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Camp Renovations

Ground-Breaking Will Begin Fall 2018

After 85 years, it is time to renovate the student cabins, bathrooms and showers at Camp Davis. While these cabins have served us well for years, and hold many fond memories, ongoing maintenance costs, safety concerns, and infrastructure decay require major upgrades to continue Camp operations, and to serve UM students for another century. We have developed a comprehensive renovation plan in collaboration with a local architect to redevelop the student cabins, connect Camp to high speed internet service, and renovate the mess hall. College, Department and alumni contributions have gotten us more than halfway to our $5 million target. Our ambitious goal is almost complete, and we plan to break ground on the new cabins in the fall of 2018.  There are many ways to contribute to this fundraising goal. Please read below about ways to give.

"Oh Joy Another Day To Excel"

A note from Camp Davis alumnus Fred Metzger:

“Non Tam Pares Quam Superiores” …”Not as Good as but Better Than”, that was the motto of the Michigan Marching Band during my days underDr. William D. Revelli and George Cavender. (Still is today!) The Band wasreally what kept me going at Michigan during my undergraduate years from1969-1973.  For me, academics were just optional; it was all about the band and football, basketball and hockey.  I was in the Engineering school but I really had no passion for it, and then I took my first Geology class in CC Little as an elective. I cameaway from that class,taught by Ike Smith, thinking hey this is a little more fun than Engineering!  It wasn’t long after that Geology became my major.  more


Renovation Needs

Renovation of the student cabins and mess hall at Camp Davis are needed to address two specific challenges. The first challenge is infrastructure decay. The cabins, and much of the associated water, sewer, and electrical infrastructure, is nearing 90 years old. Maintenance costs for the student cabins are a significant drain on our operating budget, and modern building code requirements limit the upgrades, repairs, and renovations we can perform on the existing buildings and infrastructure. Redevelopment of the entire student housing wing is the best way forward to improving infrastructure reliability, enhancing student safety, and lowering our long-term operating costs. The second challenge that we are addressing is student demand. Enrollment in Camp Davis courses has been climbing annually, and over 170 students are expected to participate in our courses this summer. Our present infrastructure limits the number of students we could accommodate because student cabins aren’t heated, and student showers and bathrooms can’t be opened while nighttime temperatures are below freezing. The renovation will address these problems, and allow Camp operations to expand earlier into the spring and later in the summer and fall, allowing continued student enrollment growth at Camp.  For more information about the proposed renovation and needs, please see this prospectus. 

Current Status of Renovation Project

Groundbreaking for the new student cabin phase is currently scheduled for fall 2018. Completion of the project is expected before spring classes resume in May of 2018. Architectural and engineering diagrams for the student cabin renovation have been completed by Greg Mason of Krikor Architecture in Jackson, Wyoming, in consultation with the University architect, LSA Facilities management, and Department and Camp Davis staff. A variety of engineering sites tests have also been completed, including well pump tests and perc tests. Potential cabin manufacturers have been visited in the Rocky Mountain region. Plans will be submitted to the University’s Board of Regents and to the City of Jackson and the State of Wyoming for approval and construction can commence. A PDF document of architectural site plans and cabin plans is available here.

An internet improvement plan is in place and negotiations are ongoing with the local internet service provider to develop this service.  

Plans for renovations to the Camp mess hall are in development.

Cabin Plans

We plan to replace all of the cabins, bathroom buildings, and infrastructure on the west side of Camp. We will construct 28 new student cabins with electric heaters and en suite bathrooms, each of which will sleep 4 students. In addition, we will build two ADA-compliant cabins that will each sleep 2 students, and build a new restroom building adjacent to the camp center to better serve the mess hall and classrooms. All of the infrastructure will be replaced, and will be buried underground well below the frost line for multi-season use.  This will include a new septic system, sewer lines, water lines, electrical service, and fire sprinkler supply lines. The construction cost, per cabin, is estimated at $125,000. A PDF document of the architectual site plans and cabin plans is available here.

Ways to Give

The Camp Davis renovation fund is a unique opportunity for alumni and friends to help support and continue the educational mission of Camp Davis, and to improve the facilities at Camp for generations to come.  There are many ways to contribute towards the Camp renovation that will help us reach our fundraising goal for this project.  Importantly, plans for future contributions or gifts can be counted now towards our target.       

  • Donate now to the Camp Davis Renovation Fund  
  • Pledge an annual gift over the next five years. If your employer matches your charitable giving, both your total pledge, and the total matching amount from your employer can be counted towards our fundraising goals. Example pledge letter.       
  • Plan for Camp Davis in your estate through a bequest. Planned gifts that are documented with the University can be counted towards the fundraising goals of the student cabin renovation. Example Memorandum of Agreement. Example Declaration of Intent.
  • If you are interested in making a pledge or a planned gift, please contact Camp Director, Nathan Niemi (; (734) 764-6377) or LSA Development Liaison Jenny Howard ( ); (734) 615-6239)


Donor Recognition

Generous Alumni and thier families have donated over $2 million to help us reach our goal of providing the Camp Davis experience for generations to come. Thank You!

Student Testimonials

Below are just a few of our student testimonials over the years:

Any student will tell you that Camp Davis offers so many more lessons than those printed on the course syllabus...more − Eric Portegna (BS ‘08), Postdoctoral Fellow

In a world where field camps are vanishing, Camp Davis offers students what no other geology field camp can provide: a varied, first-rate education of fundamental field skills in a small class setting with high caliber experts.... more − Kelly Umlauf (BS ‘07) , Geologist

I love Camp Davis! Not only are the classes fantastic, but the professors are great and very knowledgeable and approachable.... more - Ada Dominguez (BS’10, MS’12), Geophysicist

The impact Camp Davis has had on my life is indescribable - it is directly responsible for where I am today.Camp Davis is a unique learning experience - the setting is rustic but the faculty are world class.... more − Jess Malone (BS’06, MS ‘09), Environmental Consultant

The educational experiences that Camp Davis provides to students in various degree programs are unlike anything they can receive on main campus. Camp Davis facilitates physical and mental growth, teamwork, and camaraderie with other students and professors.... more − Lt. JG Jared Halonen (BS ‘08), NOAA Corps

My experience at Camp Davis, in addition to providing me with practical field knowledge which has been invaluable to my research, caused an enduring shift in how I think about deep earth processes... more − Mary Peterson (BS ‘09), PhD student