20 thoughts on “I’m Not a Therapist…but I Play One on the Internet

    • I can honestly say I was never given the impression that there was anything unseemly going on at Wapasu. I was told that back in the day (ages ago, I guess) there used to be a secret arrangement that there were prostitutes in the camp and if you left your boots outside your room it meant you wanted a visit…but all that has long since been put an end to.

      In the year that I was there I never saw anything more than one or two couples sharing a room, and in those cases they were actual COUPLES who happened to be working the same shifts.

      • Ok thanks that helps me out a bit , my boyfriend just left yesterday to wapasu I’m kinda scared something may happen since it is a “long 2 weeks” .. How often do women and men come “face to face” other than on the work site?

        • Imagine the camp like an enormous hotel with very small rooms, and everyone is coming and going all the time in order to go to and from work, to the cafeteria, to the gym, and so on. So men and women are face to face all the time. BUT, like I mentioned in my post, there are people all over the place all the time, and the walls are thin as paper, so if people are having sex in there, you can be damn sure that SOMEONE knows about it. People do crazy things, for sure, but I can’t honestly imagine someone doing any cheating in those camps because you can be damn sure that people are going to know about it, and anyone with any sense would be scared to death that that knowledge would work it’s way home, you know?

          I can’t guarantee you anything, but I can honestly tell you that I didn’t see any of that kind of foolishness going on at Wapasu. They’re too strict and people are too willing to complain. A buddy of mine had a neighbor always bringing his woman back to his room (they were actually a couple, not cheating) and it kept him up all night so he called security and the couple were warned that they’d be kicked out of camp if they continued.

            • Oh one other thing , are they aloud to have guests over after working hours and are they aloud to leave their camp?

              • No guests, no, because you need security passes and whatnot to get into the camp. I know for sure because this one idiot tried to hire a prostitute from in town and got all pissed off when the security guards wouldn’t let her in the camp.

                Getting out, you CAN, but there’s not much point. Town is over a two hour drive away, so it’s almost $300 for a cab ONE WAY, and if you get caught
                Coming back to camp with even the hint of liquor on your breath you get kicked out of camp for life.

                • So say that someone came and picks up my boyfriend he can go in to town and come back with out getting in trouble ?

                  • Technically, yes, someone could come park at the gate and he could leave and come back later, but like I said, it’s a 2 hour drive just to get to the highway (before that it’s all dirt roads and other camps and sites). So if you say it takes 2.5 hours to get to town, that’s a 5 hour round trip. He’s probably working at LEAST 10 hour shifts, and with the bus rides and everything that makes it an 11 hour day. Working all that in, it’s not really reasonable for him to go anywhere unless he gets days off in the middle of his shift.

  1. I’m glad I found your blog (and that you actually answer!)….I’m considering a job change that will bring me to Wapasu for about a year (or possibly longer as other projects are scheduled). I’m single, happy, and not looking for “camp drama”, lol so women back home, you need not worry about me 🙂 There’s very good money to be made and I want some of it! There is lots of info online about camp life in general, but almost everything is from the man’s perspective. It’s probably not alot different though than when kids go away to school for the first time. Far away from home and thousands of strangers. I’m trying to look at this as an adventure, especially being able to fly to anywhere in Canada….”free 4 day getaways to visit family and friends”. Not a bad gig if you can get it. I believe the more I learn about life there beforehand, will make it that much easier to adapt. It’s not an ideal situation for everyone, but I’m at a point in my life, I have no real ties…..so why not give it a go. It’s all about meeting people, experiencing life and learning from it. Not gonna do that at home in my 1 bedroom apt working 3 jobs hoping to get ahead someday!

    • You are certainly right about the money! And if you’re single, all the better, because it must be a lot easier to deal with the whole situation when you’re on your own…I assume, anyway! Can I ask who you’re going to be working for that will fly you anywhere in Canada? I was with MMR and they flew me back and forth across the country every two weeks, but we weren’t allowed to change our “home base”…in other words we always had to fly to the same place.

      Anyway, I think you’ll enjoy it if you go out to Wapasu. I’ve heard people complain about a lot of the rules, but most of them are actually pretty reasonable. You’ll be sharing a bathroom with one neighbor, but the camp rule is that women don’t share bathrooms with men, so keep that in mind! Don’t make the mistake I made…if you get a man next to you, go down to the desk and complain. Mistakes happen, but if you bring it to their attention they have to either give you another room (if the guy was there first) or move the guy (if you were there first). Mostly you’ll probably end up in the “Women’s Wing” anyway, but keep that in mind if that wing gets full and they put you elsewhere.

      A few other tips from someone who didn’t know what they were getting into at first (ha!):
      – There’s no wireless internet at Wapasu, so if you’re bringing a laptop you’ll also need an ethernet cable to plug into the wall. If you’re bringing other stuff like a tablet that can’t be wired, you might want to buy a cheap router and set it up before you go out there. Make sure to have a password, because you can be damn sure your neighbors will leach off of you if you don’t. 😛
      – There’s a “no sleeveless shirts or hats” rule in the dining halls at Wapasu. I first went out in the middle of June and I took all tank tops because it was so hot. Luckily I had ONE hoodie with me and I had to wear it to dinner every single day because they literally won’t let you past the door if you have no sleeves.
      – You can’t bring containers of any kind into the bag-up room (where you get your lunch to bring to work with you). Lots of people get hit on this, which is why I mention it. You CAN bring in a bottle for the milk/fountain pop/juice, but it has to be the kind you would buy at a store, not, for instance, a pop bottle that you drank out of and then washed. I don’t really understand what the difference is myself, but that’s the rule. *shrug*
      – When you get on the bus to go to work in the morning there are turnstiles you have to go through. This is how the sites out there do security…if you don’t get through the turnstile you’re not allowed on the site, basically. Never EVER jump these turnstiles. There have been lots of people who have jumped because they were late or because their card didn’t work for some reason that morning, and it’s an automatic kicked-out-of-camp situation, and if you’re kicked out of camp you’re obviously fired as well.

      That’s the big stuff that I can think of right now, but if you have any more questions please feel free to let me know! I was scared to death going out there for the first time so I know how it feels. 🙂

      • Wow….lots of info there! Thank you sooooo much!! Tips from an “insider” are very much appreciated! I know it’s going to be scary my first few days….and I’m probably going to get lost, lol
        I’ll be working with Unified Systems @ Imperial Oil. I was mistaken in saying that I can fly anywhere. I’m in Ontario and will be flown to and from here but I will also occasionaly have the opportunity to go to Calgary because the Corporate Office is there. Nice because I have family there as well! I don’t know what airline, but I know I’ll be flying to Albian. Do you remember how long the trip was from the airstrip to the camp??
        I’m starting in November so sleeveless tops won’t be an issue! Hoodies and Parkas will be standard attire I’m sure. I’ll be in the trailer onsite mostly but it’s going to be awfully cold going from Camp to work and back!
        I work in a white collar industry now, so I’ll be trading my high heels and dress pants for jeans and work boots, lol Might even be a good idea to have 2 pairs.
        I’m sure I’ll think of lots of questions that you could probably help shed some light on….thanks again….I’ll be back in touch 🙂

        • I don’t know anything about Unified Systems, but if it’s with Imperial Oil that’s probably Kearl Lake, where I was. What are you going to be doing there? If you’re around for a while I might even see you there sometime, as there’s a chance I might be returning there with MMR in the future. 🙂

          If you’re flying to Albian, it’s probably with Canadian North. Their planes leave something to be desired (some of them don’t even have any kind of inflight service), but the flights are quicker and more reliable than commercial flights (if, for instance, the flight gets delayed because of weather or something, you aren’t shuffled around like so much luggage…the airline puts you up in a hotel and the flight leaves whenever it is able), and they feed you something during every leg of the flight. So, for instance, if you’re flying from Hamilton to Saskatoon to Albian, they’ll give you a meal (hot or cold depending on the time of day) during the first leg and a snack (usually chips and pop) during the second leg. It’s nice, considering that you can’t even get a free cookie out of most airlines.

          Oh, and if I’m remembering correctly, the trip between the airstrip and the camp was about an hour and a half. When you get to the camp you’ll have to go through their little security area with your baggage. The airstrip works through the camps, so the camp itself has the check-in area with security and all that, and when you’re actually at the strip it’s just from the plane to the bus, or from the bus to the plane. Your luggage will be shipped from the plane to the camp, so you don’t have to pick it up or anything until you’ve checked in at the camp.

          Oh, and a piece of advice if it does turn out that you’re flying with Canadian North: they’re very strict about their luggage policies. You can’t take ANY kind of tools of ANY kind, even in your checked luggage, and they’re very strict about the weight restrictions. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but they’re a bit different from Air Canada, so you might want to check out their website. I remember my carry-on once was less than half a pound over and they wouldn’t let me carry it on. I was so annoyed. -_-

          If there’s any chance that you’ll be spending any amount of time outside, I strongly suggest a good pair of winter work boots. I had my regular Dakotas when I first went out, and by the time January hit I couldn’t stand it anymore, my feet PAINED from the cold. I picked up a pair with liners in them and they made SO much difference. I also suggest the sweater-jackets at Mark’s Work Wearhouse. They’re lined with this furry stuff, with a big hood, and they’re SO nice and cozy warm. They don’t look like much, but they’re perfect for someone who is going to be spending most of their time inside, and even when you’re outside they’re a perfect liner for underneath a bigger coat.

          Oh, and speaking of Mark’s, if you forget something or decide you need something warmer, there’s a truck that comes to the camp twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays I think it was. They don’t have a lot of women’s stuff regularly, but there’s an email address where you can shoot off a message telling them what you want and they’ll bring it on the truck the next time they come, no extra charge. It’s a really great service. 🙂 I’ll see if I can find the email…I know I sent them at least one before, so it should be in my inbox somewhere.

          Oh man, I really can ramble on, can’t I? lol

          • OMG!! I typed a big long reply….and when I hit “post comment….it disappeared 😦 I’ll try this again and hopefully this time I won’t lose it!! I did end up accepting the job offer so it’s a done deal, I’m going out west for sure!! I’ve already given notice at my jobs (I have one FT and 2 PT)…going to be sad to go but will see family and friends on my days off. I have to look at the big picture and why I am doing this!!
            You can ramble on all you want….not detail is too small!! I’d rather have a “heads up on everything than find out some things the hard way, lol I’m sure I’m going to end up getting lost at some point…it’s a pretty huge place!
            One question I have is I understand there is storage available for when you are home on your days off so you don’t have to keep lugging things back and forth across the country (ie: blowdryer, shampoo, etc…). Do you remember approximately how big the space was they allowed you??
            Funny you mentioned about not being allowed to pack tools in your luggage. Hope they don’t consider my flat iron to be a tool, lol
            Some of the other things I read were that the buildings are attached to each other somehow so you aren’t walking outside to go to the dining room, etc. Is there only 1 dining room?? I can’t imagine a few thousand people all trying to have dinner at the same time, lol
            Would be so nice to be able to meet you and go for a coffee at the Timmy’s if you do end up going back out there.
            Unified Systems is a “cabling” company (voice, data, and video infrastructure design and installations specialists) and it is IOL Kearl Lake the job is at. I will be looking after logging all our guys time sheets, equipment used etc, getting the info back to our Calgary office so they can in turn bill IOL….booking flights for our crew, assorted other details and some safety related stuff down the road.
            Good to know about Marks Work Warehouse coming on site…thx for the tip!

            Chat when you can….I really appreciate all the info 🙂

            • WordPress has spirited my posts off to never-neverland more than once. I never learn, myself, but you should seriously consider copying stuff before you let WordPress handle it. lol @_@

              First off, congrats on officially taking the new job! You won’t regret it. Now that you’re really going for it, one of the best pieces of advice I can give is don’t turn into THAT kind of “out wester”. You know the kind…they work out there for two months and suddenly they have a brand new truck…two months later they have a snowmobile…two months later they’re making a bunch of renovations to their house. I don’t know your financial situation, obviously, but the best thing you can do when starting a job out West is to chip away at any debt you have as quickly as possible, and avoid wasting money on frivolous stuff until later. I was out there for a year straight, and aside from splurging a little at Christmas, my husband and I were very good about not spending frivolously. The result is that in that one year we managed to pay off both of our student loans (which, combined, still had about $25,000 left), pay off our car, put a bunch of money into my daughter’s education fund, and saved a large chunk to put down on our mortgage term next year. It really makes a huge difference. We could have spent a bunch of money on ourselves during that year, but instead we invested wisely and now we have $1000 per month FEWER bills. Booya! lol

              Okay, enough about that!

              Yes, Wapasu has storage facilities where you can keep your luggage while you go home, which is awesome because dragging it back and forth all the time is awful. There’s actually no limit (or, at least, no logical one) as to the space you can take up. You literally just drop off your bags and they place them on a shelf. They put little tags with your name and company on them, and log the location of the bags on their spreadsheet to find later. It’s as easy as that. There’s a sign in the storage room that says something to the effect of “no more than 50 lbs, no exceptions”, but I’ve never seen them weigh anything and I know I’ve given them bags that were more than 50. Worst case scenario though you could just buy a book bag at the convenience store and swap some stuff over.

              I don’t believe a flat iron would be considered a tool, no. lol I will give you a warning about the flat iron though…be careful to make sure you unplug it! A while back a woman got kicked out of camp because she left a flat iron plugged in AND turned on, and it ended up falling over and burning a hole in the floor before a cleaning lady happened upon it. O_O

              As for the buildings… Wapasu is actually three buildings, designated Main, East, and West. They’re all technically the same company, but each works as their own separate entity. Each one has two dining areas, two bag-up rooms (for the lunches), a main gym and a women-only gym. The dining rooms and bag-up rooms require a swipe of your room key to get in, so you can’t, for instance, go eat at West if you are staying in East. Even considering all this the dining rooms can still get pretty busy, but it really depends on your work schedule. My schedule was 6 am to 6 pm, and we didn’t really get back to the camp until almost 7 pm. The majority of people seemed to all get in around that time, so it was SUPER busy when I got in, but some people had a shorter shift and would get in around 5 pm and the dining rooms would be practically empty.

              Oh, and yes, everything is connected so you don’t have to go outside, although the West building is off on it’s own off to the side, but as mentioned if you’re staying in there you have to reason to go to Main or East unless it’s just to visit someone or something.

              It sounds like you’re really going to have your hands full with that job! I wish you the best of luck. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll get back out there sometime in the near(ish) future and we’ll be able to grab a coffee sometime. 😀

              • Thanks again for getting back to me….you are turning into my mentor, lol I’ve had a week of “legal stuff” getting ready to come out. Police checks, driver’s abstract, a drug test (yes, I had to pee in a cup, lol) and then I had to the complete the ASCA-CSTS training. Now I’m trying to bone up my Excel skills as I’ll be using that alot at the new job! Somewhere in there too, I have to start shopping for boots, luggage, winter coat, etc…. Good thing I can run on a few hours sleep a night, cuz I’m going to be very busy for the next couple of weeks while I’m finishing up my current jobs and trying to get ready for this new adventure!

                I can certainly appreciate your comments regarding what to do with “all the money” that you can make out there. Right now, my main goal is to pay off debt, like you did. I chip away at it now @ home (barely) but this is going to be huge….I can put down large chunks at a time now and really make a difference. The only “big” thing I might do for myself is next year when I have “the big Bday”, I might like to go somewhere nice for my days off.

                I hope you don’t mind, but I have a few other questions I’ve thought of regarding the camp….

                What sort of things to they sell in the store?? Is it more like a Varienty Store or a mini Walmart??

                Does East, West and Main each have it’s own bussing system or does everyone meet at one location?? Is there a list posted somewhere that says what bus number/location you need to find?? Does it go by job site, or by company??

                Did you stay in the same wing as your other coworkers or were you spread all over the place??

                Are there other plants in the area besides IOL?? I just wondered if everyone who lives at Wapasu worked at the same plant.

                Is there a first aid/medical station if someone gets sick? Do they sell cold/flu meds in the store, or is that something I would bring from home and keep on hand incase I need it??

                I’m not much of a morning eater, so I can’t see me racing down for breakfast in the morning, so I’ll probably pack a few extra things to snack on from the bag up room to eat later in the morning, but would like to have a little kettle in my room for coffee while I’m getting ready for work. There shouldn’t be any problem with that??

                I don’t see carrying a purse as something that’s going to be very practical so I was thinking of getting a nice backpack to carry lunches and whatever else I may need for the day….does that sound like an OK idea, or what did you or other people use??

                Is it possible to get any extra pillows from housekeeping?? I’m a pillow person when I sleep, lol Can’t see trying to pack any from home, I’d never get anything else into my suitcase, lol. Or maybe I can find some inflatable travel pillows?? That might work too!

                I know some of the questions might seem silly….but just trying to get a feel for things….I pretty sure you can appreciate that, lol

                Thx…..Hope you are having a great day 🙂

                • None of your questions are silly, dear! Most of them are stuff I wished I had known ahead of time! Unfortunately I didn’t really think of the right questions, and all my friends out there at the time were guys, who don’t think of all these little things, am I right? lol Okay, addressing your questions:

                  – The store (actually, storeS, as there’s one in each of the three buildings) is basically just a convenience store. They sell candy, chips, pop, that sort of stuff. But there’s also some little instant meals like those microwavable bowls of Chunky soup and cup-a-noodles, stuff like that. Aside from the junky food, there’s also toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, lotion, body puffs, deodorant, etc), medicine (sleeping pills, Pepto Bismal, allergy meds, stuff like that), health stuff (vitamins and protein powder for the gym people), and an area full of the kind of stuff people don’t realize they need until they get out there (ethernet cables, water bottles, shoelaces, flip-flops, and so on).

                  That reminds me, either take a pair of flip-flops or buy a pair at the store, for the shower. I’m sure they probably clean the showers when they’re doing everything else, but since you’re likely to be taking a shower right after your bathroom-mate, it’s something everyone uses just in case, you know?

                  – Main, East, and West all use the same busing area. It’s a big fenced-in rectangular parking lot where all the buses park every morning, and when the lights on the turnstiles go green everyone goes through and piles on. When you first go in the camp there are these sheets you have to sign (the rules and the like) to check in, and on those same desks there are sheets that show the busing schedule and where each bus parks. It’s not completely reliable though, since they like to randomly change the parking layout for no reason. Your best bet, when you first start, is to go through the turnstile and immediately grab one of the guys in the reflective vests. They can tell you what bus you need for where you’re going, and once you’ve found it that bus will be in the same spot every day (unless they decide to change everything around, in which case everyone is in the same boat as you anyway…lol). The buses also have signs saying where they’re going, but ask one of the vest guys first anyway, because sometimes the drivers forget to change their signs and nonsense like that.

                  In addition to all that, there are “waves” of buses that leave at different times (my wave left at 5 am, and as soon as we were gone more buses would dock and those left at 5:20), so make sure to ask someone from your company which wave you have to get on. The buses in each wave don’t necessarily go to the same areas, so you want to make sure you’re on the right wave.

                  – My coworkers and I were spread all over the place, but it depends on your company and the set-up they have. All of the IOL operators, for instance, were in the same couple of wings, and one of the construction crews always made sure that all of their guys were in West.

                  – There are lots of other plants in the same area, so not everyone at Wapasu will be working on the same site as you. There’s a Husky site only ten minutes away, and I think some of the people at Wapasu may have gone to Firebag as well.

                  – There are medical centers both on the IOL site, as well as at the camp. Both have doctors you can see if you feel you need a check-up on something. I don’t think they keep a lot of different medications on hand, but they have your basic stuff, and if you need cold/flu medicine they have that at the store. I know from experience that they are equipped with a decent amount of stuff, and the guys who work at the camp med center are pretty nice. 🙂

                  – I can’t see there being any problem with having a kettle or a small coffee maker in your room, but just so you know there is a “Mug-Up” room in each camp that is basically just a big industrial coffee maker and hot water dispenser, and a bunch of tea bags, hot chocolate mix, decaf mix, etc, plus a fridge with milk and creamers and stuff. It’s convenient because you don’t have to go into the dining area or anything, and the room is right on the way out toward the door, so you’re going to pass by it anyway. I used to just bring a decent travel mug and make myself a tea on the way out the door every morning. 🙂

                  – I didn’t carry my purse around with me either, which brings up another thing I should mention: bring a lock, like a combination lock or something. The wardrobe and one of the dresser drawers in each room has a little latch that you can put a lock on so you can lock up your stuff. The camp refuses responsibility if something is stolen by one of their cleaning staff. I’ve never had trouble myself, but one of my coworkers caught a cleaning lady poking into his dressers, so we all got a little antsy after that. I don’t mean to worry you or anything, but it is definitely a good idea to lock up your purse/laptop/whatever when you head out for the day. That said, back to your original question: I always used a backpack, and so did most people (some used those little collapsible coolers or canvas Sobeys bags). Some of the stuff you get in the bag-up room can take up a lot of room just because of the way it’s packaged, so a backpack gives you lots of space. Additionally, I don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but you can’t take your bag actually IN the bag-up room. There are shelves outside the doors for you to lay them on while you go in, and you have to bag up all your stuff in paper bags. But you can go in and out of the room multiple times if you need to drop stuff in your bag and go back in.

                  – You can definitely get extra stuff from housekeeping. I always used to get an extra comforter to cover up my window because in the summer months the sun doesn’t go down until almost midnight. And I know lots of people that liked to pile up extra blankets and keep their windows open in winter for the air. A lot of times the linen rooms (there’s one on each floor of each wing) would be open and I’d just grab what I wanted, but it’s also perfectly fine to call down the main desk and request someone bring you stuff. I used to request extra towels too because they have this “green” thing where they only take your towels and wash them two-three times a week, which I personally thought was gross. 😛

                  I think that’s everything for now! 😀 Let me know if you come up with any more questions! ^_^

  2. […] I’m Not a Therapist…but I Play One On the Internet was a follow-up to the Kearl Lake post. Several of the people who stumbled across the original Kearl Lake post were women who contacted me because they were concerned about the possibility of their husband/boyfriend cheating on them while on the work camp. After trying to be both honest and comforting to several different women, I decided to write this particular post, whose main point is “you have to have trust to have a happy, healthy relationship”. While I only ever got two people who contacted me as a result of this particular post, it is very near the top of my “most viewed” list, so people are still taking a look at it to this day, and I genuinely hope that it’s helped a few people. […]

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