Andy Blair: NOLS - Reflection on NOLS Kenya


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This week on the pod I speak with Andy Blair is a simple man with a craving to be outside. He completed his NOLS Instructors Course in 1992 and his Wilderness Medicine Instructor Training Course in 2001. He has acquired over 250 weeks in the field and taught over 50 Wilderness Medicine courses. His fieldwork includes mountaineering, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, winter camping, canyoneering, whitewater canoeing, outdoor educator, and instructor courses. He maintains a National Registry EMT certification.

For the last nine years, Andy has been the Assistant Director at the NOLS Rocky Mountain Branch in Lander, WY. His belief in the transformative student experience at NOLS drives his administrative work. Andy remains committed to doing whatever is necessary to provide NOLS students with this powerful experience. He is known to state repetitively that "being a field instructor is the best job I have ever had… by far. The places you get to go, the things you get to do, and the people you get to do them with have been some of the most rewarding experiences I have had."

In this episode:

  • [11:57] Andy tells about his first camping trip in Kenya where he and his friend were travelling in a van and got mugged by a monkey who turned out to be a ‘carrot thief.’ He also recalls that while they were in Samburu National Park, one of their co-instructors stayed in the camp to keep the place secured, but a troop of baboons came through and stole one of their drug kits – all this followed by some more hilarious stories about monkeys.
  • [18:48] Andy goes down memory lane and talks about the first hiking day in Kenya where he travelled with a Senior NOLS Kenyan instructor. He shares that elephants are one of the dangerous animals, even more than lions and hyenas in East Africa. Right after saying this, he shares a gruesome experience where one of the people started screaming in the bushes – 3 elephants staring at him through the bamboo. He describes the incident briefly and shares how the senior instructor started yelling, "Drop your bags and run," while he was frozen in place, the rest is the mystery hidden in our podcast.
  • [28:13] Later in the podcast, Andy talks about his encounter with lions which is the most exciting part of the podcast. He came across a lioness in Lake Nakuru National Park where a person was missing last week. While he was setting the tents, he saws six sets of eyes looking at him. He lit up his headlamp and saw a lioness broadside like 30 feet away from him – what happened next/ well, it is more interesting to hear him tell the story.
  • [38:54] as we go along the podcast, Andy takes a dive in and talks about her sailing trips and how he faced terrifying weather and storms – which is the highlight of the whole podcast.

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24 episodes