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Wilderness and Identity: Q&A with NOLS LGBTQ+ Canyonlands Backpacking Grad

By NOLS on Jan 27, 2020

Exploring the out-of-this-world views of Utah on NOLS' first LGBTQ+ Backpacking Expedition. Photo by Emi Birch.
 
Mat is the Summer Program Manager at Summer Search—a nonprofit that empowers young people who face systemic oppression by providing a unique combination of social-emotional mentoring, post-secondary advising, and summer leadership experiences—such as a custom course hosted by NOLS. He has directed a summer camp that taught peace, social justice, and environmental stewardship. He has also engaged high school students in community service and led service trips to developing countries. 
 
Mat and his husband were part of a group of nine students that completed NOLS’ first LGBTQ+ expedition into the canyonlands of Utah. We caught up with Mat after his course to learn more about his experience.

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Topics: backpacking, hiking, adventure, canyoneering, LGBTQ, q&a, affinity, stories

What I Learned About Resilience from Swimming an Icy Canyon Pond

By Maddy Eschholz on May 30, 2018


Photo by Lindsay Nohl.

Limb-numbing cold water drips down my shirt and pants. Uncontrollable, body wracking shivers. Shallow, quick breaths don't quite fill my lungs. Tears that I couldn't hold in any longer rolling down my cheeks. I hate this. I want to go home. Why do people think this is fun? Why am I so emotional? Why won't these tears stop?

These thoughts and feelings all came rushing into my head after swimming through a deep pond in a slot canyon on the sixth day of my NOLS course. It was November, and the water was the coldest thing I’ve ever felt—it was the kind of cold that made it hurt to take a deep breath. This was the hardest moment of my trip, but also the time when I learned the most about myself and who I wanted to be.

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Topics: Semester in the Rockies, NOLS Rocky Mountain, Live the Dream, NOLS semester, Utah, canyoneering, stories

Pathfinding on an Outdoor Semester

By Matt Kearns on Jun 30, 2015

Backpacking in Wyoming's Wind River Range. Photo by Jamie Taylor.

Matt Kearns spent the spring of 2015 on a NOLS Outdoor Educator Semester. From backcountry skiing to whitewater canoeing, he did it all. Read about his semester, funded in part with his veterans benefits, and how it helped give him the space and direction to consider a career in the natural sciences.

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Topics: Semester, NOLS Rocky Mountain, climbing, Backpacking, Live the Dream, video, NOLS Southwest, backcountry skiing, canyoneering, Wilderness Medicine