The mission of the National Outdoor Leadership School is to be
the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership
that serve people and the environment.
The NOLS community-its staff, students, trustees, and alumni-shares
a commitment to wilderness, education, leadership, safety, community,
and excellence. These values define and direct who we are, what
we do, and how we do it.
We define wilderness
as a place where nature is dominant and situations and their consequences
are real. Living in these conditions, away from the distractions
of modern civilization fosters self-reliance, judgment, respect,
and a sense of responsibility for our actions. It can also be
a profoundly moving experience that leads to inspiration, joy
and commitment to an environmental ethic.
We believe that education should be exciting, fun and challenging.
With this in mind, our courses are designed to help people develop
and practice the skills they need to live, travel and play safely
in the outdoors. On our expeditions, people learn by accepting
and meeting real challenges. Our instructors are educators, not
guides. They are committed to inspiring students to explore and
develop their understanding of wilderness ethics, leadership,
teamwork, natural history, and technical skills.
We believe that leadership is a skill that can be learned
and practiced. With students and staff, we encourage the evolution
of judgment, personal responsibility, and awareness of group needs-key
leadership traits-through practical experience and timely feedback.
We value integrity, experience, accountability, and humility in
We accept risk as an integral part of the learning process
and of the environments through which we travel. The recognition
and management of risk is critical to both the development of
leadership and to the safety and health of our students and staff.
We believe successful risk
management stems from good judgment based on experience, training
NOLS is an international community composed of talented
individuals who care deeply about what they do. We value diversity,
integrity and personal responsibility while recognizing that our
strength lies in teamwork and commitment to our mission and each
other. We appreciate creativity, individuality and passion among
our staff and as an institution. We take our jobs seriously and
pursue our mission with
enthusiasm, and we cherish our sense of humor and our ability
to laugh at ourselves.
We seek excellence in all we do. We recognize that maintaining
excellence requires that we question decisions, learn from failures,
and celebrate success. We are committed to high quality experiences
where every moment and every relationship counts. We evolve and
adapt with new technology, changing techniques and differing circumstances.