NOLS Blog

Browse by Category

Backcountry Lessons for Today’s World: Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty

By Sophie Komornicki on Mar 26, 2020
Photo by Oscar Manguy

The term “uncertainty” has become a buzzword as we navigate a new normal—practicing social distancing, adjusting to working remotely, supporting our kids as they begin online classes, and searching stores for toilet paper or disinfecting wipes. However, enduring unexpected challenges is not a new concept, especially for those of us who regularly adventure outdoors. Almost every trip into the backcountry has some kind of uncertainty and adversity, and the skills you learned there can apply to today’s frontcounty.

Read More

Topics: leadership, tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, Tolerance for Adversity, backcountry, leader-skills

You Don’t Always Have to Know the Answer: Vulnerability in Leadership

By Carolyn Highland on Mar 25, 2020

Photo by Carolyn Highland.

The thunder rolled, the lightning cracked, and I knew I could never lead students in the backcountry on my own.

Read More

Topics: leadership, Outdoor Educator, NOLS Expeditions

Hiking Like a Girl

By Caroline Dooley on Mar 16, 2020
Photo by Caroline Dooley

Every day for years I wore the same outfit: baggy red basketball shorts and pink floral sandals.

For me, this is what it meant to be a girl. My love of floral print combined with a hatred of form-fitting clothing, creating a unique juxtaposition that made me me.

Read More

Topics: leadership, Sea Kayaking, backpacking, kayaking, Alaska, Alaska backpacking, stories, student-stories

Expedition Science on the Slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro

By Mara Gans on Mar 10, 2020
Students walk alongside a receding ice field at 19,000 feet in the summit caldera of Mt. Kilimanjaro. After a successful summit, their next mission is to gather data on Kilimanjaro's largest remaining glacier. Photo by Mara Gans.

I was challenged in two realms on this course—scientific research and outdoor skills. It was incredible to realize how deeply connected these two worlds are. As someone incredibly passionate about the outdoors, I feel that the science aspect of this course further enhanced my understanding of my actions in the outdoor world.Emilie Ginn, Tanzania Scientific Research Expedition

Read More

Topics: leadership, study-abroad, Mount Kilimanjaro, research, education, NOLS Tanzania, science

Creating Space: Why All-Women's Expeditions Matter

By Brooke Ortel on Mar 5, 2020
Photo by Nadine Lehner

“In a lot of ways, it’s just a normal NOLS course. But there’s also an aspect of recognition that the outdoor world is still predominantly male, and it’s cool and empowering to be out here with a bunch of women who historically haven’t always been accepted in this realm of work and play.” —Katie Oram, NOLS Instructor

Read More

Topics: leadership, research, all-women, female leaders, inspiring women, NOLS Expeditions, affinity

How Outdoor Adventures Set Teens up for Life Success

By Brooke Ortel on Mar 2, 2020
Photo by Kirk Rasmussen

In today’s world, students find the idea of failure appalling, intolerable. It’s like standing on the edge of a looming precipice or swift-flowing river with no guarantee of a safe crossing. But in reality, the prospect of failure isn’t (usually) a looming gorge—it’s a botched exam, lower-than-desired SAT score, getting cut from the team, losing the race for class president.

Read More

Topics: leadership, teens, Adventure Courses, research, education, NOLS Teton Valley, NOLS Expeditions, leader-skills

A Rural Surprise: Utah Officials Support National Parks

By Rich Brame on Sep 25, 2019
Utah wildflowers

Southern Utah is a land of contrasts. High peaks border deep canyons. Wide slickrock plateaus divide narrow, winding washes. Sought-after resources like coal, uranium, and natural gas lie beneath open space, wildlife habitat, and crystal skies. National parks, with their focus on visitors, are rimmed by rural communities with agricultural roots.

Read More

Topics: leadership, environment, stewardship, wilderness, activism

Business Undergrads Look to Wilderness Expeditions for Leadership Training

By Stephanie Cantu on Aug 26, 2019

Dozens of candidates from undergraduate business and MBA programs across the U.S. go on wilderness expeditions with NOLS each year. Stephanie Cantu, Senior Student Program Coordinator and academic advisor for the Canfield Business Honors Program at The University of Texas, shares what she sees her students gain from these expeditions, and how they’re set up for success in the ever-changing business world.

Read More

Topics: leadership, wilderness education, Business School, students, MBAs, wilderness, NOLS Custom Education, NOLS Expeditions

SOAR Act Introduction to the House of Representatives

By Aaron Bannon on Jul 26, 2019
Photo by Trip Davis

For newly-minted outdoor programs, and for well-established ones like NOLS, the business of permitting and access on U.S. public lands is becoming increasingly challenging. Agencies responsible for permitting are under-resourced, mired in administrative processes, and compelled to prioritize other resource needs first.

Read More

Topics: leadership, events, Environmental Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, stewardship

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 astronautsand other NASA staff, taking them into the backcountry for experiential lessons in expedition behavior, teamwork, and leadership.

Read More

Topics: leadership, leadership education, NOLS Leader, NASA, research, 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.

Read More

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

How Valuing Different Leadership Roles Makes Better Teams

By Molly Herber on Oct 23, 2018

Photo by Brad Christensen.
 

Picture a leader in your mind.

Maybe you're imagining a lone individual singlehandedly making decisions and wielding authority.

Or, maybe you're thinking of someone completely different—like your friend who avoids the spotlight, but always has their eyes open for places to help. 

Which one’s a “real” leader? Of course, the answer’s both—and more.


Read More

Topics: leadership, Behind the Scenes

Research Connects Wilderness Experience with Stronger Problem-solving Skills

By Shannon Rochelle on Aug 28, 2018

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.

Read More

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

The Top 3 Leadership Lessons You Won’t Learn in an Office or Classroom

By Liz Townsend on Jul 10, 2018
My rope team heading back to base camp. Photo by Liz Townsend.

You might think that seven years of working in the business world would have taught me about leadership. Yet the best lessons I’ve learned have come while climbing rocks and mountains and hiking miles into the wilderness, where traveling with companions over steep snowy passes and through thick forested valleys has forced me to face leadership challenges in ways that I rarely encounter inside.

Read More

Topics: leadership, tolerance for adversity and uncertainty, skills, backpacking, MBAs, NOLS Custom Education, leader-skills

Pay It Forward: How My NOLS Semester Helped Me Lead My Own Backcountry Trips

By Carolyn Highland on Jun 27, 2018
Photo by Carolyn Highland

November 21, 2012 was one of my favorite days on this planet. Up until this point, the idea of identifying a favorite day had seemed impossible, like choosing your favorite drop of water in a rushing river. But this was a day that made you realize if you couldn’t identify days that made the shortlist, you hadn’t yet experienced the type of day worthy of it.

Read More

Topics: leadership, Semester, skiing, NOLS New Zealand, NOLS semester, outdoor semester, stories, student-stories