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Find Your Next Adventure in the City

By Molly Herber on 10/5/17 10:25 AM

Adventure isn’t only about going to the most remote wilderness area you can find—it’s about doing something that challenges or surprises you, and doing it with people you enjoy. Even at NOLS we don’t spend all of our time in big wilderness areas, as much as we love them.

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Topics: Live the Dream, microadventure

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

The Alaskan Tundra Jumpstarts New Adventures

By Jen Pontrelli on 9/12/17 7:59 AM

Editor’s note: Alum Dave’s NOLS course jumpstarted a new life of activity and adventure—at age 49. Read what led to his transformation and get some ideas for bringing more action to your life. Adapted from the summer 2017 issue of The Leader.

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Topics: Live the Dream, Prime, Adult courses

6 Lessons I Did Not Expect to Learn from NOLS

By Travis Burhart on 8/30/17 8:47 AM

Finally, I could breathe a sigh of relief. After hiking all morning, my NOLS expedition team and I finished ascending a peak in the McCall Gulch Cirque of the North Cascades Wilderness. I looked to the north, catching sight of Canada only miles away. Turning around, I observed the mountains to the south. Dense, snow-covered forests filled in the landscape, and I could not believe my team and I had traveled through that.

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Topics: NOLS Pacific Northwest, Live the Dream

Improve Your Appetite for Uncertainty

By Molly Herber on 5/15/17 8:36 AM

“Happy campers aren’t the ones with the fewest problems…They just have more positive attitudes and better coping strategies.”

NOLS Leadership Educator Notebook, 5th ed.

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Topics: leadership education, Live the Dream

Get Off the Grid for a Gap Year

By Molly Herber on 4/12/17 8:29 AM

Editor’s note: I asked staff around NOLS why they think it’s a good idea to get off the grid for a gap year. We do love our technology, but there’s also a whole lot of value in disconnecting for a while. Here’s why.

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Topics: Live the Dream, Gap Year

3 Ideas to Feed Your Inner Wild

By Will Harrison on 3/13/17 1:27 PM

As NOLS alumni and outdoor enthusiasts know, it’s a strange process returning to the frontcountry. From trying to suppress thoughts that not everywhere is a restroom, to resisting the urge to lock your phone away forever, there’s a little bit of wilderness that gets tangled with our inner selves and is constantly looking for a way out.

If you’re like me and living in a bigger city, going to school, or just looking to find a trail to feel back in the woods again, here are some tips you can use to survive in the city.

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Topics: Live the Dream

Tolerance for Uncertainty & Adversity

By Carolyn Highland on 2/22/17 10:31 AM

It was four in the morning, it was sideways sleeting, and the tent pole cup was broken. I stood huddled in my rain gear, aiming my headlamp down at my tentmate and my instructor, who were lying sideways on the icy snow, trying to speedy-stitch the stirrup back to the tent body before they lost all dexterity in their hands.

It was four in the morning and I was supposed to be snuggled up in my sleeping bag inside the tent, but instead I was outside getting pelted with rain on the side of a snowy mountain, the blackness around me increasing the sense of being in the absolute middle of nowhere.

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Topics: Semester, NOLS New Zealand, Live the Dream, Gap Year

Looking Within, Stepping Forward

By NOLS Blog on 2/15/17 11:56 AM

NOLS was born in a time of tumult in the United States. In 1965 the Vietnam War was expanding, the Selma March paved the way for the Voting Rights Act, the Watts riots raged and Malcolm X was assassinated. NOLS was not an accident. It was a response to a void that existed.

Fifty two years later in another time of considerable division, now is a good time to reflect on our values, our purpose and our place in the world.

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Topics: Live the Dream

The Big Picture: How I Found My Grit on a Semester in Baja

By Sarah Buer on 1/25/17 8:20 AM

Tell us a little about your NOLS course.

Three years ago as part of a gap year, I took part in a semester-long, eighty day NOLS course in Baja California.

This course consisted of fifteen students and four highly-trained instructors embarking on a 100-mile hike from San Juanico to Mulegé, a 120-nautical mile sail on the Sea of Cortez from Loreto to just about south of Puerto Agua Verde, and ending with a 250-mile sea kayaking journey from Puerto Agua Verde to a town called Tecalote. (I also received sixteen college credits for my course, ranging from wilderness first aid to Leave No Trace principles!)

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Topics: Semester, Baja, sea kayak, Baja Sea Kayaking, Live the Dream, NOLS semester, Gap Year, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Enjoying the Tiny Life

By Molly Herber on 1/3/17 10:48 AM

Twelve years ago, Dee Williams decided to radically downsize. With excessive work hours, a hefty home loan, and a period of poor health, she realized she couldnt pursue her real joys. “I wanted to have time and energy and resources to offer to other folks and other issues that were important to me,” she said.

Inspired by an article she read about a tiny house, Dee decided to build her own, an 84-square-foot home on wheels.

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Topics: Live the Dream

Potential Energy

By Rachel Dranoff on 12/27/16 7:52 AM

Potential energy: (noun) Energy that is stored within an object, not in motion but capable of becoming active.

I had been dreaming of doing a NOLS course since age 21, although I didn’t fully realize it at the time. My college boyfriend did a semester in the Pacific Northwest, and I remember exchanging letters and the excitement of being able to talk on the phone when he was back at the base.

Six years later, recovering from the end of our relationship, I found myself in the Pacific Northwest about to embark on a NOLS adventure of my own.

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Topics: Live the Dream

An Astronaut Candidate’s Take on Goals and Leadership

By Molly Herber on 12/21/16 10:43 AM

When I asked Canadian astronaut candidate Shawna Pandya about which of her many roles she identified with first, she said,

“It really depends on the day.”

Given the number of roles she has, this answer isn’t a surprise. Pandya’s a resident physician finishing her residency in family practice, training as a citizen science astronaut and aquanaut, and is a competitive martial artist—just to name a few.

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Topics: Live the Dream

How Can I Support You? The Power of Expedition Behavior

By Carolyn Highland on 12/19/16 8:52 AM

The sky was gray and the sea restless and we had just pulled up to a desolate beach somewhere in the Marlborough Sound. I sat on a piece of driftwood with my head between my knees, taking belabored breaths in and out of my mouth, relishing the stillness of my current position.

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Topics: Live the Dream

Just Go for It: Making Gap Year a Reality

By Bailey Barnes on 11/21/16 1:13 PM

We caught up with Fall Semester in the Rockies grad Bailey Barnes to learn more about the challenges—and fun—of a gap year, and the work and planning it took to make her gap year a reality.

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Topics: Live the Dream, Gap Year