LANDER, Wyoming – Anthony Semeraro, 21, of Fulton, recently completed a Pacific Northwest Spring Quarter with NOLS.
Expedition courses at NOLS take students of all ages into remote wilderness areas where instructors teach students technical outdoor skills, leadership, and environmental ethics.
In 1974, NOLS invented the outdoor semester.
Now each year, 800 students spend a semester with NOLS learning new skills, exploring new ideas, and making new friends surrounded by the wilderness.
The Pacific Northwest Spring Quarter is a 65-day course, which is shorter than the typical semester course with NOLS.
Semeraro and his nine coursemates began their course with a 30-day sea kayaking section.
The group paddled a total of 120 nautical miles along the north east of Vancouver Island between the Queen Charlotte Strait and the Broughton archipelago.
Students had the opportunity to learn about the First Nations culture of this area by visiting the U’mista Cultural Centre at Alert Bay, where they learned about contemporary and historical ceremonies.
The group also visited Village Island, an abandoned First Nations settlement.
To learn about some of the current issues of the area, the group visited the Salmon Coast Field Station where they met biologist, Alexandra Morton and learned about her research on wild salmon.
Highlights of the sea kayaking expedition included spotting bald eagles, black bears, sea lions, seals, porpoises, and a humpback whale.
After the sea kayaking section, the group returned to the NOLS Pacific Northwest location in Conway, Washington, to receive its Wilderness First Aid certification.
Emphasis of the two-day WFA course was placed on learning the Patient Assessment System, providing effective first aid treatments for injuries and illnesses common in the outdoors, and making appropriate evacuation decisions.
Next, Semeraro and his coursemates transitioned to a 27-day mountaineering section in the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Wilderness Area in Washington.
The group traveled through mountainous terrain on-trail, off-trail, and on snow covered steep slopes.
They hiked more than 70 miles, gaining and losing 16,860 feet of elevation.
Curriculum focused on refining outdoor skills, Leave No Trace wilderness ethics, technical mountain travel skills, and leadership.
Challenging weather conditions helped the group develop its map-reading and route-finding skills while navigating in white-out conditions and steep terrain.
Challenges such as staying warm and dry, keeping moral of the group high, and embracing the adversities of inclement weather, transformed into learning opportunities.
Highlights of the section included climbing Spinster Peak (6,993 feet), traveling on White Chuck Glacier, hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail in its luxurious old tempered forests, and the magical views of classic alpine ranges and it’s creeks, rivers and valleys.
After successfully completing the sea kayaking, WFA certification, and mountain sections, Semeraro and his coursemates graduated from the NOLS Pacific Northwest Spring Quarter course as competent wilderness travelers.
They are equipped with technical outdoor skills, wilderness ethics, and leadership skills that they will use long after the conclusion of the course.
They join the NOLS alumni network of more than 280,000 graduates.
NOLS is the largest, most comprehensive wilderness school that educates our students to step forward into an expedition, wilderness medicine, custom education or risk services offering. Graduates have a lifelong desire for leadership, and a commitment to continued skills development and ongoing education. Since 1965, NOLS has embraced and explored the unknown, from field- and classroom-based courses to being leaders in wilderness medicine education.
To discover the NOLS experience or to bring a course to your business or organization, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit www.nols.edu.