Southwest Leaders Of Color Expedition

Starting From


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Start Location

Tucson, Arizona

End Location

Tucson, Arizona

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Join this affinity group expedition to expand your leadership and technical outdoor skills with fellow people of color. Designed for self-identified people of color who are current trip leaders, this course is an opportunity to learn new teaching strategies and hone risk management skills. Explore striking canyons and ponderosa pine forests as you backpack through New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, located on Apache ancestral lands. Learn about the area’s rich natural history while building community with like-minded individuals. Bring your voice to changing the narrative around who is a leader in the outdoors through discussions facilitated by experienced instructors. On this course, you’ll have the time and space to engage in conversation about how systems of oppression show up in wilderness expeditions—and how to navigate and challenge those systems. You’ll also grow as a leader and educator through a guided leadership progression. Working with your team to navigate off-trail is a chance to refine the skills you need to supervise others while traveling in the backcountry. Reviewing Leave No Trace principles is an opportunity to consider new ways of presenting core outdoor education concepts. Observing your instructors’ behind-the-scenes planning offers fresh insight into course management techniques. You and your teammates will bring diverse backgrounds and experiences to this expedition. Through learning together and celebrating that diversity, you’ll leave this course inspired and ready to implement new teaching strategies on your next trip.

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Additional Information

NOLS Southwest: 

Discover the rich and varied landscapes of the U.S. Southwest on your next adventure. Arriving on campus, you’ll find yourself surrounded by an iconic desert landscape dotted with saguaros and ocotillo. But the Southwest has far more to offer than sand and cacti—the wilderness classrooms you’ll explore range from desert terrain to ponderosa pine forests and narrow river canyons. The technical skills you can learn here are just as varied: hiking, climbing, lightweight backpacking, whitewater canoeing, and caving. Backpack through the “sky islands,” isolated mountain ranges that rise up out of vast expanses of desert. Canoe the Rio Grande or climb granite crags at Cochise Stronghold, notable for its cultural and historical importance to the Apache as well as its climbing routes. The U.S. Southwest has a far-reaching and ongoing history of human presence, from the traces of ancient cultures you’ll see at Cliff Dwellings National Monument to the stories of indigenous communities, past and present, and water rights on the U.S./Mexico border. On semester courses, you’ll have the rare privilege of going caving, exploring underground in what feels like another world. And on every course, you’ll be captivated by the magic of the desert—the diversity and beauty of a landscape that you might’ve pictured as barren and empty. Click here for more information!


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