On a NOLS course, "you get so much confidence in yourself that you think anything is possible," says Tom Scott of his spring semester in the Rockies in 1988. Scott obviously proved that statement because the day after he got back from his course, he started a business that today has sales that speak of confidence, initiative and drive; $50 million in 1997 and counting.
As co-founder of Nantucket Nectars, Scott attributes a lot of his success to those 90 days he spent climbing, hiking, rafting, skiing and caving. "I loved it right from the get go, but it was tough and I took one day at a time," remembers Scott. "I felt like I was unstoppable, I've never had more energy than I had after it was over. That form of education is unbelievable."
After the semester ended, Scott and partner Tom First started a boat business that catered to yacht owners in Nantucket. That business changed and grew until the pair were selling homemade, natural juices that became Nantucket Nectars. Today, Nantucket is co-owned by the juice giant Ocean Spray and Scott and First serve as co-presidents. And he hasn't forgotten NOLS. Indeed, his sister went to NOLS at his urging and he says of anyone considering a semester of outdoor education: "I really do credit NOLS for my experience in life. If you want to change your life, just go to NOLS, that's what I told my sister and she is such a different person today."
Scott likes the semester concept. "I believe you need to do the longer courses. I know what I felt after two weeks and I know what I felt after three months and it was really different. Go for the long ones, the long ones are where you are really going to learn a lot."
And Nantucket Nectars? It's in most of the major cities in the country. It continues to expand. "Our goals are to have the best product, the happiest employees and the best distribution. The reason we made it is not because we were smart, it's because we cared."