Sometimes-–well, most of the time--working as a NOLS instructor and teaching in the field means being able to think creatively. Ben Lester, an instructor on the Semester on the Borders course, is a prime example. Having struggled with explaining the physics of sailing to his students in the past, he decided to get creative. He took on the project of building scaled models of NOLS Pacific Northwest’s keelboats, Sol Quest and Luna Quest to more easily demonstrate how the keel “works as a pivot point--turning the boat into or away from the wind depending on how the sails are trimmed”.
The green washer, indicates the hypothetical location of the “center of effort” produced by the direction and force of the wind. It can be moved aft or forward causing the boats to turn accordingly. The models were very effective teaching tools, both for their intended purpose, and for the demonstration of other sailing skills. Typical of NOLS instructors, Ben went above and beyond for the benefit of his students. Nicely done, Ben!
Max Belongs in the Mountains: The Waddington, to Be Precise
Max Owens, one of two overall winners of the NOLS Patagonia Dream Expedition Video Contest, wants to take the Waddington Range Mountaineering course this summer. His video, Power of the Peaks, won him a NOLS course, all the gear he needs for the course, travel, and a bunch of other goodies from Patagonia and NOLS. Here's his winning video:
We caught up with Max to find out more about him.
Q: We know nothing about you, other than that you make a mean backcountry salad. How old are you?
A: I am 17 years old.
Q: What are your favoriate outdoor acivities?
A: My favorite outdoor activity is definitely skiing. I also love camping, hiking, and mountain biking. Recently, I've gotten into rock climbing, but thus far have only rock climbed indoors.
Q: What do you love to do when you're not in school (or making movies)?
A: Spending time with friends, reading, the activities listed above, and volunteering at my local hospital
Q: Are you really planning on that tour of the US, hiking, climbing, skiing, and more? If so, when are you planning on doing that?
A: The trip was not a formal plan when I dreamed of it; however I do have a yearning for the West and want to spend some serious time. That being said, I've been playing with the idea of going on a road trip after my senior year of high school. Though I might not have enough time to do all the activities listed in my video on this road trip, I want to fit in as much as I can!
Q: Looks like you are in high school. Any college plans?
A: I'm currently a junior in high school, so I'm not exactly sure where I will apply just yet. I've been visiting a lot of schools lately to figure out what kind of school I would get the most out of. At this point, I'm planning on a pre-medicine track in college then med school. Science has always been one of my favorite subjects, and I think medicine would be a great career area for me.
Q: You got your whole school involved in your video. Who are some of the teachers who think you "belong in the mountains?"
A: The first teacher in the video is Christa Overbeck, who I had for English my freshman year. The male teacher was Erik Will, who I had for freshman world history. The last teacher was Molly Penrod, who I had last year for biology and this current year for AP Biology (my favorite class by far!!). All of these teachers are absolutely fantastic, and were very supportive about the video!
A White.. Thanksgiving?
The coastline of the Pacific Northwest got 2" of snow recently, and for a minute, students on the hiking section of the Semester in the Pacific Northwest convinced themselves that they were walking along a pristine white sand Caribbean beach. Snow castles, anyone? The Washington coast this time of year is typically in the low 40's and raining.
Back in "civilization" NOLS Pacific Northwest in Conway, Washington also got a dusting, making for a nice contrast to the warm and cozy branch-hosted Thanksgiving & graduation feast to end the Semester.
P.S. The tree centerpiece is a chunk taken from the tree that fell on the staff housing unit last week.
If a tree falls in the Pacific Northwest..
...but everyone is out mountaineering, does it still damage staff housing? The answer is, yes it does. But, we're in the process of taking care of it. Here are some pics from a recent windy day here at NOLS Pacific Northwest.
The big question is, why was it so windy? And the answer to that must be that these Pacific Northwest Semester students just started the sailing portion of their semester, and are currently riding the same winds up in the Strait of Georgia.
Pacific Northwest Updates
Last week the folks on NCM 6-9 and NCW 6-9 returned to the branch after experiencing all kinds of weather and excitement. The two Sea Kayak-Sailing courses switched in the field, swapping boats and transitioning into the second skill section of their courses. On Wednesday, we also launched NCW 7-7, with instructors Doug Dalquist and Sarah Osberg into the field. Doug, interestingly enough, has been an instructor in all 6 decades of NOLS history—he began instructing in 1969 under Paul Petzoldt and has continued instructing ever since. They’re out in the Olympics, so hopefully some of the recent summery weather will hold out for their course!
WAD 6-30 received their helicopter resupply on Friday. I delivered the resupply to Tatla Lake, BC, and got to tag along for the helicopter ride and chat with the course on the Homathko Glacier while instructors Willie and Jake cached the course’s last ration. They were at the base camp preparing for a summit of Mount Grenville on Saturday and said they’ve had amazing sunny weather and a great course so far.
Two more courses will launch off tomorrow: the summer’s third Waddington course (WAD 7-14), led by Dilip, Mel, and Amanda, and a mountaineering course (NCM 7-14) led by Marcelo and Matt H. WAD 6-16 (with Ben V, Craig, and Jorn) and NCM 6-16 (with Pedro and Ben U) will be pulling into the branch Thursday evening, so we’re all looking forward to catching up with those guys at the end of the week.
On the home front, Laura from outfitting is out for three weeks in a sailing race from San Francisco to Hawaii. Our last in-town team member, Tom (and Trout the dog) returned to the branch after completing his NOLS backpacking course in India. The garden is coming along now that slug season is on the decline—we’ve got broccoli, spinach, cabbage, kale, parsley, chard, lettuce, and potatoes surviving so far, so keep your fingers crossed and pray for good weather!
Pacific Northwest Updates
Happy (belated) Summer Solstice!
Last week on 6/21 the OEM 6-2 (Mountaineering Outdoor Educator) led by Roger and Dave stopped by the branch in transit to their Rock Camp in Squamish. We also resupplied NCM 6-2 (North Cascades Mountaineering) led by Marcelo and Darren at Boulder Creek that day. The students were in high spirits and excited for the new ration. We’ll be seeing them at the branch on Thursday afternoon when they return from the field.
The NCW 5-26 (Pacific Northwest Backpacking) led by Matt and Iain returned on Thursday. Everybody came back with big smiles and big appetites, telling tales of an epic river crossing at the end of their course. The students were all excited for ice cream and hot showers, but several heads perked up to the idea of a NOLS Alumni course…
As for this week, on Monday we issued a NOLS Pro course from the US Naval Academy. On Wednesday (6/30) two more courses will be entering the field: a Waddington Mountaineering course and a backpacking course heading out to the Olympics. Then on Thursday our friends on the NCM 6-2 and OEM 6-2 courses will be pulling into the branch to de-issue.
On another note, our local CSA (community supported agriculture) has everyone at the PNW excited! Every Tuesday, we pick up our weekly produce for branch at Hedlin Family Farms in La Conner, WA. Last week we got boxes full of fresh organic strawberries, some of the best cherry tomatoes you’ve ever dreamed of, and loads of fresh veggies and herbs.
This week at the PNW...
Busy week at the PNW!
We're still eagerly anticipating summer here in Conway. So far the sun has made several noteworthy appearances this week, but the warm weather hasn't quite caught up.
The summer season at the branch has definitely begun, though, despite the dreary weather.
On Tuesday Laura drove out to Robinson Creek to deliver the North Cascades Mountaineering (5/26) course's second re-ration. Laura reports that instructors Matt and Iain and crew were in good spirits after a tough day's hike. The students are now about half-way into a great course. Two weeks ago at the course's first re-ration, the students gave Kelly and me a demo of the group dance that the students have been perfecting. Can't wait to see the final routine when the students return!
Two courses left for the field today: a North Cascades Mountaineering (led by Ben Urmston and Pedro Binfa) and the first Waddington Mountaineering course (led by Ben Venter, Craig Muderlack, and Jorn Haack) of the season. After bagging rations and receiving gear, both courses launched off this afternoon and are off to a great start.
Tomorrow the Outdoor Educator Mountaineering course (OEM 5-19) led by TJ and Mariah will be returning to the branch after completing the course's rock section. Two more course re-supplies will take place on Friday. More news to come.
Other news around NOLS Pacific Northwest: issue room manager Ryan Willis has returned from his Instructor Course out of the NOLS Rocky Mountain. Ryan is now checked off to be an instructor, but for now we're all glad to see him back at the PNW.
So check in next week, folks, for more course updates, progress on the PNW garden, and more!
Team NOLS PNW dominates Ski to Sea 2010!
The PNW in-town staff got a chance to display their athletic prowess in the annual Ski to Sea relay race in Bellingham, WA on Sunday.
This epic relay, which spans 90 miles from Mount Baker ski area to Bellingham Bay, consists of seven legs (cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking, and sea kayaking).
Four hundred sixty-four teams competed in the Memorial Day race, and the NOLSies represented in their first-ever appearance with style. Team NOLS PNW (mistakenly reported in the online race results as Team Hoka...) dominated the Recreational-Mixed division, finishing 15th out of 95 teams (219th out of 464 overall). The team also earned a 1st and 3rd place finish in the individual legs in the division.
Race day started with a bang (literally, for PNW outfitter and road bike contestant Laura Zippel) at 4:30am with the first carpool van to Mount Baker. It took three separate vehicles and quite a bit of logistical analysis to shuttle all eight racers to their designated staging areas, yet the drop-offs went smoothly given team's ability to thrive under pressure.
Cross-country skier Greta Olafsen from the rations room started the team off at the head of the pack. Flying through the four-mile loop in a whopping 13 minutes 21 seconds, Greta finished the first leg of the race 1st in the division and 57th overall.
PNW Program Analyst Andy Wise then took off on the downhill ski. The ski leg, which mainly consisted of a footrace to the top of the slopes, was no challenge for this former NOLS instructor who took 16th place in the division.
Operations Manager John Harnetiaux manned the running leg of the race. John clocked the eight-mile run (which dropped over 1,000 feet in elevation) in just under 48 minutes, bringing the team a 3rd place finish in the division. John's legs are still recovering.
The first three legs gave the team a tremendous edge for the first half of the race. Laura Zippel of the issue room took the road bike leg and, despite a nasty fall incurred on the PNW stairs Sunday morning, still raced 38 miles like a pro. Next came the canoe duo of cook Kelly Larson and the issue room's Chris Sellars, who maneuvered the raging Nooksack River with ease to seamlessly avoid all in-stream obstacles.
Program Analyst Alexis Alloway tackled leg 6, the mountain bike. Alexis sprayed mud (and probably a few expletives) at the competition, passing other bikers left and right. Finally, NOLS instructor Lynn Petzold, fresh off a Kayaking Instructor Course, joined Team PNW for the last leg of this epic quest. Lynn skillfully read the water conditions and finished the race in style.
After an impressive showing in the competition, the PNW has its sight set on next year's event. Interested future participants may send resumes to 2011 team captain Alexis. Ability to withstand a significant amount of trash-talking is required.
Scholarships Scholarships and more Scholarships
Don't let the price tag for a NOLS course stop you from applying. You can apply for scholarships through NOLS and elsewhere (check with your university or college).
Here's news about some of our latest scholarship recipients.
Through NOLS' partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Morehead-Cain Scholars program, NOLS has had the privilege of taking many Morehead-Cain scholars through wild places. Recently, Morehead-Cain scholar Jarrard Cole posted a video of his journey - a sea kayaking trip through Prince William Sound in Alaska. This coming fall, the program will welcome Kaddu Martin Ssekibakke from Kiteezi, Uganda. Kadu Martin took the 2009 16 and over Alaska Sea Kayaking course, and is taking the Pacific Northwest Backpacking course next month.
Micolleen Yazzie, Lauralita Garcia, and Tiffany Shroulote from New Mexico have been awarded scholarships through NOLS and the National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP) to participate in courses this summers. Micolleen is headed to Alaska next month for the 30-day Alaskan Backpacking course, and Lauralita and Tiffany are heading to Idaho for the Idaho Backpacking Adventure for 14 and 15 Year Olds. The NIYLP is a non-profit that empowers Native American middle school youth through culture-based adventure and experiential education.
Adam Kruse, a junior anthropology major at Iowa's Luther College, has been awarded a Steven Mark Anderson Scholarship. Adam is involved with Backyard Wilderness Pursuits, has organized cancer benefit events and regional running events, has volunteered as a translator for the local police department and food pantry, worked in refugee integration, and is in the process of forming a nongovernmental organization in Argentina. He is also earning his pilot’s license, to boot. Adam is heading to Alaska as I write to attend the Alaska Mountain Instructor Course, and is heading to the Himalayas this fall to spend a Semester in India with NOLS.
And these are only examples of some of this year's NOLS scholarship recipients. Would you like to give props to any others? Let us know and we'll blog about them.
Nolsapalooza in the Pacific Northwest
On May 1st a group of NOLS alumni, friends, supporters, staff and prospective students met at the NOLS base in Conway, Washington for a day of service projects, mini-skills classes, great food, camaraderie, and a showing of the historic film "30 Days to Survival".
The weather was mixed, but spirits were high as the intrepid team of volunteers tramped area lanes looking for trash. We pulled plenty of cans and other assorted items off the roadsides. Notable finds included a soccer and baseball!
Thanks to everyone who made our first "Nolsapalooza" in Washington such a success. Watch for similar alumni networking and reunion opportunities throughout the year. See: http://www.nols.edu/alumni/reunions/ and see you there!