2021 NOLS Expedition - U.S. Southwest

2021 NOLS Expedition — U.S. Southwest Information Page

Welcome To The NOLS Southwest Program! The Chazen Institute is excited to be offering a travel program and we hope you are as well. Getting here has not been without challenges, so we find ourselves in an extremely short planning schedule. Our intention is to help you navigate the sign-up process to the best of our abilities, but please understand details may change unexpectedly.  

About The NOLS Southwest Program

The NOLS Southwest Leadership Expedition is a 10-day field-based training that teaches leadership and technical outdoor skills in the American Southwest. The hallmarks of a NOLS Southwest course are exploration, remoteness, and variable desert terrain. Students are coached through the course in a way that minimizes stress while focusing on peak performance. Technical wilderness skills and interpersonal skills are taught, allowing students to function effectively as a group in the powerful and dynamic situations NOLS Southwest provides. Please note that this course is physically and mentally demanding and an honest medical attestation will be required for submission to NOLS. Students will hike and camp for nine evenings, sleep outside (in tents) regardless of weather conditions, and must prepare their own meals.

Program Details

  • Dates: January 6, 2022 – January 15, 2022  (**Must be in Arizona on January 5 and stay through January 16)
  • Costs: $3035 program fee; students will also be responsible for domestic airfare to Tuscon, Arizona; cost of equipment (~$500-$1000); $350 equipment deposit with NOL; cost of hotels on the evenings of January 5 and 15
  • Medical: Students must submit an medical attestation to NOLS - please keep in mind that this is a physically and mentally demanding trip, so please be honest

How Do I Sign Up?

To sign up for NOLS Southwest, please visit the Chazen Bidding site. 

  • This trip uses Chazen bid points - all students get 2,000 upfront lifetime Chazen bid points (this is separate from Course Match) 
  • One round of bidding: Wednesday, October 13, 2:00PM - Monday, October 18, 4:00PM
    • You can bid/change your bid anytime during this bidding period
    • There will not be an add/drop round or waitlist round
    • Waitlist decided by bid amount
  • If you don't want to use bid points, you can sign up for the zero point waitlist  (Opens on October 13, 2pm. You will be placed after those that bid on a first-come, first-serve basis)
  • At the earliest we plan on releasing results October 19
    Bidding Website Picture What Does the Bidding Website Look Like? - Click  "Select Tours" on the left sidebar and then "View Tours." Enter a bid into the NOLS option (it should be the only one).

What Happens After I Get A Spot?

Successful bidders will have 48 Hours to submit the program fee ($3,035) payment. If you do not submit payment by the deadline, you forfeit your spot and your bid points will be refunded. Once you've paid, you are considered part of the expedition and will not get your program fee and bid points back (exceptional cases are covered below). With this in mind, PLEASE PLAN AHEAD - conflicting schedules (including classes, interviews, weddings, student activities, conferences, personal travel, etc.) are not an acceptable excuse! The Chazen Institute is planning to purchase travel insurance on behalf of all participants who sign up during the initial sign-up period.  However, this insurance will only cover up to 50% of the non-refundable costs of the program should the University decide to cancel the expedition.

Will Travel Grants Be Available?

The Chazen Institute is currently accepting Travel Fund applications for students bidding for the NOLS Southwest Leadership Expedition only through October 18, 2021 at 4:00PM. Please visit the Chazen Institute Travel Fund website to learn more about application criteria and necessary documents.

What Happens If I Need To Withdraw?

Participants are committed to a 50% loss of funds if they choose to withdraw after they sign up or if the Chazen Institute/Columbia Business School/Columbia University have to cancel the program. Requests for withdrawal must be made in writing to the Chazen Institute at [email protected] for consideration and include the reason for appeal and supporting documentation. If the request is approved and any refund amount is available, a refund will be credited back to the original credit card used for payment. The following are considered exceptional circumstances:

  • Illness that would prevent your travel (COVID rates in the travel location is not an exceptional circumstance)
  • Family emergencies (such as death or serious illness of immediate family member)
  • Military service
  • Court appearances, such as jury duty

Students are responsible for purchasing their own flights to and from Arizona and should purchase travel protection for these flights. The university will not reimburse lost fees on cancelled airfare. 


What Is Typical Daily Schedule Like?


What Should I Do If Want To Be A Trip Leader?

As a trip leader you will get your program fee reimbursed and you will be inducted into the Chazen Leadership Fellows Program. In return, we expect that you will help with group preparation (leading training sessions, planning hikes, group trips to stores such as REI to buy equipment, etc.), help Chazen keep participants on track for deadlines, and be person who can provide support for other students in Arizona. If you're interested, please email Jennifer Morisco ([email protected]) to submit a CV and paragraph about, 1.) Why would like to be a trip leader,  2.) What qualifications do you have for this type of expedition. This will be due by Friday, October 15. 

What If I’m Not Sure If This Is The Trip For Me?

We understand this is a lot of information at once! However, due to the financial commitment of the program, it is much better to ask questions before you’ve submitted payment. Pease feel free to email Jennifer Morisco ([email protected]). 

What Should I Do to Prepare?