United States Naval Academy

Credit: Eric Page

United States Naval Academy Leadership Expeditions

Every day, you prepare to lead others in times of adversity and uncertainty. Becoming the leader you're meant to be requires repeated practice, experimentation, risk-taking, and failure.

NOLS leadership experiences for the United States Naval Academy are field-based leadership practicums and emergency medical trainings that support and complement curriculum offered through the Academy's Leadership Education and Development Division. On a NOLS expedition, you will learn to lead amid uncertainty and stay calm and positive in the most challenging times. You will try new things, learn from mistakes, and receive feedback from mentors and peers. No prior experience in the outdoors is necessary to take advantage of this opportunity. All you need is a desire to step out of your comfort zone and realize your potential.

In addition to USNA midshipmen, these courses are available to cadets at other service academies and ROTC midshipmen and cadets. Please contact Lindsay Priefert at NOLS with questions about participating if you are not a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy.

In summer 2018, we're offering our Naval Academy Alumni Denali Expedition! If you've taken a NOLS-USNA course, scroll to the bottom of this page for more information on the unique application process. Applications for Denali are due on January 22, 2018.

Note about tuition for Midshipmen at USNA: Expect approximately $2000-$3000 of financial support from the Center for Experiential Leadership Development (CELD) for NOLS-USNA courses. Tuition amounts, and final CELD contribution, will be finalized in March. If you decide that NOLS is not financially feasible, we will refund your $300 deposit. 

Enrollment Procedures and Deadlines

  1. Explore training options with NOLS - USNA Alumni Representatives or contact NOLS with questions.
  2. Explore financial aid options such as scholarships and 529 College Savings Plan. Check out our Scholarship application. Thanks to the Center for Experiential Leadership Development (CELD), ten midshipmen who have not completed NOLS will be offered full scholarships, which will include tuition, essential equipment, and travel. Full scholarship decisions will be made based on financial need. Fill out the scholarship application, and email usna@nols.edu to express your interest in a full scholarship this year. 
  3. Complete online course and scholarship applications and submit with $300 enrollment fee by January 31, 2018 (though if you apply earlier, you are more likely to get your top choice course). You will be notified via email of program acceptance in early February. NOLS will place applicants on preliminary rosters for their first or second choice expeditions. Applicants whose first or second choices cannot be honored will be contacted and other options will be explored. There are four conditions under which the application fee would be refunded:
    • Financial constraints for scholarship applicants when NOLS is informed of withdrawal within 21 days of award determination.
    • Conflict with mandatory training
    • Athletic excellence
    • NOLS is unable to assign you to your first or second choice course
  4. Submit required student paperwork on your online student dashboard by April 3, 2018.
    The office of Professional Development will notify you of your specific course assignment through summer training orders in late March to early April, 2018. Cadets at other academies or NROTC students will be notified by NOLS.
  5. Attend USNA mandatory course briefing in mid April.
  6. Pay tuition balance and equipment deposit.
    • April 15, 2018 for Block 0 and 1 expeditions
    • May 1, 2018 for Block 2 and 3 expeditions
  7. Any late registrants can contact Lindsay Priefert for more information on registering and paying for a course.

NOLS Cancellation Policies 

Rocky Mountain Backpacking

In the remote and rugged Rocky Mountains you will master skills as a backcountry traveler, leader, and team member. You will work with your team to navigate mountain terrain and live with only the essentials you carry in your pack amid the rugged alpine beauty of Wyoming or Montana. You'll take an active role in leading your team, fishing alpine lakes and streams, and will have an extended opportunity for independent student group travel.

Naval Academy Mountaineering course participants cross a stream while backpacking.

2018 Dates

*Midshipmen from USNA can expect substantial financial support from CELD. See note on support from CELD.

Block 1: May 29 - June 22
Block 1 Tuition: $5700*
Block 2: June 25 - July 16
Block 2 Tuition:  $5000*
Block 3: July 23 - August 13
Block 3 Tuition: $5000*
Course Location: Lander, Wyoming
Fly in/out: Casper, Wyoming

Yukon River Canoeing

Northern Canada is a land of unpredictable weather, unnamed peaks, turquoise glacial rivers and few human inhabitants, making it an ideal classroom to explore and learn a broad spectrum of skills. The Yukon’s rivers twist through an incredible wilderness and offer opportunities to develop basic paddling techniques on flat and moving water. You may encounter up to Class II-III rapids, and will learn the skills to assess these rapids responsibly. Successfully negotiating this territory in a tandem canoe demands the highest level of communication and teamwork skills. This dynamic medium requires you to make in-the-moment decisions, assess risk, and execute risk mitigation strategies.

Two course participants whitewater canoe on a river bounded with pines on both sides.

2018 Dates

*Midshipmen from USNA can expect substantial financial support from CELD. See note on support from CELD.

Block 2: June 25 - July 20, 
Tuition: $5500*
Course Location: Whitehorse, Yukon
Fly in/out: Whitehorse, Yukon

Alaska Backpacking

Teamwork and leadership will play crucial roles in your group's development on this expedition that hikes in the remote mountains of south central or interior Alaska. You will be challenged to lead yourself and your teammates effectively and creatively with only the essentials you carry in your pack. At this time of year in Alaska, sunlight will be ample and you'll have an opportunity to hone your skills on days that are active and long.

Students standing on a green grassy hill in Alaska - while out backpacking - and looking off to snow capped mountains in the distance.

2018 Dates

*Midshipmen from USNA can expect substantial financial support from CELD. See note on support from CELD.

Block 2: June 25 - July 20
Block 2 Tuition: $6000*
Block 3: July 23 - August 13
Block 3 Tuition: $5200*
Course Location: Palmer, Alaska
Fly in/out: Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska Mountaineering - Early Season

As you travel through Alaska's remote mountain ranges, a brilliant world of snow and ice will challenge you to increase your competence and confidence as a leader and team member. Through classically Alaskan routes that involve long, arduous approaches through vast valley glaciers, breathtaking scenery, and wintry weather conditions, you will learn how to manage challenging terrain, assess risk, and work together as a team.

Because of the terrain encountered on these courses, there may be fewer opportunities for independent student travel days than is common on other Naval Academy courses.

Naval Academy students on a NOLS Custom Education course prepare for a day of mountaineering in Alaska.

2018 Dates

*Midshipmen from USNA can expect substantial financial support from CELD. See note on support from CELD.

Block 0: May 17 - June 15
Block 0 Tuition:  $6700*
Block 1: May 29 - June 21
Block 1 Tuition:  $5600*
Course Location: Palmer, Alaska
Fly in/out: Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska Mountaineering - Late Season

As the snow melts in Alaska’s high peaks, new challenges and opportunities present themselves. This crash course in alpine travel will test your ability to lead in an ever-changing environment, and adapt plans to changing conditions. While melting snow limits the opportunities to live solely on glacier, these conditions expand opportunities to build anchors and ice-climb, scramble through rocky glacial moraines, and travel independently on tundra. This on-your-toes course offers unique opportunities to experience a variety of terrain all in one course, leaving with new skills in adaptable leadership, and a diverse set of alpine travel skills.

Like the early-season mountaineering course, the diverse terrain encountered on this course may limit opportunities for the independent student travel days that are common on other Naval Academy courses.

Students cross a glacier river in Alaska with towering snow-capped peaks in the distance.

2018 Dates

*Midshipmen from USNA can expect substantial financial support from CELD. See note on support from CELD.

Block 3: July 23 - August 13
Block 3 Tuition: $5200*
Course Location: Palmer, Alaska
Fly in/out: Anchorage, Alaska

Pacific Northwest Mountaineering

This unique mountaineering course combines travel on glacier, rock, boulders, snow, and forrest. The varied terrain will test your leadership in every way, and prepare you to travel in many different alpine environments. Once you reach the snow and glaciers you will begin to learn the basics of mountaineering. You will practice ice axe self-arrest, placing snow anchors, and coordinated rope-team travel. You may also have the opportunity to practice these skills on a peak ascent. 

Students using their mountaineering skills to climb up the snowy Mount Rainier amidst stunning scenery at sunrise.

2018 Dates

*Midshipmen from USNA can expect substantial financial support from CELD. See note on support from CELD.

Block 1: May 30 - June 22
Tuition: $5350*
Course Location: Conway, Washington
Fly in/out: Seattle, Washington

Alaska Sea Kayaking

Managing the unpredictability of the sea and the various forms of life within it adds a new dimension to leadership. While paddling the dramatic coastline of Alaska you will hone your skills as a leader and develop technical skills and techniques for navigating this magnificent environment. You will learn to assess risk, make decisions, and support your team amid dynamic and challenging conditions.

Naval Academy students sea kayak near Alaska's Princeton Glacier during a NOLS Custom Education course.

2018 Dates

*Midshipmen from USNA can expect substantial financial support from CELD. See note on support from CELD.

Block 1: May 30 - June 22
Block 1 Tuition: $5100*
Course Location: Palmer, Alaska
Fly in/out: Palmer, Alaska
Block 3: July 23 - August 13
Block 3 Tuition: $5100*
Course Location: Petersburg, Alaska
Fly in/out: Petersburg, Alaska

Gender and Leadership Expedition

Selections for this course are in progress! Please contact usna@nols.edu right away if you're interested!

While backpacking in the rugged and dynamic Rocky Mountains, explore the role of gender in leadership. During the course, you will observe the leadership styles of men and women in same-sex and co-ed environments. You'll develop an expertise in this relevant and important leadership topic by discussing gender stereotypes and expectations, while developing your self-awareness as a leader. 

Naval Academy faculty and NOLS instructors will facilitate in-town curriculum before and after the expedition, then facilitate deeper understanding of this fascinating topic on course. 

Students backpack down a rocky slope amidst towering, jagged mountain peaks in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

2018 Dates

*Midshipmen from USNA can expect substantial financial support from CELD. See note on support from CELD.

Block 1: June 3 - June 19
Block 1 Tuition:  $3500*
Course Location: Lander, Wyoming
Fly in/out: Casper, Wyoming

Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician

Learn wilderness medicine and urban medical care practices in this intensive, month-long program. After four weeks of classroom education, practical skills instruction, scenarios, and full-scale mock rescues, you'll be empowered to act during medical emergencies, in the wilderness or in town. You'll become eligible to earn both your EMT and your Wilderness EMT certifications upon completion of this course, and prepared to pursue a career in the Medical Corps.

NOLS Wilderness Medicine students participate in a scenario in Red Canyon at the Wyss campus.

2018 Dates

Block 1: May 28 - June 22
Block 2: June 25 - July 20
Tuition: $3920
Course Location: Lander, Wyoming
Fly in/out: Casper, Wyoming

Prerequisites: Students must have a current healthcare provider level CPR certification (most commonly called CPR for the Professional Rescuer or BLS Healthcare Provider CPR) and a TB test completed within one year prior to the last day of the course. Please see course description for more information.

Denali Alumni Expedition

The highest peak in North America—known as Denali or “Great One” by Alaska Natives—is the site for this expedition designed for qualified NOLS-USNA graduates.  Denali offers extremely challenging glacier travel and some of the most difficult weather in the world. This NOLS-USNA alumni course allows the opportunity to apply the leadership lessons you’ve learned at NOLS and at the Academy to one of the most physically and mentally demanding experiences NOLS offers.

Apply here, choosing only the Denali option, then fill out this questionnaire and email it to usna@nols.edu to complete your application. Participants on this course will be chosen based on outdoor skills, and proven ability to work well on a team, among other factors. Please submit your application for this course by January 22nd. 

Members of the Expedition Denali team pull gear sleds across a snowfield.

2018 Dates

Block 1: May 28 - June 22
Tuition: $8900
Course Location: Palmer, Alaska
Fly in/out: Anchorage, Alaska