Spend a semester in the beautiful American Southwest as you develop leadership and new outdoor skills. Explore hidden canyons, canoe stunning rivers, and trek through an environment found nowhere else in the world. If you’re seeking an experience to practice and grow as a leader, this is the course for you.
This semester in the outdoors involves 80 days of camping out, exploring the Southwest, developing leadership skills, building community, pushing yourself, and having fun. The course is comprised of various backcountry sections in addition to a classroom-based Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course. You’ll spend your time backpacking, rock climbing, and canoeing, with a final backpacking independent student expedition, all in the incredible cliffs, canyons, mountains, and rivers of the Southwest.
Each day your instructors will cover a variety of locally relevant topics, such as plants, fire ecology, local wildlife, and weather. You will also learn about the rich history in each of the areas you travel through—NOLS respectfully acknowledges that we operate on the ancestral lands of many Native American tribes.
Throughout this semester you will be introduced to the NOLS leadership curriculum and will practice different leadership skills and roles on each section. You will learn to build a positive, inclusive group culture where each individual can thrive as a leader.
Between each section, the course will either pass through the NOLS Southwest campus or stop at campgrounds in Texas, Arizona, or New Mexico. By the end of this course, you’ll know about the Southwest’s rich natural and human history and have the outdoor skills to pursue your own adventures and lead others in the backcountry for the rest of your life.