Hinesburg teen completes NOLS course

July-5-E-NOLS-C-copyChristopher Adams of Hinesburg recently completed a semester-long wilderness expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the Southwest.
On Feb. 24, Adams and 13 other students left on multi-activity expedition that included hiking, canoeing, climbing, an independent student exploration, and a Wilderness First Aid course. During the semester-long adventure students did not have access to modern conveniences and were challenged each day to banish self-doubts and step outside of their comfort zones.
After gearing up and packing, Adams and his classmates set out to explore the Galiuro and Santa Teresa mountain ranges. For 24 days, the students traversed the mountains on foot, carrying all their belongings on their backs, and learning basic skills of backcountry travel.
Transitioning from the hiking section, Adams and his course mates had several cultural experiences including a visit to a border patrol station and a public radio station. They also heard from a local border historian and learned to make a traditional Mexican dinner. For their final cultural experience, the group met with the park geologist, who gave an overview of the formations and fossils found in the park. After these cultural adventures, the group embarked on a 14-day, 120-mile canoe expedition followed by 19 days of rock climbing.
The culminating section was the independent student expedition where the group covered 61.5 miles and a gain of 4,550 feet of elevation. Initially, Adams and his coursemates focused on refreshing their navigation skills, risk management, and first-aid knowledge. Then, they focused on independent student travel and independent student expedition. The group met up to spend their last day together before they were picked up at the Diamond Creek trailhead.
After completing the 3-month expedition Adams and the other students graduated the NOLS course as competent and confident leaders and outdoor travelers.
For Adams, NOLS was the perfect balance between his desire to climb and be outdoors and his educational goals. Of the experience, he said “I left NOLS feeling like a different person.  More confident and sure of myself and my decisions”.  When asked if he would recommend the program to others, he said “definitely… it’s an amazing experience in a few ways, the first and [most] obvious is that your traveling to places that are rich in culture and beauty. To the tops of mountains, and bottoms of valleys. It’s liberating.”
For more information about NOLS contact Kim Freitas by email at kim_freitas@nols.edu, call (800) 710–NOLS, or visit www.nols.edu.