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NZS-2 Semester under way

NOLS NZ Spring Semester NZS-2 1/22/15 were welcomed at the Aniseed Valley base last week and were outfitted for the 77 days of expeditioning ahead. Their semester began with an overnight Maori Cultural Section at the Te Awhina Marae in nearby Motueka. The group then transitioned to the Marlborough Sounds to begin their month-long Sea Kayaking section.

Their semester schedule is as follows:

NZS-2 – 01/22/15


Cultural:  23-24 Jan
1 – Sea Kayaking:  25 Jan to 23 Feb
Branch Switch:  24-25 Feb
2 – Backpacking: 25 Feb to 26 Mar
Branch Switch: 27-28 Mar
3 – Sailing: 28 Mar to 6 Apr
Branch De-issue: 7 Apr
Course ends: 8 Apr

NZS-2 Student Group

Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Jan 26, 2015 in the following categories: New Zealand

NZS-1 Start their adventure

NOLS New Zealand Spring Semester One students all arrived safely at NOLS NZ. They spent the first day bagging rations and thoroughly checking through their equipment for their 77-day adventure.

The semester began with a cultural section at the Te Awhina Marae where they were formally welcomed on to the Marae, got introduced to Maori customs, weaved anchors out of flax, and visited culturally significant sites. 

P1230089NZS-1 Student Group

The group is now canoeing on the Clarence River toward the Pacific Ocean.  

NZS-1 – 01/22/15 Schedule

Cultural:  23-24 Jan
1 – Canoe:  25 Jan to 15 Feb
Field Switch:  16 Feb
2 – Sea Kayaking: 17 Feb to 10 Mar
Branch Switch: 11-12 Mar
3 – Backpacking: 12 Mar to 6 Apr
Branch De-issue: 7 Apr
Course ends: 8 Apr


Permalink | Posted by Roo Riley on Jan 25, 2015 in the following categories: New Zealand

Wyoming Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights

There is a growing concern for the youth of today: will this be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents? Obesity and diabetes are scary realities for many children in the United States, and there are several theories as to why these health issues have become such an epidemic. One major contributing factor is that kids are not spending enough time outdoors and being active. When children spend more time outside, they are not only physically healthier, but they also have an overall higher quality of life.

Many are beginning to realize the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle and are trying to find ways to motivate young folks to get outside. WY Outside is a coalition of various Wyoming organizations, including NOLS, that care and recognize the importance of connecting youth with the outdoors. As part of the WY Outside mission to enhance the number of people participating in outdoor activities, WY Outside has developed the Wyoming Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights to embody the movement for more movement. The Wyoming Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights promotes the participation and enjoyment of children in the beautiful Wyoming outdoors. The bill of rights includes fundamental outside activities such as, sleeping under the stars, planting a seed or a tree, appreciating a mountain-top view and visiting a Wyoming historic or cultural site. Activities such as these capture the essence of how valuable it is to play, create, observe and make memories in the outdoors.

In order to make this bill of rights as comprehensive and successful as possible, WY Outside gathered input directly from Wyoming youth on what activities are the most essential to an outdoor experience. Aaron Bannon, Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Director at NOLS, is a member of the WY Outside committee and was involved in the creation of the Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights. Bannon is also continually involved in formulating events through WY Outside with the hope of finding new ways to engage youth in outdoor activities.

“I’m hopeful that the Wyoming State legislature will embrace the Youth Outdoor Bill of Rights,” says Bannon. “It is the right message for Wyoming’s youth today. As we know at NOLS, time spent outdoors leads to a healthier, happier life.”



Permalink | Posted by Becca Sage on Jan 23, 2015 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

Life on the Borders

 “Semester on the Borders students experience two very distinct and complimentary bioregions on this course: the desert Southwest and the Pacific Northwest marine environment. I can't think of another course that integrates such extremely different environments into one expedition,” said NOLS Instructor and Pacific Northwest Operations Manager John Harnetiaux.

 Over the course of 86 days, two NOLS locations team up to offer an adventure like no other. The Semester on the Borders expedition offers five sections throughout the course. First, students experience some of the best rock climbing in the world in the Cochise Stronghold in Arizona or Joshua National Park and Taquitz in California. During this section, students develop an extensive amount of confidence that guides them into lead climbing when ready. 

 “The highlight is experiencing the daily contrasts of the desert environment. It might be 80 degrees during the day, and then drop down to below freezing later that night. Gaining 1000 ft. of elevation in the Gila, Galiuros, or Santa Teresas can change the ecosystem dramatically, with the flora and fauna being remarkably different within this relatively short gain in vertical distance,” said Harnetiaux.

 After this section is complete, the course gets to experience a whole new environment in the Pacific Northwest.

 “NOLS Semester on the Borders was the perfect practicing ground, and this trip seemed to cover interesting topics, and a wide range of climates while maintaining an outdoors educator travel life feel,” said recent Borders graduate Zachary Piña.

 Being able to make the transition to a marine life expedition is a tremendous goal for everyone on the journey. During the two sections in the Northwest, students learn two more technical skills. Sea kayaking and keelboat sailing provide further lessons in becoming an extraordinary leader.

 “The SWNW section is 3 weeks long. Each student gets more time navigating, more time trimming sail, more days as "First Mate" than any other keelboat sailing course we offer," said NOLS Instructor and Curriculum Publications Manager Ben Lester. "For a skill as complex as keelboat sailing, that extra week is super valuable for cementing learning.

 While traveling through the waters of British Columbia’s coast and reaching the Strait of Georgia, students each have the opportunity to be the first mate of the boat. The first mate is given complete control over the crew and in this position is able to truly follow his or her vision and action.

 The Semester on the Borders includes a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course before stepping foot in the outdoors. This section is taught by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute instructors, and upon completion students receive WFA and CPR certifications.

 Piña reflected on finding his way to-and in-the Borders.

 “Deciding on one place was difficult and choosing both, seemed to be the best choice, as it provided a glimpse at the life of a traveling outdoor educator, which ultimately is the direction that I am still heading towards,” he said.







Permalink | Posted by Michael Betz on Jan 22, 2015 in the following categories: Alumni, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Wilderness Medicine Institute

NOLS Patagonia Service Project Patagonia Year- 2014

It's well known that one of our sections for the Patagonia Year courses is called Service Project, where students spend one week with a local family, developing some projects that the family could have. Throughout this experience, the students were guided and supervised by their instructors, whom helped them to improve their interaction with the families.

at the gate!
by Instructor Rodrigo Chabalgoity

In the pictures shown below, we can see the experience of the Patagonia Year 10/18/14, whose students helped Sra. Lidia and Don Manuel with the construction of fences and a gate, covering a greenhouse, sowing of green beans and lettuces, painting the house, among other tasks.

Covering the Greenhouse
by Instructor Rodrigo Chabalgoity

During this week there was hard work and commitment, but they also shared many moments filled with laughter, such as the culinary exchange that was celebrated: an evening of apple pies and fried tortillas.

Cooking and Laughing
by Instructor Rodrigo Chabalgoity

They definitely ended their first semester with style and good energy. 


NOLS Patagonia Staff.

Permalink | Posted by Kamil Sade on Jan 22, 2015 in the following categories: Patagonia

Honoring a Shared Legacy


Paul Petzoldt (second from left) poses for a photo at Camp Hale, Colo. Photo: Frank Chuk 

As NOLS celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, we take a look back at the connections forged along the way and honor our history. This year, the 10th Mountain Division Foundation generously donated scholarship funding to NOLS for active military, veterans, and their immediate family.

In 1943, the U.S. Army formed the 10th Mountain Division to fight in mountainous terrain. The young men—recruited from ski patrol, U.S. Forest Service, ranches and Eagle Scouts—trained at Camp Hale, near Leadville, Colo. at an elevation of 9,300 feet. Beyond combat skills, the men were practicing wilderness survival and rescue techniques.

The following year, and 21 years before founding NOLS, 36-year-old Paul Petzoldt joined the division as a staff sergeant to teach safety and preparation techniques. The legendary mountaineer was an obvious choice to train the men who would ultimately fight in the mountains of northern Italy during World War II.

Troops went out from Camp Hale in groups of 10 to develop their protocols and maneuvers. They often skied up to 25 miles a day and spent nights in snow huts. Given the small groups, there was a great deal of camaraderie among recruits and higher-ranking officers. It is clear that Petzoldt’s teaching was revered, respected, and absorbed.

In 1945, the 10th Mountain Division became the last U.S. Army division committed to the European Theater. They were in combat for over 110 days, took every objective, and never retreated. Of the division, 1,000 men were lost in action and many more wounded.

After the war, the division was decommissioned and its members scattered all over the country to work at ski areas, for the Forest Service, and in outdoor education.

In 1963, Petzoldt helped establish the first American Outward Bound program in Colorado. While working at Outward Bound, he recognized the need to teach people how to enjoy and conserve the outdoors. His vision was to train leaders capable of conducting wilderness programs in a safe, rewarding manner, and the result was NOLS. Ernest “Tap” Tapley, also a 10th Mountain Division member and friend of Petzoldt, was a lead instructor for NOLS for the first decade of its existence. 

The heritage of the 10th Mountain is honored today by teaching youth to love the outdoors, as well as the technical skills necessary to travel in the backcountry. The scholarship support from the foundation will help the next generation of leaders learn and grow in the wilderness. It also honors all 10th Mountain Division soldiers killed in action, veterans, and the legacy they created.

Permalink | Posted by Larkin Flora on Jan 21, 2015 in the following categories: Alumni, Leadership

NOLS Grad Nominated for 2015 Adventurer of the Year Award

“Now what do you think each one of those people who voted for you needs to learn?"  “And what do you think you need to learn?"

These are two questions Kit DesLauriers was asked by her NOLS instructor when selected by her coursemates to lead a small group through a three-day backpacking journey in Alaska. Over 20 years later DesLauriers says, “Of course both of those questions were largely rhetorical but they remain relevant to this day.”

DesLauriers, a NOLS Semester in Alaska ’91 graduate, who currently resides in Jackson, Wyoming, is one of the most well-known ski mountaineers around the world and a nominee for the 2015 Adventures of the Year Award. This award is presented by National Geographic and selected by readers. It recognizes people who have helped make our year in adventure that much better. Through exploration, adventure sports, conservation, and humanitarianism DesLauriers has shown her dedication to her passion in life.

You can vote for DesLauriers every day until Jan. 31.


Andy Bardon photo

From early childhood, DesLauriers remembers having had a passion for the outdoors, whether it was hiking in the desert or canoeing down a river with her family. By the age of 19, DesLauriers was ready to take her adventure abroad and traveled to France to study at the University of Marseilles. Once October break came about, she took advantage of her location and traveled to Switzerland to backpack through the Alps.

“I realized that with some formal training to supplement my desire to see the world, I, too, could go to these far off places,” she said she realized while reading through some books at a local’s cabin.  Little did she know, NOLS was going to give her this opportunity.

Continue reading "NOLS Grad Nominated for 2015 Adventurer of the Year Award"

Permalink | Posted by Michael Betz on Jan 16, 2015 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, In The News, On The Net

Facility Efficiency Improvements at NOLS Pacific Northwest

When it comes to sustainability, every little bit counts. Even a toilet. When Karly Copeland, NOLS Sustainability Coordinator, made a call to NOLS Pacific Northwest to do an annual facility efficiency audit, toilets came up a lot. As it turns out, there is a lot that goes into sustainably updating a facility. Everything from appliances, light bulbs, and pipes, to weather stripping, sink fixtures and toilets must be taken into account. Some fixes are simple while others require much more attention, planning and funding.

The NOLS facility efficiency initiative is a crucial component of meeting the school-wide goal to reduce carbon emissions by thirty percent by the year 2020. By looking closely at each NOLS facility, the initiative is designed to bring seemingly minor details to the forefront, and ultimately make a big difference. We’ve all heard that we can minimize our carbon footprint by riding our bikes, taking shorter showers, or changing a light bulb. NOLS recognizes the importance of making these suggestions a reality.

 The NOLS Pacific Northwest audit is a great example of the attention to detail and important questions that must be asked in order to optimize sustainability within a facility. Are the pipes properly insulated? Are the appliances energy efficient? Are the light bulbs LED or fluorescent, and do they have motion sensors? Are the toilets low-flow? Many of these details and more were discussed in the conversation between Karly and John Harnetiaux, the Operations Manager of NOLS Pacific Northwest, and Mitch Harter, Facilities and Fleet Manager of NOLS Pacific Northwest. The audit consisted of reviewing data pertaining specifically to the Pacific Northwest facility, a thirty acre-property with eleven different buildings. Various efficiency improvements were discussed such as the heaters in the staff housing units, water pipes in the food services building attic, the weather-stripping on the doors, and of course, the toilets. All of these improvements and more are recorded, labeled and prioritized in the audit.

“The Pacific Northwest campus was built in the early 90's, and was originally designed with various energy efficiencies in mind. Within the last five years, as the buildings on the property have begun to age into their twenties, we've been attempting to do more retrofitting, as well as some larger scale sustainable construction projects,” commented John Harnetiaux.

As multiple NOLS locations, such as NOLS Pacific Northwest, continue to make improvements on the energy efficiency of their facilities, the goal of drastically reducing carbon emissions by 2020 will be that much more attainable.

Solar Panels at NOLS Pacific Northwest

Permalink | Posted by Becca Sage on Jan 16, 2015 in the following categories: Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Pacific Northwest

Educator Expedition: Paddle Sport Coaching

By Rachael Bates, NOLS Instructor

This fall I had the privilege to participate in two courses during the British Canoe Union (BCU) week, sponsored by Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, in Portland, Oregon.  NOLS generously supported my continued training through the Instructor Development Fund. This education transfers to outdoor education environments and benefits NOLS students. The courses I took part in were the BCU Coach 2 training and the BCU 4 star sea kayak leader assessment.

The Coach 2 training is a four-day course focused on developing paddle sport coaching technique and providing stroke refinement through engaging activities. Paddle sports encompass a variety of boats, such as whitewater kayaks, stand up paddleboards, sea kayaks, canoes, and polo boats. As a participant, I created lesson plans that were applicable to all paddle sports, using activities to emphasize the fundamentals of paddling and designing activities that involved a high level of student observation.

We implemented new lessons every day and received feedback from peers and course instructors regarding our lesson delivery and content. This experience provided me exactly what I was hoping for: tools to individualize paddle stoke and provide feedback for students through fun, and engaging activities.  I also refined my ability to observe.


Rachael on a personal sea kayaking trip.

I am always seeking opportunities to better serve and educate my students on NOLS sea kayak courses. This coaching course provided me with just that. The course was interactive, fun, and focused on the application of knowledge. The skills I learned are directly transferable to my work with NOLS and will continue to develop my ability to create quality paddlers in the sea kayak and canoe program.


Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Jan 15, 2015 in the following categories: Instructor News

Win a Free NOLS Course in San Diego

Visit the NOLS booth at the Travel and Adventure show in San Diego, February 14–15, and enter for a chance to win a free NOLS course. 

For over 11 years and 54 shows, travel enthusiasts from around the country have been dreaming, planning and finding their next vacation at Travel & Adventure Shows. NOLS will be present at the upcoming show in San Diego, and we can offer free tickets (use the code EXHNOLS).

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 the San Diego Convention Center. Meet NOLS representatives, watch fun demos, and enter to win that 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  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 Feb. 14–15 in the San Diego Convention Center to dream it, plan it, and maybe even win a NOLS course. 

For more information on attending the Travel & Adventure Show, please visit their new website at!

* Win a Free NOLS Course! Entry at the NOLS booth is required for eligibility. One winner will be selected from total entries at all 2015 Travel and Adventure Shows. The winner will be notified by April 17, 2015.

Permalink | Posted by NOLS on Jan 14, 2015

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