Joe Nold was the founding School Director of the Colorado Outward Bound School. In his time in Marble, he made a great impact on many young people on the first Outward Bound courses in the US. His legacy lives on through these students and the influence they in turn have had on others. Below are a few comments we received in response to the news of Joe’s death last week.
I met Joe Nold in 1962 when I was 16 years old and sent to COBS by the Jefferson Park Boys Club of New York in East Harlem. That initial encounter with Joe, my instructor on C-2, was chronicled in the book Outward Bound U.S.A., Learning Through Experience in Adventure-Based Education by Joe Bold and Josh Miner.
One incident that wasn’t talked about in the book involved a heated verbal confrontation I had with an older, 18 year old student in our patrol while we were climbing Capital Mountain. In short, the patrol had split into two groups: A contingent of six self-selected volunteers who were considered more physically fit and self-confident, were going to separate and climb to the summit of Capital with Joe and his assistant instructor leading; the second group, which I was part of, was going to retraced their steps across a long, rocky trail back to a mini base camp. I got into this heated argument with the bully and separated from the second group. In retrospect, a super dangerous, knucklehead move on my part? No question that I was inviting disaster! When Joe and the first group came back down from their trek to the peak of Capital, they found me fast asleep between a pile of rocks where the two groups had split apart an hour and change earlier.
When our patrol arrived back to the COBS main base camp in Marble maybe two days later, I was summoned the following morning by the director to his office. Of course he admonished me for my juvenile and profoundly dangerous antics out in the rocky wilderness. He then told me that there were serious discussions being had about sending me back home to NYC, East Harlem. At that point, I think we were halfway through the 26 day course. It would have been quite easy for Joe and the school administration, because of what had happened on Capital to have given up on me. However, it turned out that luck was with me and I made it through the rest of the experience without another foolish incident. But everyone who was on C-2 knew I wasn’t about to back down or away from anyone, even at 14 thousand feet in the middle of nowhere. I had taken the Rules of The ‘Hood to COBS and lived to tell all my homeboys about it.
Fast forward to 1975 and I was the Director-in-Residence at Great Hollow Wilderness School in New Fairfield, Connecticut, as well as teaching at an alternative high school in East Harlem, Park East High School. I met up with Joe who had come East to visit OB brass about the creation of an urban outdoor/Outward Bound program. Joe told me, “What you’re doing at Great Hollow Wilderness School is great! But you’re always going to work for a White man if you don’t get a college education,” or something like the aforementioned. He then put me in contact with Ellie Greenberg who oversaw the University Without Walls Program at Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado, which helped me look at the world from a whole different perspective, starting day one upon my arrival when I read John Hope Franklin’s “From Slavery to Freedom”.
Give a man a piece of fish and he’ll happily fill his gut for a single meal. Teach him how to fish and he’ll be able to feed himself and his family for a lifetime. That single aforementioned statement from Joe Nold has taken me from The ‘Hood to Brookline, MA., which the Boston Globe newspaper recently described as being “One of the most desirable communities in America to live”. Damn the economic and material rewards of the journey I’ve been on. Joe’s advice to me in ’75 has multiplied 100 times over with the social and political justice initiatives I’ve devoted the last forty years of my life to. I’ll bet a “Fat Man” as my late Uncle Bebo would say, that I’d have drowned in ignorance and stupidity had I not been given that small but incredibly valuable piece of advice from Joe. Let me leave those who read this with the statement I’ve included in the campaign literature I’ve recently disseminated throughout my precinct in Brookline where I’m running for a seat in Town Meeting:
I have a commitment to humanity, inspired by the vision and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as a desire to serve this community and make it work for everyone, regardless of color, nationality, creed or economic standing. I want everyone living here to have a good life, and access to a decent, well-paying job. I want all children who attend the Public Schools of Brookline to have an excellent education and to feel safe. And I also want everyone in this community to be treated equally under the eyes of the law.
May Joe Nold Rest In Peace!
Arthur Conquest III
I am sorry to read this. I met Joe several times at different functions. He seemed to be interested in former students and what happened with them. He was an inspiration, daunting, and relentless in his insistence on excellence through simplicity. Bob England
I am sorry to hear of the passing of Joe Nold. I want to share these two photos from July 1966 (C-17 I believe) where he made a life-long impression on a seventeen-year-old kid from Michigan. My condolences to his family and friends. I can still hear him reading Thoreau.
I do remember Joe well. He hired me in January, 1969 and I worked as the Director of Development and as an instructor for the first COBS Teacher practicum, 2-3 business men courses, numerous fund raising river trips and one of the first Catarac Canyon ten day courses. One of the many quotes from Joe that comes back to me is: “The greatest adventures are not in the out fo doors, but in your mind.” I left COBS in 1972 to go to graduate school and the next year helped organize a joint COBS and East Africa Outward Bound course at Loitokitok on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.
So sorry to hear another COBS legend has passed.
L to R: Chuck Froelicher, Jess Bell, Bill Coors, and Joe Nold (from the Colorado Academy archives)
One of my sisters had sent me an article from Reader’s Digest on Kurt Hahn in the fall of 1965. I mustered out of the Army (stationed in Alaska) in late January 1966. I had written a letter (no email, no phone) to Joe to see if I could meet him and interview for a job on my way back east. It was a good meeting! He offered me a job for summer of 1966.Then, shortly after arriving at my destination back in New England (Perry!), Joe called and asked if I could come out to Collbran, CO, in late March to work on a leadership training effort at a Job Corps center there for a month. I said of course. I mean, what better way to spend your honeymoon??
Vic Walsh, Bob Pieh, Joe, and I worked this contract. The Director of that Job Corps Center was Murray Durst!
And so it began for me. Followed by a variety of other interesting new ventures: first Educators course, urban and suburban kids in Mexico for six weeks, first CO girls course, Prescott College orientation, etc. Joe was creative!
A happy moment on the Mediterranean after Joe had retired. He and Mary invited Perry and me to sail with them!
Perry, Mary, and Joe. A happy month!
Here is one of Joe with Geneva Basin in back that I took in 1966,
Me (in center) and Bob Pieh (MOBS Director) on right.