National Outdoor Leadership School

Rating: 4.93 stars   28 reviews

Issues: Environment

Location: 284 Lincoln St Lander WY 82520 USA

Mission: To be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment.
Results: With courses ranging from 10 days to a full academic year, we attract highly motivated students who want to learn how to lead. NOLS graduates have everything needed to lead others in the backcountry, as well as the leadership ability to excel at work or in the classroom. We expect a great deal of our students. NOLS courses are demanding, because we believe people thrive when challenged. Our hands-on, learn-by-doing approach means our graduates get the skills they need to be competent, responsible wilderness travelers long after their course.
Target demographics: NOLS serves students from age 14 to over 70.
Geographic areas served: NOLS graduates are from all 50 states and 42 countries.
Programs: We believe positive, ethical leaders change the world. Based on this belief, NOLS has, over the last 46 years, become the leader in wilderness education. Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS takes students of all ages on remote wilderness expeditions and teaches them technical outdoor skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. What NOLS teaches cannot be learned in a traditional classroom or on a city street. It takes practice to learn outdoor skills and time to develop leadership. The backcountry provides the ideal setting for this unique, experiential education—NOLS classrooms are some of the world’s wildest and most awe-inspiring locations. We believe living in untouched places like our classrooms will teach students responsibility for all that surrounds us.

2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

NOLS is the best outdoor educator in the country. NOLS teaches leadership, teamwork, wilderness skills, and stewardship to the land and each otherin everything they do. I completed the month long Wind River Mountaineering course in 200 and climbed Denali with NOLS in 2006. Even today, I realize new ways in which these courses changed me forever. The NOLS structure teaches you lessons that you will remember for a lifetime. For example, leadership. You talk about leadership and then the next day you actually lead the group for a day of hiking and practice your leadership skills. You make mistakes and learn from them in a supportive community. ... NOLS is also a community of amazing people. While many have done unique things, my amazement with NOLS faculty, staff, and alumni are that they are passionate about what they do, care deeply about other people, and exhibit leadership in everything they do. I would recommend NOLS to anyone that not only whats to have a fantastic wilderness experience, but also build the leadership skills to face all of life's challenges.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2006

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I completed a Wind River Mountaineering course and a Wilderness EMT course through NOLS and WMI. NOLS generates active and concerned citizens who are not only
proficient in wild places, but who care for the environment, leave a
small footprint, and know how to effectively collaborate with others.
I believe NOLS graduates go out into the world and show others how
to live similarly. I see this very clearly among fellow graduates and lifelong friends from NOLS and WMI, who all embody good leadership, passion, and self-responsibility among
their peers.

On day three of our mountaineering course, the first day we traveled off-trail, a
massive snowstorm hit. We quickly learned about “post-holing”,
route finding in zero visibility, and what to do if you can’t find
the “x”. I am so grateful that one of the worst weather days came
early in the course. There were so many challenges at one time, it
did me absolutely no good to complain or cry. I could only focus on
learning how to light my MSR stove and properly set up the tent. I
learned to cope by controlling what I could about the situation and
accepting what I couldn’t. It does not serve any purpose to point out
the hailstones pummeling you in the face, because everyone else has
clearly noticed them as well.

My instructors set great examples to keep a positive attitude, and
optimism remains my main strategy towards overcoming challenges
in the front-country. Cold conditions were fun because they meant we
constantly did the Tazmanian Toe Tap or held Push-Up Contests to
keep warm. After four weeks I came to view
adversity as a natural part of the process. I looked forward to arduous
moving days—now, I think short on-trail hikes are even a bit boring!
Today, when I face
stressful times, I recognize that dwelling on the problems prevents
me from solving them. Life will always throw us challenges, but NOLS
taught me how to enjoy the opportunity to grow and learn.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

We hear the term "life changing" as a descriptor of a NOLS experience so often it is almost routine- a cliche. Such was my NOLS course in 1970. Though I could not have dreamed it those many years ago, an even more important life changing experience for me would be my daughter's similar experience in 2006. And so it continues. My last NOLS course: about 90 days ago- August 2012. In 1970 I thought NOLS was an expedition for a month- or a summer. I now know it is an expedition of a lifetime.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I took two courses from NOLS in the mid 70's - summer wilderness and winter mountaineering. To this day, I consider those experiences to be one of the defining moments of my life and one of the few things I've done that I'm truly proud of. The leadership lessons I learned I still use; the devotion to environmental issues is still strong with me, and I can still read a map. :) I encourage everyone I know to send their kids or grandkids to NOLS.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2006

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

NOLS gives one the opportunity to challenge yourself in areas outside of your comfort zone. I really feel I’ve grown a lot from the back-country experiences I've had with NOLS and have been able to leverage them in my personal life.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

NOLS is an amazing organization and the experince and lessons learned through one of their courses will last a lifetime. The lessons I learned from my NOLS experience 23 years ago are still with me today and impact my life in many ways. As a leader my NOLS experience taught me how to deal with adversity, uncertainty, and managing people with different attitudes and abilities. I also learned the importance of focusing on details to make sure jobs are completed accurately and safely. As an outdoor enthusiast NOLS taught me invaluable skills that I use on outdoor adventures to this very day.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

The National Outdoor Leadership School is simply the best. Through hard work, learning, and real experience, NOLS Students improve themselves, and go on to improve their world. I went into this program a confused teenager: unfocused, disorganized, and unmotivated. I emerged a confident, competent, and capable leader in any setting i find myself in. Not only was my experience at NOLS outstanding, but experiences I have had following NOLS continue to amaze me. Taking into account that NOLS creates exemplary individuals, it should come to me at no surprise that i find myself frequently meeting other NOLS graduates and have come to understand that I am now part of a very beneficial NOLS Graduate Community. So reviewing NOLS... It seems pointless to me because only someone who has been through NOLS can know what it really means to have done so, and those people already know.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 4 stars  

when i went on my NOLS trip i was skeptical and didn't know what to think but after my experience of two weeks in the wilderness of Idaho and Wyoming it was well worth it

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

NOLS is not what meets the eye. It is so much more!!! it taught me to be patient and to be a independent and mature into the adult i am now. Those 7 leaderships skills that we have been taught, memorized have not left me. I live by those skills. NOLS as changed my life for the better and i think all my family and friend know it. I came back stronger, maturer, simply a better person than i left. I have told so many people all the experiences i have been through. I learned from NOLS that pain is temporary, and wilderness is mandatory. As much as i love being home I know my true calling is out west where NOLS has changed my life.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I wouldn't give NOLS anything less than 5 stars. They are great at encourage vast amounts of growth in their students in so many ways. NOLS has helped me gain the ability to be more intentional about my life and to be a great leader, which ultimately also means being an active follower at times. But beyond all of that, I was given an even greater appreciation for the wilderness and a perspective on my life that I don't think many other groups can give.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful?