Spring Semester on the Borders

Credit: Benjamin Lester

Spring Semester on the Borders

Explore the wild from desert to sea

Get an education that’s beyond the traditional classroom on the Semester on the Borders. This course covers some of North America’s most ecologically diverse settings, meaning you’ll be better prepared than anyone to pursue outdoor adventures. Start by exploring cliff dwellings in the American Southwest as you go backpacking and rock climbing. Then head to the green, rocky coasts of the Pacific Northwest for sailing and sea kayaking in British Columbia. On the way, you’ll see a desert that’s alive with plants and animals. You’ll forge new friendships and navigate secret coves. You’ll have the chance to earn an industry-recognized first aid certification. And you’ll surprise yourself as you overcome new challenges every day. 

You’ll find out that there’s more to exploring than knowing how to camp. You and your team will make real decisions, learn about managing risk, and meet goals together. It’s your opportunity to grow and find out what your leadership style is. These are the skills you’ll use for the rest of your life when you’re at home, at school, and beyond. It’s not about being the perfect leader or the perfect explorer. It’s about learning what your personal leadership style is so you can be ready for whatever life throws your way, all in some of the country’s most diverse wild places.



Stay tuned for upcoming course dates.


All course information at a glance


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Equipment Deposit



86 days

Minimum Age

17 yrs.

Academic Credit

16 College Credits
  • 3 Risk Assessment
  • 6 Skills Practicum
  • 4 Leadership Techniques
  • 3 Environmental Studies

2 High School Credits

  • 1.00 Leadership
  • 1.00 Physical Education
Learn about Academic Credit



Leave No Trace - Trainer

Wilderness First Aid


Course Description

Equipment List

Travel and Logistics


Tucson, Arizona / Conway, Washington

Fly in/out

Tucson, Arizona / Seattle, Washington

Skills learned


Rock Climbing


Sea Kayaking

Wilderness Medicine

Additional Details

Semester Scholarship Form



See Photos and Videos from Students and Instructors

What Our Grads Say

“On the course I learned a lot about communication with others, giving and receiving feedback, and leadership. I am now more self-aware and know that I have a lot to learn about leadership and myself.”

— Caroline W., NOLS Spring Semester on the Borders grad

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