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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

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

Any Year Can Be a Gap Year

By Shelby Cranshaw on 9/9/16 6:49 AM

I am not entirely sure what I meant when I claimed to “hate nature” for the majority of my life.

But I said it. Often. My dad used to bribe me up mountains with M&Ms every 100 steps. He threatened to send me on NOLS courses during my high school summers when I complained of boredom.

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Topics: Alumni, NOLS Patagonia, Semester, wilderness medicine, adventure, Live the Dream, Gap Year, education

Thanking the Wilderness for Letting Me In

By Maya Johnston on 6/7/16 9:12 AM

To family and friends alike (and to the other people who care to read my rambling with the hope that I might, just might go into detail about how long my armpit hair is, or how many times I had to poop in a bag over the course of two and a half months):

I am writing from the train as I think about the past 80 days.

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Topics: Alumni, Semester, NOLS Pacific Northwest, Live the Dream, backcountry

9 Tips to Help You Deal with Homesickness

By Molly Herber on 3/9/16 11:58 AM

No matter how excited you are about heading out on a trip, it’s likely that you’ll feel homesick at least some of the time you're away. Being away from family and friends can be tough. Luckily, there are a few things you can do before and while you’re on your trip to manage homesickness when it strikes.

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Topics: Semester, Expedition Prep, adventure, backcountry

How to Plan for Your Gap Year

By Molly Herber on 2/26/16 2:45 PM

Taking a gap year is a big decision, and figuring out how to do it can be overwhelming.

If you’re struggling to make a plan for your gap year, take a look at these guidelines to get ideas for how to plan (financially, academically, and personally), a successful gap year.

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Topics: Semester, Expedition Prep, adventure, Gap Year, education, backcountry, leadership

The NOLS Underground: Caving

By Sarah Zimmerman on 2/25/16 10:46 AM
Photo by Lindsay Nohl.
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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Semester, adventure, NOLS Southwest, education, caving

Why You Should Get Outside for Your Gap Year

By Molly Herber on 2/12/16 1:27 PM

Each year, more students choose to take a gap year before college, spending the year after graduating high school to travel, work or volunteer. A gap year is a great way to gain experience, learn about yourself, and take a break from the traditional classroom before buckling down for another four years of school. Choosing the right gap year program can be tricky. If you type "gap year" into your search bar, you'll see what feels like an endless list of options.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Semester, Backpacking, adventure, Gap Year, education, backcountry, leadership

Why My Semester Group Thrived

By NOLS Blog on 1/14/16 7:44 AM

By Shannon Reiser, Outdoor Educator Semester '15

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Topics: Alumni, Semester, NOLS Rocky Mountain, adventure, Live the Dream, backcountry, leadership

I Belong in the Woods: Spring Semester in New Zealand

By Natalie Beittel on 8/19/15 8:00 AM

I spent the summer before my junior year of college working for a trail crew. That summer was the most wonderful, the most physically and the most mentally challenging three months of my life.

We hiked 20 miles a day cutting out fallen trees. We carried loaded pack boards up mountains to work sites where we quarried rock to build staircases on the trail. The constant challenge was exhausting but liberating.

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

Take Your Cooking Outdoors: Interview with Expedition Chef Mary Brent Galyean

By Molly Herber on 7/22/15 9:40 AM
Expedition chef and three-time NOLS grad Mary Brent Galyean. Photo from vimeo.com
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Topics: Alumni, Semester, NOLS Rocky Mountain, cooking, Live the Dream, video, NOLS East Africa

What I Learned from My Child’s Gap Year [Interview]

By Molly Herber on 7/7/15 8:00 AM

"Just listen to your child."

A little while back we shared Molly Hunt’s story of her gap year, which included a NOLS Semester in New Zealand. We caught up with her mother to hear about what the gap year experience is like from a parent’s perspective, and she offered some great advice on why a gap year is a powerful learning tool and how to build a meaningful gap year.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, Semester, NOLS New Zealand, Gap Year

Pathfinding on an Outdoor Semester

By Molly Herber on 6/30/15 8:00 AM
Matt Kearns, NOLS Outdoor Educator Semester 2015. Photo courtesy of Matt Kearns.
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Topics: Semester, NOLS Rocky Mountain, climbing, Backpacking, Live the Dream, video, NOLS Southwest, backcountry skiing, canyoneering, Wilderness Medicine

Gap Year: An Incredible Opportunity

By Molly Hunt on 6/19/15 8:00 AM

While taking a gap year is not a normal thing to do in the U.S. after graduating from high school, it was hands-down the best experience that I could have had before entering college. I had no guidance in selecting a gap year—my college counselor didn’t even know what a gap year was. I, alone, had to plan my year with diligence, create goals, and nail down the things in my life that I sought to improve before entering college. Little did I know when I chose NOLS that I was about to embark on a hugely positive, life changing adventure.

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Topics: Alumni, Semester, Sea Kayaking, NOLS New Zealand, Backpacking, Live the Dream, video

Life on the Borders

By Mike Betz on 1/22/15 6:25 AM

“Semester on the Borders students experience two very distinct and complimentary bioregions on this course: the desert Southwest and the Pacific Northwest marine environment. I can't think of another course that integrates such extremely different environments into one expedition,” said NOLS Instructor and Pacific Northwest Operations Manager John Harnetiaux.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Semester, NOLS Pacific Northwest, NOLS Southwest