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NOLS Expands Leadership Training
By Molly Hampton, NOLS Administration and Partnerships Director
A group of NASA astronauts puts their leadership skills to the test in Utah's canyonlands.

Families that own foundations, businesses and offices often have unique leadership challenges, such as raising healthy children interested in the family enterprise, leadership succession, and multi-generation governance.

NOLS Professional Training now offers custom leadership courses for these families, emphasizing wilderness values and practical leadership and teamwork. With extensive advice from family advisors and NOLS alumni, we have designed courses that address the unique needs of these families. In addition to the NOLS leadership curriculum, discussions center on topics important to the family, such as mission and goal development, family communications and leadership succession.

“Having a week’s time with my cousins in an isolated environment created a great opportunity to further bond with them, to learn leadership skills, and to have fun,” says Stephanie Newell, who participated in a customized NOLS course with the Gates Capital Management Family. “My expectations were exceeded. I liked the canoeing because it was much more about teamwork. Between paddling, navigating, setting up camp, and cooking, you had to work together, which was a great positive learning experience.”      

NOLS Professional Training now offers these leadership programs to your specific family or family enterprise. Call us at 307-335-2220 or email us at for more information.

What Are NOLS Custom Leadership Courses?

NOLS Professional Training takes the best of NOLS and customizes it for your organization or team. Expect a personalized approach. We listen to your needs, talk with you about how to best organize your program, and deliver a product that exceeds expectations.

All of our courses focus on helping your organization or team reach its ultimate potential. Whether your team is newly formed or already functioning well, we help you take your performance to a higher level. Our leadership curriculum includes seven skills: vision and action; communication; expedition behavior (teamwork); judgment and decision-making; tolerance for adversity and uncertainty; competence; and self-awareness. It focuses on four leadership roles: designated; self; peer; and active followership. 

These courses create the same challenges faced by organizations anywhere: planning, making expedient decisions, balancing task achievement with group development, combining distinct individuals to form a cohesive team, working through unforeseen hurdles, and blending vision with action.

Seven-Day and Fourteen-Day Leadership Expeditions

We teach leadership on a multi-day wilderness expedition. Unlike many guided travel adventure programs, our expeditions focus on you learning and practicing your own travel and camping skills and environmental studies as part of leadership training. These expeditions include our most complete leadership curriculum, using the same model with which we train space station astronauts and shuttle crews.

The wilderness is a perfect venue for highlighting team and individual strengths and learning to compensate for shortcomings. Being in beautiful, remote wilderness allows you to discuss your unique challenges in a setting away from the distractions of everyday life.

Participants rotate serving as designated leaders for each day, while others learn active followership to help make the optimal team. Time is prioritized for individual and group reflection about effective situational leadership.

Two-Day Leadership Training

At a remote lodge or base-camp, we teach a two-day leadership course for your organization or team.

The first day and a half is a fast-paced, interactive training in advance communication and leadership skills. This is taught inside or outside depending on the group and location. The last half-day component is a condensed expedition outdoors, using GPS (Global Positioning System) based outdoor orienteering, which mimics the challenges teams face anywhere and reinforces the earlier leadership training.

On all of these courses, NOLS faculty facilitate discussions on how to transfer leadership lessons home to your, organization or team. Sample topics include optimizing leadership and team performance, mission, vision and goals, developing, prioritizing, and adherence

One to two months following the training, clients have the option to have our faculty travel to your organization for a half-day follow-up meeting, to further facilitate transference of learned leadership skills to your team.

For more information about these leadership programs, call NOLS Professional Training at 307-335-2220 or email

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Some of our clients include:

  • NASA
  • The Naval Academy
  • The Wharton School of Business
  • The Kinship Corporation
  • The Robertson Scholars
  • The Daniels Fund
  • Fidelity Bank and Trust
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