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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EIN 83-0204184
1-800-710-6657
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

NOLS is unlike anything else. My experience with this program has helped me define the kind of person I want to be. While my experience only lasted three short months, I think about the relationships I built and the memories we all shared every day. The experiences I had through this program are unlike anything else, but somehow I find myself applying the things I learned in my daily life. NOLS taught me how to be a leader. It taught me how to make the most out of life and how to live in the present. I have been changed through this program and I could not be more grateful.

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?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

NOLS changed the direction of my life. It taught me how to be independent, how to speak up and how to ultimately be a leader in my life and at work. I went on my first student course when I was 22 and I went on my next course by getting a scholarship. I was the only female on a 30 day mountaineering course, it was during this time I learned how to face fear and still meet your goals. I learned how to speak up when I felt timid and shy, but I knew it was important to speak. I learn to trust my gut and make decisions that would create good outcomes. I then went on to teach for NOLS. I eventually went back to school to become a nurse, I now work in one of the best trauma hospitals on the west coast. I use all the skills that NOLS taught me to save the lives of my patients everyday. NOLS is a fantastic nonprofit which shapes the leaders of tomorrow.

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  

NOLS offers a positive, life changing experience. What are you waiting for?

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 helpled begin the relationship between NOLS and the US Naval Academy and have been working with them, and occassionally for them ever since. It has been a great character and leadership development tool not only for the many students I have worked with, but also for me. The staff is full of idealistic and fully engaged people who live what they believe. I'm a better person for having become involved with NOLS and the people I know there. Bob

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  

Of my 8 semesters during my undergraduate college career, the semester I spent at NOLS was far and away the most valuable. NOLS builds leaders. The course work helps students deepen an understanding of themselves and their capabilities. It gives them a depth of character to rely upon for the rest of their lives. Strangely, this is not accomplished through direct focus on esoteric ideas of leadership. Rather, the school challenges students with a curriculum focused on wilderness safety training and camping and traveling in the outdoors with minimal impact on the environment. The combination of those two concepts and working through them with a new small group of strangers creates an amazing environment. It allows people to learn, change and grow, and broadly become better people, able to interact with more different people in more challenging situations than most had originally conceived.

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?

1997

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

The summer after graduating from college I took a 30 day NOLS course in the Wilderness of Wyoming.It was a game changer for me personally and I came away, not only with a new set of practical outdoor and expeditionary skills, but an environmental ethic that has informed my professional and personal life ever since. This organization influences the lives of many people every year and has a similar impact on them. It is unusual to find a non-profit that has had such consistent outcomes in terms of positively influencing people.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

The quality of NOLS staff, nature places, expedition training, and leadership were outstanding on the two courses I completed in 1991 and 2006. I am a natural resource professional and a nature educator, and I gained both professionally and personally on each course. I believe in NOLS so much that I contribute to their scholarship fund each year. Anne, San Diego

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

It has been 2 years from now and my NOLS course is still in fresh in my memory. The wallpaper on my computerscreen is one of the photos i took during the course and so are the posters in my bedroom. But wat still reminds me of this course every single day, other than the pictures, is the way it inspired me to think about life, nature and the wellbeing of the ones you care about most. Furthermore, the instructors knew exactly what they were doing which made me feel safe in the outdoors. I still have contact with my fellow NOLS students and I am now saving to go on another trip next summer. Taking part in a NOLS activity is indeed a life changing experience.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Rating: 5 stars  

I attended NOLS in 1997, participating in their Fall Semester in the Rockies. That semester helped shape me into the person I am today. Due to NOLS, I am confidant in my leadership abilities, constantly aware of my surroundings, and able to keep an open mind. These assets are invaluable. The staff is top notch. As far as non-profits, NOLS is at the top of my list. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend NOLS and will be a life long supporter. Grade A organization, in my book.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

1997

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

When I enrolled in a NOLS semester, I knew that the experience would be life-changing, but I never expected to gain so much from the course. I gained maturity, leadership skills and confidence that will serve me well for the rest of my life. I can honestly say that not a day goes by where I don't use the skills gained from my NOLS course. I would recommend NOLS without hesitation to anyone who is looking for a truly challenging and life-changing experience.

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?