FAQ -- Why Did You Change The Name?

FAQ: Why did you change the name from Wilderness Skills Institute to Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute? Answer: This truly is big news Wilderness Skills Institute has made a monumental leap and is in mid-flight. We have changed our name to Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute to eliminate confusion and reflect the growth in our programs. We still teach the wilderness programs for teens, adults, and teachers, but the Fall we will be adding to our academic camps training for caregivers for combat vets, homesteading classes for all, and a strong leadership program for all age groups. – Brian King


First I must say Our Mission, though more explicit, has not changed: To develop happy successful, emotionally intelligent empathic leaders with grit, which are well educated, skilled in creative, critical, and divergent thinking, capable of adaptability and collaboration, and are good stewards of the earth. Over the years we have had to overcome two misconceptions of the institute. First we are not a school for troubled youth, there are trouble youth programs in most every county. We are a school for brightest of kids that the standard model school has left them behind, put up roadblocks in them following their interests, or providing these students a curriculum that truly challenges them.

Secondly we are an academic institution that our classroom is in the wilderness, and soon on a ranch and farm with timber land, within a wilderness. Many people missed the point that we used the skills of working, living, and outdoor recreation as the vehicle to teach academics. We have always worked at keeping the WOW in learning. Research continues to support that students learn better when they are outside, happy, and see relevance in their studies.

We have plans to continue to grow in the Northwestern states; our new name reflects that. We are going back to the school ranch, farm, timber, and habitat management roots and outdoor better reflects that in the name. Our goal had been to not only prepare kids to be happy successful adults but our legacy was to train teachers to perpetuate this work. Now that our earliest participants are in their twenties we see that many have taken their skills and qualities developed with us and have stepped into leadership roles. He have also come to the realization that skills we teach are needed in the leaders of both our government and corporations.

We took a risk years ago to measure success of our students and our programs differently than the standard model and not following the state standards. Because of those decisions we also chose to not be eligible for State funding. These choices made many parents even though seeing that the standard model school and one size fits all curriculum not the best fit for their children fearful that bucking the system will limit their children’s future. Not only is that not the case but those schools that have thrown out the testing model worlwide are being praised and more are following suit. We are truly an institute because we offer a wide scope of programs for a wide range of people.

"They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. Thats against their interests."
—George Carlin
"The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed -- it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions."
—Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything