We believe positive, ethical leaders change the world. Based on this belief, NOLS has, over the last 46 years, become the leader in wilderness education. Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS takes students of all ages on remote wilderness expeditions and teaches them technical outdoor skills, leadership, and environmental ethics.
What NOLS teaches cannot be learned in a traditional classroom or on a city street. It takes practice to learn outdoor skills and time to develop leadership. The backcountry provides the ideal setting for this unique, experiential education—NOLS classrooms are some of the world’s wildest and most awe-inspiring locations. We believe living in untouched places like our classrooms will teach students responsibility for all that surrounds us.
“NOLS courses may take place in ‘natural’ classrooms, but the lessons learned transcend walls, mountains, rivers, and international borders.”
– Susan Genatossio, NOLS parent
Our instructors all believe leadership can be learned, and they have been trained in the NOLS leadership curriculum, outdoor ethics, and wilderness skills to help every student become the strongest leader he or she can be. NOLS instructors are experienced wilderness expedition leaders, and they are passionate educators. They possess a blend of technical skills competence, and teaching abilities, and they genuinely enjoy interacting with groups of people. NOLS operates on the firm belief that learning should be fun, something our instructors exemplify and our students attest to every day.
With courses ranging from 10 days to a full academic year, we attract highly motivated students who want to learn how to lead. NOLS graduates have everything needed to lead others in the backcountry, as well as the leadership ability to excel at work or in the classroom. We expect a great deal of our students. NOLS courses are demanding, because we believe people thrive when challenged. Our hands-on, learn-by-doing approach means our graduates get the skills they need to be competent, responsible wilderness travelers long after their course.
Join us to experience the fun, the growth, and the adventure of a NOLS course.