How to Survive Camp Life
/ Author: CLAC Staff
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How to Survive Camp Life

Though construction companies often go above and beyond in making camp life comfortable for workers, there still are ups and downs to remote work. These tips will help you make the most of your temporary home away from home

By Jessie Cook, Local 68 Steward

Camp life is not for the faint of heart. At its core, remote work means long days, weeks, months, or even years away from the comforts of home. It can be hard on the body and mind, and not everyone is cut out for it.

But the rewards can outweigh the struggles of being away if you set yourself up right. Here are some how-tos to make the best of camp life!

Bring comforts from home. Have a favourite pillow or blanket? Bring it. Like to pack your own lunches? Bring some durable, leakproof Tupperware. Other small comforts—laundry soap, a netted laundry basket, shampoo, your favourite scent, a picture of your family (a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing)—can really make your camp room cozier.

Be prepared for the worst. Weather, that is. Long work hours in extreme weather (whether it be hot, dusty, cold, frozen, or wet) means dry skin and hair. Lotion or coconut oil and heavy-duty conditioners and a bandana under your hard hat are absolute lifesavers. Pack ‘em!

Make your room a place to relax. Yes, rooms get cleaned regularly at camp, but it’s not the cleaning person’s job to tidy and do laundry for you! Having your afterwork space clean and tidy makes relaxing, recouping, and sleeping so much easier. On the night shift? Tape plastic bags over your windows, get a white noise machine or fan to drown sounds out, put on a guided meditation app or video—anything to help decompress and get a good sleep.

Set goals. How long do you want to be in your role? Five years? Once you make a specific amount of money? Once you reach a certain number of hours for your apprenticeship? Once you pay off a debt? Make a realistic goal and stick to it. Your partner and kids will understand the sacrifice if there is a time cap involved.

Eat healthy. Eating a healthy mixture of fruits and veggies (yes, you can come by them in camp if you try!) and not binging on the handfuls of free cookies, pastries, and pastas that a lot of workers get caught up in can make a world of difference. You’ll feel healthier and have a better attitude and more energy, which leads to generally being a happier individual. Skip the extra helping of heavy carbs before bed and have a side salad here and there—your body will thank you!

Go to the gym. Every camp these days has an outlet for your energy, a place to get moving. Take advantage of it! Not a gymgoer? That’s fine! Walk on the treadmill while you watch your favourite shows or talk on the phone (you’d likely be doing this in your bed anyways). Thirty minutes a day is all it takes, especially for those who operate equipment, sit at a desk, run crews, or just don’t get a lot of daily physical activity. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but any movement keeps your body and mind healthy, and it gives you a chance to socialize and meet other individuals. Speaking of which …

Make friends and socialize. Being away from home means away from all that is familiar, including your normal social interactions. Being secluded for long periods of time can be hard for anyone. Just remember that everyone is in the same boat up there. Making friends at camp keeps you sane. You will spend more time with these people than the ones you have at home. Make an effort to sit and eat dinner with different groups of people. Have a laugh, share stories, or find a role model, card group, or workout group. There are even AA programs and counselling available as well—no need to feel alone!

Don’t spend your money. We all work for the money, and if you’re spending it while you’re away, the longer you have to stay! Remember the “set a goal” tip. Maybe you want enough for a down payment for a house, a trip, a new toy, or a hobby. The sooner you reach that goal, the sooner you can go back home. Spend wisely and save for your days off with your friends and loved ones.

Being away from home for the lengths of time isn’t typically ideal. But doing these small, healthy behaviours can make it more bearable and gives you more longevity in the high-earning years of your career. If you plan right, eat healthy, and exercise properly, your mind and body will last in the gruelling world of remote work.

Jessie Cook has been in the heavy civil construction industry as an equipment operator for seven years. She is passionate about workplace development, safety, and the fair treatment of all, particularly for young women in the trades. She looks forward to her new adventure of motherhood and being able to stay at home with her dog and horse. For more tips from Jessie, follow her on Instagram at @clac_jessie

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