Header image
GSA Online Section Manual



Field trips provide an opportunity, especially for registrants coming from a distance, to learn by first-hand inspection, under authoritative guidance, something of the salient features of the geology of the area. The Executive Committee passed the following motion during its September 1979 meeting: "...for purposes of the Annual Meeting, scientific field trips must be of a demonstrable scientific character and of geological interest."

Please contact Beth Engle at bengle@geosociety.org for all your field trip questions.

Plan Trips

An early and important duty of the Section Annual Meeting Committee is to determine:

  1. What field trips should be offered?
  2. The duration of field trips.
  3. The dates on which field trips should be conducted.

Field trip leaders should discuss tentative plans with the meeting chairperson and obtain his/her approval. This will assure that the field trip objectives and programming are in harmony with the annual section meeting.

All field trips must be planned on a sef-supporting basis.

The Council has requested that the national meeting field trips not be scheduled in direct conflict with the regular technical sessions. It is recommended that this policy be duplicated for the sections.


Guidebooks may be published by the sponsoring group, or by state or other agencies, and offered for sale at the section's annual meeting. Contracted publishing services may or may not include: editing, correcting grammar and spelling, getting illustrations under way, composing, layouts, paginating, and handling post-meeting sales. GSA headquarters would be willing to assist with the publishing of the Section meeting field trip guidebook at a contracted fee. If the Section is interested in getting help from Headquarters, they should contact Jeanette Hammann, Associate Director of Publications at jhammann@geosociety.org.

The sale of guidebooks is not limited to members attending a single meeting, but may continue for many years. The cost of publishing guidebooks is underwritten by one or more organizations, and this expense should not be included in the section meeting budget. For information on responsibilities and anticipated sales, please refer to the section titled Field Trip Guidebooks.

Field Trip Leaders Responsibilities
  1. Working out all geologic aspects of their individual trips.
  2. Preparing articles for the guidebook.
  3. Providing a well-informed road guide for each bus or van.
  4. Arranging logistics such as transportation, meals, hotel reservations, public address equipment, etc.
  5. Preparing publicity pertaining to the field trips to be included in meeting announcements.
  6. Day of trip:, check-in participants, get waivers signed, distribute name badges. (GSA mails materials to leaders 10-14 days prior to start of trip.)

All field trips must be planned on a self-supporting basis. The registration cost for each trip should be set to include all applicable expenses in the approved budget of the Field Trip Committee, including the following:

  1. Transportation (where chartered buses are used, projected transportation expenses should be based on two-thirds occupancy, and include tolls, parking fees, taxes, insurance, fees such as a fee for pick-up at hotels or airports, and lodging, meals and gratuity for the bus driver.)
  2. Meals and/or refreshments.
  3. Publicity-printing and mailing of special fliers and field trip write-ups.
  4. Overnight hotel accommodations, including meals for participants and designated leaders.
  5. Equipment rental, such as bullhorns, hard hats, camping gear, etc.
  6. Guidebook costs.
  7. Contingencies.

Field Trip Budget Worksheet

The sample budget worksheet may be useful when determining field trip costs. If you elect to use the worksheet, feel free to amend it to fit the needs of your section. Click here to view a sample of this worksheet.

Expenses Incurred in Planning

Those persons who are actually planning the field trips for the meeting should be reimbursed by the section, if funds from other resources are not available for their travel expenses incurred in constructing road logs, making hotel arrangements, and other duties. This amount should be determined by the section for each meeting, and should be included in the section annual meeting budget.

Participant Information

Each field trip registrant will receive a Participant Information Letter and an Individual Information Form through the GSA registration system. The form, which also requests the participant's emergency information, must be filled-out and sent to the field trip leader. This information helps the leader make the trip more rewarding for all registrants. Please click here to view a sample letter and form. Each field trip registrant should also receive a Field Trip Itinerary. This information lets the registrant know trip departure details, where the trip is going, and any special instructions.

Cancellation of Field Trips

Where the number of preregistrations received is not sufficient to cover the expenses of a scheduled trip, the trip should be cancelled and the field trip registration fee promptly refunded to the registrant. These decisions need to be made at the time of the early registration deadline.


Once field trips with a limited capacity have been sold out in advance of the trip, a small number of additional registrations - five (5) - may be tentatively accepted on a "stand-by" basis. Stand-by registrants should be informed that they are on "stand-by" for the trip of their choice. If an opening does not become available to the "stand-by" registrant, their trip fee will be promptly refunded.

Final Arrangements

Where prepayment of registration fees is adequate to guarantee a trip's financial solvency, all necessary arrangements for the trip should be finalized. If transportation and other arrangements are such that additional registrants can be accommodated without upsetting the trip's financial stability, additional registrations may be accepted up to the trip departure. If overnight accommodations at locations along the route have been made in advance, be sure to double check these arrangements and reserve additional rooms if necessary and available. (Note that the"final guarantee date" is determined by the contracted motel or restaurant.)

Inclement Weather

Unexpectedly bad weather may force cancellation of one or more field trips at the last minute. In anticipation of this possibility, the committee will formulate appropriate plans to be followed in this eventuality (notification, substitute programs, refunds, etc.)


As vehicles are preparing to load for departure on each field trip, the field trip chair(s) and the field trip leaders should be on hand to see that everything runs smoothly and to assist in checking trip rosters, no-shows, stand-by registrations, last-minute sales of guidebooks, public-address equipment or bull horns, and location of refreshments or box lunches if any. It is also useful to have one or more assistants on hand to help with all this and any problems that may arise.

Contract Guidelines

All contracts are to be reviewed and signed by GSA's Executive Director. Please forward all contracts to Beth Engle at bengle@geosociety.org, no less than three weeks prior to the trip.

Field Trip Insurance

In light of the concern about what is known as "the insurance crisis," GSA wants everyone involved in field trips to understand the implications of GSA's insurance coverage. This information attempts to do this without getting bogged down in insurance jargon. Please review the entire insurance information at Field Trip Insurance Information. If you have questions after reading this, please contact Mary Kerns,, GSA's Senior Accountant, at (303) 357-1065 or mkerns@geosociety.org.


  Quick Jump to articles on this page: