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NOLS Stories

Here's why NOLS stands out in the world of outdoor education:

Your NOLS course
You’ve done an extended expedition in one of the most remote wilderness areas in the world! Don’t be shy. Share your own stories and anecdotes. Tell them about the peak you bagged or how your bomb-proofed camp stood up to the gnarliest weather Mother Nature could throw your way. Catch a huge fish? See a Griz? Follow the path of John Wesley Powell? Tell your story. Your friends will be hooked and you’ll be the coolest thing since sliced bread!

Flexible course offerings
Courses range from 10 days to two full academic semesters, so you can choose the course that’s right for you. Many companies arrange customized NOLS programs for their employees, high school students sign up before they head off to college, people between jobs take a course to improve their leadership skills, and college students opt for a change of scenery.

NOLS Grads are Leaders
What’s the best way to become a leader? Lead! Every day at NOLS is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging, and every NOLS student actively leads a part of each course. Graduates leave with the confidence to face adversity, take decisive action and implement plans effectively.

NOLS grads can be found leading in every walk of life, from mountain guides to CEOs. Here are a few NOLS grads who lead the way in their chosen field: Britton Keeshan, youngest person to summit the highest peak on all seven continents; Sarah Konrad, 2006 U.S. Olympic Nordic ski team and Biathlon team; Tom Scott, founder of Nantucket Nectars; CNN’s Anderson Cooper; Tori Murden, the first women to row solo across the Atlantic; The Perfect Stormauthor, Sebastian Junger. The NOLS alumni roster reads like a leadership who’s who.

Since nothing can bring a group closer together than an expedition into the backcountry, organizations ranging from the Naval Academy to Fortune 500 companies have sent people to customized NOLS courses. For example, NASA has teamed up with NOLS since 1999 to provide astronauts the learning experience of a lifetime. The goal is to develop leadership skills and encourage teamwork in preparation for missions into space.

In 2001, the crew of the space shuttle Columbia embarked on a 12-day, 50-mile NOLS expedition in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains. Aside from the physical demands of completing the Wind River Expedition, the crew’s mettle was tested with barriers unique only to a NOLS participant, like the opportunity to scale the 13,192-foot Wind River Peak. Upon reaching the summit, the crew embraced and gathered for a photo taken by Commander Rick Husband. “These moments brought the crew together like no other aspect of their NASA training,” said Husband before Columbia’s mission. Today more than 50% of NASA’s core astronauts have graduated from a NOLS course.

College Credit
NOLS' college credit program is unparalleled in wilderness education. More than 75 percent of NOLS students who are of college age take their NOLS course for college credit. Students have successfully transferred the credits to over 400 colleges around the country.

Financial Aid
Each year NOLS offers over $850,000 in scholarship assistance. Scholarship aid is available to applicants who show great potential to excel as NOLS students and who would be unable to attend without financial aid. These scholarship dollars are made available through the generosity of alumni and friends to the NOLS Annual Fund. Additionally, many NOLS students utilize their federal financial dollars, Americorp educational grants and V.A. benefits to help defray the cost of a NOLS course.

Travel the World with NOLS
NOLS offers courses at 14 extraordinary locations throughout the world, making it the best-known international wilderness education institution. There are five sites in North America, including the original NOLS site in the Rocky Mountains. NOLS also maintains residence at nine international locations, including the newly opened NOLS Amazon. Honoring the distinct ecosystems of each location and recruiting highly skilled instructors from each region, NOLS is able to provide a learning experience unmatched anywhere else.


Students celebrate the summit of Mount Redemption in the Yukon.
Photo: Louis Sass



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