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Expedition Leadership | Leadership Types | Leadership Skills
Leadership in 30 Days | Leadership Profiles

Sebastian Junger

Sebastian JungerLeadership Position: Journalist, author of the best-selling book The Perfect Storm
NOLS Graduate: 1976 Adventure Course

There is little doubt Sebastian Junger, author of the bestseller, The Perfect Storm, has led an adventurous life. A journalist who has reported from Kosovo, Cypress, the American West, the Caribbean, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, perhaps it is not surprising that he took a NOLS Adventure course at the age of 14 in 1976. What is clear is that his NOLS training still comes in handy in such places.

“Basically (NOLS) gives you a deep confidence that you can carry with you out of the mountains,” says Junger. “But the cooking, fire building, navigating skills that I learned there have absolutely popped up time after time. I was in Kosovo and we were able to get into a certain area where the KLA were operating because I was able to read a map in a way that none of the other journalists could."

“I'm not sure if ‘adventurous’ people go to NOLS or if NOLS turns people into adventure lovers,” Sebastian continues. “Probably a little of both. Contemporary urban/suburban life is missing a lot of important things, and I was first exposed to that at NOLS. I guess what I’m saying is that I grew up in a suburb of Boston and NOLS was not the first—but one of the first—experiences where I realized there was another way of living.”

These days, Sebastian is living life on the fly. The movie, The Perfect Storm, starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, which was based on Sebastian’s 1997 best-selling book was released to impressive crowds.

When he wasn’t busy receiving accolades for his work, Sebastian was jetting off to various locales as a war correspondent.

“I do foreign assignments for magazines, one was in Sierra Leone in early May (2000), during the aborted coup,” he says. “I will probably continue doing that and eventually write another book. Most of my work takes me to conflict zones but I would like to go back to doing more American topics.”

Sebastian has also launched an organization called The Perfect Storm Foundation that distributes grants to young people in the Gloucester, Mass., area, where his book was set.

“Originally it (the foundation) targeted the children of people in the maritime trades, but then we broadened it,” notes Sebastian. “The grants are relatively small, a few thousand dollars at most, but they have helped people pay college tuition, buy a computer for college, go to boat building school—many, many things. It is not just a scholarship fund.”

Sebastian has also recommended NOLS to several young people, remarking that “it marked the point at which I left childhood and everyone needs to do that.”

Sebastian also has some advice for future NOLS students: “I would tell them it's the hardest thing they'll have ever done up until that point and that the belief that you can't do something has almost nothing to do with whether you really can or not.”

Grad Profiles in Alphabetical Order

Pete Athans
Janice Bloom
David Breashears
Diane Brinkley
Carlos Buhler
Caroline Byrd
Archie Clemins
Columbia Crew
Mike DiDonna
Chris Gergen
John Grunsfeld
Ryan Hughes
Bruce Jacobsen
Sebastian Junger
Tom Kiernan
Alex Matthiessen
Tori McClure
Kitty Phillips
Guy Santiago
Tom Scott
Kat Taylor
Terri Watson
Louisa Willcox


Expedition Leadership | Leadership Types | Leadership Skills
Leadership in 30 Days | Leadership Profiles


Idaho Adventure - Who says 14 and 15 year-olds can't cook? Backcountry cooking is just one of the many skills you'll take home.
© Erik Schmidt

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