James is a very open and friendly guy. He says “this helps a lot in making new friends and to quickly engage with the folks around. In camp you are forced to live together with people in a more or less confined space. So obviously it’s important that you get along.”
Getting along with your co-workers is key for a healthy and respectful environment in camp.
Mining camps are different sizes, whether it be just a couple of people in exploration camps, a few hundred in larger mining sites or thousands of workers as is the case in the Alberta oil sands region.
The social amenities differ from camp to camp. In mid-sized mining camps there may be TV rooms, pool tables, badminton or a gym for working out and a library. In larger camps there can be a store that provides fundamentals or a café.
Leisure activities after long work days are essential to unwind and help you get a good sleep, ensuring you have the energy for the next day.
Usually people spend their time before and after work in the canteen or in the mentioned leisure facilities. Although mining camps are mostly dry camps, celebrations can occur from time to time.
Being close to your colleagues can lead to strong social bonds. Francis, an environmental technician, explains, “We are like a little family here. We need to be respectful to each other, like if you were at home. Yelling is a no go. People who swear or yell a lot do not last long in the camp. The managers have to be careful about the way they talk too. Otherwise it might end up causing troubles among the crew.”
The last couple of days of a work shift can be extra stressful for mobile workers as they might be overloaded with work, exhausted, and wanting nothing else than to go home. During these times it is important to remain calm and civil with fellow workers.
It is important to mutually support each other, like listening to your fellow workers if they are having troubles. Some workers prefer not to engage in too much social activity. Instead they prefer to spend their time after work in their bedroom watching TV, chatting to family and friends, just reading or playing video games.
It is necessary to balance the connection and close companionship with fellow workers alongside the need for recreation and alone time.
Alan, a safety manager, explains, “You must be careful not to get too involved in other people’s private lives and you don´t need to listen to everything people tell you. Sometimes it is better not to say what you think or voice your political opinions, it just makes the life out here easier.”
We started our own little library here and shared books. We had a shelf and everyone put the books on there. This was pretty fun, you know, we did something together. Brenda
Sometimes people have a big ego in the beginning but once you start talking to them and get on their good side, they open right up. Then things work out just fine. There are definitely some grumpy people around, but once you get in touch, they are just like big teddy-bears. Bridget
You need to be open minded here, so many different folks from all walks of life. I tell myself: Keep my business to yourself and just be open to new people. I am a pretty easy person to get along with. Greg
You should bring an attitude like this is almost your second family. When someone comes back here, they welcome you back home in camp. So you know, it’s a 50/50 time at camp and at home so it’s almost your second home. The accommodations and the food are decent and good here. So, to me it’s not so bad. I don’t mind it at all. Ken
The chef and kitchen staff play a vital role. Before the new management came here it was just convenience food, like pre-packaged food that was just warmed up. It was the number one reason for complaints and people were grumpy. Ever since we cook fresh foods and have a steak night now and then or a special pizza day people are looking forward to their meals and sit together in the canteen with a smile on their face. John