In just under 48 hours, 25 second year students will meet with their National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) guides in Coyhaique, Chile to embark on a ten day leadership expedition in Patagonia.
NOLS is a world leader in wilderness education. They take students of all ages on remote wilderness expeditions and teach them technical outdoor skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. What NOLS teaches cannot be learned in a traditional classroom. The backcountry provides the ideal setting for this unique, experiential education—NOLS classrooms are some of the world’s wildest and most awe-inspiring locations, including Patagonia.
Last year, 11 students participated in the tour, organized by Maya Mandel ’13. They carried 60-lb backpacks, crossed rivers, climbed mountain passes, drank Maté, devoured the dulce de leche treat, handled fatigue and injuries, enjoyed 2-3 sunny mornings, and witnessed first-hand how in such a short time period we learn new skills, adapt, grow, and lead (and become really good at it!). I’m hoping we have the same experience, but without any of the rain!
The reasons we signed up for this are as diverse as the terrain we’ll be encountering. My primary motivations were to experience this remote part of the world and get to know some of my classmates in a more intimate setting. Lindsey Pete ’14 enrolled in the class because she loves adventure and exploring new places and thought this trip would be a great hands-on experience to help her improve my leadership skills. Anton Chtcherbakov ’14 on the other hand felt compelled to sign up after seeing the incredibly enthusiastic presentation from last year’s participants.
As the start line comes into sight, I have so many mixed emotions. Like Kim Issa ’14, I’m worried about whether my body will be up for the physical challenge. Like Tyler Walk ’14 and Anton Chtcherbakov ’14, I’m excited to learn more about myself and others through this experience. I’m worried about the notoriously volatile weather in Patagonia, and even more worried about just how much I will smell after ten days of physical exertion and no showers. That being said, I’m trying to keep a positive outlook and deal with each challenge as it comes, starting with the 20 hours of travel between New York and Patagonia.
Jennifer Dyck-Sprout ‘14