And for good reason. Montana Western Geology Professor Rob Thomas said, “They are attracted to the area because we have a great span of geologic time exposed in the area, great structural geology to teach mapping, great exposures due to minimal vegetation, and relatively minimal topography so most students can handle the physical challenge.”
Thomas said most camps last from five to six weeks with between 20 and 30 camps each year including more than 500 students and staff.
Geology camps come from: Lake Superior State University, University of Calgary, University of Arkansas, University of Iowa, University of Washington, University of Idaho, University of Connecticut, Texas A&M, California State University (Fullerton, Northridge and Hayward), Georgia State University, University of Texas, West Virginia University, Eastern Washington University, University of Houston and Washington State University. This summer UMW also hosted a geology group group from Thailand.
Thomas said the financial impact is great for the college (about $500,000) with an estimated $750,000 to $1 million spent throughout the community.
Most projects are done on public lands with a few projects on private land working with landowners.
Thomas has taught field camps in Dillon since the summer of 1986. He started teaching the Princeton University (Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association) camp in 1994 and has taught it every summer since.
Important to note:
Thomas said UMW students get so much field experience under Experience One that they don’t need to attend a geology field camp to be admitted into most graduate schools.