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José González, Knight Campbell, & Kit DesLauriers on Their Trails To Success [Video]

By NOLS on Feb 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of José G. González

NOLS graduates are an inspiring bunch. Over the years, we’ve heard again and again that their NOLS courses impacted their trails to success.

Whether success means founding a nonprofit that empowers Latinx communities in the outdoors (José González), becoming the first person to ski the seven summits (Kit DesLauriers), or launching a company built around outdoor leadership training (Knight Campbell), NOLS courses can facilitate learning and growth along the way.

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Topics: Alumni, NOLS alumni, video, stories, #TrailsToSuccess

Billycan Romance: A Lifetime Adventure

By Rich Brame on Feb 4, 2020

Same mountains, different expeditions, Scott and Petria Fossel completed challenging courses in Wyoming's Wind Rivers. The rest is history: a true NOLS love story. Photo by Nathan Page.

In about 1983, two New York City bankers met at a party. There was the usual small talk, music by Culture Club, and some shop talk, too. Home loan rates were 13%; electronic games maker Coleco was a hot stock; hit movies were Flashdance and The Big Chill.

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Topics: Alumni, Wind River Wilderness, NOLS alumni, Wind River Range, stories

A New Map: A NOLS Grad’s Journey to Walking Again

By Dan Kenah on Jan 14, 2019


Photo by Mireille Brown.

In his 1997 Idaho Adventure Course evaluation, Jim Harris’ instructors noted that “map reading comes easily to Jim.”

He reflected on that skill recently, and how it felt like he "was given the keys to the castle. I could go anywhere on the planet" with it.

But at the time he had no idea it would lead him down a path where few maps exist to show the way forward.

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Topics: Alumni, Adventure Courses, Live the Dream, stories

Leading in the Avalanche Safety and Education Industry

By Kim Freitas on Dec 19, 2018


Musnicki climbing on Mt. Moran in the Tetons. Photo by Paul Rachele.

Editor's note: Adapted from the Fall 2016 issue of The Leader. 

When Jaime Musnicki was first introduced to skiing at age two, it led to a lifelong love of winter sports and an unexpected career path.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, avalanche, winter, inspiring women, women in leadership, stories

Help Your Friends Love NOLS Alumni Trips

By Kyle Courtaway on Nov 29, 2018


Photo courtesy of Kyle Courtaway.

I’m looking down the long dinner table at a rifugio (mountain hut) in the Dolomites with my childhood friends mixed with new NOLS friends. As I sit, I'm reflecting on what it took to get my friends here. We're happy, enjoying our time together in these Italian mountains. 

Contrast that with a moment earlier that day: Our hiking group took a break and I spied one of my childhood friends lying prone on his back, giving me two thumbs up. But I was worrying that he was questioning his decision to go on this trip.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, Alumni Trip, Italy, stories

Easing Back Into Your Frontcountry Life

By Molly Herber on Dec 26, 2017

Photo by Hailey Arnold.
 

The first few days home after my month-long NOLS mountaineering course, I luxuriated in ordinary things—running water and reconnecting with friends, resting in my own bed after nights of camping in windy, cold mountains. But trading a crowded tent for my own bed also felt lonely. The foods I couldn’t wait to feast on went from exciting back to normal. Rest turned into restlessness. I learned that coming back to the frontcountry is as important a change as learning to live in the wilderness.

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Topics: Alumni, Expedition Prep, camping, expedition

From the Office to the Wild: How I Became a Naturalist

By Day Scott on Dec 18, 2017

On a recent camping trip, I saw a group of young boys using sticks as swords, throwing rocks, and flinging algae from the tiny creek that ran adjacent to the campground—not ideal Leave No Trace behavior. I went over to their trip leaders and introduced myself as a naturalist and expressed my discomfort with what the boys were doing. I wasn't sure how the leaders would react—would they ignore me, a black woman, and let “boys be boys”? Instead, one of the leaders called the boys over and told them to have a seat because they were about to learn a lesson on stewardship.

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Topics: Alumni, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine, Live the Dream, inspiring women, women in leadership, stories

Building and Rebuilding: What I Learned on an Alumni Service Trip

By Haley Cushing on Jan 10, 2017

On the first day of the 2016 Alumni Service Trip in the Adirondacks, I remember thinking that our motley crew of highly motivated yet enormously unskilled laborers had quite an impossible mission before us. It was our goal to revamp a bridge and, looking at the bridge spanning across Moose Creek, it looked like a daunting task.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes

Big Agnes Co-Owner Len Zanni: Finding His Way in the Outdoor Industry

By Molly Herber on Sep 13, 2016

At last summer's Outdoor Retailer event, we were able to connect with Len Zanni, co-owner of Big Agnes, Inc. and a NOLS grad! Len talked with us about what he’s learned from NOLS and from his years of working in the outdoor industry.

Len Zanni first found the outdoors when he headed to Colorado for college. Finding himself in one of the West's best places for the outdoors just after finishing a Wind River Wilderness course in Wyoming, he drank in everything he could.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, education, leadership

Any Year Can Be a Gap Year

By Shelby Cranshaw on Sep 9, 2016

I am not entirely sure what I meant when I claimed to “hate nature” for the majority of my life.

But I said it. Often. My dad used to bribe me up mountains with M&Ms every 100 steps. He threatened to send me on NOLS courses during my high school summers when I complained of boredom.

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Topics: Alumni, NOLS Patagonia, Semester, wilderness medicine, adventure, Live the Dream, Gap Year, education

How to Create an Eye-Catching Resume by Talking about Your NOLS Course

By Kim Freitas on Sep 1, 2016


Photo by Aaron Burden.

It can be challenging to clearly and concisely articulate your school and work history on just one page. Not to mention when you have to explain something like a NOLS course!

Luckily for you, a NOLS course gives you a competitive edge—it's unique, valued across industries, and gives you an opportunity to set yourself apart on an application.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, adventure, education, leadership, college prep

Real Life Scenario: A Rescue at Ellison's Cave

By Allen Padgett on Aug 26, 2016

Four experienced cavers were traversing Ellison’s Cave (one of the deepest caves in the lower 48 States) when, in the middle of the mountain, one of the party slipped and fell about 30 to 40 feet down a hole. When his buddies got no response after calling down to their friend, one left to get help while the other two stayed behind.

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Topics: Alumni, wilderness medicine, NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medicine

My Playground, My Dad, My Leadership Voice

By Brette Brickel on Aug 23, 2016

I have always loved being outside, being in the mountains; however, my road since college had taken me from that lifestyle. In the past few years I made it a priority to bring it back to the forefront, which is why I was so excited to show my dad my New Hampshire playground.

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Topics: Alumni, adventure, Live the Dream, leadership

3 Months in the Rockies to 30 Countries in a Year: How a NOLS Alum Went Worldwide

By Erica Levine Weber on Aug 18, 2016

My choice of going on a NOLS Semester in the Rockies was as absurd as traveling to 30 countries with a baby before their first birthday. Apparently, I have a flare for the ridiculous!

I had never been canyoneering, kayaking, rock climbing, ridden a horse, or even camped before. Now, add to that dumbfounded look you're starting to picture, a 17-year-old girl who was still mastering a command of her limbs (think a few clicks past klutzy), and not exactly an Olympic athlete. I'm pretty sure my parents cried when they dropped me off at the airport, not because they'd miss me, but because they weren't totally confident I'd survive.

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Topics: Alumni, travel, Family, adventure, Live the Dream, education, leadership

3 Tips to Improve Your Outdoor Photography Game

By Will Harrison on Aug 12, 2016

Taking photos in the wilderness is a great way to capture memories you will hold for a lifetime. There’s nothing better than coming home with a camera full of your favorite moments—laughing around the campsite with friends, the delicious pizza you managed to perfect (albeit the third attempt), and the breathtaking vistas of the alpenglow on Bastion Peak in the Wind River Range.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, Backpacking, adventure, mountaineering, backcountry, photography