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Learning a Non-Linear Leadership Style from Sea Kayaking

By Jen Dulz on 6/12/18 10:00 AM


Getting ready to launch the boats. Photo by Ali Bradley.

It was hot. I struggled to find shade as our group went through necessary orientation tasks: carry 3-5 water droms behind each boat, assign cook groups, gather group gear, divide group gear, assign and load boats.

Since I'd paddled on a NOLS trip before, I was "voluntold" to be the lead boat in a single kayak. I learned our heading, received a few instructions about monitoring my speed, and then we launched—a group of women on a Baja Sea Kayaking course.

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Topics: NOLS Mexico, Baja, Sea Kayaking, women, all-women, leadership

NOLS Instructor Expeditions of 2017

By Molly Herber on 6/6/18 9:36 AM


Photo by Eric Page.

How do you become a better educator? There’s no one best answer, but continuing to be a learner yourself is certainly up there.

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Topics: canoeing, Himalaya, kayaking, mountaineering, Alaska, Instructor Development Fund (IDF), leadership, packrafting, Instructor expedition

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful: Why I Went Back to NOLS

By Elena Cabot Rodriguez on 4/3/18 9:11 AM

Photo courtesy of NOLS archives.
 

All my life my dad had preached the power of NOLS. The first summer he moved to the United States from Venezuela, he completed the four-week backpacking course in the Wind River Range.

Speaking little English, he cruised with his team through snowy mountain tops, only to be caught in a snowstorm at 8,000 feet with an instructor who had a leg injury. He still loves to talk about carrying the instructor up to a clearing and snuggling with him at night to prevent hypothermia.

“I’ve never done anything like it,” my dad told me.

“Cool, Papa,” I said for the thousandth time, tired of hearing about Wind River epics that seemed so foreign to me.

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Topics: Semester in the Rockies, Live the Dream, leadership, Alaska backpacking

Why It’s Important for Teens to Learn Leadership

By Molly Herber on 3/22/18 9:12 AM


Photo by Ella Bruijn.

As our students hiked off, each in their own small group and following the routes they’d planned themselves, a knot twisted and untwisted in my stomach.

My instructor team and I had spent the previous three weeks backpacking with our students, all 16- and 17-year olds, handing off more decision-making responsibilities to them each day.

I’d seen them make responsible choices, and also learn from making their own mistakes (like taking the “shortcut” through the boulder field rather than the slightly longer but much easier walk around the lake). They were ready for the responsibility, but it was nerve-wracking to watch them go, even knowing we’d meet up again in just a few days.

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Topics: teens, experiential education, leadership

How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Take a NOLS Course

By Erica Nelson on 3/15/18 10:37 AM


Photo by Craig Muderlak

When I heard from NOLS’ staffing office that I’d been accepted on the River Instructor Course, I was beyond stoked. I ran to tell my boss the great news. Expecting her to be happy, instead she said, “We can’t afford to lose you this time of year.”

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Topics: Expedition Prep, Live the Dream, leadership

4 Strategies Leaders Use to Make Better Decisions

By Molly Herber on 3/7/18 10:06 AM


Photo by Betsy Winston.

Imagine this: You’re trying to figure out the best way to cross a river with your group of four friends. Even though you’ve crossed rivers on your own before, you’ve never led a group while doing it.

You’re wracking your brain trying to remember any acronyms that might help you, scrambling around the riverbank trying to guess the river’s speed, and weighing the equally strong temptations of “just going for it” and staying put, making camp, and coming back to the decision in the morning.

When you’re on the verge of total frustration, your friend shouts, “Hey, I found a log! Let’s use it to cross the river!”

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Topics: decision making, Live the Dream, leadership

55 and Climbing

By Liz Johnson on 12/11/17 7:31 AM

“You’re cruising, Alex. I can hardly keep up with you!” I called up to my climbing coursemate as I belayed her.

“I’m trying a new technique,” she yelled back. “It’s called ‘Keep Going!’”

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Topics: Live the Dream, rock climbing, leadership

Learn Your Habits to Make Better Decisions

By Molly Herber on 9/20/17 8:56 AM

Humans’ ability to use patterns helps us make decisions faster, but can also lead us into what NOLS teaches in our leadership curriculum as decision-making traps.

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Topics: decision making, Live the Dream, leadership

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

Make Leadership the Focus of Your Gap Year

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

Backpacking in Alaska. Photo by Tara Pesman.

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, leadership

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

By Molly Herber on 9/13/16 11:59 AM

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

Growing Your Comfort Zone in the Wilderness

By Molly Herber on 9/2/16 9:47 AM

We read in plenty of places that getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing—it seems these days that everyone wants us to step outside of it and push its boundaries.

You can imagine the comfort zone place as a big pile of cozy pillows, with the temperature set at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit and with fuzzy socks on your feet. You’re safe. You know what to say and how to behave. You can complete tasks without even thinking. In all probability, you like your comfort zone.

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Topics: risk management, Educators Notebook, education, leadership

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

By Kim Freitas on 9/1/16 9:33 AM

A resume is a tool to introduce yourself to a potential employer. It’s challenging to clearly and concisely articulate your work history on one page. Not to mention when you have to explain something like a NOLS course!

Whether you took a two-day Wilderness First Aid course or a three-month gap semester, you can use this experience to stand out on your next application.

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

Intro to Federal Public Lands in the U.S.

By Katherine Boehrer on 8/30/16 10:32 AM

America’s federal public lands are an amazing resource for all kinds of recreation—but how much do you know about the different kinds of public land?

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Topics: adventure, Environmental Stewardship, stewardship, education, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, leadership

My Playground, My Dad, My Leadership Voice

By Brette Brickel on 8/23/16 11:09 AM

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