All Canadian Arctic camps are directly supported by the Polar Continental Shelf Program, a facility operated by the Government of Canada. PCSP is a a warehouse, a hotel, a restaurant, an airfield, a safety check-in, a shipping and receiving center, a weather station, and whatever else you can think of. They support lots of amazing research, and you can learn more about them by following the links below. You can learn more about PCSP supported research here.
Most of our projects fall into two categories; long-term monitoring, and opportunistic research.
Our long-term monitoring projects are based out of established field camps, primarily our 'home base' on Nasaruvaalik Island, but also out of other camps throughout the Arctic. Typically, field seasons at such camps run from early June until late August, and all supplies, equipment and personnel are flown in and out by Twin Otter aircraft. Camps are by necessity entirely self-sufficient, and although most are quite comfortable, they are absolutely remote and isolated in every possible way.
Camps range from 2 to 20 people, but no matter how big, there is always enough work to keep everyone busy. All work and no play is bad for morale though, and we always make sure to take time to enjoy the scenery and the experience. Fishing, hikes, a sauna, a swim, or even a round or five of cribbage are always a welcome distraction. Field research is like a full-time 24-hour-a-day job that never actually feels like work.
Camp life can be difficult, and it certainly isn't for everyone. Privacy is limited, and you pretty much eat, sleep, work and do (almost) everything together. The blessing and the curse is the opportunity to spend extended periods of time in a remote wilderness setting. Far from cell phones and computers, you settle into a more natural rhythm and really get a feel for all the little things happening around you.
A good field scientist obviously needs a scientific background, but there is more to the equation. You must be able to cook a delicious curry with limited ingredients, repair an outboard motor with whatever happens to be lying around, tell a funny story even when you are tired, and above all else, be able to improvise!