A student takes notes during her downtime at climbing camp.
Photo: David Anderson
In 1974, NOLS invented the outdoor semester. Now, each year, 850 students spend a semester at NOLS learning new skills, exploring new ideas, and making new friends while surrounded by wilderness. These 850 students, more than all other outdoor semester programs combined, benefit from more than 40 years of NOLS curriculum development and innovation. One of them could be you.
Learn a Variety of Skills
All NOLS semesters are broken into a series of expeditions, called sections. These sections run from two weeks to a month in length and cover a wide variety of outdoor skill areas. They are as varied as your desire to learn. This variety means you’ll leave your NOLS semester with a series of valuable outdoor skills and experience in a number of different environments.
At NOLS we teach expedition leadership. Setting
goals, planning, efficiency, teamworkand achievement.
It’s a model that works everywhere, from
the classroom to the boardroom.
Tolerance for adversity, vision and action,
expedition behavior. These are some of the NOLS
skills you’ll master as you become a leader.
More than 75,000 people have learned leadership
at NOLS. The list reads like a who’s who
of successful explorers, conservationists and
More than 1/2 of the NASA astronaut corps
Fred Kleisner, CEO of Wyndham International
Britton Keeshan, at 22, the youngest person
to achieve the highest summit on every continent
Candice Carpenter Olsen, founder of iVillage
Tom Scott, founder of Nantucket Nectars
Tom Kiernan, President of the National Parks
Louisa Willcox, Wild Bears Project Director,
Natural Resources Defense Council
Other programs talk about leadership. At NOLS
you’ll do it!
Education Comes Alive
On your NOLS semester you’ll learn about the ecology of your wilderness classroom while you earn natural history and other credits from the University of Utah. Your lab will be the outdoors, and the rivers and trails will be your syllabus.
Leadership Your Family and Friends Will Notice
Spending several months as a part of an expedition means you’ll be both a leader and an active follower. Unlike campus or work where some issues can be overlooked, on a NOLS semester the entire group is reliant on one another for safety and comfort. Communication, conflict resolution, motivating yourself, and motivating others cannot be ignored. You’ll return home changed.
The Perfect “Time-Out”
Most students on NOLS semesters come to NOLS as a semester away from their college campus, but we are increasingly seeing young people enrolling as a transition period between high school and college. Additionally, more adult learners are taking a NOLS semester as a “time-out” between careers.
Three months of outdoor living, college credit, and much more. The outdoor semester is uniquely NOLS!
Note: This is the only course designed for students between the ages of 17 and 19. Other NOLS semesters open to students 18 and over are great gap-year opportunities. Click here to learn more.