The Biggest Risk In Life Is Never Taking One

Credit: Kate Gautier

Into the Wilderness

Why experiential learning? Because it's powerful. Because the lessons are for life. 

When you paddle through a rainstorm, you learn resilience. When you help your group solve problems, you learn communication. When you have to decide whether to go left or right, not fully knowing where the path will lead, you learn to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. When you reflect on these experiences with the mentorship of your instructors, they become more than skills for navigating the wilderness—they become skills for life.

Since 1965, over 110,000 students have embarked on NOLS expeditions and graduated prepared to be leaders in their communities. 

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“His life appears to reflect what I can only assume his leaders modeled. People respond to him differently now because he feels differently about himself.”

Carol Santa Maria, alumnus Aris Nogueron's mother

Explore courses

NOLS teaches courses around the world serving students ages 14 and older. Expeditions range from a week or semester in length with options to focus on a single skill or learn multiple skills. Start exploring course offerings and find your calling.


Your expedition will focus on one or more skill types to navigate the wilderness. You’ll learn to explore mountains, sea, and coasts while practicing leadership, wilderness skills, risk management, and environmental studies. Your experience will be about hands-on learning. Every day will be a new opportunity to practice and grow your skills.