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NOLS Empowerment By Caroline Ungar

Hi folks, I’m Caroline Ungar, a member of Novia! I live in Denver Colorado and am going to be a senior in high school this upcoming year. I recently returned from a month-long trip to Alaska with an organization called NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School)! For two weeks we sea kayaked in the Prince William Sound going an average of 15 miles every day and setting up camp each night on the rocky beaches while it rained on us nearly every day. The second two weeks we backpacked in the Southern Talkeetna mountains staying high above tree and bush line while enjoying gorgeous views every time we came over another small hill and experiencing all 4 seasons in the span of a day (including snow!).

We were a group of 12 students who came together from all over the country with different backgrounds and as a surprise to everyone we had 7 girls and 5 boys, and during the second half while backpacking we even had two female instructors.

It was amazing to have a larger female group for an adventure like this and for a long period of time. This was the first time the majority of us had felt so strong and empowered by our own skills to cook alone, set up a tent/tarp alone, pack the kayaks, carry more weight in the packs, and feel good leading the entire group for the day. There were times when we had to push the boys on the trip away from helping us because we knew that we could do it on our own and it was harder on the colder days and the more tiring days but those were the days when everyone ended up feeling their best and everyone was most impressed. Although there were two fewer boys on the trip, they never felt overpowered or diminished, rather they worked together with the girls and allowed everyone to learn and push themselves to the extent that each person needed, allowing all of us to have one of the best months of our lives with each other.

I am excited to see what my friends continue to do in the future and hopefully re-unite and go backpacking once more together and share many more crazy moments together. I am so happy that there were 7 girls on my trip as it would have been an entirely different experience had there been less!

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