NOLS Drop Off

Post by blogger | June 17, 2007      

Had a nice drive up from Carbondale to Lander, Wyoming today, dropping our son Louie off for his NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) course. I was tempted to grill the instructors in true protective parental style, but held off. Who needs their dorky parents embarrassing them when they’re dumped in with a bunch of strangers? Did find out the course would be getting up on Grasshopper Glacier, Ganet Peak area, so it sounds like they’ll be having the ultimate adventure.

I took my first NOLS course when I was 16, showed up here in 1968 when the school was located in Sinks Canyon above Lander. The experience was powerful, indeed life changing. Founder Paul Petzoldt was one of my instructors, and I’ll always remember him teaching me how to fly cast, early in the morning on a cold Wind River lake. Thus it was an emotional experience dropping my own son off for some of the same, nearly forty years later. How powerful the experience will be is of course an open question, but we know it’ll be good — perhaps incredible. For a kid like Louie with good mountain skills, it’s more about the expedition process and making a course happen with a group of strangers. That alone can be an amazing experience when you’re young and used to a fairly sheltered life.

A month from now we’ll know how it went, the kid is in good hands. Thanks Paul!



3 Responses to “NOLS Drop Off”

  1. Ryan June 17th, 2007 7:09 pm

    He’ll have a blast. And just remember, if they do things and teach things differently than you, he’ll have even more experience and a greater pool of resources to draw from if he finds himself in a pinch. I’ll do my anti-thunderstorm dance so they have some good weather windows on the big ‘uns.


  2. Chase Harrison June 20th, 2007 12:04 pm

    I did a semester course back in 1980. It helped mold me into the person I am today. I would love to have seen the
    expession on the instructors faces when they were told they would have Lou Dawsons son on there course. The pressure is on now, for the instuctors that is. I think it’s great that young Louie is doing a NOLS course.

  3. Lou June 20th, 2007 12:45 pm

    Ryan, indeed, the idea is to expose him to some variety and get him away where he’s asked to really think and make judgments for himself.

    Chase, we’re just praying Louie has some anonymity and that the instructors are sensitive to such things as well known parents. If they’re pros they’ll handle it well. But you never know. Sometimes one just has to have faith.

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