Team Wyo, NOLS, and Cowboy Tough
The starting gun for the Cowboy Tough Race, a three day adventure race beginning in Cheyenne, Wyo. and finishing in Casper, Wyo., will go off next Thursday, July 18. This race will highlight some of Wyoming's wildest and most beautiful locations. NOLS is helping in the organization, as well as comprising Team Wyo!
Join NOLS in helping make this race possible by volunteering next week. Learn more and sign up here.
The next adventure departs for the field!
Yesterday, we waved goodbye to our next group of adventurers.
This is a particularly diverse group! Including both the hiking & Sea Kayaking instructors, Australia, NZ, USA, Thailand, England, Switzerland & Brazil are all represented in the expedition!
There first day was a busy one, with an early pickup & straight into rations bagging. Students seemed to have fun getting to know each other, over airborne clouds of flour, exclamations such as "What is this grain/powder/spice for?" & marvelling at the fact that more or less everything they were going to eat for the next 44 days, was being bagged in just a few hours.
In the afternoon, Instructors went through student gear & helped to organize what they would need for each section, with all the hiking specific gear placed securely to pick up as they transition between section types in a couple of weeks.
After dinner at the base, students spent last night in Broome at the local camp group with instructors, leaning how to erect the tents & get around with headlamps. All snuggled into the their sleeping bags & sleeping pads for what will become 'home' for the next 1.5 months.
This course begins with a Sea Kayak section exploring the Dampier Archipelago. Students will spend nearly 2 weeks hopping from island to island, and seeing, living and breathing some of the most inspiring marine environments and arguably the best Petroglyph artwork in the world.
After returning to Broome for a night, they will switch gear, say goodbye to the sea kayaking instructors and head North about 7 hours by road to the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Their hiking section will take them into some of the most pristine and wondrous hiking locations the Kimberley has to offer!
For those of you eager to know when you may be able to get mail in and hear from your loved ones, here is an outline of their course schedule:
Sea Kayak section – Dampier Archipelago, Pilbara
4 - 18th July.
Students will return to Broome Friday the 19th July, & stay in town that evening. There may be the potential for phone access late in the evening.
Hike Section – King Leopold Ranges, Kimberly.
20 July –15 August
Students will return late in the afternoon & stay the final night of their course in Broome. Again, there may be phone access late that evening.
After the celebration, we will drop all students back to their planned accommodation approximately 3pm.
If you would like to send mail, students will have an opportunity to receive it when they pass through town on the 19th July. Please keep in mind that we are a long way out from any major city, so allow plenty of time for your mail to get here before that date!
PO Box 3472
We will endeavor to update this blog site after they pass through town, so keep tuned!
- The NOLS Australia team
In the news: Tolerance for adversity
“When you exhibit a strong sense of purpose by doing something difficult, even if you begin alone, others will follow,” states a June 27 article in Fortune with the headline “On Wendy Davis and the power of tenacity.”
A recent, powerful example of tenacity in leadership, Texas Senator Wendy Davis has become a household name this week for her famous filibuster of Texas bill SB5. In the Fortune article, she and NOLS graduate and former NASA space shuttle commander Jeffrey Ashby are held up as shining examples of self leadership, tolerance for adversity, and vision and action—all leadership skills NOLS courses cultivate.
“Even some of her opponents nodded to her conviction before questioning her on technicalities of the bill,” the article states. Regardless of what you think of SB5, Davis’ leadership skills are admirable and an example to learn from.
Read the full article here.
AUSTRALIAN BACKPACKING COURSE IS OFF ON AN AUSSIE ADVENTURE!
The Australian Backpacking course drove off into the wilderness this morning to begin their adventure. The drive is 7 hours and approximately half of that is on dirt to Mt Hart Station where they begin. Their course area will take them into some of the most pristine and wondrous hiking locations the Kimberley has to offer!
The students had travelled from all over the USA and one from Holland to participate in the course. Yesterday the day was spent preparing rations, getting outfitted with gear and playing introduction games.
The team was super efficient with the ration preparation. The students bagged enough food for 30 days, which will all, be delivered to them via 4-wheel drive over 4 ration periods.
During the course orientation students were treated with Dougal’s footage of his salt water crocodile encounters he gained when visiting the local croc farm! Learning about these creatures is the best way to manage the risk of visiting their habitat! Dougal is one of instructors along with Owain and Amy, they are an experienced I-team having all worked together in the Kimberley before.
After lunch it was gear “explosion” time where in-town clothes are swapped for sun protection shirts and sandals with boots and gaiters!
For those of you eager to know when you maybe able to get mail in and hear from your loved ones, here is an outline of their course schedule:
27 July – 26 August – Students will be hiking the northern route through the King Leopold Ranges
26 August – 29 August – Cultural experience at Jarlmadangah, Eastern Kimberley
Students return to Broome late in the afternoon on the 29th August and there may be pay phone access late that evening.
Graduation – 30th August
After the celebration, we will drop all the students back to their planned accommodation at approximately 3pm.
If you would like to send mail, students will have an opportunity to receive it at the swutch between hiking and cultural sections. Please keep in mind that we are along way from any major city, so allow plenty of time for your mail to get here before this date!(Student Name)
PO Box 3472
NOLS gets Cowboy Tough
A lot of people at NOLS are planning for the first Cowboy Tough adventure race in Wyoming. NOLS is sponsoring and designing the ropes section and a trekking and orienteering section of the race. But there are two more people at NOLS gearing up for the race: Team Wyo competitors Katie Everson and Adam Swisher.
The two-person team brings the experience of many NOLS courses, some as students and some as an instructor, the in-town roles of an admissions officer and curriculum publications manager, and a variety of endurance racing.
Everson,a marathon and half marathon runner and NOLS Pacific Northwest Semester graduate jumped at the chance to compete in the first Cowboy Tough race shortly after moving to Lander, Wyo. for a job at NOLS Headquarters. Her teammate, Adam, is an instructor with a few adventure races under his belt. Together, they’re training for a top finish, though they recognize just finishing will be a challenge.
This weekend, they will spend a day biking and hiking outside of Lander. They have a few days planned this summer for multi-day training, preparing themselves for pushing through the point of fatigue together.
After building their endurance through the spring, Swisher and Everson will turn their focus to the more technical aspects of the race like navigation and taking on the relatively new skills to both of them: whitewater kickboarding and canoeing.
We’ll keep you updated on their training and their goals as July 18 approaches. In the meantime, wish Team Wyo speed and perseverence as they prepare!
The Wonder Wedge: Inventing for a Cause
By the end of his sophomore year in college, Jim and Sue Opeka’s son, Daren, was struggling with his geology major. Overwhelmed with too many extracurricular activities and responsibilities, Daren was confused and unhappy. But he felt unsure as to how to change the situation. Jim and Sue knew he needed something to clear his head, and since he’d always been an athletic, ‘outdoors kid’—playing sports, camping, whitewater rafting, hiking—his parents suggested NOLS.
After leaving a summer camp job due to poor work conditions, Daren still wanted an epiphany in the mountains. He knew what he needed to do. That fall he made his way to Lander, Wyo. for a Semester in the Rockies.
Daren found in his NOLS instructors the mentorship and motivation that was lacking at the camp. He relished refining his hiking and camping skills and became smitten with rock climbing, which remains his passion to this day. But it was on his canyoneering section in the Grand Canyon that Daren found the epiphany he sought.
“He called us and said, ‘I went into the canyon a geology major and came out an English major. I never looked at a rock and thought about what it was … but rather the story it told,’” Sue recalled.
NOLS was a life-changer for Daren and his parents. He left a confused young man pursuing the wrong major with no real idea as to who he was and what he really wanted to do with his life; he returned a man who was young. NOLS helped Daren discover himself. Back home, Jim and Sue noticed that he was more mature, focused, self-aware, and driven. Daren decided to return to NOLS someday as an instructor. He wanted to help other young people “find themselves,” a dream he lives today.
Jim and Sue believe that with all the distractions of today’s world—technology, social pressures, and job and marketplace insecurities—outdoor education is more important than ever. Out of this belief, the Opekas decided to donate the proceeds of The Wonder Wedge, a hardware product Jim invented that is designed to provide safety in ladder use, to the NOLS Annual Fund.
Last fall, the couple attended a local “huge, well-attended garage sale” in their town to sell the wedges.
“Because most people have no idea what NOLS is, we also had an opportunity to share our positive opinion of, and experiences with, NOLS. We used the term ‘life-changer’ a lot,” Sue said.
The Opekas chose to donate the proceeds from The Wonder Wedge sales to NOLS because of the difference it made in their son’s life.
“It is a wonderful organization with proven results. We are grateful for the positive impact NOLS had on our family,” Sue said, adding, “As Daren says, ‘Being in the wilderness provides clarity … a sense of what’s really important.’”
To learn more about philanthropy at NOLS or to make a gift, visit giving.nols.edu.
Sally Jewell: the Right Choice for Outdoor Recreation in Wyoming
This opinion piece by NOLS Executive Director John Gans was first published in the Casper Star Tribune in Wyoming April 15.
One week ago, The United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm Sally Jewell as the next secretary of interior. At the helm of the federal department that encompasses the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and other agencies responsible for stewardship of our public lands and waters, she will have a positive impact on Wyoming’s outdoor recreation economy, while being mindful of our energy portfolio.
Jewell’s resume demonstrates the balance sought when managing diverse interests on federal lands. She spent her early career as a petroleum engineer, and evolved to become the chief executive of outdoor retailer giant REI. Through her experience, Jewell understands that our nation’s public lands directly support the economy, both through responsible energy development and through access to recreational opportunities.
In Wyoming, we know that having a robust energy portfolio does not require sacrificing our inspiring landscapes. Careful planning and local input ensure that we can have both. The success of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act is an excellent example of our state’s ability to achieve that balance. With the focus on activities in the outdoors that Jewell would bring to the Department of Interior, Wyoming’s record of success can be a model for the nation.
Outdoor recreation is already a significant economic driver in our state. It generates $4.5 billion in consumer spending and $300 million in state and local tax revenue (based on a report by the Outdoor Industry Association based on surveys taken in 2011 and 2012). It directly sustains 50,000 jobs in the state, and supports $1.4 billion in wages and salaries. Towns like Cody, Lander, and Jackson are heavily dependent on the outdoor recreation economy.
Indeed, most of us live here for the outdoor opportunities available. Whether hiking, climbing, horsepacking, four-wheeling, biking, fishing, hunting, birding or myriad other activities, we hold dear our access to public lands and the opportunities they provide. Jewell, too, thrives outside, and is an avid skier, kayaker and mountaineer.
Jewell’s values are reflected in her advocacy. In her time at REI, she was closely involved in efforts to promote opportunities on public lands. She engaged in the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which fostered a national conversation on connecting people with the outdoors, providing access opportunities, and seeking out partnerships. Through her close association with the initiative, she gained a solid understanding of the ongoing priorities for the Department of Interior.
At the National Outdoor Leadership School, we are keenly aware of the value gained from having someone with an understanding of the significance and the benefits of recreation on public lands as the secretary of interior. From national parks to the Bureau of Land Management, NOLS operates extensively on Department of Interior lands across Wyoming and the American West. Teaching in these unique landscapes provides immeasurable opportunities for our students to develop as skilled outdoors people and mature into positive ethical leaders who understand complex land use issues.
With this new face of leadership at the Department of Interior, we have high hopes that our priorities in this state will be reflected in the management of the BLM and the national parks. Getting young people into the outdoors, making public lands accessible to outdoor enthusiasts, and supporting the economy that continues to thrive on these values need to be priorities as we progress in the 21st century.
Expedition Denali Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Feature Film
This June, nine mountaineers will attempt to become the first all-African-American expedition to climb Denali (a.k.a. Mount McKinley) in Alaska. This team’s goals go far beyond summiting North America’s highest peak and making history. Their ultimate objective is to inspire people of all colors, young and old, to get more engaged in the great outdoors.
Expedition Denali: Inspiring Diversity in the Outdoors will happen. How many people know about it—how far the team’s inspiration and awareness reaches—is another matter.
Through a Kickstarter campaign launched yesterday, Expedition Denali will raise funds to create a powerful, far-reaching documentary on the team’s journey to the top of North America’s loftiest, most iconic summit. From putting a camera team on the mountain with the expedition to producing, promoting, and distributing the resulting feature-length film, this project will increase awareness of the importance of exploring natural environments and make clear that it’s high time to invite all races, all ethnicities—all people—to inspirational outdoor playgrounds.
Given the powerful, reverberating echo of media—how it can trigger conversation and spark awareness to the furthest corners of our planet—this Kickstarter project and the resulting documentary is for anyone who has tapped into the inspirational, transformative, healing power of our natural environment. More specifically, it will create aspirational role models for African American youth and shine light on our great outdoors and the future they deserve.
Funding through the Kickstarter campaign will run for one month, ending May 10. People interested in making tax-deductible contributions to the production of the film can do so here.
Pledging to the Kickstarter campaign is incentivized by prizes that directly relate to the expedition and the film. Prizes include 30-day, fully transferable Wind River NOLS courses; downloads of the film; climbing equipment used by the athletes on the mountain; summit flags and Skype sessions with the team.
Campaign NOLS: Explaining Our Core Values, Part 3
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 education should be exciting, fun, and challenging. With this in mind, our courses are designed to help people develop and practice the skills they need to live, travel, and play safely in the outdoors. On our expeditions, people learn by accepting and meeting real challenges. Our instructors are educators, not guides. They are committed to inspiring students to explore and develop their understanding of wilderness ethics, leadership, teamwork, natural history, and technical skills.
Rachael Abler on Education
In 2011, after pursuing a Master’s degree in recreation, I started making calls to numerous collegiate outdoor recreation programs. I found myself hearing one thing that would help me make it in the industry from each and every coordinator, director, graduate assistant, intern, etc.: NOLS. At that, my mind was made up. NOLS, here I come!
The Pacific Northwest Outdoor Educator Course allowed me to develop technical skills in mountaineering and rock climbing while growing as an outdoor educator. Like many people, I was at the point of my life where, after obtaining two college degrees, I did not have much disposable income. But, thanks to the NOLS scholarship program, I had the opportunity to spend 30 days in the backcountry learning who I was, what I was capable of, and transforming myself into a better person for the rest of my life.
The outdoor experiences throughout the course of my life have allowed me to become the person who I am today, and I hold the strongest regard for the 30 days spent on my NOLS course. It is easy in our technological age to go through life without placing ourselves in situations that allow us to see our true potential. I believe there is nothing more powerful than immersing oneself in outdoors and that there is nothing like making personal accomplishments in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Without such educational experiences, how can anyone possibly know what they are capable of?
NOLS is responsible for impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. Whether the impact is teaching leadership and teamwork qualities, exposing people to new worlds, or offering career advancement opportunities with wilderness medicine, outdoor educator, and instructor courses. No matter what the case, the result is always the same—NOLS changes lives.
My own ability to attend a NOLS course is attributed to the philanthropic efforts of those who came before me. As a donor, I am honored to join the fraternity of individuals who place value in continued education and outdoor leadership development for all who have the drive to pursue it. It is a privilege to give back to the organization that gave so much to me through support of Campaign NOLS. My hope is that many more future leaders and educators can reap similar benefits.
The view from Mt. Baker.
Rachael Abler is a 2012 Pacific Outdoor Educator graduate, scholarship recipient and a donor.
To learn more about Campaign NOLS: Endowing Our Core Values or to donate, visit giving.nols.edu.
Expedition Denali stories inspire in Lander and beyond
Last week, the Expedition Denali team traveled to Lander, Wyo., where they spent a day at NOLS Headquarters for their final gathering before they attempt to summit Denali in June. As part of this visit, they held a forum for local NOLS staff in which they shared their motivations, fears, and expectations for joining Expedition Denali. Each brought his or her own story to the team, creating a strong, diverse group that will be able to impact the lives of a variety of children across the nation.
Tyrhee Moore, for example, hails from Washington, D.C. The youngest member of his team, he was fortunate enough to attend a summer camp in Wyoming in middle school. Had he not had that exposure to the backcountry, he might never have discovered all the wilderness has to offer. Now a NOLS student, a former NOLS fellow, and the NOLS catalog “cover boy,” he is in a unique position to expose his peers to the excitement, accessibility, and “coolness” of outdoor adventure.
Brad Christensen photo
Ryan Mitchell has long been a driving force in bringing underrepresented youth into new fields, ranging from math and science (which he teaches at DeVry) to cycling. Expedition Denali is another step in a lifetime of making a difference for future generations.
Brad Christensen photo
Adina Scott didn’t realize not all families treasure the outdoors like hers did until she was an adult. Casually and through outreach organizations, she has introduced friends of all ages to the wonder of the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors. She believes in the power of adventuring in the wilderness and sees Expedition Denali as a means of bringing many new friends into her playground through Expedition Denali.
Brad Christensen photo
This is just a taste of the rich insight and experiences the team members and instructors will bring to the climb and outreach efforts. The reliability of each and of the team as a whole will fuel the mission of Expedition Denali—to inspire diversity in the outdoors—as they and their cause climb to new heights.