Preparing for field camp

Field Camp is an essential and exciting component of the geology program, providing students with immersive, hands-on experiences in real-world geological settings. Through fieldwork, students apply their knowledge and skills in mapping, data collection and analysis, gaining practical experience that prepares them for successful careers in geology.

During this course intensive, students develop critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills while deepening their understanding of geological processes, formations and the Earth's dynamic nature. Field Camp is a requirement for students completing a Bachelor of Science in Geology. Since Wayne State University does not offer this course, our students will take the course at another institution (usually during their last semester) and then transfer the credits back to us.

Step 1: Explore your options

Begin by exploring field camp options using the Geology field camp directory.

Step 2a: Articles to read before applying to field camps

  1. Why should I study geology in the field? (Lee Suttner, Indiana University)

  2. What to expect at the geology field camp? (Emily Ferré and Eric Ferré, Southern Illinois University)

  3. How to choose a geology field course. (David Rodgers, Idaho State University)

Step 2b: Things to consider when exploring field camps

  • Is the course at least six credits (required for the B.S. degree) or two credits (for a B.A. degree)?
  • Have you completed all (or most of) your prerequisite coursework (i.e., Mineralogy, Petrology, Sed-Strat, and Structural Geology)?
  • Does that camp have expert instructors for each particular focus area?
  • Are digital map-making exercises included (this is the future)?
  • Does the camp involve real map-making or just a series of mapping exercises?
  • How physically demanding is the camp?
  • Will you stay in a base camp or at different college residences?
  • Do they have scholarships to help reduce costs?
  • Are there employment opportunities (e.g., van driver) to help reduce costs?
  • Does the camp have any special focus you're interested in (e.g., hydrogeology, geophysics, petroleum geology, etc.)?
  • Time that the field camp is scheduled (you may be away for a month or more). Some camps allow for family visits, some do not.
  • If electing to attend a less-commonly visited field camp, be sure to check with the faculty ahead of time to make sure it will count for your degree.

Step 3: Comparing field camp options

When comparing Field Camps, use this Field Camp Comparison Worksheet to help answer these questions.

Step 4: Getting financial aid for field camps

I. Consortium Agreement for financial aid recipients (loans)

For students receiving financial aid in the form of federal loans, consider filling out a consortium agreement to have your WSU aid sent to your field camp institution to help cover some (or possibly all) of the costs.

II. Field camp scholarships

Scholarships that can be applied towards field camp expenses have been offered by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists.