NOLS Blog

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Educator Expedition: Family Time Rafting on the Middle Fork

By Will Stubblefield on 4/17/17 8:51 AM

We arrived at Velvet Falls, one of the first notable rapids of this family trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, instructor, NOLS Teton Valley, whitewater rafting

New Courses for Fall 2017

By Molly Herber on 4/10/17 8:49 AM

Editor’s Note: We’re introducing six new courses to our fall lineup that are all 10 days or shorter. Enjoy!

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, NOLS Rocky Mountain, NOLS Southwest, NOLS Northeast

Expedition to Pluto: The New NOLS Course

By Molly Herber on 4/1/17 7:30 AM

We’re announcing the newest NOLS course: Pluto Space Travel and Spacewalking.

According to executive director John Gans, “Pluto’s an unconventional choice, but was only logical for our newest course area.”

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Topics: Behind the Scenes

How to Make Your Routine Leave No Trace

By Molly Herber on 3/29/17 8:16 AM

You’re the type of person who will eat a noodle that fell in the dirt, shudder when you think about “surface pooping,” and march right through mud puddles on the trail rather than around them. You’re a master of Leave No Trace.

It can be hard to know how to bring your dedication to LNT to your daily routine. So, I asked around my colleagues at NOLS Headquarters to find out what they do to keep LNT alive in their daily routine. Maybe it’ll spark ideas you can fit into your lifestyle.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, leave no trace, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

Make Leadership the Focus of Your Gap Year

By Katherine Boehrer on 3/23/17 9:42 AM

I took my first NOLS course, Alaska Backpacking, the summer before my senior year of high school. Many things I learned in the backcountry made me better prepared for my final year of high school and starting college. If you're thinking about taking a gap year, that's a perfect time to hone your leadership skills. The value of travel, work experience, or service during a gap year isn't just in activities—it's also in the intangible skills like teamwork and self-reliance.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Gap Year

4 Ways You Can Always Be Learning

By Molly Herber on 3/16/17 8:45 AM

At the start of a 10-day rock climbing seminar for NOLS instructors, I didn't know what to expect. It was my first seminar, and I worried that I wouldn't know as much as everyone else and would always be working to catch up. But once I got to NOLS Southwest and started meeting my coursemates, I quickly realized that wasn’t the case.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, instructors, rock climbing

New Courses for Summer 2017

By Molly Herber on 2/21/17 9:50 AM

When we decide to create a new course, it comes from a combination of our faculty’s passion for the area and constant desire for growth, and from what students say they want to see more of.

So, here’s a peek at the new courses you can take starting the summer of 2017. You can focus on service learning, explore the far north of Norway, or walk through the heart of Alaska’s Talkeetna Range.

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Topics: service, Behind the Scenes, NOLS Rocky Mountain, Sea Kayaking, NOLS Alaska, Backpacking, NOLS Scandinavia

Our 10 Favorite Books about Leadership by Women

By Molly Herber on 2/9/17 11:04 AM

[Editor’s note: When I asked folks at NOLS’ headquarters for book recommendations, a small and steady flood of suggestions hit my inbox. The request expanded from a small circle of coworkers and friends to include folks I’ve never met—so many that they couldn’t all make the list.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Books

How to Connect Leave No Trace to Your Daily Life

By Molly Herber on 2/6/17 8:02 AM

Leave No Trace is part of the camping mindset—when you’re out in the woods, your environmental impact is easy to see. But how do we bring that ethic back home with us?

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Topics: Behind the Scenes

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

By Haley Cushing on 1/10/17 4:09 PM

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

Looking Back, Looking Ahead: The NOLS Logo

By Molly Herber on 12/13/16 9:04 AM

On the very first NOLS course, students walked into the mountains wearing the same outfit. A single patch decorated every shirt: the stars and shield logo that represented the National Outdoor Leadership School.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes

Climbing Higher: The New NOLS Look

By John Gans on 12/12/16 12:15 PM

NOLS looks a little different today.

For the past year, we've been developing a new look and logo for NOLS, and today I'm delighted to share the behind-the-scenes action that created this look and what's ahead.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes

22 Ways You Know You’re a NOLSie

By Rachel Dranoff on 11/8/16 6:54 AM

Reflections on returning to society after a NOLS course…

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Topics: Behind the Scenes

Pursuing a Passion: Choosing an Outdoor Gap Year

By Eugene Buchanan on 10/26/16 12:33 PM
Gap year parent Eugene Buchanan writes about his daughter's surprising decision to take a gap year.

The NOLS Decision

“You what?” I asked my 17-year-old daughter, Brooke.

“I’m going to graduate early, a semester, my senior year. I want that to be my gap semester. I want to do a NOLS course.”

Accepting the independence of a teenage daughter is hard enough; seeing it come at the sake of a promising soccer career—one making you a doting soccer parent for over a decade—was perhaps even harder.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Gap Year

Blood, Sweat, and Cheese: An Epic Adventure

By Liz Blair on 10/18/16 12:30 PM

23 days, 12 students, 4 instructors, and 1 epic adventure. This fall, I participated in an Outdoor Educator course with NOLS in Lander, Wyoming.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Outdoor Educator