John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
NOLS Instructor since: 2000
Favorite NOLS location: Yukon
Shawn Stratton is a nomad on a mission. When he is not working
as an instructor for NOLS six months of the year, he is on the road recruiting
for the school. Originally from St.John’s, Newfoundland, Canada,
Stratton has not lived in any one place for more than three months in
the last seven years. But that is the way that he wants it, at least
for now. “I’m addicted to the freedom that comes from working
for NOLS,” he says.
An instructor since 2000, Stratton has led mountaineering, backpacking,
sea kayaking, and whitewater canoeing courses in Alaska, Baja, the Pacific
Northwest, and the Wind River Range. But the Yukon is his favorite place
to take students into the wild because he “loves the sheer remoteness
of the area that we get to travel in,” he says. “You can
travel for 25 days and not see any other people or even any trails.”
As someone who has always enjoyed the wilderness, Stratton says a light
bulb went on when he realized that he could obtain a degree in outdoor
education in college, which is what he ultimately did, graduating from
Dalhouse University in Nova Scotia in 1998. His next step was a NOLS
Instructor course in the spring of 1999. He was on a personal trip in
New Zealand working and backpacking with plans to stay for another month
when he got a phone call telling him he had made it onto the 1999 Southwest
Instructor course. “I suddenly had to come up with the money to
get back to Tucson, Arizona in two weeks,” he says.
One of Stratton’s favorite experiences as a NOLS Instructor was
proctoring a Semester
In Alaska in the summer of 2002. As a proctor, he got to spend 75
days with the same 12 students, which he says is a pretty unique experience.
Stratton says that there are a number of reasons why he loves working
at NOLS, including getting to work with motivated students in amazing
wilderness areas and the shock that comes when he gets a paycheck at
the end of the month for doing it.
“I’m getting paid to do my passion,” he says.
Read about Shawn's
Mt. Logan Expedition.