Rig speak 101: Livin’ that camp life

Trinidad Drilling International Rig Accommodations

Rig hands can spend up to half the year away from home, often working in remote locations, and sometimes in other countries. Exposed to the elements for up to twelve and a half hours a shift, they need to be well-rested and well-fed to perform their duties safely and efficiently on the rig.

For newcomers to the drilling business, here’s a look at where rig hands hang their hats at the end of the day. Welcome to camp life!

Camp jobs: Living at or near your drilling rig

Alright, so drilling camps (a.k.a. man camps) can’t compare to home, but camp suppliers have done what they can to create a place with everything rig hands need to be comfortable.

Texas camps

Rig Camp Mess Hall
Rig Camp Mess Hall

One of the most common camp situations are what the industry calls “Texas camps,” where crews are responsible for supplying their own bedding, cooking supplies, groceries, and toiletries. Texas camps often consist of shared (and sometimes individual) bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen, television room, meeting rooms and a recreation room. They can be located at the rig site, or nearby.

Full-service camps

Anyone that’s stayed at a full-service camp knows they’ve hit the jackpot in terms of living situations – pending the quality of their food caterer, of course. These camps are often shared with other crews working in the area and offer full-service cooking, cleaning and laundry; wifi; a gym; and entertainment options like movie theatres and games rooms.

Here’s a (really nice) example of a full-service camp, similar to Rig 57’s when it was in Fort McMurray, Alberta:

Non-camp jobs: home and hotels

When camps aren’t provided, rig hands have a few other options, based on the location and operator.

Commuting from home

Rig Camp Bedroom
Rig Camp Bedroom

Depending on how close the rig is to home, some rig hands choose to head home every day at the end of their shift. Our rig crews in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, for example, work eight-hour shifts, rather than the Canadian industry-norm twelve-hour shifts and make the drive to and from the rig each day.


If a camp isn’t provided, staying in hotels near the rig is another option. In this case, crews often pay for their expenses upfront, but are provided subsistence pay to cover the cost of living away from the rig.

Staying at campsites during summer months

During summer months, some Canadian rig hands have the option to stay in their personal trailers or RVs at nearby campsites. Trust us, there’s nothing like homemade smokies and s’mores over a campfire at the end of a long day slinging tongs.

Camp life = quality time with your rig family

Rig Camp Television Room
Rig Camp Television Room

The living arrangements at a drilling rig may not be the most glamourous, but we can assure you the time spent in camp mess halls and kitchens are where some of the best brotherhoods are built.

Want to learn more about rig life and lingo? Check out other posts in our “Rig speak 101” series:

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