ELEMENTS OF A GREAT GEOLOGY FIELD TRIP/COURSE: LLANO UPLIFT - SANGRE DE CRISTO - NORTH RIM OF THE GRAND CANYON AS AN EXAMPLE
Geology Field courses/trips must be supported with good logistics. Students can't appreciate the geology if they are concerned about accommodations, meals, safety, etc. Typically underestimated are the time demands for acquiring campsite/motel reservations, access permissions, liability release forms, etc. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon camp site, for example, has only 6 group sites that must be reserved in January for a May field course. Because of the rising cost of motel accommodations the University of South Alabama Field Geology course uses tent-camping sites throughout the course except for 2 nights on the return trip. Meals are mainly prepared at the camp site for an average cost of about $4.5 per meal. While this strategy dramatically cuts costs, care must be taken to have adequate cooking resources (stoves, cooking utensils, cleaning supplies) and a system for purchasing food in bulk.
For the best experience students should spend at least 3-4 days in a specific mapping area, given a mapping project that ranges throughout the area, and then submit the map for critical evaluation. Students will learn far more in this type of environment as compared to passively receiving information from road-stop lectures.