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College Field Camp Options

Posted by Chris Kyler  
Chris Kyler January 14, 2012 07:01AM
Hello All,
This summer I'll be needing to complete a Field course to graduate on my expected date with a BS in Professional Geology. I was wondering if any one had any suggestions or insight into the out of country (USA) field camps offered through schools like James Madison and Michigan Tech. I am in the process of applying to several and was wondering if my friends at Mindat might have any suggestions for getting a spot in the competitive courses or maybe what schools I should avoid due to poor programs. Any experiences you would care to share would be more than welcome as I would prefer to learn from others mistakes so that I can spare myself the hardships! Most field courses offer the basic mapping and sed/strat courses, however my ideal career would be something I could apply my love of Mineralogy towards, hence I would love to get in a program like the MTU program in which I know I can acquire more specimens for my collection in the local towns.

Any and all input is greatly appreciated,
Chris Kyler
Matt Neuzil January 14, 2012 04:24PM
University of akrons field camp spens some time in the black hills and does a bit of metamorphic and igneous. not lots but it does do some.

A buena hambre no hay pan duro
Paul Brandes January 29, 2012 01:17AM

There are several great programs that offer a good field geology camp; however, based on what you have stated as your criteria for selecting a camp, it sounds to me like you're not real serious about field geology!! One goes to these camps to learn about field techniques and not how much they can increase their mineral collection. If you are solely looking at field camps based on mineral collecting, then I'm afraid you'll be very disappointed (not to mention your grade will suffer).

As far as good programs; Michigan Tech does offer a great field camp although their overseas one is based too much on computers and not enough on real geology. I would choose the normal one in Upper Michigan if it were me. Other good ones include New Mexico Tech, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota-Duluth, and several of the Canadian schools including Memorial University in Newfoundland. What ever program you choose, it is important that you put in the hard work that is required of field camp. I found it to be a very fun and rewarding experience, whether I was a student or the professor teaching the camp.
Carl (Bob) Carnein April 15, 2012 02:14PM
A good field camp saturates you in realistic field problems and techniques. Look for experienced faculty who have thought through why they are doing what they do. It is not an extended field trip (though side trips provide context and useful diversity). I remember seeing students from one large Colorado camp streaming off busses at the Garden of the Gods, in Colorado Springs, while grad assistants ran around marking the rock contacts for the undergrads to map in on a plane-table map--it looked like a keystone cops routine and was about as useful. Don't fall for the "whirlwind tour of the top ten national parks" routine that some schools seem to think is useful.

Another consideration is whether the "camp" is a camping trip. Camping takes up a significant amount of time, just dealing with setting up and breaking down the camp, cooking, cleaning up and re-packing, etc. It can also be difficult to work, though internet availability helps with writing and researching reports, etc. I'd look for a course offered at a permanent facility, where you don't have to deal with quite as much extraneous "stuff".

I think the focus of a field course should be on honing observation skills and encouraging student independence.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/15/2012 05:43PM by Carl (Bob) Carnein.
Dennis Tryon April 15, 2012 03:42PM
No one has mentioned the Indiana University/University of Montana field camp near Cardwell, the Tobacco Root Mtns. That was a great experience, and the trip out from IU was not to be missed. I was there in 1962, so my info may be dated.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/2012 03:05AM by Dennis Tryon.
Stephen Rose April 15, 2012 03:46PM

It is probably too late unless there is a cancellation, but you might check out the Indiana University program. They have a couple of options and the geology in the primary study area (central Montana) is diverse. So far as mineral collecting, you would have Sundays off to do some exploring if you wanted to forego washing laundry.

Don Saathoff April 15, 2012 05:56PM
My field camp was in the Canyon City Embayment in Colorado and was a collaborative effort between University of Texas, San Antonio and University of Kansas. NO grad student assistants, TWO professors, LITTLE time off, and a LOT of intense geology. I don't know if this is still a viable option but I learned a great deal of practical geology. The field campsite consisted of 4 or 5 un-heated un-insulated frame cabins with 3 bunkbeds each, common un-roofed showers (no hot water) and a common cabin for lecture & review. The girls had their own luxureous cabin (heating & insulation) with their own showers (with hot water). It was located about 15-20 miles North of Canyon City (to far to walk for a beer!!).

Bob Harman April 15, 2012 07:36PM
STEVE Your blog post of Indiana University's Pony, Montana geology station brought back memories of stories about it from my roommate of 1967. Alan Jacobs was his name and he was getting his doctorate in geology when I was getting my masters in Chemistry. He told many funny stories of his time helping the undergraduates while at that field station. I believe that IU had that field station until several years ago, but with all the recent budget cuts and changes in course emphasis, not really sure that IU still has the station. I should call the department and find out! Anyway, do you know of Alan Jacobs, IU Phd, geology, about 1964 - 1968? He worked as a petroleum geologist in Pittsburgh, but I lost track of him some years ago. Get some more onto the geode site! Regards..................BOB
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