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National Outdoor Leadership School


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NOLS is a nonprofit school that seeks to help you step forward boldly as a leader. We believe that anyone can be a leader. It is our role to provide the environment and training to help you discover your full potential. We do that in classrooms close to home and in remote wilderness areas around the world. We are an organization with heart, expertise, and wildness, and these qualities help us support powerful, authentic experiences.

Our mission is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment. Our community—staff, students, trustees, and alumni—shares a commitment to the wilderness, education, leadership, safety, community, and excellence. A NOLS course is your opportunity to have a transformative experience that fundamentally changes you and how you view your role in the world.

The world is changing. You are ready to blaze the trail forward. Challenge yourself to lead a team, face adversity, and savor the relationships formed in the wild. A NOLS expedition is your opportunity to practice leadership skills as you learn to navigate in a remote wilderness. With instructors who know how to make the wilderness a classroom and our time-tested curriculum, you will find your strengths as a leader.

NOLS courses teach wilderness and leadership skills on expeditions and in classrooms. You will apply these skills to challenges in a supportive learning culture with high expectations. You will have the opportunity for a positive, transformational experience and leave your course inspired and empowered to act. We craft NOLS courses so graduates will be able to:

  • Assume leadership roles
  • Live and travel in the outdoors
  • Act with confidence and competence
  • Respect and collaborate with others on expeditions, on teams, and in communities
  • Care for themselves and others
  • Understand their strengths, habits, and areas for growth
  • Function under difficult circumstances
  • Make informed and thoughtful decisions
  • Communicate effectively
  • Connect with natural places
  • Appreciate living simply

Your course will use experiential learning, a process that engages you in a direct experience and focused reflection on maximizing your learning. You will practice skills in real-time and actively reflect on them. Educational tools we use to help maximize your learning.

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