REI joins Expedition Denali
Sharing the Joy of Wilderness Classrooms- The Trina and Jess Peterson Endowed Scholarship
After graduating from high school in 1982, Trina Peterson set out to take on the Wind River Wilderness course, an experience that has been an inspiration to her since that time. As an alumna, Trina continues to incorporate aspects of her wilderness course into a lifelong commitment to the NOLS core values and community.
The Trina and Jess Peterson Endowed Scholarship will honorably give future students the opportunity to receive the gift of learning about leadership and the environment, as well as a sense for self-empowerment through an awarded scholarship.
“It wasn’t even that Jess and I were inspired. More like compelled,” Trina explained.
“We figured that among the recipients of the scholarship, there would be a healthy number whose life course would be altered by their NOLS experience and who would, in turn, spread the word about the power and importance of wild places. The benefits of wise judgment and the pure joy of learning skills and gaining confidence while traveling through amazing landscapes.”
Trina and Jess share their passion for the outdoors with their two children, son Soren and daughter Tessa.
Trina is as enthusiastic about her NOLS experience today as she was thirty years ago, when she could be found sporting her wind pants, hiking books and hydration systems around her hometown of Cambridge, MA. Giving to NOLS came as naturally to her as her passion for leadership and the grand classroom of the wilderness.
With a community of alumni as supportive and generous as Trina and Jess Peterson, NOLS will continue to inspire a growing audience of students.
Read more about the NOLS Scholarship Program here. To learn more about giving to Campaign NOLS: Endowing Our Core Values or creating an endowed scholarships visit NOLS Giving or contact us at (800) 332-4280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Meredith Hardwick, NOLS Alumni Intern.
NOLS grad dines with strangers
NOLS holds both breakfast and communication in high regard. 1995 Semester in Mexico graduate Matt Webber is taking these two principles to a new level and across the U.S. this year.
Matt Webber and Courtney Dillard write on their website, www.breakfastwithstrangers.com, that they embarked on a breakfasting journey across the nation to remind readers that we are all part of the same community.
“America is polarized,” the website states. “We feel that part of this civic problem is the lack of strangers connecting with strangers. We want to change this—or at least challenge it in our own small way—by taking strangers out to breakfast across America. We’ll share local diner fare and conversation, learning what our new friends think about life’s big and little questions.”
They settled on breakfast in large part because that’s where they were when the idea struck. The setting has proved to be perfect for comfortable conversations: “breakfast is something that feels like home to most folks … which certainly helps when you’re asking a total stranger to breakfast,” Matt explained.
They share each conversation on the website with the intention of selecting 50 to compile in a book: Breakfast with Strangers: 50 Meals Across America.
“We’ll be reaching out to these strangers in a variety of different methods, from social media to want ads to community ads to just grabbing somebody as they’re about to sit down to their meal,” Matt explains in a video on the site.
One of those strangers was NOLS Alumni and Development Director Pip Coe.
“Pip, like many of these breakfasts we’re having, was by pure chance,” said Matt. “I always knew her name as I had seen her photo over the years in various NOLS catalogs, but we didn’t roll into town with the plan of taking her out to breakfast.”
After meeting her in the NOLS building and then running into her on the street in Lander, the two decided they had to take her out for breakfast.
“Someone like Pip who has so much experience not just in the field but also a deep history with NOLS seemed like a perfect person to represent Lander, Wyoming,” Matt concluded.
NOLS played a role in Matt being back in Lander on this occasion.
“I feel like my semester with NOLS has had some influence on most of all my decisions or passions I’ve pursued since then,” Matt said. “When it has come to travel, or loading my backpacking, planning with Courtney to leave our home and travel around in a van for five months to take strangers out to breakfast—well, my semester at NOLS had a role with that, too.”
Strike up a conversation with a stranger today or get in touch with Matt and Courtney and let them take you out for breakfast in your hometown at email@example.com, (304) 50-MEALS or 3519 NE 15th Ave (Box #300), Portland, OR 97212.
Must love long walks in the mountains …
NOLS is a diverse and fascinating community, something reality TV star and NOLS grad Ames Brown can attest to.
“It’s the people that make it exciting,” Brown said of NOLS after completing his second course.
Brown shares that enthusiastic energy, grinning from ear to ear fresh from the field on a Wilderness Horsepacking course.
His smile might be familiar, given his participation on The Bachelorette, season two, and Bachelor Pad, season two. Though he found enduring love on neither, Brown found a different love on his first NOLS course shortly thereafter.
“This is like the best organization. I never expected to fall so much in love with it,” he raved.
Brown first came to NOLS in March, signing up for a Himalaya Mountaineering course just five days before it started. Having never slept in a sleeping bag before, Brown knew he would be challenged.
“It’s such an ostensibly difficult thing, but it wasn’t difficult at all,” Brown said, which he credited his instructors for.
Even the truly tough moments Brown relishes.
“The low points are actually the high points on a NOLS course. Adversity’s the best part … the opportunity to be creative,” he noted.
He followed his mountaineering course with a horsepacking course this month, something else in which he’d had no prior experience. This is the same reason he selected a sailing course for his next NOLS experience.
“It’s fun to start new things later,” said the 32 year old."I realized NOLS has expertise in all these different areas, and you might as well try it."
In addition to all the outdoor skills he’s racking up, Brown has seen a distinct change in himself, calling NOLS “transformational.” The curriculum and experiential learning foster a sense of humor, boost self-confidence, and demand self-awareness.
“Both the Bachelorette and NOLS strip you of all your worldly, like your occupation and all that background, and it only matters who you are and that determines your success or failure,” Brown said.
“And, you can find love in both situations and I did not find love in either case,” he laughingly added.
You never know, there’s always Baja Coastal Sailing.
Buy a blanket, support a scholarship student
At next week’s Summer OR in Salt Lake City, Adventure Medical Kits (AMK) will offer the SOL Sport Utility Blanket at the discounted price of $10. Customers will then be able to select the initiative to which the proceeds will go, one of which is the NOLS scholarship fund.
Each year, NOLS is able to give $1.5 million dollars in scholarships to students who would not otherwise be able to take a NOLS course. Donations and promotions such as this generous offer by AMK make this possible. We are delighted to have the support of Adventure Medical Kits in making the NOLS experience available to as many students as possible.
The SOL Sport Utility Blanket, which retails for $22, is an emergency shelter and more. It is durable enough to be used multiple times in a multitude of ways. It can be used as an emergency blanket one day and then as a picnic blanket the next. Use it to haul heavy loads, as a ground tarp underneath a tent, rigged as a shelter, or to cover your gear in foul weather. It still weighs in at only 11.3 ounces, making it a great partner for NOLS graduates on future adventures.
ACS 7/4/12 Switch from Sea Kayaking to Hiking
Late last week ACS 7/4/12 was transported from the Dampier Archipelago 800kms south of Broome, back to the NOLS base. It was a long drive, with the bus pushing into an easterly wind blowing across the flat savanna plains. It was 6.30pm when the driver and students arrived back at the NOLS base, elated by their adventures in the Dampier Archipelago marine reserve, the group was in high spirits.
Highlights for the students included walking through zillions of luminescent zoo plankton on the way back to camp after experiencing a stunning sunset, paddling with a pod of 100 tuna fish and kayak surfing off angel island.
For two intense hours after dinner, students focused on familiarising themselves with their backpack, and lessening their personal gear to lighten their load for the hike to come. Everyone enjoyed a well earned shower before bed.
The next morning the vehicle was loaded with backpacks, rations and fresh road lunch before heading off for another 6 hr journey to their hiking section drop off point in the King Leopold ranges. They are off for another adventure!
ACS 6/21/12 switch from hiking to sea kayaking
Late last week we welcomed ACS 6/21/12 back from their hiking section in the King Leopolds. In fine spirits, highlights on their hiking section included the amazing campsites with stunning waterfalls as well as a day spent swimming through a remote gorge/canyon.
Students spent the final 5 days of the section hiking in small groups independant of instructors, consolidating their risk management and leadership skills.
The group were excited to head onto their sea kayaking leg and spent time at the NOLS base switching gear before heading to the local caravan park for a well earned shower and rest.
The trip to Dampier Archipelago is 10hrs, after which they met their two sea kayak instructors to head out for another adventure.
The group is now self sufficient until Thursday 2/Aug when they start their journey back to the NOLS base for final course wrap up and graduation.
Campaign NOLS: Explaining Our Core Values, Part 1
NOLS’ core values are at the heart of our institution. Leadership, community, safety, excellence, wilderness, and education inspire everything we do. We share a commitment to these values; they define and direct who we are, what we do, and how we do it.
We believe that leadership is a skill that can be learned and that our alumni come away from their courses with the experience to lead with integrity, accountability, and humility.
Sydney Hartsell on Leadership
NOLS generates real leaders for today’s world: active and concerned citizens who are not only adept in the backcountry, but also conscious of the size of their footprint, can collaborate effectively with others, and exemplify strong leadership, passion, and self-responsibility.
I grew up in Salt Lake City and received a Morehead-Cain Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which allowed me to take a NOLS Rocky Mountain course the summer before heading to college. I already loved backpacking, but wanted to learn technical skills, challenge myself, and become a better leader.
In high school, my leadership roles were on sports teams and were largely gained via seniority. I was the second youngest on my course and one of only three females. However, NOLS taught me that to be a leader you don’t have to be the biggest or the oldest—the right attitude and skills are what matter.
NOLS helped me develop the self-confidence to assume leadership roles at a large university, even as an underclassman. I made it a point to encourage active followership and peer leadership among fellow students. I felt comfortable making decisions myself, but tried to facilitate group consultation and delegate tasks in order to cultivate leadership abilities in my younger mentees, similar to how our NOLS instructors prepared us for independent backcountry travel.
I am 22 years old, just graduated from college, and I give what I can to Campaign NOLS because “thank you” doesn’t begin to cover how grateful I am to the Morehead-Cain for enabling me to take a NOLS course. I would not be the person I am today without this experience, and helping another student have the same opportunity is the least I can do to show my gratitude. NOLS empowered and changed my life; it can certainly do the same for many future students.
To my fellow NOLS graduates: remember those leadership principles your instructor once wrote on the sleeping pad whiteboard? “Model the way” and give what you can to Campaign NOLS.
Sydney Hartsell is a 2008 Wind River Mountaineering graduate, scholarship recipient, and donor.
ABC 6/27 Hike resupply 15/July/12
Paul, the primary NOLS Australia driver, has this past weekend headed into the King Leopolds to resupply both the ABC 6/27 and SAS 6/8 courses. The Australian backpacking course received their 2nd of 3 food resupplies. All appear happy, enjoying the adventure, supporting each other and at one with the Australian outback!
The group sent out a story update on their travels for the blog... here are their words.
"This past week we passed from the Adcock River area into the Lady Forrest Region. We welcomed the relief of a lighter ration of 6 days of food, four less than our last ration of 10. Our first instructor-free day of hiking was a success as both groups arrived at the designated campsite unscathed and well before sunset.
The next day, we undertook a solo, which consists of 12 hours spent in reflection solitude following a collective vow of silence. We took the opportunity to consider our group and personal goals in the context of their relevance to life after NOLS. After the much-anticipated reunion we cooked a hearty meal with our leftover ration with a newfound appreciation for the gift of conversation.
The climax of our week, however, came two days earlier when we made our way through a swim thru canyon gauntlet. This entailed extensive waterproofing, floating backpacks, clambering up waterfalls and of course a flair for the unknown and adventure. Despite a night spent
in wet sleeping bags, we are all glad to have had the experience and agree we have enough college essay material to last a lifetime!"
From our history into the future, together
NOLS’ and Skander Spies’ histories have weaved through one another extensively over the past five years.
In 2007, as a recent engineering graduate of Northwestern University, Spies interviewed for a position estimating energy use for LEED certified buildings. This interview took place shortly before he was to head north for a NOLS Alaska Semester.
Fortunately, the job was waiting for him when he came home three months later. He started his first day equipped with a whole new set of skills.
“The most important thing I brought home from my NOLS course was the rock-solid knowledge that I could work with anybody,” Spies said.
Little did he know that five years into the future it would be NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) he’d be working with.
In the years that followed his course, NOLS resurfaced a number of times in Spies’ life. He attended NOLS reunions only to learn people he already knew were fellow NOLS alumni. He was invited to volunteer with the National Park Service as a volunteer climbing ranger on Denali a few times, and who did he run into last year at 15,000 feet but the NOLS Denali alumni course.
And he has supported NOLS financially for years, citing the role it plays in connecting youth to wilderness, which in turn, inspires a culture of sustainability, Spies’ passion. Last year, he relocated to Missoula, Mont. to work for Energetechs, a comprehensive energy-efficiency contracting company, as project manager.
“From the day we first shake hands with the client to the day we turn on the building systems, I’m responsible to make it happen,” he explained.
Spies enjoys following a project through the entire process, and he reflects back on the values he developed in Alaska in 2007. Accountability, for example.
“Our business lives and dies on being accountable,” Spies said. “And NOLS to me is really big on accountability. Did you cook the dinner? Did you hike the miles? Did you double check the locking carabiner?”
So when the call came in to the office informing Energetechs its bid to provide windows for the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus had been selected, it all came full circle. Spies didn’t even know the bid had been submitted, but he took the opportunity to share his enthusiasm for NOLS with his coworkers.
And now he’s sharing his expertise with NOLS. He believes strongly in the educational value of sustainable buildings and is excited to be a part of the Wyss campus design. His company’s role is providing high-performance, American-made windows and guidance in installing them. The windows being installed in campus buildings this week.
“The Serious brand windows that NOLS bought for the Wyss campus have a number of key features that are essential to sustainable building design,” Spies said. These include R-value, which defines how much heat passes through the windows that is twice as good as required by code and that offer exceptionally tight air sealing performance.
“By ‘tuning’ the windows using special films to allow radiant heat transfer on the south side of the building, and also employing specially designed shading to prevent overheating in the summer, we were able to reduce the amount of heat needed to keep the buildings warm in the winter,” Spies said of the windows’ solar gain.
All the properties of these windows that will reduce energy use also provide a comfortable learning environment for WMI students. And they will last.
“Sustainability is about designing projects with a long life span,” Spies noted.
And in the lifetime of those windows, they just might come to have a history as intertwined with NOLS as Spies does.