Curious if anyone has done either NOLS or Outward Bound Courses, and wouldn't mind sharing their thoughts?
I've done REI Backpacking adventures (PCT, Rocky Mt.) and a Mountain Biking Trip, but wanted to explore a longer-term, and education/training experience with more than a few skills/activities.
Also wondering how many REI field got their start in the adventure space? Would such a program with WFR component be the best place to start. How does one know if they are "Qualified" enough?
Glad to hear you have participated in some of the great trips that we offer, and that they have inspired some bigger goals for you!
I have taken the Wilderness First Responder course through NOLS, and feel like this is a great step for any outdoor enthusiast. The knowledge gained in that program can help you recreate more responsibly, and troubleshoot any unforeseen injuries that happen in the backcountry. These courses sometimes are taught by experienced guides who know any use these skills! It's an intense educational setting, with a lot of info over a short amount of time - but the bonus is you are surrounded by likeminded individuals and great opportunity to network!
I made a vacation out of the experience by picking a destination-based location - the course was based in Wyoming, and I spent the following week backpacking in the Bighorn National Forest. It was a super fun getaway!
I have heard through folks who have taken them, that the longer field-based programs hosted by NOLS and Outward Bound are super immersive, educational, and life changing! If you're interested in more self-study and exploration of skills, I'd recommend looking into some Wilderness Risk Management info, as well!
You will know you are qualified enough when the clouds part, the beam of light descends, and the heavenly chorus commences. Actually, you will never know if you are qualified enough because the next emergency is unknown and indeterminate..
You can increase your capability by joining a local volunteer search and rescue group, considering job with the National Park Service or similar agency, and just getting out there and carefully challenging yourself.
This advice comes from an old codger who followed all three avenues - forty-two career in the NPS, volunteer SAR for thirty-six, and a lot of hiking and climbing.