INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY FOR NON-MAJORS DISGUISED AS A 4-WEEK GEOLOGY OF NATIONAL PARKS FIELD TRIP COURSE
A 4-week field-course was designed and linked to a pre-trip seminar, which is taught the prior term. The seminar allows total strangers who will in essence be living together under tough conditions to get to know each other. It also allows the faculty to winnow out students who are either physically or mentally unable to take a 4-week trip where camping, hiking, and group interaction are requirements. Restricting students from taking the class is very difficult, administration-wise; however, I find it to be extraordinarily important after having two very interesting problems develop the first time this course was run. The creativity of the faculty member is just as important as the personality and physical stature of the students. Numerous back-up activities need to be planned for, e.g., extra campsite reservations or fee waiver applications for other nearby parks should be completed. Well-made plans go awry on a regular basis due to group dynamics, road closures, and weather. A philosophy that worked well was to have a very detailed schedule that incorporates specific geologic activities for each park, days for hiking with no assignments, hiking with the group to complete assignments, laundry days, time for buying food etc., and time so that everyone can be alone if desired. Arguments can be made for leading the trip in early, middle, or late summer, but my experience is that early summer beats the extreme heat of western US, is before the heaviest tourism begins, and maybe beats many bear problems.