Curriculum

Credit: Jared Steinman

LEARNING GOALS

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’ll 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

 


 

CORE CURRICULUM FOR EXPEDITIONS

Leadership

NOLS teaches leadership as, “situationally appropriate action that directs or guides your group to set and achieve goals.” Students will be able to:

  • Serve a team in a variety of roles: self leader, peer leader, designated leader, and active follower
  • Demonstrate good expedition behavior—take initiative, balance group and personal goals, and remain respectful and inclusive of their team members
  • Demonstrate competence
  • Communicate effectively
  • Make sound decisions
  • Display a tolerance for adversity and uncertainty
  • Demonstrate self awareness
  • Display initiative by setting and achieving goals


Wilderness Skills

NOLS teaches the expedition skills necessary to live and travel in the wilderness. Students will be able to:

  • Live comfortably (select a campsite; set up shelter; organize, pack, and maintain gear; cook; manage nutrition; and use clothing as protection from the elements)
  • Travel (hike, climb, paddle, row, sail, ski, snowboard, cave, and/or horsepack)
  • Navigate using maps, charts, compass, GPS and/or terrain
  • Prevent, assess, and treat injury and illness in the wilderness


Risk Management

NOLS teaches risk management by applying leadership and wilderness skills and facilitating experiences to develop judgment. Students will be able to:

  • Identify and assess hazards and understand risks in the wilderness
  • Use technical skills, leadership, judgment, and situational awareness to manage risks
  • Use risk management terminology and models to assess and communicate decisions and actions
  • Create and implement contingency plans


Environmental Studies

NOLS connects students to wild places. Students will be able to:

  • Explore the natural world through observation and application of ecological concepts
  • Develop a sense of place by experiencing wilderness and exploring relationships with their surroundings
  • Articulate an environmental ethic
  • Understand land management and environmental issues
  • Apply Leave No Trace principles to camping and travel
     

 

CORE CURRICULUM FOR WILDERNESS MEDICINE

Leadership 

NOLS teaches leadership as, “situationally appropriate action that directs or guides your group to set and achieve goals.” Students will be able to:

  • Lead and participate in small teams managing wilderness medicine scenarios
  • Demonstrate good expedition behavior—take initiative and remain respectful and inclusive of team members
  • Demonstrate competence
  • Communicate effectively


Wilderness Medicine

NOLS teaches the prevention, assessment, and treatment of injury and illness in remote and austere settings. Students will be able to:

  • Perform a patient assessment
  • Understand principles for prevention of wilderness medicine problems
  • Treat injury, illness, and environmental problems
  • Perform medical and rescue skills
  • Make decisions about the need for and urgency of evacuation
     

Risk Management

NOLS teaches risk management by applying leadership and wilderness skills and facilitating experiences to develop judgment. Students will be able to:

  • Identify and assess potential hazards in the wilderness
  • Make decisions balancing the hazards in the wilderness, risk versus benefit in patient care and evacuation
     

 

Customized Curriculum

You can design a training that focuses on one aspect of the core curriculum to fit your organization’s needs. These targeted programs include options like decision-making workshops, swiftwater rescue training, multi-day leadership or risk management trainings, and more.
 

field-note-arrow-small-mud.png Contact Us to Learn More

 


 

SUPPORTING YOUR LEARNING

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

  • Briefing an activity before we begin: designing a plan of action or integrating learning from previous experiences
  • Debriefing an activity after it’s completed: reflecting on what happened to maximize learning
  • Community building: a crucial element of leadership is actively building healthy, inclusive, and supportive learning teams where individuals strive to understand each other and invest in each other's growth
  • Scenarios: simulations that allow us to practice skills in ways that reflect real-life variables
  • Expedition skills (climbing, paddling, backpacking, sailing etc.): our backcountry activities both teach us how to travel in the wilderness and provide the challenges that support other learning objectives (leadership, wilderness medicine, risk management, etc.)
  • Direct instruction: whether the classroom is in a building or the wilderness, our passionate educators deliver effective, focused content based on specific learning objectives
  • Challenge: we avoid contrived challenge but seek opportunities for genuine challenge within our programs to enhance experiences and maximize learning
  • Fun: fostering a fun environment remains a foundational tool for bringing people together and supporting learning
     

 

LEADERSHIP

 

NOLS teaches leadership as, “situationally appropriate action that directs or guides your group to set and achieve goals.” Students will be able to:

  • Serve a team in a variety of roles: self leader, peer leader, designated leader, and active follower
  • Demonstrate good expedition behavior—take initiative, balance group and personal goals, and remain respectful and inclusive of their team members
  • Demonstrate competence
  • Communicate effectively
  • Make sound decisions
  • Display a tolerance for adversity and uncertainty
  • Demonstrate self awareness
  • Display initiative by setting and achieving goals


 

None

WILDERNESS SKILLS

 

NOLS teaches the expedition skills necessary to live and travel in the wilderness. Students will be able to:

  • Live comfortably (select a campsite; set up shelter; organize, pack, and maintain gear; cook; manage nutrition; and use clothing as protection from the elements)
  • Travel (hike, climb, paddle, row, sail, ski, snowboard, cave, and/or horsepack)
  • Navigate using maps, charts, compass, GPS and/or terrain
  • Prevent, assess, and treat injury and illness in the wilderness

     





 

RISK MANAGEMENT


NOLS teaches risk management by applying leadership and wilderness skills and facilitating experiences to develop judgment. Students will be able to:

  • Identify and assess hazards and understand risks in the wilderness
  • Use technical skills, leadership, judgment, and situational awareness to manage risks
  • Use risk management terminology and models to assess and communicate decisions and actions
  • Create and implement contingency plans








     

ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES


NOLS connects students to wild places. Students will be able to:

  • Explore the natural world through observation and application of ecological concepts
  • Develop a sense of place by experiencing wilderness and exploring relationships with their surroundings
  • Articulate an environmental ethic
  • Understand land management and environmental issues
  • Apply Leave No Trace principles to camping and travel









     
None