If Bear Grylls were in charge, fourteen year old Elmhurst resident Nerjia Sepkus would be a top tier CEO.

Nerjia recently completed the kind of leadership training that makes most corporate leadership retreats look like a weekend trip to the spa (and let’s be honest, some are).  But what if leadership trainees were actually really challenged, taken out of their comfort zones, left to their own instincts and personal analysis? No smart phones, no computers, no distractions or crutches.  Without Siri and Goowilderness.jpggle Maps, the teens who successfully complete this course are one step ahead of their peers.


The National Outdoor Leadership School sends 14 and 15 year olds on a challenging backpacking journey through Wyoming for an entire month. In addition to learning about the outdoors, wildlife, and survival, the teens also exercised judgment, risk management, and of course leadership. The confidence teens gain from completing such a challenge is invaluable and transfers to every facet of their life, including school and work.


This non-traditional leadership course has 221,000 graduates since it was first established in 1965. Hopefully Nerjia’s cool tales from the trail will inspire more Elmhurst teens to get out there and challenge themselves, too!

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