TNB Night Owl – NOLS: National Outdoor Leadership School

NOLS courses are held in wilderness locations around the world. Image captured by the News Blender.

In 1965, Paul Petzoldt (1908 – 1999) founded the non-profit National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), to teach outdoors skills, environmental ethics, good judgment, risk management, and, of course, leadership, while immersed in extended expeditions in the wilderness. Petzoldt had been a famous American mountain climber before the war. In 1924, at the age of 16, he became the youngest (at that time) person to climb the Grand Teton in northwest Wyoming. He also made successful climbs of the Matterhorn and K-2, among other mountains. When the United States entered the Second World War, Petzoldt became a member of the U.S. Army’s famous 10th Mountain Division, and served in combat in Italy. Prior to organizing NOLS, he was involved in Outward Bound, a program with many similarities.

The NOLS website promises to, “build leadership skills while immersing yourself in the world’s most stunning wilderness”. Not only is the scenery spectacular, but the opportunity to see wildlife abounds. Courses are offered in several countries around the world, across six continents, and may be available for different age groups. For example, a course might specify ages 16-17 only, or adults only, etc., or a course might be open to all. Cadets from the U.S. military academies and NASA astronauts, among other groups, often book a course just for themselves as a team building exercise.

Courses fill up months in advance, so planning ahead is a must. Expeditions (as courses are frequently referred to) may last a week, several weeks, an entire college semester, or even a full academic year. College credit for NOLS courses is available through a number of Universities. Tuition assistance or grants are available for your student.

Among the courses NOLS offers: backpacking, canoeing, caving, climbing, fly-fishing, horsepacking, mountaineering, rafting, river kayaking, sailing, sea kayaking, skiing, and snowboarding. There are also wilderness medicine courses offering Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, and Wilderness EMT certifications.

Participants frequently mention a positive bonding experience with others. NOLS courses are a great way to meet people and make new friends from around the country and around the world.

“NOLS | Exploration Film Tour Trailer 2019” (1:11):

There are dozens of other short videos available on the NOLS YouTube channel.

Question Of The Night: NOLS is my idea of a great experience / getaway / vacation. What’s yours?

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About Richard Doud 622 Articles
Learning is a life-long endeavor. Never stop learning. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.