Western Geology Field Camp

What is Field Camp?

Geology Field Camp is a 6-week field course that is required for the B.S. Geology major. The course numbers are Geology 409, Field Methods and Theory, and Geology 410, Geologic Mapping. 

  • Field camp is a 6-week field course; at least 5 of those weeks will be spent in the field away from Bellingham. The field course may return to Bellingham for the last week of the course.
  • Summer field camp accepts 30 applicants.
  • Non-Western students are welcome to apply as non-matriculated students at Western, based on space available. Please contact the Geology Department for more information.
  • Geology 409/410 are co-requisites, meaning students must register for both courses at the same time.
  • Each course is 6 credits, so students would be registered for 12 credits total.

General Course Information


Geology 211 or 101 & 211A (Physical Geology)

Geology 212 (Earth History)

Geology 318 (Structural Geology)

Geology 406 (Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology)

Geology 415 (Sedimentology & Stratigraphy)

Please note that although a field methods course is not required, basic knowledge such as use of a Brunton compass, pacing, topographic maps, etc. is expected.

Field Camp Instructors

Summer Quarter

Dr. Bernie Housen, Dr. Doug Clark, Dr. Brady Foreman, Dr. Sean Mulcahy



Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon (subject to change depending on instructor)


100% tent camping. Groups of 3-5 will be formed for cooking purposes. Campground costs will be paid out of fees, together with transportation costs and other group expenses. Food costs are borne by each student. You must provide your own camping/cooking gear, although often students "buddy up" in small tent groups to save money.

Conditions/ Preparedness

This is a rigorous field mapping course; you must be in good physical condition to participate. Although no technical skills are necessary, some field locations require hiking on steep terrain at high elevation (up to 11,000 feet). Others may require working in hot, dry conditions (occasional daytime temperatures can reach 105 degrees F; average temperatures 70-95 degrees F). 

Other Field Camp Opportunities

If you decide to attend a field camp from another institution or institute, you must clear it through the Department Chair. 

Please notify the department at geology@wwu.edu if you plan to take field camp at another institution. You will need to arrange to have the field camp credits transfer back to Western to apply towards your B.S. Geology degree.


Liz wearing a purple hiking backpack and black beanie, lecturing students who are standing next to a gigantic outcrop covered in grass
Students sitting in camp chairs at a campsite, writing in notebooks
Students sit around a campfire in the evening
Students hike down a trail with mountain range in background
a group gathered around a campfire with snow coating the ground and vehicles parked behind them


Estimated Summer Field Camp Tuition
Tuition (estimated as of Summer '24)$3588$5700
Department Fee (includes transportation/camping costs)$900$900
Estimated Food Costs (rough estimate – depends on group and types of food)$15-20 per day$15-20 per day

Tuition and fees are published by Western's Student Business Office

Please contact SBO with questions about tuition and fees. 

Field Camp Awards & Scholarships

For undergraduate students to attend summer field camp. Students will be awarded $2,000 each to attend the field camp of their choice. Based on diversity, economic/financial need, and merit. Application deadline is at the end of March.

Apply here

Beardsley-Kuper Field Camp Scholarship Fund through the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG). Deadline is February of each year. 

Apply here

For undergraduate students attending field-based courses at any time of year and format (NAGT: National Association of Geoscience Teachers). Deadline is February 14th. 

Apply here

The Geology Department provides 1-2 small scholarships to help defray field camp costs. This scholarship is for any field course and is based on merit and need.  Write a short paragraph explaining why (academically and personally) you deserve this scholarship. Deadlines will be announced at pre-trip meetings.