Emily Guerin, 26, of Paonia, recently completed a 34-day expedition in the American Southwest with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
The Southwest Mountain Instructor course is designed to develop and refine the teaching, risk management, and leadership skills needed for field instructor positions at NOLS and other wilderness programs.
Guerin and her coursemates were responsible for teaching some of the basic and advanced classes throughout the course. Wilderness living skills, travel techniques, natural history, environmental ethics, expedition behavior and communication/evaluation skills were all important parts of the curriculum. Students were challenged to experiment with different teaching styles while polishing their skills, judgment, leadership and supervisory abilities.
The instructors taught most of the risk management classes including river crossing, emergency procedures and rock climbing. Hazard evaluation, accident prevention, group management, and evacuation procedures were thoroughly discussed and practiced. Students were also evaluated on their first aid skills and knowledge.
The instructor course started in Tucson, Ariz., with two days of in-town classes and activities focusing on issuing gear and rations, taking a Wilderness First Responder- level first-aid test and discussing NOLS history, leadership theory and group management and supervision techniques.
On the third day the course headed into the wilderness on the backpacking section. On the first half of this section students learned and practiced traditional NOLS backpacking skills with packs weighing 40-50 pounds. During the second half of the section students got a new food supply and swapped out heavier personal gear, rations and group gear to achieve a pack weight of 25-30 pounds. This half focused more on lightweight backpacking techniques.
The climbing and technical skills section is a stationary base camp that covers the NOLS rock climbing teaching progression, third- and fourth- class terrain travel, some rock rescue techniques and top rope site management. After the full progression of the NOLS climbing curriculum and many days of practice, students were expected to set up and supervise top rope and rappel sites in diverse mountain settings. Students also learned the fine arts associated with living comfortably in base camp.
Guerin graduated from her NOLS course prepared to lead an expedition of her own.blog comments powered by Disqus