A Day at Kearl Lake

I have come to the conclusion that the Internet in my camp room is not going to get fixed while I’m actually still here, so let it be known that I plucked out this entire entry on my iPhone. 😐

Camp life is definitely a different kind of life.

I wake up between 4:00 and 4:30 am. The bed is a little stiff, but I’m used to a cushion-top mattress, so I might be a little biased there. I wash up at the sink in my room, throw on some clothes, grab my lunch bag and stumble down to the main area of the camp.

Breakfast is served in the dining room, should you wish to partake. There are dispensers of cereal, tons of fruit, and you can also get stuff cooked in the kitchen, such as various forms of eggs, sausages, bacon, etc. To drink you can get milk, several kinds of juice, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. I don’t usually get breakfast in the dining room because I’m lazy and don’t normally eat much for breakfast anyway.

For your work lunch you go to the bag-up room. This room is full of easy-to-grab things like fruit, sandwiches and wraps, sweets, salads, and refrigerated portions of stuff from the kitchens, like lasagna, chili, chicken and potatoes, etc. These things are marked with stickers showing the day they go bad so you can see how old they are and judge whether you’d want to eat them. Of this stuff you can effectively take as much as you want. I usually grab some oatmeal and fruit (which I eat while waiting for the morning work meeting), one of the kitchen things (today I have spaghetti) and some snack stuff like celery and peanut butter, a bagel, some cookies, or whatever.

To get to he job, I line up at the gates at around 5:10 am. The buses line up at 5:15 and leave at 5:30. You have to swipe your card and go through a turnstile and then find the bus that goes to your section of the site. I haven’t actually counted, but I think there are close to thirty different buses. You have to get on the right one or you’ll end up in a section you’re not allowed in. The bus drive takes about half an hour to 40 minutes.

At work we have a meeting and then head out into the site. The site is so huge that you have to sign in to which area you’re going to in case of emergencies. I’m in the Froth section, which is the part of the system that will remove the oil (bitumen) from the sand. It’s still under construction so right now my main duty is to familiarize myself with the equipment. There’s a lot of walking and climbing. A LOT. The other day myself and a couple of the guys climbed to the top of the highest structure on site. It took almost half an hour to get up, but it was a pretty awesome view.

We catch the bus back to camp at the end of the 12-hour shift. If you’re quick you can jump in the bag-up room before it closes and grab some snacks to take to your room. I usually jump in and grab some cookies or something. For supper the dining room generally has two or three entrees and half a dozen possible sides, plus a bunch of deserts. Yesterday I had roasted potatoes and lemon-crusted sole. The night before I had hot wings and fries.

Finally, after supper I basically go up to my room, take a shower, and relax. There’s a gym with lots of equipment but I’m too beat by the end of the day to use it. Maybe I’ll get used to it after a shift or two and start adding in some stints at the gym but for now I just go up to my room, maybe give a call down home, and watch shows on my computer until I fall asleep (which doesn’t take very long).

Eventually I’ll figure out how to squeeze some writing into the day somewhere. 😐

46 thoughts on “A Day at Kearl Lake

  1. my man just left today to work there. A lot of questions left unanswered for me. Like, is there internet in the rooms? Are the camps men woman mixed?

    • I only have experience with the Wapasu and Denman camps, but if he’s in either of those there is internet in the rooms (though Wapasu only has wired-in, so he’ll need to pick up a cable at the commissary out front). The internet isn’t always the most reliable, but it’s gotten better over the past few months.

      The camps are co-ed, for the most part. Wapasu attempts to segregate the women into “women’s only” wings (you have to scan a security card to get into whatever wing you’re staying in), but over time the companies who use that camp have hired more and more women, and Wapasu staff haven’t bothered to set up more women’s wings. I myself have only been in the women’s wings twice over the past 8 months. It’s not really a big deal though because only your card can get you into your room and the room phones are set up that you can quickly call security if there are any issues.

      Any other questions? I’m happy to answer them. πŸ™‚

  2. so seems like there isn’t much to worry about having him there. Unless a affair happens outside the living arrangements. I guess anything is possible eh?

    • Really, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Even if someone WANTED to try something out there, everyone and their dog would know about it. There’s so many people around that there’s no privacy other than for in your actual room, and even then the walls are so thin that you have to keep things to a pretty low low so that your neighbors don’t hear every squeak. lol

  3. if something did happen out around, and someone seen it, would it be reported or laughed off and say, buddy scored.. I am not a lover of camps or him being gone. He’s got a reputation for being with a lot of woman at different camps

    • I imagine it depends on who saw what, but you’re not allowed to bunk together or anything like that, so I imagine if someone saw a man and woman hanging out together in the same room it’d probably be reported.

    • But of course! I’m one of them. πŸ™‚

      There are two wings that only women can stay in, but there are too many women to fit in them (each wing holds 90 people) so some women stay in the same wings as the men. They also have rules, though, that men and women can’t share a bathroom, so they always put the women in pairs in the co-ed wings. πŸ™‚

      • Oh okay, my boyfriend is there and I don’t trust him whatsoever. I was just wondering if there’s a lot of girls there.

        • I had this concern from another lady so I’ll repeat what I told her…it’s nearly impossible to do anything like that out there without EVERYONE knowing about it. The walls are like tissue paper and there are almost always people roaming the halls (including cleaning staff and security) so the chances are extremely high that you’d be caught (and probably booted out of camp since room sharing is not allowed). In conclusion, a guy would really, really, REALLY want to cheat (to the point of risking his job) to get away with anything out there.

            • Well you could definitely try to sneak, but it would be hard and even if you managed it there is no doubt that your neighbors would hear EVERYTHING. You’d definitely be risking your job big time because they’ll kick you out of this camp for very minor infractions and if you can’t stay in the camp, you can’t work at the site.

      • Your allowed to have women in your room at wapasu. Thy sell condoms at the store. I know lots of guys who have scores up here.

        • I know that it happens, for sure, but I asked staff about it once and was told that it’s not allowed, they just don’t have the security staff to enforce it. But if, for instance, your neighbor had a woman in his room and they were noisy and keeping you awake, you could call security and have her booted out.

          • There is no doubt that in a camp environment there are going to be a couple of unfaithful people, but I honestly don’t believe that it’s nearly at the kind of scale that people expect. If every guy who was suspected of cheating out there was ACTUALLY cheating out there, the camp would be a non-stop orgy. It’s just illogical to think that every guy out there is screwing around. Statistically it’s extremely unlikely, and chances are that if a particular guy is cheating while he’s at camp, he would probably be cheating while he’s home as well. I work with tons of men, and being away from their SO’s for 2-3 weeks at a time does not turn a guy into a sex-crazed maniac anymore than the women who are at home waiting for them.

  4. Hi, I’ve sent my resume to Aramark and went to Orientaion. I’ve applied as a Camp Attendant and might be sent out in a few weeks. I’ve been looking around for anyone to talk too about whats its like there. I’m not sure if you’ve been there or not. Or if you know anyone that has.
    I just have some simple questions.

    Do you know anything about the rooms?
    I know that I might be sharing a bathroom but does Aramark have those public bathrooms?
    Are the walls really paper thin?
    Does Aramark have an after hours food and drinks set out?
    I’m bit of a night owl and like to come go as I please.
    Which camp do they have that is better?

    What have you heard from other people about this company?

    • Apologies about not getting back to this sooner. It got sent to my spam box so I didn’t see it until now.

      I have to ask first, is Aramark the company or the camp? If it’s the name of the camp I apologize, but I don’t know anything about that camp. Do you know if it’s a PTI-Group camp? If so I can probably answer your questions because they’re all pretty much the same.

    • Sorry Kelly, I can’t honestly say since I don’t personally know anyone who works for them. If I had to wager a guess, however, I’d think it wouldn’t be too hard at all, depending on what kind of a position you’re looking for. Whenever I’ve been out there I’ve always seen several ads up on the cork boards for open positions in the kitchens and cleaning staff.

  5. Do you have any idea if the people in hospitality (i.e. front desk job) have good salaries like the oil workers or is it below $20/hour?

    If it is low, do you know of any good paying jobs for someone with a sociology degree??:)

  6. […] A Day at Kearl Lake is a post I wrote quite a while back, when I first began working out West. It is currently at the top of my “most viewed” pages because tons of people who are just starting a job out West stumble across it in search of information. I wrote the post just to let people back home know what a regular day out on a work camp is like, and I wound up attracting a lot of other random people who were curious about the same. […]

  7. Hi TraceyLynn Tobin

    I am going to be starting work up at Kearl within the next week. I have been assigned to Henday Camp. What can you tell me about Henday Camp and what other things can I expect in the upcoming weeks of orientation? Thanks!

      • I was told even a little spill from a pop gets u in trouble I’m with Nacg you have to wear ur Ppe in ur cab of haul truck and in pick up! You don’t work at Kearl? Where u 2 now?? I herd just bad stuff including no smoking anywhere!!! It’s the hard hat thing! I just dnt know you kno anyone out there to confirm?

        • I’m in Cold Lake now, but I have friends at Kearl and I can tell you for certain that there are plenty of places to smoke. You can’t smoke in the live site, obviously, but there are smoke pits all over the place near the trailers and whatnot.

          Now, pouring pop outside? Major offense. I’m sure you wouldn’t get fired for spilling something on accident, but if you’re caught purposely pouring stuff out on the ground outside it’s big trouble because it attracts wildlife. It’s a lot more serious than you might think because bears have wandered in around the trailers coming after the scent of food and sugar. Not good.

          I’m pretty confident about the hard hat thing though. You have to wear it all the time in the live site and in construction zones, but it was always understood that you don’t have to wear one while in a roofed vehicle.

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