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Owyhee Science Field Camp

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Event description

Date: Monday, June 19 to Wednesday, June 21, 2023 
Expected arrival time: 8 AM Monday
Meeting location: Ontario, camp will be at Owyhee Dam Park

Expected departure time: 5 PM Wednesday
Recommended ages: 10+ – this camp is primarily designed for ages 12–14, but we welcome all students ages 10–18

Owyhee Science Field Camp aims to teach science data collection techniques in the field and encourage students to develop a connection to land. We’ll start our days with a short physical education routine, then head off to collect some data in the field. Our afternoons are reserved for time to play in the lake or river, and we’ll head back to camp around 5 PM. We’ll each have individual camp dinners and take some time to relax and play. At 8 PM, we’ll reconvene for a short class to review the day, take a look at the stars, and have an astronomy lesson.

On day 1, we’ll meet in Ontario and head to our campsite. We’ll have some time to explore the area and even get a tour of the Owyhee Dam! Our second day will be full of hiking and measuring rock orientations while discussing geologic observations and interpretations. We’ll learn how to take notes in the field and take some time for personal reflection, too. On the third and final day, we’ll kayak across Lake Owyhee for a closer look at some rocks before heading back to camp to pack up. 

Parent support is required for this trip, including camping, food,  and transportation for your student. Parent participation in instructional activities is not required or expected, but it is welcomed. While the hiking is not rigorous, it is uneven terrain and students should be prepared for physical exertion. 

About the area
Owyhee Dam Park is a fairly well-developed campground with a pit toilet, but note that there is no potable water, so please prepare accordingly. The campground is accessible by almost all passenger vehicles when the conditions are dry. We will be watching the weather and may make plan changes up to 48 hours before the start of the trip.

Once the location of massive hot lava flows, the Lower Owyhee Canyon is a varied and detailed canyon made of tuff. Its striking rock formations made this canyon feel like a stone paradise that’s been painted red, black, and purple. 


  • Scenic and recreational, the Lower Owyhee Canyon is a staple of the Owyhee experience
  • Bring your fishing pole and license—the Owyhee River below the dam is a world-class brown trout fly-fishing river
  • This educational program is designed and led by geologist and university instructor Sammy Castonguay, who has 10 years of experience training students in data collection
  • This is a great opportunity to connect with your child/student with natural science and wilderness in the background, a rare experience in today's age
  • Some of the data collected may be used in future academic studies, and there is the opportunity for your student to continue this work with Sammy in the lab and/or field for years to come


  • Parents are responsible for students’ lodging, food, and transportation 
    • We understand parents must work, so for an extra fee, we have two fully-catered spots available that we can provide meals, lodging, and transportation for. Contact Sammy at for more details.
  • If you are limited on camping equipment, we have a lot of good equipment to lend
  • Desert weather can go from cold and wet to hot and dry fairly quickly
  • Wild animal encounters are possible
  • The location is fairly remote, about 40 minutes driving from fuel and cell phone service

Suggested gear:

  • Daypack
  • Shelter (tarp or tent, stakes, ground cloth)
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping pad
  • Firewood
  • Headlamp
  • Water bottles (at least two liters each day), plenty of water
  • Stove, fuel
  • Cooking pot, utensils, knife
  • Food: 3 breakfasts, 2-3 lunches, 2 dinners, snacks/treats
  • Hygiene kit
    • Toothbrush, toothpaste
    • Sunscreen, chapstick
    • Baby wipes
    • Prescription medications
  • Hiking boots or trail shoes, camp shoes
  • Hiking clothes, camp clothes
  • Sun hat, sunglasses
  • Rain jacket, insulated jacket
  • Camp chairs
  • Warm hat, gloves
  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Camera, phone

Provided by FOTO

  • Natural science instruction (~20 hrs)
  • Scientific instruments/equipment: hand lens, stadia rod, abney level, Brunton compass, navigational compass, rock hammer, rite-in-the-rain booklet
  • Printed reference materials
  • CPR/first aid training and supplies
  • Fire wood
  • Camp games
  • Optional: some camping equipment can be provided, contact us


  • Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?
    • Participants must be 10 years or older.
  • How much does camping cost? 
    • Camping is free.
  • Can I bring my dog?
    • For this trip, we ask that you leave your animals at home.
  • Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
    • No, we will have a roster of the folks signed up.
  • Can I bring my camper for this trip?
    • Due to the size of the campground, we recommend that you camp in a tent.

If you have any questions not answered here, please contact Sammy via email, text, or phone call:, (541) 430-0577.

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Refund policy

Refunds are available up to 1 day prior to the event