Oregon State University

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

Getting Their Hands Dirty (and a Great Education)

field camp group photo

Every summer, the soon-to-be seniors of OSU’s geology program descend on the Ochoco Mountains, a remote region of rolling hills and dusty dirt roads 50 miles east of Bend. Their destination is Field Camp (GEO 495), a six-week crash course where students gain hands-on experience with the fundamentals of geology field work.

It’s a summer program in its eighth decade, going strong thanks to past participants like John Erickson ’70 and David Hite ’62 who want to help today’s students gain firsthand experience that will lead to a career.

A 1969 Field Camp participant, Erickson was offered a job in the petroleum industry immediately after graduation. He was stationed in another remote location – this time north of the Arctic Circle. Weather aside, “Alaska was a lot like the field camp,” he says, “and I was thankful to have the experience.”

Hite’s 1961 Field Camp summer led to over 20 years of field experience consulting for oil companies in Alaska. He too says Field Camp was one of the most important courses he took at OSU.

“We had never done field work like that. I had to learn how to map data with sporadic data points, and I spent a lot of my career doing that in Prudhoe Bay,” Hite says. “Field work is the keystone of my success.”

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