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Timothy Gilbert Talks About Field Camp 2007

This article is reprinted from the 2007 Penn State Geosciences Newsletter


When I recall the six weeks spent at PSU Geosciences Field Camp, I see an adventure of discovery, exploration and, most importantly, science. Although field camp was hard work, enduring and exhausting, I had barely ever felt more alive. Waking up to frozen morning dew in the bosom of glacially carved mountains makes the body ache and a sleep-deprived mind grumble, but also leaves one wondering if "civilized" life is overrated when faced with the sublime beauty of purple mountains and crystal-clear mountain streams. No sooner than when I came home, praising my bed and shower, did I wish that I was right back there.

     Those familiar with field camp are familiar with the work that we completed there.  It turns out  that geological mapping is essentially a free ticket to explore a landscape. What can be more fun than running around in the sunshine, getting dirty and bruised, just like we did as children, but for science? 

     A notable aspect of probably everyone's experience at field camp is living and working in very close conditions with a group of peers. We each found new ways to both tolerate and annoy our travel companions. Ultimately, though, the time spent together careening through the American West gives us a bond that is unique. I cannot remember field camp without remembering the catch-phrases, practical jokes, incessant nerdy conversations of geology and science, and (mis)adventures that I shared with my peers. As I write this I envisage the kilometer high peaks that look so small on a topographic map and the awe on my friends' faces at the sight of their grandeur. For many of us, field camp was the first time seeing such relief and expansiveness.

     I hope that, with a career in geosciences, I find myself in the wilderness many times again in the pursuit of science, wondering when I'll see a shower again.