campie noun 1 a sober, celibate, bankrupt vegetarian who mops floors, cleans toilets, burns garbage, does laundry, makes beds and picks up after rig workers. 2 nickname for the camp attendant in an oil-rig camp. 3 the loneliest person in the oil fields.
When it all goes south, you can always go north
Bankrupt, homeless and with only an old Toyota Tercel to her name, Barbara Stewart has taken a job as a camp attendant at Trinidad 11, an oil-rig camp in the wilderness of northwestern Alberta. She was told it’s a “dry” camp—good news for a person hoping to stay sober—but she soon finds out this isn’t true. During the day, she mops floors, scrubs bathrooms, changes smelly beds and picks up empties. At night, as she burns garbage in the incinerator, she finds solace alone under the stars and tries to reconcile her past with an uncertain future. When she discovers that a campie who “doesn’t play doesn’t stay,” Barbara is forced to make a decision.
Campie is an entertaining, compelling account of how an ordinary person survives when things fall apart and there’s no “eat pray love” holiday to put them back together.
“Barbara Stewart is extraordinary, not because of the heights she's reached, but because she is an ordinary woman who hit rock bottom and survived to tell the tale . . . [She] is a truly evocative, strong-voiced new writer.” —Courier-Islander
"Campie is beautifully written and constructed with a smooth flow from one event—and thought process—to the other, this is a very good book indeed." —Susan Smith-Josephy, The Past Is Present, Blogger
“With shocking honesty [Barbara Stewart] takes the reader through the minutiae of her day and punctuates it with flashbacks that explain her current destitution. She doesn’t sugar-coat her actions or insights . . . This book will inspire not only those affected by alcoholism but anyone who has faced adversity in several shapes and sizes at the same time.” —Tim Christison, bookclubbuddy.com
“Campie is a ragged tale, scraped from the ditches of the Alberta north.” —Bryn Evans, Alberta Views
“[Barbara Stewart] has parlayed a talent for writing and an unusual adventure that lasted less than two weeks into a 190-page tome, which paints a compelling picture of what life is like for a single woman working at an isolated oil rig in Canada’s north.” —Brenda Anderson, Langley Times
This is about the author's experience working as a cleaner in a northern oil rig camp in Alberta (after losing everything) and her journey to self-discovery. But it's so much more than that. The way she writes truly pulls the reader into the world of the camp, and the flashbacks as to what led her up to this time are so honest and heartfelt. The joy comes in her humour—her descriptions of conditions in the camp occasionally made me laugh out loud. This is a book I would strongly recommend to friends, and it would be excellent for book groups. —an Amazon.ca reviewer
“I dare you to break through the ice of this amazing first book and delve into work-camp life . . . Sometimes prison camp, sometimes salvation, and all times scoured soul through bleach and hard work, Campie will sing redemption to anyone who’s ever had the tale and lived to tell it rough.” —Cathleen With, author of Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison
“Finally! A memoir that has its own format and some of the most inspirational story telling I have ever experienced. Barbara Stewart is the heroine of the story. Unlike other memoirs, this story takes off after rehabilitation . . . This memoir made me want to cry, laugh and highlight all at the same time.” —a Goodreads reviewer
The narrative is straightforward and at times deadpan. . . It’s impossible not to hope that things will turn around for [Stewart]. . . Campie testifies to the fact that, rather than allowing the experience to break her, this brave woman was able to use it as a stepping stone toward a new and stable life. —Quill & Quire