Take Care of Things: Goodbye Alfred
On the last night of my NOLS course Mandy Pohja pulled an essay out of her pack and we all sat down to debrief the course. We took turns reading “Briefing for Entry into a More Harsh Environment” by Morgan Hite.
It talked about what we could take home from a NOLS course. One of the points is to, “take care of things.”
Hite wrote, “Take care of things. In that other world it's easy to replace anything that wears out or breaks, and the seemingly endless supply suggests that individual objects have little value. Be what the philosopher Wendell Berry calls ‘a true materialist.’ Build things of quality, mend what you have and throw away as little as possible.”
This was the original backpack Pohja took on her student course years ago and she has taken care of it through many good nights in the backcountry.
Pohja reflected on her time with her backpack, “Today I said goodbye to my good friend, Alfred (Yes, I named my backpack, and yes I can fit inside of it). Over the past seven years we have spent 300 nights camping and 1,000 miles hiking together in some amazing places.
Thanks Alfred for all the amazing adventures, and thanks to countless NOLS students and instructors for putting up with his shenanigans.
Alfred, you will be missed.”
Congrats to Mandy for providing an excellent example to students and instructors of how to take care of your gear!
Introducing the First Annual NOLS Exploration Film Tour
This year marks the inaugural NOLS Exploration Film Tour, a series of free events hosted by NOLS that feature outstanding short films created by or about NOLS grads and instructors. The tour has been a hit thus far. After four events—Fairbanks, Anchorage, Bellingham, and Olympia—we are still having fun and learning a lot.
The Exploration Film Tour aimed to be something different. The main goal was to encourage increased participation in outdoor activities by making them more accessible. Secondly, we wanted to broaden recognition and a better understanding of the NOLS name and mission. All showings were free, making room for the curious as well as those already connected to the world of outdoor adventure. We maintained a high standard for films included in this tour and managed to gather nine that inspired, challenged stereotypical cultural norms about who the outdoor enthusiast is, and encouraged critical thought about the outdoors.
All the films are being well received at each location. After each show, there are many thanks from attendees and requests to return next year. Highlights for the audiences have included Craig Muderlak’s film “Maiden Light,” as well as “Golden Ears” and “An American Ascent,” a film about NOLS Expedition Denali. Viewers have raved about watching women climb hard, educational and environmental themes, and the focus on real people rather than sponsored, professional athletes.
We are looking forward to bringing the tour to Birmingham, Atlanta, Greensboro, and Cookeville. Learn more and get your free ticket at explorationfilmtour.com
Final NZ Fall Semesters in the Field
NZ Fall Semesters NZSF4 and NZSF5 headed for the hills over the weekend to start the Backpacking section of their respective courses. Prior to getting their hiking boots on, both groups joined to complete a two day Cultural section at Te Awhina Marae in Motueka, where they were introduced to the Maori culture and traditions.
NZSF4 hiked straight out of the NOLS NZ branch into Richmond Forest Park, starting a journey that will take them full circle around the north-east part of the South Island. Their hike will take them through to Nelson Lakes National Park where they will see the source of the Clarence River, the river they will paddle the lower reaches of in their Canoe Section. Upon reaching the sea, they will transition via the branch to Sea Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds for their final section.
Meanwhile, NZSF5's Backpacking section will explore the wonders of Kahurangi National Park (Kahurangi translates as "Treasured Posession"). The course will then Sea Kayak in the Marlborough Sounds before their Canoe section finale on the Clarence River.
Join Us at the Dallas Travel and Adventure Show
For over 11 years and 54 shows, travel enthusiasts from around the country have been dreaming, planning and finding their next vacation at the Travel & Adventure Show. NOLS will be present at the upcoming event in Dallas, as well as shows this spring.
From African safaris to Caribbean getaways, rainforest adventures, and domestic experiences, you’ll meet hundreds of the top travel brands from around the globe, including NOLS. If you’re interested in talking to NOLS about an adventure of a lifetime for yourself or for a young family member, stop by in Dallas Oct. 25-26 this year. Hear from NOLS representatives, watch fun demos, and enter to win a free NOLS course*!
While at the Travel & Adventure Show, explore the cultural stages: the Global Beats Stage invites you to get on your feet and dance to the music of far away lands while the Taste of Travel Theater will fill your nose with the aroma of some of the world’s most unique cuisines.
Or head to a session at the Destination Stage where the top travel destinations show you how to experience the best that they have to offer. At the Travel Channel Theater, find inspiration and how to travel like a local from our celebrity speakers including Samantha Brown, Rick Steves, Pauline and Arthur Frommer, Patricia Schultz, Roger Staubach, Travel Channel personalities and more.
Located in seven markets across the United States, the Travel & Adventure Show is like walking through a guidebook contained under one roof. Join us this year in Dallas at the Dallas Convention Center Oct. 25-26 to dream it, plan it, and enter to win that NOLS course.
For more information on attending the Travel & Adventure Show, please visit their new website at www.TravelShows.com!
* Win a Free NOLS Course! Entry at the NOLS booth is required for eligibility. One winner will be selected from total entries at all 2014 Travel and Adventure Shows. The winner will be notified by November 30, 2014.
Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Sep 26, 2014
Voice of America Visits NOLS to Profile YALI Fellow
This week Andrea Tadic and Philip Alexiou, journalists from Voice of America visited NOLS Headquarters and NOLS Rocky Mountain in Lander, Wyoming.
Based in Washington, D.C., Voice of America is an English language news program, which broadcasts internationally.
They came to profile Dziedzorm “JayJay” Segbefia who was part of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). This program is run through the United States State Department, and this summer 500 fellows from all parts of Africa participated in the six-week fellowship program.
First the fellows were sent to different colleges where they took classes on public management, civic leadership, and business entrepreneurship. JayJay was sent to Dartmouth College to participate in a business program.
In Ghana, JayJay is the Expedition Leader for Bravehearts Expeditions. His company takes youth into the wilderness and pushes them to new limits.
“I applied for YALI because I saw in it an opportunity for coaching, personal development, and business education all in one category” said JayJay.
After the culturally engaging sessions at Dartmough, Segbefia was placed at an internship at NOLS Rocky Mountain. An employee at the United States State Department was a NOLS alumna and identified NOLS as an ideal fit for JayJay’s internship.
JayJay came to Wyoming and spent time working at NOLS Rocky Mountain in the issue room and food rations store The Gulch.
When the film crew arrived in Lander, fellow JayJay had just returned from a Wind River Wilderness – Prime course. Tadic and Alexiou visited NOLS Rocky Mountain where JayJay gave them a tour and talked about his experiences both on the course and during his internship.
They also headed up to Sinks Canyon to shoot some footage of him rock climbing, a skill he developed and got passionate about during his time with NOLS.
JayJay plans to use his experiences and practices learned at NOLS back at his own company.
While in Lander, the film crew also had the chance to speak with some NOLS employees about the school and their personal experiences in the field.
Stay tuned in the coming months for the pieces profiling both JayJay and NOLS!
NZSF-3 Semester Begins
NOLS New Zealand Semester Three (NZSF-3 9-18-2014) students all arrived safely at NOLS NZ yesterday and are about to head out for their semester adventure. This semester begins with an over night stay at the Te Awhina Marae the local Maori meeting house.
The group will then attempt to Canoe 180 kilometers down the Clarence River, from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The Semester will then go Hiking and Mountaineering.
Semester Three Progression
Cultural: 19-20 Sep
1 – Canoe: 20 Sept to 15 Oct
Branch switch: 15-16 Oct
2 – Backpacking: 16 Oct to 8 Nov
Field Switch: 8-9 Nov
3 – Mountain: 9 Nov to 2 Dec
Course ends: 3 Dec
Send Mail to
(Students Name and Course Code)
4 Serpentine River Road
Aniseed Valley RD 1
Students will receive mail when they return to the NOLS NZ base inbetween sections
Odile Likely to Bring Some Rain
Hurricane Odile made landfall on the southern end of the Baja California peninsula last night, nearly 800 miles from the nearest NOLS students. The current forecast predicts the storm will turn away from the area in which NOLS students are currently hiking, the San Pedros in northern Baja California.
Though the courses will probably see some rain and winds as a result of the passing storm, it is likely Odile will diminish to a tropical depression by that time, reducing winds to less than 39 miles per hour.
We will continue to monitor the weather and will provide updates here.
UPDATE, 4:45 p.m. MST: Hurricane Odile has been steadily weakening as it travels over the southern end of the Baja California peninsula. Though courses will likely experience some heavy rain, forecasts still anticipate the storm tracking east of the course area in northern Baja.
UPDATE, Sept. 19, 9:15 a.m. MST: We have had contact with all NOLS Mexico courses in the field, and students are safe and well. There is rain in the mountain range but nothing of concern.
NZ Fall Semesters Spring into Action!
Fall Semesters NZSF-1-9/11/14 and NZSF-2-9/11/14 have got the New Zealand spring season underway with both groups now in the field for their 77 day adventures. NZSF1 left for the Arrowsmith mountain range to start their Mountaineering section in the majestic Southern Alps. Meanwhile, NZSF2 visited the Marae (traditional Maori meeting house) in Motueka to learn about NZ's Maori culture, before transfering to the Marlborough Sounds to embark on their Sea Kayak section.
Cutting Out Boxes
by Travis Welch, WMI Program & Retail Store Manager
The NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute is always looking for ways to improve. Many of our innovations come in the form of curriculum, delivered to thousands of students every year. However, we also have an operations side that is the “behind the scenes” part of the business and makes it possible to run 750 courses a year. On the surface, innovations on the operations side of things might not seem as exciting as curriculum delivery, but the impact can be significant. Recently, NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute switched from shipping our gear in cardboard boxes to heavy-duty, reusable, plastic shipping totes. These totes, used for our Wilderness First Aid courses, will decrease our cardboard box consumption by over 1,000 boxes a year. This will also decrease the amount of other shipping materials that we use. The initial cost of these totes is greater than cardboard, but they will pay for themselves over the next several years. Although the fiscal payoff will take some time, the waste reduction and resource conservation are enough for us to count this change as an immediate win!
Permalink | Posted by Karly Copeland on Sep 10, 2014
WMI Hosts Annual Staff Meeting
This week, NOLS Wilderness Medicine professionals flocked to Lander from near and far for the annual Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) staff meeting.
Along with a large group of Lander residents, there were attendees from Colorado, Utah, Washington, and Eastern states. Those who traveled far were staying at the cabins at the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, which is one of six LEED Platinum certified buildings in Wyoming.
This diverse group came together for continuing education opportunities in wilderness medicine. The schedule for the meeting includes medical professionals discussing how to best treat patients in the backcountry. Earlier this week, a three-day EMT refresher course was held for those looking to recertify their skills. On Thursday night, participants could take part in a CPR recertification class.
Yesterday morning, WMI Director Melissa Gray officially kicked off this three-day meeting with updates on the state of the school. She ran through some important facts about the past year at WMI.
Courses run this year were up 3.5 percent. Students took WMI courses as stand alone courses and as part of field courses. Many classes were taught through Landmark Learning and at REI stores. Two hundred and fifty instructors taught classes with the help of 22 support staff members in the office.
Today, topics will include: wilderness toxicology, dislocations, and neurological injuries. Forums are scheduled with the NOLS Executive Director team and the annual WMI curriculum forum.
The meeting will conclude on Saturday with a hypothermia session and outdoor activities. Participants will choose between ALS skills, technical rescue skills and hiking.
WMI is looking forward to the start of another great year!