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March 5, 2007

Jeanne O’Brien 
Office: 307.335.2236     
Mobile: 307.349.0595

Bad Luck or Bad Judgment?

Are we losing our ability to sense dangerous situations or recognize dangerous behavior and losing the “common sense” that it takes to avoid it?

Saturday night, Olympic gold medal wrestler Rulon Gardner spent a cold, wet night in the wilderness after the plane he was in crashed while “skimming” Lake Powell. Also, several years ago, he spent a night out in freezing temperatures in wet cotton clothing after his snowmobile got stuck.

Is this bad luck, as the media has suggested, or is it bad judgment? Is our urban lifestyle and “virtual reality” existence causing humans in 2007 to lose the skills that it takes to cope with the simple, yet often unfamiliar, challenges of nature?

Are we so programming our children with soccer camps, computer camps and summer school that they aren’t getting the experiences that allow them to develop good judgment in the elements?

We “protect” our children from “dangerous” activities like tree climbing and outdoor play while we allow them to develop sedentary lifestyles and obesity runs rampant.

NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, is the leader in managing risk in wilderness the world-over. The school teaches outdoor skills and helps students of all ages to develop leadership and decision-making skills on extended expeditions. From everyday individuals to NASA and the US Naval Academy, NOLS is chosen for its “hands-on” approach to wilderness education.

Bruce Palmer, NOLS’ director of admission, is available to talk about managing risk in the outdoors, judgment, and today’s risk-averse, yet risk-taking, culture. While usually headquartered in Lander, Wyoming, Bruce is on the East Coast this week and is available for interviews.

Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is the leader in wilderness education and risk management and sets the industry standard for responsible, high-quality educational expeditions. NOLS provides an awe-inspiring, transformative experience that develops active, positive leaders with lifelong environmental ethics and outdoor skills to more than 10,000 students each year. A private nonprofit school, NOLS runs 10-day to school-year-length courses on four continents. NOLS students, ages 14 to over 70, explore the most remote wilderness the Rocky Mountains, Idaho, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Alaska, Western Canada, Mexico, Patagonia (Chile), India, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Baffin Island have to offer. College credit and scholarships are available. For more information, call NOLS at (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit the web site at


Wind River Wilderness - This is the original NOLS course, and today it is still the most popular expedition we offer. For 30 days, you’ll explore the Wind River Mountains—a wilderness range renowned for its crystal clear lakes and rugged mountain beauty.
Photo: Bryan Palmintier
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