
 

Rather than my watch alarm bringing me out of sleep, it was roosters and cows. Instead of bundling up to get out of my tent and start boiling water for my cook group, I was waking up in someone else’s home.

This was all pretty different than what I had gotten accustomed to during the previous six weeks of backpacking on my NOLS semester.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, study abroad, culture, NOLS East Africa, story, homestay