Remote Camp Life on the Job
Written by Diane Morelli
What can I expect as an apprentice on the North Slope?
My first recommendation would be to listen to the suggestions of the people who have already worked on the slope. Nothing can replace experience, except experience! With that in mind, what works for one person might not work for the next, especially true when talking about gear and clothing. I suggest you overpack at least on your first dispatch so you can add or remove gear or clothing based on how you personally deal with the conditions. It took me about two weeks to get my sequence down on my first hitch and since that time, I have been able to fine-tune it. Like Grandpa used to say; “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”
Camp life is camp life; it is a working environment with good clean conditions but not as comfortable as home. Some rooms are single-status and have personal bathrooms, but most likely, you will have a roommate. Your roommate could be on the same shift or the opposite shift as you. In addition, some camps have bathrooms and showers down the hall. Rooms are clean and organized, and be respectful of others and their sleep cycles, slamming doors, loud talking, or music is not acceptable. Clean up after yourself and personal hygiene is essential. Overall conditions are very doable, especially if you are a prior military, the transition for you should be easy.
Laundry facilities with detergent and fabric softener are provided. Bring your own items if you have special concerns. Postal service for incoming and outgoing mail is possible at all camps. Most camps have fitness centers with weights, cardio, and stretching areas to release some stress if you so desire after your 10 to 12-hour work shift.
There is plenty of food (healthy & unhealthy) available, what I would call abundant. The staff serves three hot meals a day and the walk-in section is open 24 hours per day for snacks. Most camps have recreational areas with pool tables or a television lounge for relaxing after work. In fact, the camp I am located in has occasional bingo!
All camps I have been to have internet service for computer use and for Skype to stay in touch with family and friends. Cellular phone connections are hit or miss depending on your actual worksite location and your current provider. Many rooms had hard-line phones while others did not.
As an apprentice, just take your time, take it day by day, and ask questions or elevate concerns as soon as possible. Everybody was a new worker at one time so people are very helpful if you just ask for help. GOOD LUCK!
Surveyor Diane Morelli completed the Surveyor Assistant Apprenticeship on April 6, 2016!
Diane has completed her journey and is not only a journeywoman but an APC (Associate Party Chief).
Diane started the apprenticeship in December 2013 after attending the Arctic Pipeline Training Academy. She took her first dispatch with Merrick Management Inc. in the summer of 2014. When the season ended she then received a dispatch to ASRC-Houston Contracting on the North Slope. As with construction, when the season ended she secured a spot the next summer on the crew at Bush Construction on a road crew in the valley. She once again returned to the North Slope this past winter with Price Gregory where she has successfully completed the program.
Diane has done an outstanding job along the way and is always being requested to return to each of her employers. Congratulations Diane!