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What You Learn on a NOLS Semester

By Brooke Ortel on 8/30/18 9:10 AM


Photo by Jordan Cranch.

On her Rocky Mountain Outdoor Educator semester, Erin Phillips skied backcountry mountains, canoed whitewater rapids, and hiked more than 100 miles across the Utah desert. Each new landscape brought fresh experiences, including the day she and her coursemates hiked for hours to reach a water source in the desert’s slot canyons and danced in celebration.

The desert awakened another kind of thirst as well, a burning curiosity about the beautiful and harsh environment that surrounded her: “Escalante taught me a very special lesson: to stop. To stop doing and start listening.” 

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Topics: Semester abroad, Behind the Scenes, Semester, culture, leadership, outdoor semester

Research Connects Wilderness Experience with Stronger Problem-solving Skills

By Shannon Rochelle on 8/28/18 9:11 AM

Photo by Justine Cornelison.
 

Last summer, the Antler River was a knee-deep stream flowing through a broad meadow deep in the mountains of Alaska. Now, it was a moving lake, flooding the entire meadow.

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Topics: Semester abroad, Behind the Scenes, Semester, Research, Problem Solving, leadership, outdoor semester

NOLS and the Wilderness Risk Management Conference: 25 Years of Facing Challenges Together

By Molly Herber on 7/25/18 8:28 AM


Crossing a river. Photo by Eric Page.

While taking my instructor course to teach for NOLS, we spent a lot of time talking about decision making. For example, would we cross this river using the snow bridge or a wading technique—the bridge looking like the more comfortable option compared to the guarantee of wet boots, but which might collapse and dump us into the chilly water anyway.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, WRMC, Wilderness Risk Management Conference

New Courses for Fall 2018

By Molly Herber on 5/16/18 10:09 AM

Planning a trip always represents new possibilities: Where will we go that’s new? And where will we return to in a way that’s radically different?

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, expedition, new courses

Climbing for More Than the Summit

By Ben Lerman on 4/5/18 8:22 AM


Ahlqvist on an acclimatization climb in the Himalaya. Photo courtesy of Carina Ahlqvist.

“I am driven to do my part for a better world, not just reach the summit and get an adrenaline kick.”

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Topics: Himalayan climbing, Behind the Scenes, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, mountaineering

Lynn Hill on Mitigating Risk with Wilderness Medicine

By Jared Steinman on 2/8/18 7:51 AM

“To my knowledge, none of the climbers I was with were formally trained in the way of wilderness medicine and with only a medical kit and no radio communication, I felt very out there. I knew that if anything went wrong or if someone needed help, we couldn’t do much of anything.”

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Wilderness First Responder, wilderness medicine

New Courses for Summer 2018

By Molly Herber on 1/29/18 8:16 AM

Putting a new course together is good practice for tolerance for uncertainty. We try to answer questions like, will folks be excited about canoeing the Adirondacks this year? Or would they rather go on an all-girls backpacking expedition in the Olympic National Forest? In the end, we have to do the same thing we do in the backcountry—use the information available to make a decision, and then see what happens.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, new courses

Up Mountains and Down Rivers: Packrafting at NOLS

By Tim Kelley on 1/16/18 8:35 AM

I found packrafting in the summer of 2015 on a three-week trip in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. While I was already an avid whitewater paddler and backcountry hiker, packrafting clarified my love for the backcountry into something more simple. It was not just about the feeling of traveling with a river’s current or across eddy lines. It was not just the feeling of lactic acid in my legs after a steep climb. Packrafting was a synthesis of all I loved about exploration—a celebration of traveling through the backcountry by any means. It begged me to look further and it opened doors to adventures that were otherwise impossible.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Alaska, packrafting

Transform Your Backcountry Cooking with the New NOLS Cookery

By Helen Wilson on 11/30/17 4:10 PM

“We’re out of food!” Josh shouted as his group hiked into the campsite on the last night of the course.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, recipe, NOLS cookery, backcountry recipe

Embracing Acceptable Risk in the Non-Traditional Classroom: Marin Academy & the WRMC

By Lexi Golestani on 11/21/17 2:40 PM

NOLS Risk Services caught up with Julie Barnes to find out why she values risk taking, risk management, and wilderness-based experiential education. Julie is the Director of Outings at Marin Academy (MA), an independent high school in San Rafael, CA, with a big focus on immersive experiential education & engaged learning. Many of these experiences take place in wilderness areas, which invite challenge, exploration, and the opportunity, for students and faculty alike, to be fully present.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, WRMC, Wilderness Risk Management Conference

Black Wolf Expedition: First Descent Packrafting in the Canadian North

By Chad Lorenz on 11/13/17 10:45 AM

“I am going to say it's not really possible to connect the Broken Skull with other rivers in the area, the mountains are just too impassible…Black Wolf Creek is unknown. Drops at a significant gradient from Grizzly…and passes through some very narrow canyons which would probably be huge whitewater. Not really recommended to go there...It is not possible to connect Broken Skull or Black Wolf (to) Thundercloud Creek without helicopter support.” -Local river guide

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Canada, packrafting, Instructor expedition

Learning a Helping Mindset While Camping

By Molly Herber on 10/12/17 10:27 AM

The start of a course, or any trip with new people, is usually a little bit messy. Setting up the tent just took 45 minutes and, when you finally finish, you realize that no one has started cooking dinner yet. On top of that, you don’t even have water to cook with yet.

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Topics: leadership, Behind the Scenes, expedition behavior

How to Create a High-Functioning Team in the Outdoors

By Taylor Owens on 9/7/17 8:24 AM

You go on outdoor adventures to enjoy the group experience as much the scenery or any activity you'll do. Just like packing your gear, you can plan ways to keep everyone motivated and excited to be part of the team.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Outdoor Leadership

New Courses for Winter and Spring 2018

By Molly Herber on 8/24/17 9:17 AM

We’re excited to announce our three new courses for winter and spring of 2018. Do service work at a school in Tanzania, explore remote cave paintings in Baja California, and grow your avalanche awareness with a winter ski training.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes

Teaching Leadership Through Storytelling on Wilderness Expeditions

By Eric Boggs on 7/19/17 1:00 PM

Instructor, University of Oregon faculty member, and speaker at the 2017 NOLS Summit Eric Boggs talks with us about how to use storytelling as a powerful way to teach leadership.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, leadership, storytelling