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A Wilderness (Medicine) Experience

Hiker Hostel WFR course 2014

NOLS WFR course 2014 Dahlonega, Ga

Almost 8 months ago, when I moved to Dahlonega and began working at the Hiker Hostel, Josh and Leigh gave me my first “assignment”. Characteristically straight to the point, Josh simply said, “I’d like to have a Wilderness First Responder course here at the hostel. Make it happen”.

After months of “making it happen” we officially hosted our First Annual WMI/NOLS Wilderness First Responder Course (WFR) on August 9th – August 17th. Students learned to think outside the box, act quickly and efficiently, and improvise with bare necessities to handle a multitude of backcountry emergencies. By the end of the intensive, 9 day course all 17 students earned their WFR certification- the result of their hard work, determination, and the leadership of the amazing instructors sent by Landmark Learning!

This was a new and exciting experience for the Hiker Hostel staff, as well as for the participants, for we’d never before had the hostel transformed into a “residential school”. The basement became a classroom and the hostel trails became the setting for many traumatic scenarios (hypothetical, of course!). The students, who arrived as strangers, formed meaningful bonds through their shared experience and left as friends with a common feeling of accomplishment. The positive impact that this class can have on an individual was captured in a post-course message from one of the “graduates”, which begins with, “Every once in a while a person has a profound experience that touches them deeply…”.

It was a pleasure hosting such a wonderful and diverse group of people; as well as supporting such a worthwhile learning experience, valuable to anyone who spends time in the outdoors! We hope to host a 3 day recertification course this winter and another full course next August.



One Response so far.

  1. Bob Johnston says:

    I was there. Hiker Hostel was the perfect place for this class. Great location, warm hospitality, proximity to trails and a “wilderness” environment. Josh, Leigh, Shannon, and Derrick were fantastic hosts that not only made us feel very welcome but all knew how to cook up a wicked breakfast! What added so much to our experience is that they were all accomplished hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. They have walked the walk so they know hikers, the trails, and the hiker experience. They really added a lot to our learning experience! Thank you guys for helping to make a great week for our class!

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