She had never been hiking. She had never been camping.
She had never slept outside on the ground, and she had
never done anything difficult or frightening in her life.
"It was my freshman year in college and I wanted
to do something challenging," remembers Janice Bloom.
The ability to tackle new challenges is something she
has embraced. Janice recently returned from a hiking trip
in Chile, taking 15 city kids from New York's East Side
Community High School along with her. "NOLS was my
first experience of taking something that was hard and
overcoming it," says Janice. "Since then, I've
done a lot of traveling and a lot of things that were really
scary and hard. I came away from NOLS with a feeling that
the outdoors was something I belonged to and that belonged
Janice teaches English and social studies in the inner
city public school. More than 80 percent of her students
come from low-income families. Opening up the outdoors
to these students, many of whom have never been outside
their neighborhoods, has become an important element in
"The teaching I do is all about challenge and the
kind of leadership that I learned at NOLS is like that," says
Janice. "For these kids, most of them are the first
in their families to finish high school or go to college.
It's a lot like a NOLS course, taking someone who has never
experienced something and making them believe that they
can do it."
Janice was so impressed with her NOLS experience in 1988
that she returned for an outdoor
educator's course in 1997.
"As an educator, doing NOLS put me back into the
student role, which I think is incredibly important for
teachers," says Janice. "We ask our students
to do that every day; as a teacher you need to continue
to put yourself into that student role."
After that course, Janice went back to school fired up
and excited to bring the experience to her students. The
next year, a scholarship made it possible for a young woman
to attend NOLS. "She had the time of her life," remembers
Janice. "She came on the (recent) trip to Chile and
it was apparent that she has grown so much from that course.
As a teacher it is one of the deepest pleasures you can
get to watch your students grow like that. She had clearly
learned so much about leadership and sharing what she knew,
as well as looking out for the group."
NOLS is also reaching the other teachers at East Side
Community High. This past summer, a third teacher from
the school came to the wild country of Wyoming with NOLS.
"NOLS is a model of how to run an organization and
to have an organization grow in a way that is responsible
and deeply thoughtful," remarks Janice. "I've
worked with a lot of organizations and I'm always so impressed
that NOLS continues to do things well, do things softly,