Dan Ives: NOLS Instructor InterviewName:  Daniel Ives
Age: 28
Hometown: Eros, Arkansas
Current Location: Colorado Spring, Colorado
Current Job Titles: USAF Academy Outdoor Recreation – Ski Tech; US Army Adventure Programs & Education: Warrior Adventure Quest – Coordinator; NOLS: Utah River Program – Patrol Leader

Interview Host Jen Fromal: Professional Travel Writer and Creator of The Smashed Planet.

How did you get started with NOLS?

First off, it was always a dream to take a NOLS course in college, but I could never make it happen. Eventually that dream turned into wanting to instruct for them. I got started last May, a friend and mentor recommended it after he started a couple years prior. I applied for the river instructor course, basically a five week interview, got accepted and had a successful course.


What NOLS course is your favorite?

I’ve only done river courses on the Green River in Desolation/Gray Canyon, but regardless, that type of course is my favorite. It’s an awesome stretch of river to teach kayaking and rafting on with a progression of rapids that top out near the end. You definitely have to be creative to pass the time on the flat water. I recently took a backcountry snowboarding course for instructors to check off on different course types. That was a blast! I could get used to sleeping 10+ hours in a snow shelter and boarding powder.

If you could sum up the NOLS mission in one sentence, what would that one sentence be?

The mission of NOLS is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment.

How many near-death experiences would you say you’ve had in your life?

Depends on how you look at it. To a person who doesn’t recreate in the outdoors, tons. Answering the question for an outdoor enthusiast, I’ve had a couple of them. The important thing is to learn what you can from those experiences so they don’t happen again. I feel that most of them come from poor decision making, whether that’s in a large group or just me. Sometimes though, it’s just bad luck with a spider bite.

Describe the most beautiful place you’ve ever been.

Tough one! I believe there is beauty all around us even if we don’t take the time to recognize it. One of my favorite memories is from growing up in Arkansas. One spring night it was crystal clear with the stars demanding your attention. I turned off all of the lights in the house and sat on the front porch, our house was on a hill, to watch. Eventually the crickets starting chirping and lightning bugs came out in the field below. I couldn’t tell you how long I sat there or what I thought about. It’s something so simple as sitting on the front porch and being reminded how beautiful home can be.

Where have you had the best meal?

The most recent on was from the backcountry snowboarding trip. A cold night, big tour day will demand some calories. Kelly, he was in my cook group, made fried pasta with garlic, peppers, sausage and unknown amounts of butter. It isn’t very fun to come back to a 2,500 calorie diet from a 5k+ one.

What’s one skill that you wish you had right now?

Tie for sailing or tango dancing.

If you could escape to one country for an uninterrupted two week vacation, where would you go?

Another tough one. I’d like to go to Germany. I was born there but I’ve never been there as an adult. There’s also a lot of history there with plenty of outdoor activities to do.

Describe your most surprising travel experience.

After I graduated college, I went to Peru for 10 weeks. The first three were helping a professor with an archeological expedition to the middle of the jungle. We kept taking combi’s (cheap taxi-van that is over packed) until the roads ended, then we started walking for a week. This trip exposed me to how other countries, besides the US or European, get by with way less. We went to some villages where they had never seen a gringo (white person) before. I had a little bit of shell shock when I got back to the states.

If you weren’t working with NOLS, what would you be doing right now?

The great thing about NOLS is they offer you contracts and you decide if you want to accept them. I have the other two jobs competing for my time, so it can be tough to fit a contract in with the personal plans I want to go on. There are people who work almost year-round with NOLS and are amazing to work with. Since I’m in my first year, I need to branch into other fields that NOLS offers so I can get more experience.

Image Credits: NOLS

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About The Author

Lauren Rains is the editor at large of Outdoor Minded Mag. She is struck by wanderlust, and spends most waking hours of her life either exploring the outdoors around the globe or working on various passion projects be it film to microadventures to cooking chili. You can read about her adventures in life, biz and travel on her blog TheMadToLive.com, and catch up with her on Twitter at @LaurRAINS.