The idea that wilderness trips can save the world may sound over-the-top. But given how effective backcountry adventures can be at creating leaders, it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Take ski mountaineer Kit DesLauriers. DesLauriers was the first person to ski the highest peak on every continent, and she is now a sought-after motivational speaker, but her path to that success began when she found herself tasked with figuring out group dynamics and logistics in the wilds of Alaska on a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) trip. Before NOLS, DesLauriers was like many other college students at the time: interested in travel, unsure of her future, and short on funds. But she caught the outdoor adventure bug while studying in Europe and became obsessed with the idea of a NOLS course, despite the fact that she couldn’t afford it. DesLauriers persisted, earning a scholarship for a NOLS semester course in Alaska. While it’s easy to describe an experience as "life changing," DesLauriers’s Alaska trip really was—it’s the fundamental premise of many of her motivational talks. “I learned that the outdoors is my home, that the natural world is our home, and to have respect for it,” she says. […]

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