Survey Camp has always been a cherished tradition at U of T Engineering, but this year it’s taking on special significance: it is one of the first U of T classes to resume in person.
The experiential learning summer course, taken by third-year students in the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering, covers measurement and sampling techniques which are critical for understanding how the built environment interacts with the natural one.
The tradition dates back more than a century to when U of T first purchased a site on the shores of Gull Lake near Minden, Ont. in 1919. Since then, more than a hundred cohorts of students have taken courses at the site, forming life-long memories and friendships.
“It’s great to see you all for in-person classes, and not just see black boxes on a screen,” said Professor Evan Bentz (CivMin) to his students on the first day.
Like all U of T courses, Civil and Mineral Practicals (CAMP) – known formally as CME358 – was suspended last year due to the pandemic. This year, numerous steps have been undertaken to ensure the safety of all participants:
- All attendees have received a COVID vaccination, and took a rapid antigen test, with a negative result, before boarding the bus from U of T’s St. George campus to Gull Lake, or arriving independently on the grounds. A negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure is also required.
- Masks are compulsory indoors, and when physical distancing is not possible outdoors.
- Students will be working in fixed groups of the same three or four individuals throughout the week.
This year’s cohort is also the first to make use of newly upgraded facilities that have been in the works for the past several years. As part of CAMP’s 100th anniversary in 2019, the Faculty broke ground on two new buildings:
- the HCAT bunkhouse, which is designed for flexibility with six rooms that can sleep up to eight students each; and,
- the MacGillivray Common Room, designed for socializing and relaxing. This building also include fully-accessible washroom facilities with separate men’s and women’s areas.
For the current cohort, most socializing takes place in an outdoor dining tent. This is already proving to be popular with students, who hope to retain the new experience for future years.
Survey Camp 2021 is structured in three condensed one-week sessions, rather than two two-week sessions as in past years. Students are completing class and field assignments in Surveying and Systems, as well as gaining experience in environmental data collection methods, such as the ability to assess water and think about how to incorporate water resources into sustainable engineering design.