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I Don't Need to Be an Extrovert to Lead: Reflections on Backpacking in Alaska

By Natasha Gold on Jun 18, 2019
Photo by Natasha Gold

In January 2018, I was perusing the internet for outdoor schools on a whim that perhaps I would apply to a program. I stumbled onto the NOLS website; instantly, I wanted to go.

I found an 8-day women-only backpacking expedition in Alaska. I liked the idea of a women’s only trip and I have wanted to camp in Alaska since I was little.

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Topics: Alaska, all-women, women in leadership, Stories, Leadership

Dream with Your Eyes Open: Women's Baja Sea Kayaking Expedition

By Jessey Jansen on Apr 15, 2019
Photo by Lynn Petzold

Jessey shares rhythm and memories from the spring 2019 Women’s Baja Sea Kayaking - Adult course.

I have always been a dreamer. As a kid, I would perch myself on our hard living room floor, nestled in front of the heat-vent, and longingly riffle through the heavy Encyclopedia Britannica.

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Topics: NOLS Mexico, Sea Kayaking, Skills, Baja Sea Kayaking, Kayaking, women in leadership, Stories, Student Stories

"There Is No Limit:" A Kenyan Mountain Guide Advances Her Wilderness Training

By Carol Wanjiru (Mimie) on Mar 13, 2019
On the right is Ol Doinyo Lengai Mountain, which we would attempt summit later that night. On the left is Lake Natron (on the Tanzania side of the border) and Shompole Mountain Conservancy (on the Kenya side). Photo by Carol Wanjiru.

Editor's note: NOLS began operating in East Africa in 1974, opening our first location in Narumoru, Kenya (1974-2003), which closed and later reopened as NOLS East Africa in Arusha, Tanzania in 2011.

In 1987, legendary instructor James Kagambi (KG), a native Kenyan, joined NOLS and launched NOEP, the NOLS Outdoor Educator Program. These courses are designed solely for East Africans and provide training in backcountry travel, leadership, and risk management.

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Topics: Skills, Backpacking, Mountaineering, inspiring women, NOLS East Africa, women in leadership, Stories, Student Stories, Leadership

Leading in the Avalanche Safety and Education Industry

By Kim Freitas on Dec 19, 2018
Photo by Paul Rachele

Editor's note: Adapted from the Fall 2016 issue of The Leader.

When Jaime Musnicki was first introduced to skiing at age two, it led to a lifelong love of winter sports and an unexpected career path.

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Topics: Alumni, Avalanche, winter, inspiring women, women in leadership, Stories, Alumni Accomplishments, Leadership

Meeting the Experts: NOLS Winter Instructor Kate Koons

By Caleb Walker on Dec 18, 2018
Photo by Kate Koons

Kate Koons has a love affair with winter sports.

It began when she learned to ski as part of an after-school program in northern New Jersey.

"There was one lift and one Poma and many of my first memories revolved around trying to push my sister off the Poma lift, or not fall down while skiing the icy moguls to the bottom."

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Topics: winter camping, winter, NOLS Teton Valley, backcountry skiing, inspiring women, snowboarding, splitboarding, women in leadership, Stories, Instructor Stories, Leadership

Learning a Non-Linear Leadership Style from Sea Kayaking

By Jen Dulz on Jun 12, 2018
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 aBaja Sea Kayaking course.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, NOLS Mexico, Baja, Sea Kayaking, women, all-women, women in leadership, Stories, Student Stories

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

By Elena Cabot Rodriguez on Apr 3, 2018
Photo courtesy of the 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.

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Topics: Semester in the Rockies, Skills, Backpacking, NOLS semester, Alaska backpacking, outdoor semester, women in leadership, Stories, Student Stories, Leadership

From the Office to the Wild: How I Became a Naturalist

By Day Scott on Dec 18, 2017

On a recent camping trip, I saw a group of young boys using sticks as swords, throwing rocks, and flinging algae from the tiny creek that ran adjacent to the campground—not ideal Leave No Trace behavior. I went over to their trip leaders and introduced myself as a naturalist and expressed my discomfort with what the boys were doing. I wasn't sure how the leaders would react—would they ignore me, a black woman, and let “boys be boys”? Instead, one of the leaders called the boys over and told them to have a seat because they were about to learn a lesson on stewardship.

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Topics: Alumni, Wilderness First Responder, inspiring women, Wilderness Medicine, women in leadership, Stories

55 and Climbing

By Liz Johnson on Dec 11, 2017

“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: Rock Climbing, all-women, inspiring women, women in leadership, Stories

Growing Confidence through Solo Canoeing

By Rumi Kodama on Jun 14, 2017
Photo courtesy of Rumi Kodama

Editor’s note: Instructor Rumi Kodama takes us inside the connection between person and paddle as she develops her whitewater canoeing skills.

Knowing and understanding a canoe stroke goes much deeper than the movement of the paddle. It’s all about the interplay between the paddle, the canoe, and the movement of the water.

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Topics: Canoeing, whitewater, Skills, nols instructor, inspiring women, whitewater canoeing, women in leadership, Stories, Instructor Stories

Our 10 Favorite Books about Leadership by Women

By Molly Herber on Feb 9, 2017
Photo from Pixabay

Editor’s note: When I asked folks at NOLS World Headquarters for book recommendations, a small and steady flood of suggestions hit my inbox. The request expanded from a small circle of coworkers and friends to include folks I’ve never met—so many that they couldn’t all make the list.

So, you book lovers out there, remember that each one of these books stuck with the person who suggested it—and maybe will for you, too.

Here are 10 of our favorite books about leadership by women to read before, after, or on the way to your next adventure.

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Topics: Leadership Skills, women, inspiring women, Books, women in leadership, Leadership

My Trials and Triumphs Mountaineering in the Himalaya

By Haley Peel on Jan 31, 2017
Photo courtesy of Haley Peel.

About a year ago, I decided to do something drastic. Something life-changing. Something longer than my typical one-week excursions. I wanted to climb the famous (or infamous) white peaks of the Himalaya.

So, I signed up for a six-week Himalaya Mountaineering course with NOLS in India.

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Topics: moutaineering, Skills, NOLS India, women in leadership, Stories, Student Stories