If you want a job done, the best that it can be,
Just call on any forester, from good old I.S.C.
– Part of the third stanza in “The Forester’s Song.” (Songs from Camp, RS 9/14/1 box 3, folder 2)
The Iowa State University (then College) Forestry summer camp was first held in 1914. Camp is still a required component of the bachelors degree in Forestry. With the exception of war time, the camps have been run continuously over the past century.
The Early Camps
Iowa State University was among the first universities to include forestry camps as part of the curriculum. Former Forestry professor and Iowa State Forester George McDonald explains the rationale:
The camp program has been arranged to come during the summer between the freshman and sophomore years. The purpose being to have the new students get “the smell of the woods,” – meet some of the activities involved in actual forestry work and secure some limited experience early in the training program. It also was felt that a preliminary training of this kind took off some of the “rough edges” and was a distinct aid in securing future temporary summer positions in private, state or federal work. in addition it made it possible for some students to quickly find out that the forestry profession might be able to struggle along without their services.”
– G. B. McDonald. “Evolution of the Ames Foresters,” Ames Forester, 50th anniversary issue, 1954. (Library call# SD1 Am37)
The 1914 curriculum involved four subjects: Silviculture, Lumbering, Forest Mensuration (pdf link), and Forest Utilization. The original texts assigned to the campers are now accessible freely online:
- Henry Solon Graves. Forest Mensuration. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1908. (The edition assigned for camp was presumably the 1911 edition which is not available online.) Get access via the library catalog.
- Henry Solon Graves. Principles of Handling Woodlands. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1914. Get access via the library catalog.
As can be seen from the photo of Mary K. Schwarte (left), women have been forestry students at ISU for at least half of the program’s duration.
By 1979 the number of women students had grown to 28%. In an effort to provide career planning support the Department brought in early career women foresters to speak to the students in a 1977 symposium entitled “Women and Men Working Together – An Attempt at Understanding.” In 2014, women still comprised 28% of the Forestry major.
Iowa State University Forestry Students have traveled all around the country. Here is a map showing just the first 50 years of camps:
Despite the intensity of the camps, the annual reports demonstrate that there was still lots of fun to be had. The report for the 1978 trip to Lubrecht Forest, Montana, indicates that students made good use of their 4th of July weekend to see the surrounding areas:
“A few students went to Glacier National Park for the weekend. Others drove up to the Rockies of Canada. The longest trip taken was to the coast of Washington. Again, the weather was not exactly suited for swimming. But then how many times do Iowans get to swim in the Pacific?” (Mark Henderson. “Summer Camp – 1978.” Ames Forester, 1979. Library call# SD1 Am37).
We have over 12 feet of material documenting the forestry summer camps in RS 9/14/7, including many scrapbooks. Find more photos of forestry summer camps in the University Photographs Collection, and for more on the ISU Forestry Department see the collections under RS 9/14/. Come on by!