“When NOLS was founded, mountains were its heart and soul. But as the school has grown, so has our understanding of that heart and soul and what it can teach us. In addition to mountains, wilderness is also embodied in gravel coastlines reached only by a few hardy paddlers, or winding desert canyons, or sweltering jungles. Leadership doesn’t only mean attaining a summit in good style; it also means forging relationships across cultures and acting decisively in an emergency.”
- Molly Herber, in A Worthy Expedition: the History of NOLS
Latest Course Updates as of December 2, 2020
Please find the most recent course impacts due to COVID-19 here:
NOLS to Reopen Expeditions in Mexico in 2021
NOLS has been actively monitoring global conditions with regard to COVID-19 since April 2020 through its Restart Task Force. After careful deliberation, the NOLS Restart Task Force has recommended that NOLS can responsibly open select Expedition courses in Mexico.
This conclusion resulted from close consultation with public health experts, the fact that the U.S.-Mexico border has remained stable and open to travel throughout the pandemic, and through strict adherence to NOLS’ standards for risk management and course quality. Specific travel details for an Expedition can be found in the travel and logistics document that corresponds to that course.
Updated Wilderness Medicine Certification Extension Plan
If your certification expired/expires between 3/13/2019 and 8/31/2021 we are automatically adding 12 months to your certification length. Your twelve-month re-entry period begins at the end of your new expiration date. This extension applies to all NOLS Wilderness Medicine certifications including wilderness medicine, CPR, and epinephrine auto-injector. If your certification was issued by another training provider, please contact them directly. It is our understanding that other programs are developing plans to support their graduates. It will take some time to make these changes in our data system, thank you for your patience.
Check out the new student resources page outlining COVID-19 practices for upcoming courses.
Practicing Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty
NOLS has been actively monitoring and responding to the evolving situation around COVID-19. The school’s leadership has been in close consultation with federal and state public health experts, peer organizations, and our educational partners since January.
For 55 years, NOLS has helped over 350,000 students learn the lessons of the wilderness: self-reliance, judgment, risk management, and the skills to thrive in a changing world. The current environment of uncertainty speaks directly to the NOLS curriculum and our values as a school. This is truly a time for leadership and judgment, given the unpredictable trajectory of the pandemic. We thank you for your support, patience, and understanding as we navigate the rapidly changing landscape.
We will continue to assess the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on escalating travel, health, and safety restrictions and proactively communicate any impacts on future courses. Please check this page for the latest updates.
- June 4 - President’s Letter
- May 12 - President's Letter
- April 8 - President's Letter
- March 17 - President’s Letter
- March 12 - President’s Letter
- March 3 - Fremont County Press Release
Archived Course Updates
- The school operated 24 field courses and 13 classroom courses in July and plans to run 15 field courses and 36 classroom courses in August. These totals represent approximately 15% of normal for field and 40% of normal for classroom courses.
- NOLS will continue to offer field courses (primarily expedition semesters) at domestic US campuses through spring 2021. The Restart Task Force continues to monitor location, regional, and international travel advisories and will review resuming international operations in 2021.
- Expedition courses (domestic Spring and Summer 2021) and Alumni trips are currently enrolling. View available courses
- Wilderness Medicine welcomed 25 WEMT students to the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus in July. WEMT programs are scheduled monthly from August to December. Currently, all courses are full with waitlists. Shorter wilderness medicine courses and recertification programs are also scheduled for the fall and winter. View available courses. The team continues to monitor opportunities to run additional courses where local guidelines permit.
- Risk Services completed its inaugural online Risk Management Training (RMT) course. There will be additional RMT courses available this fall with both in-person and online options.
- Registration for the fully-online 2020 Wilderness Risk Management Conference is now open. This year’s conference features keynote speaker José González, and topical panels addressing COVID-19 field practices, inequity in the outdoors, and more.
- NOLS announces limited operations as it resumes select field and classroom courses starting July 1. Courses in Alaska have been cancelled due to continuing travel restrictions.
- Field expeditions will operate from two Wyoming locations, Lander and Boulder, and include a small mix of backpacking and horse packing courses.
- A small selection of Wilderness Medicine courses will resume in the U.S. and internationally.
- The 27th Wilderness Risk Management Conference will pivot to a digital event. Registration and event details will be announced soon.
- Additional Expedition field courses scheduled for July and August have been cancelled including Adventure courses (for ages 14 and 15), as well as whitewater and rock climbing courses. NOLS campuses in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, River Base, and Teton Valley have suspended summer operations in addition to the previously announced closures in Scandinavia and Yukon.
- Select July and August Expedition and Custom Education field courses at NOLS Rocky Mountain and NOLS Alaska enrolling and scheduled to run.
- Assessing ability to conduct class-room based courses for Wilderness Medicine, Risk Services, and Custom Education starting after July 1 on a rolling basis 30-45 days prior to scheduled start date.
- Expedition courses, Custom Education field courses, and Alumni trips are cancelled through June 30.
- Wilderness Medicine, Risk Services, and Custom Education classroom-based courses are suspended through June 30.
- NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Custom Education, and Risk Services extended the suspension of all classroom courses through May 11.
- NOLS Expedition, Custom Education and Alumni Trips announced the cancellation of all field courses through May 11.
- NOLS Expeditions made the decision to suspend courses in the field and implemented a separation plan to bring students back to campuses and facilitate their return home.
- NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Custom Education and Risk Services announced the suspension of all classroom courses through April 23.
- NOLS Expedition and Alumni Trips announced the cancellation of international field courses through April 23.