Information for the 2017 trip.

1. Everyone is responsible for abiding by the information provided on the written materials sent to you, information in the guidebook (which you will receive at the start of the trip), and information we communicate along the way. If you miss a meeting or miss discussion at a stop, ask a staff member for the information you missed.

2. Tuition for this summer is still unofficial, but we are estimating it to be about $1,776 for in-state students and $2,952 for out-of-state students. The bill for tuition will be posted sometime around late April to early May, but it will have to be paid before we leave for field camp. This means all payments must be received at the bursar's office by the preceding week with your student ID number or Social Security number written on the check. There is also a field-study-fee required by all students of an estimated $2,110.

Be sure that all fees including tuition are paid at Ball State by at least April 30. University tuition and fees (including room and board at the residence halls (there are no meals provided in the residence halls on Sundays), camping fees and round trip transportation to the Rockies) are estimated to be $4,386 for in-state undergraduates ($5,562 out-of-state) and $4,974 for in-state graduate students ($6,150 out-of-state). You will need about another $200 for food while traveling and on Sundays as well as other recreational expenses, but many spend more than that due to individual preference. Also this does not cover the cost of laundry, film, snacks, souvenirs, amusements, arcade games, or nights on the town. Be sure to allow yourself a budget for these expenses. At least $250 is recommended (some will spend $150 others $500) over the food expenses noted above. Traveler's checks are often not convenient and we can find bank ATMs in most places. Many spend a lot more than the minimum, so be prepared and allow yourself a cushion. As you won't have much luck with your hometown checks. Take what you need with you and a bit more, you can always spend it when you get home

3. Non-Ball State students may have their grade sent to their schools only by writing a personal letter to the Ball State registrar after the course. Write to the Office of the Registrar, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. Please list your full name, Social Security number, course number (GEOL 383), summer term, 2017, complete address of the college office where information is to be sent and your home address.

4. Your clothing and personal effects should be packed in a soft case or duffel bag. Your sleeping bag, tent and day pack (bookbag type) with camera, poncho, hammer, etc. may be packed separately. Please avoid external pack frames since they can cut into other gear when we load everything into the trailer! If you have two bags, pack the clothes and other items you will need for camping days in the smaller of the two bags.

We will have several ice chests which will store our camping food, but can also be used to store any medications that need to be chilled and a limited amount of individual food items for those trying to cut costs. Generally it will be OK during travel to eat sandwiches, cereal, and canned goods to avoid cafe costs. We will have organized group cooking with our gas stoves for dinner when camping.

5. Items needed for field camp:

Geology equipment:

  • Text - The guidebook we give you at the beginning of camp will contain all of the instructional reading you will need. If you have not had much experience in the field you would probably benefit from skimming through one of the Geology Field Manuals by Barnes, McClay or Compton in your school library or on your geology faculty's personal bookshelves. (We will bring several of these along in a library that can be shared). This is an option. If you can get a copy of Tom Freeman's Procedures in Field Geology, it seems to run about $30. We will be able to share a copy for those who do not have one. It is a handy pocket-size reference for field procedures and is also a 4" x 6" loose-leaf notebook. We will provide appropriate pages to fit this notebook for you to take those all-important field notes. If you have access to other texts on field mapping procedures, it could be worthwhile to bring the books along. We will have a library of several books available for use in the evenings.
  • Clipboard, 8-1/2 x 11, for air photos. If you have your own field clipboard/note taking system, that will be fine.
  • An engineering field notebook. We will allow some personal choice here, but we are talking about a good quality notebook with pages that will withstand field conditions, allows for graphing and sketches, and will accept permanent ink pens without showing through on the other side, etc. No 8.5 by 11 classroom spiral or looseleaf notebooks as they will dissolve if gotten wet. Notes need to be taken in permanent ink (waterproof) pens or hard pencils (in some cases) that do not smear and bleed on the paper.
  • 10X Hand lens.
  • Belt and rock hammer.
  • HCl bottle (we'll supply acid). Get a good plastic bottle (or two).
  • Knife (pocket knife for scratch test).
  • Collecting bags (this is your option). Zip lock bags rather than cloth work fine for many people.
  • Cartography supplies (colored pencils, good quality drawing or writing pens (rapidograph-type permanent ink pens with points of at least 2 different widths are an option, ultra fine Sharpies are another), permanent ink ball point pens, ruler (metric!), permanent markers for marking rock samples, triangle, several straight pins, hard lead pencils (#5, 6, or 7), drafting tape and a good quality protractor
  • Hard hat and safety goggles (if you have your own, bring them!).

Recommended field supplies:

  • Wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap for sun protection.
  • Field boots: well broken-in boots which fit and give good ankle support; THIS IS CRITICAL!!
  • Jogging shoes, which could well be your only other pair of shoes.
  • Canteen, one or two quart size (or gear to conveniently carry water bottles.).
  • Day pack, bookbag, or shoulder bag to carry lunch, field equipment, etc. (keep at your seat in the van).
  • Rain gear (yes we do work in the rain).
  • Pocket first aid kit for blisters, ticks, thorns, rashes, cuts. If you get poison ivy, be prepared.
  • Camera equipment
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sunblock lotion.
  • Electronic calculator (nothing fancy needed).
  • Wrist watch and alarm clock (don't count on others to keep you on time or wake you up).

Everyday necessities:

  • Sleeping bag (good for 25 degrees F). Air pillows and mattresses and Ensolite pads are OK; thick foam or stuffed pillows and mattresses take too much room.
  • Tent (preferably one for every two people). Some persons do fine under the stars with a ground cloth, plastic poncho, and a can of bug spray. However, we recommend you bring your own compact two-person tent or find a partner.
  • Clothes should include some cold-weather gear, such as: comfortable but good wearing jeans, long-sleeved flannel or heavy warm shirt, sweatshirt or sweater, a field jacket which is warm to 25 degrees F, gloves, warm cap, heavy socks (we will camp at 6000-9000 feet on several occasions). The best plan is to work with layers of cloths that can be added or shed as weather changes through the day. It can become a lot colder or warmer as we go through the day because we move to different environments at different altitudes.

Miscellaneous items:

Personal supplies such as towel, wash cloth, soap, aspirin, sewing kit, Chapstick, foot powder, blister treatment supplies, extra shoestrings, spare glasses.

6. Alcohol, etc.: Anyone who consumes alcohol or drugs in the vans, in the dorms, or during the scheduled field activities, is just asking to be delivered to the nearest bus station. It will not be tolerated. The field day includes time from departure in the vans from camp or dorms until arrival at the dorms or camp.

7. We will see rapid changes in weather, bad roads, isolation from immediate medical attention, occasional irregular meal hours, and the like. There will be full days of field work and then maps and records to be completed in the dorms at night. If you have a problem and can't participate at times, we have to know in advance so we can plan adjustments that will be satisfactory to all concerned. If you see a personal or medical problem coming, we have to know about it so we can make arrangements in town rather than the next day when the problem is worse and we are miles from any help.

We cannot be expected to warn participants of all hazards and dangers, even when we are all together in a group. We are aware of many natural hazards that exist in the field and the problems that develop due to inattention while concentrating on geology, fooling around, or just showing off. Some of the hazards include falling rocks, large animals, bad blisters, steep drop-offs and loose rocks, flying rock chips from geologic hammers, poisonous snakes spiders, and scorpions, tick-bites, poison ivy, motion sickness on twisting mountain roads, etc. You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being and you know better than anyone else how susceptible you are to these various hazards.

8. Inoculations: Immunization against tetanus is recommended. Off-campus students will have to make their own arrangements. The Ball State Health Center will administer the shot to Ball State students, after you pay the fee at the bursar's office. If you have medical problems please advise me in advance and be prepared on the trip. You should be warned that visits to the doctor's offices or hospitals out west will at times be very inconvenient, often an hour or more away.

9. Mail: Before 25 May mail will reach you:

c/o Ball State University Geology Camp
Black Hills State University
Spearfish, SD 57783-1797

Before 11 June mail will reach you:
c/o Ball State University Geology Camp
Northwest College
Powell, WY 82435

It often takes 3 to 5 days for mail to arrive from the East. It will be difficult to receive mail after we leave Powell for our final nine day camping trip.

10. We have the following policy in order to increase safety to all course participants. All students will be required to use hard hat and safety glasses at appropriate times. If you have your own please bring them. It is expected that all students will wear hard hats when there is any overhead hazard and glasses whenever there is any group hammer-smashing on rock.

11. It is your responsibility to have proper provisions for the usual sudden weather changes we will experience. This means always have sun protection and light weight rain gear with you in your pack and some warm clothes (sweatshirts, long pants and a wind breaker, in the van or your pack.)

12. Because we are at the mercy of the weather and vehicle failure, and as susceptible to errors as anyone, we will occasionally eat late, have to hustle past some camera stops, and move on just when you were about to find the perfect trilobite. If you can accept an occasional disappointment and just ride easy, we should be able to get along smoothly.

When we stop, students often ask, "Do we need our field notebook?!" The answer is always yes and you should not have to ask. Always assume you need the following for a roadside stop: notebook, guidebook, notebook pen, hand lens, hammer, goggles, hard hat (when there is overhead rock), Brunton or Silva compass, GPS Unit, PDA Unit (compass, GPS, and PDA supplied by Ball State unless you have your own), and camera (optional).

13. If we are to hike away from the vans you can probably leave the guidebook in the van but will need your day pack with rain gear, warm shirt or jacket, sun and bug protection, first aid supplies, water bottle or canteen, sample bags and other misc. items.

Make sure you keep track of equipment. If you lose issued equipment such as stereoscopes, Bruntons, GPS or PDAs, etc. your grade will be withheld until we are reimbursed for the item.


We will be seeing and working in grand country, new environments, high altitudes, hiking up and down hill; fantastic adventure. We will also see rattlesnakes, strange spiders, rapid changes in weather, bad roads, isolation from immediate medical attention, occasional irregular meal hours and the like. There will be full days of field work and then maps and records to be completed in the dorms at night.

If you have logistics problems that will delay meeting the group on the first day (or any other day) we must know immediately.

Please also be aware of the payment deadline of Thursday April 30. Please communicate all situations where there are delays in payment of tuition or fees well in advance.

Rather than traveling from Muncie and returning to Muncie, you can meet the group in route to South Dakota and leave the group in route home from Jackson, Wyoming . In either case, field course fees will still be the same. These possibilities will need to be discussed in detail with the director by phone and email.

Also please do not schedule a travel arrangement after field camp that would be a problem if we get behind schedule for some reason. Email to ask questions about the departure/timing issues. For example if we have a travel delay we might not get back to Muncie, Indiana until early Sunday morning June 17, so do not schedule a plane for late Saturday or Sunday morning.

This all seems like a lot of detail. We also plan to have fun and enjoy the great outdoors and culture if this country. We have to be one big happy family for five weeks, anyone that can't get along well with others may have a hard time. We are starting to really get excited about the trip, and hope you are too.


Ball State Geology Department 765-285-8270 
Ball State Garage 765-285-5815 
Ball State Super. Transportation 765-285-1022
Arrow Camp Ground, Wall, SD 605-279-2112
Black Hills State University, Spearfish, SD 800-255-2478
Northwest College, Powell, WY 800-560-4692