I work as a NOLS instructor, and i have done some of the work to prep this new course type.
All the comments above are true. We at the school have a bit of a reputation for big packs, but please note, the majority of our trips are 30 days long! That's a long time, and all of it is in a mountain environment. The courses are set-up to be challenging; we teach a lot of curriculum (first aid, advanced navigation, leadership, natural history, etc) and we do some pretty ambitious stuff (lot's of off-trail travel and peak ascents), and we eat great (baking bread and even pizza).
That said - We have amazing success taking total beginners into some real-deal wilderness environments. The experience can be really rewarding, for everyone. Hopefully, if we as instructors do our job right, our students leave NOLS as very skilled outdoor leaders.
Folks at the school (including me) are genuinely excited about the challenge of running a high-quality light-weight course.