NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Clear Skies, Clear Minds

 At Nevada Outdoor School we are singing praises for a summer of clear skies!  No smoke is worthy of celebration!  We are thankful for wet afternoon thunderstorms and fire prevention behavior because without the fires and smoke of years past we have been able to really enjoy Nevada blue skies for our own recreation as well as our opportunities to share nature with kids.  There is no doubt that when the air is fresh and clean there is a positive reaction in our bodies and our minds.

There is a vast amount of research that supports the ‘clear skies, clear minds’ mantra.  The book Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams, and many others, present the data that tells us what we intrinsically know, when we choose to listen to our spirits, minds, and bodies.  Getting outdoors, where pollution is minimal and the sun shines bright, makes a human feel better.  Spiritually, we enhance our nature connection, recognizing that we are part of something much bigger than just ourselves.  Mentally, the disconnection from phones and screens frees our minds for other inputs and outputs.  Physically, blood pressure decreases, cortisol and other stress hormones dip, and vitamin D production is sufficient.  When we say “get outside, it is good for humans everywhere,” there is a lot of scientific knowledge backing us up.

We wrapped up our summer with our final summer camp at Angel Lake.  Nevada Outdoor School purchased a group fishing license for the 10 Angel Lake campers and they were able to attend the fishing clinic hosted by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.  Campers went to different stations learning important fishing skills. At the end of the clinic, every camper was gifted a brand new fishing pole by NDOW that they got to test out while at camp!  Many fish were caught! 


Nevada Outdoor School campers fishing with their new fishing poles provided by the Nevada Department of Wildlife, after campers completed a fishing clinic at Angel Lake.

Time Spent Outdoors is one of the many metrics we record at Nevada Outdoor School to help us measure success.  This summer we were able to spend over 600 hours outdoors with our campers and Nature at Nine participants.  Clear skies made that easy and enjoyable!  Earlier this year, as an organization we challenged ourselves to accumulate 500 hours of outside time from January to June.  In order to accomplish our goal each individual needed to spend about 10 hours a week outside.  One might think this was an easy challenge for an outdoor school, but in fact, it was not.  We had to consciously make choices and put forth effort to be outside, especially when it’s dark and cold. 

In the 21st Century getting outside is not as easy as one may think it should be, at any time of the year!  There are a lot of inside attractions and distractions.  Televisions, couches and comfy recliners, food pantries, computers, gaming systems, and temperature control are things that easily woo us to remain inside.  Something important to remember, is that to ‘be outside’ does not only mean that you hiking or overly physical.  There is value to sitting on your porch!  That is an easy misperception to have, and one that we too at Nevada Outdoor School get caught up in.  There are so many things that can be done outside!  Both high and low movement activities have value.  It is less about what you do and more about the setting in which you are doing it, outdoors!  Things like hunting, hiking, kayaking, shooting a bow and arrow, gardening, and walking a dog are amazing and get your heart pumping a bit more, but things like reading under a tree, napping in the shade, painting outside, barbequing dinner, dining al fresco, and floating on an innertube are also worthy activities to dedicate outside time too. 

As we being to transition in to fall, check out for our upcoming outdoor activities.  Community hikes, our Dutch Oven Cook Off fundraiser in Winnemucca, and outdoor skill workshops are just a few of the activities we have coming soon that will get you outside.  Go on, get outside, clear that mind in our clear skies, it is good for humans everywhere!


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Hard Work Pays Off

 “Are we there yet?” or “How much further?” are common questions we hear at Nevada Outdoor School, when we have campers out on the trail exerting themselves.  The amazing thing is that whether the trail is half a mile or six miles, the whining still happens.  All the whining miraculously is silenced when the destination is reached, replaced with “oohs” and “ahhs”.  The joy of discovery and an effort well done and accomplished quickly overwhelms and erases any need for additional whining.

This past week, our Lake Tahoe Excursion took 11 kiddos, ages 11 - 13 to Lake Tahoe.  Here they experienced the amazing natural beauty of Lake Tahoe while learning how to apply the seven Leave No Trace principles in their recreational world.  Other new skills were learned too, like kayaking for some and cooking meals on a camp stove for others.  There was also the experience of having a bear in camp – now that is a memory that will last a lifetime! 


At Nevada Outdoor School we embrace the challenges that naturally come with outdoor education and experiences.  There is a reason why outdoor adventurists are viewed by others with googly eyes, it takes hard work to do life outside the comforts of controlled environments and creature comforts.  This is why the first Leave No Trace principle is so important, as it sets the stage for everything else that comes next.  Plan Ahead and Be Prepared is critical to both comfort, safety, and survival when learning and playing outdoors.

In the name of comfort, safety, and survival, Nevada Outdoor School does the hard work daily to Plan Ahead and Be Prepared for our staff and participants.  When our vehicles roll-out to hour-long outdoor skill workshops or week-long overnight camps, we have prepared contingency plans, emergency action plans, meal plans, activity plans, communication plans, and so many more plans.  It seems there is no limit to planning and preparation!  

This hard work, the planning and preparing, is what helps Nevada Outdoor School to be a safe and reliable organization.  But, it goes beyond the first principle.  There are six others that provide a framework from which responsible outdoor education and recreation is based on.  

In addition to the local awareness of our boots-on-the-ground awesomeness, Nevada Outdoor School is also recognized by the international Leave No Trace organization by being one of nine Leave No Trace Youth Accredited Programs.  Nevada Outdoor School utilizes the accreditation process as one method of program evaluation, to ensure that each year high-quality programs are offered to our community.  The accreditation program evaluates 11 elements of our programming ranging from land use to communication to stakeholders to creative elements.  It is hard work to submit the application, but worth it as it makes Nevada Outdoor School a stronger provider of quality outdoor programming.


Interested in being part of the Nevada Outdoor School community and learning more about Leave No Trace?  Visit for our latest events.  While Nevada Outdoor School is a ‘youth accredited program’, do not let that title fool you, kids 0 - 99+ are served through Nevada Outdoor School programs.   Get outside, it is good for humans everywhere!


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

NOS Programming Highlight: Nature @ Nine!

Those of you who have been attending our summer programming over the years may have noticed a difference in one of our programs for this summer. We moved our 4-7 year old Nature program from noon to nine.

We made the decision to move our program to earlier in the day thanks to helpful input and suggestions from parents and youth who attended the summer program last year. This move in time helped beat some of this famous Nevada heat this year! 



Nature @ Nine at the Spring Creek Marina. A lesson all about dinosaurs!

Our Nature @ Nine program is geared for 4-7 year olds but is open to anyone who would like to participate. Each lesson includes games, songs, a book, and a craft. For nine weeks throughout the summer months Nevada Outdoor School comes to eight different locations throughout Nevada to deliver these Nature @ Nine lessons! The areas serviced this year are Elko, Spring Creek, Carlin, Wells, Winnemucca, Imlay, Paradise Valley and Battle Mountain. 

Each week is a new nature based topic. Some topics have included; worms, butterflies, dinosaurs, habitats, birds, flowers, and animal tracks! One of the more popular lessons was our worm lesson! Youth got to learn all about worms; how they move, what they eat, and why they are important. Youth also got to explore, hold, and pet a real worm! At first many were nervous to hold the worm but by the end of the lesson, most students were holding and touching the worms. It was fun to see all the different reactions and watch as youth giggled, laughed and explored! 


If you haven’t had a chance to make it to one of our N@N programs yet, don’t worry! We still have one more week of fun activities until summer is over! Our last week is August 15th-18th and we look forward to seeing YOU there! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Discoveries Await

 Imagine the discoveries that the emigrants made as they traveled along the California Trail.  Discoveries about the landscape, about plants and animals, about those they traveled with, and themselves.  Summer camps at Nevada Outdoor School are full of discovery also!  While we may not travel thousands of miles over many months, our campers are transported by our outdoor educators into discovery mindsets, no matter where they are.

Nevada is a state that can boast about great biological diversity and a deep and rich historical story.  If one were to only stay on I-80 passing through at 80 miles an hour, much of the beauty and legend will be missed, but when one opts to step off the beaten path, treasures await. 

Great Basin National Park is one of those treasures.  Located about 1 hour southeast of Ely, this national park is a great place to sample the diversity of Nevada and discover things about nature and yourself.   Campers, ages 11 - 13, attending the Great Basin Excursion were able to walk among the ancient bristlecone pine trees, experience total darkness and stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and cave shields inside Lehman Caves, and observe one of the darkest night skies in our country.  Four nights of camping also afforded campers the opportunity to work together as a team to make meals and take care of one another, while sharing many laughs around the evening “campfire”.  Due to the campfire ban, along with daily afternoon thunderstorms, campers discovered how they could adapt, overcome, and make the best of a situation.

The California Trail Interpretive Center is another Nevada treasure that is ripe with discovery, celebrating the tenacity and spirit of the nearly 250,000 people who bravely set out for California between 1841 and 1869.  Spending a day there is like going back in time, with an added bonus of air conditioning.  Day-campers, ages 8 - 13, walked along the nature trail discovering animal tracks and scat, cooked their lunch in a Dutch oven, explored the Center exhibits conveying them from Missouri to California, made crafts, shot bows and arrows, and threw axes.  


California Trail Interpretive Center Day Campers spent time learning and practicing with bow and arrows.


Kids with bows and arrows and throwing axes? Is that safe?  That may be an initial reaction by many, but at Nevada Outdoor School we know that outdoor education is risky business that can be carefully managed with training, thoughtful prior preparation, and careful management of participants.  Allowing kids to fully participate in activities like archery and axe throwing helps them to discover and stretch their physical abilities while teaching them about safety and how risk can be managed by choices.  

If bows and arrows and axes weren’t enough, in Battle Mountain at Borealis Park another group of day campers, ages 8 - 13, were launching rockets and discovering the power of the sun and its ability to warm up their lunch of chili and cheese in a solar oven.  Dreaming of space travel and learning about our solar system inspires campers to reach for the stars.

Children (and adults, too!) who spend time outdoors are known to be happier, stronger, and more confident.  Why?  At Nevada Outdoor School we love to get people outdoors where they can experience discoveries through the use of all five senses - a complete submersion into situational awareness that simply does not occur indoors.  Physical, mental, spiritual discoveries happen outdoors.  Get outside, it is good for humans everywhere.