Freshman explores in NOLS

Caiden Speigel, freshman, visited Idaho and Montana this summer for a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) trip.

Speigel spent 16 days hiking and 10 days white water rafting.

NOLS is a nonprofit program that teaches students leadership skills in the outdoors. The students spend time in different areas throughout the world. Mountaineer Paul Petzoldt started the organization 46 years ago. The organization’s goal is to teach things that cannot be taught in a conventional classroom. Leadership is the main focus of what gets taught in NOLS.

For each day on the trip, there would be a leader of the day (LOD) picked.

“For the hiking section, you had trail bosses and camp bosses. Pretty much as a trail boss, you would make sure we were going in the right direction, check the maps and compass, and the camp boss would make sure everybody set up the tents and … was ready for dinner and just making sure everything was set up,” Speigel said.

During the white water rafting, the situation was different.

“We pretty much just had leader of the day the whole day because they didn’t really need a river boss since we just went down the river,” Speigel said.

As LOD, Speigel thought being a leader came easily.

“It was kind of easy actually. I just had to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing,” Speigel said.

He thought learning to be a positive leader and to reflect that on others was the most important thing he learned. More people at Shorewood participated, including Sydney Widell and Molly Eder, juniors.

“As far as leadership lessons that really stuck out to me were [learning] good strategies for making judgment calls and assessing risk,” Widell said.

“We would facilitate jobs such as who is monitoring bear calls, who is the water person, who is holding the map,” said Eder, who traveled to the Yukon Territory in Canada. “There’s multiple different leadership styles … it’s kind of just that person’s balance.

All three of these NOLS students enjoyed their experience.

“I loved it,” Speigel said.

He also got to enjoy some of the elements while still learning, which was an upside for him.

“We saw a triple rainbow, and it started hailing; it was really cool,” Speigel said.

“It was by far the most intense camping I’ve ever done, and … it was just a really good experience and it definitely changed me as a person,” Eder said.

“I think it’s an amazing program and I think that it was an incredible experience. I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” Widell said.

“We would wake up and get out of our tents and we’d set up a [kitchen] … Then we’d get our stuff and cook ourselves breakfast. We’d take down our tents and have a lesson and we’d hike out to our next camping spot,” Speigel said.

by Leah Jorn

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