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Spirit is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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Opportunity

Not Your Average Summer Camp

How the GeoX summer camp program inspires high school students and became the College of Geoscience’s most reliable recruiting tool.

Not Your Average Summer Camp

How the GeoX summer camp program inspires high school students and became the College of Geoscience’s most reliable recruiting tool.

According to Judy Nunez, director of student recruitment for the College of Geosciences, swaying high school students toward a career in the geosciences is relatively easy—once they know what one looks like. “The word ‘geosciences’ isn’t usually the first thing students click on,” Nunez said. If they did, she explains, they’d see the diverse array of majors the College of Geosciences has to offer, from oceanography and geology to the top-ranked meteorology program in the country.

Thus, the Geosciences Exploration Summer Program, or GeoX camp, was conceived in 2011 as an innovative way to immerse prospective high school students in the geosciences. For eight days every summer, Aggie students, professors and administrators from the college guide two groups of 30 campers along a series of hands-on activities in fields spanning the full breadth of the college’s different degree tracks.

Students who attended the 2019 camp were treated to in-depth presentations by professors at the college. Campers also toured BP’s headquarters in Houston, embarked on an exotic safari at Triple JJJ Ranch in Somerville and sailed across Galveston Bay aboard the R/V Trident, one of Texas A&M-Galveston’s research vessels. Between the larger activities, students practiced using real-life geosciences skills to take core samples, survey land and operate a GPS.

Savannah Pruitt, a camper from Franklin, Texas, originally came to GeoX with only meteorology in mind, but the diverse activities quickly broadened her horizons. “Visiting the BP headquarters got me interested in the oil and gas field,” Pruitt said, “and oceanography intrigued me as well.” Regardless of what major she chooses, Pruitt is sold on the College of Geosciences. She’s already decided to apply and join the Corps of Cadets to enlist in the U.S. Air Force after graduation.

A Priceless Experience

Of the 58 high school seniors who attended the 2018 GeoX camp, 100 percent of them applied to the College of Geosciences and 100 percent were admitted. GeoX has easily become the college’s most reliable recruiting tool, and there are clear reasons why. For one, the college selects campers based on GPA, class rank and strong interest statements to ensure every camper arrives with a curious mind and a passion for learning.  

Perhaps the most important asset to the camp’s success, however, is the lack of a cost barrier for incoming campers. It costs approximately $1,200 for each individual camper, but thanks to generous sponsorships from BP and other corporate and private donors, the college offers the camp free of charge to students.

To College of Geosciences Dean Debbie Thomas, the impression the camp makes on each student is priceless. “Our campers all arrive with a deep passion for the geosciences,” she said. “Through the immersive experience made possible by our gifted staff and faculty, the campers develop a critical connection between their passion and the rewarding career paths that await them.

“The most powerful dimension of that experience, however, is the Aggie experience,” Thomas continued. As campers learn more about the geosciences, they also engage in Aggie traditions and witness the all-encompassing spirit that makes Texas A&M special. While students may arrive at GeoX looking for a place to learn and build a career they’re passionate about, they find a place where they can belong along the way. “Most of our campers return home from GeoX knowing that they are going to be Aggies.”

While the GeoX program is made free by its current sponsors, the College of Geosciences is requesting a major endowment to ensure the long-term viability of the program and to fund scholarships for top students attending the camp who are admitted to Texas A&M. Endowed gifts begin at $25,000, payable over a five-year period. You can also choose to sponsor an individual student’s cost to attend the camp or give online at give.am/GeoXExplorationCamp. Learn more by contacting Gary Reynolds '88 below.

Contact:

Gary Reynolds '88

Senior Director of Development
College of Geosciences