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FOTB: Women also call crew camps home

Photo by Carrie Snyder/Forum Communications Co. Chasitie Hurst, a 19-year-old from Texas, works at the front desk of the Target Logistics Bear Paw Lodge near Williston.

WILLISTON -- While most of 19-year-old Chasitie Hurst's friends are off at college, she's living in a different style of dormitory: a crew camp.

The Frisco, Texas, native moved to Williston to work for the Target Logistics Bear Paw Lodge, a temporary housing facility primarily for oil field workers.

Although most people refer to such lodges as crew camps, Hurst and many other women also call them home.

The Williston Target Logistics facilities, which have more than 1,100 beds, have about 60 women living there, said Terry Legions, assistant camp manager.

Some are housekeepers, kitchen staff or other employees, and some are spouses or daughters of men who live in the camp, Legions said.

"All the women here stick together," Hurst said.

Hurst's grandfather lives at the Williston camp and he encouraged her to apply for a job there.

She began working in the kitchen last July and now works the front desk of Bear Paw Lodge, where more than 600 workers pass by daily.

Hurst said she was afraid the oil field workers would be scary, big and mean, but she's only encountered a couple of rude guys.

"Usually the guys are totally respectful, they're totally nice," Hurst said. "They're all just here to work."

Hurst is dating a guy she worked with in the lodge's kitchen. He has a new job, but still lives at the lodge.

The most challenging part of the job for Hurst was learning to say no when guys would try to upgrade their rooms, which are arranged by their employers.

"They will beg for their own room, they will try to talk you out of anything, but you have to be strict with them," Hurst said.

Before moving to North Dakota, Hurst had not traveled beyond the southern United States and northern Mexico. Now her world is expanded by living in a new state and meeting people from around the country.

"Coming up here changed my life completely," Hurst said. "It showed me there's more out there."

Hurst works 84 hours per week, which is allowing her to save up for her future. She is thinking about going to college to become an ultrasound technician.

Target Logistics employees work 12-hour shifts for six weeks and then have two weeks off.

"Where else can you work and have two weeks just to relax?" Legions said.

Like Hurst, Legions heard about a job opportunity at the camp through a relative who lived there.

Legions, of Santa Cruz, Calif., was laid off from her job after the technology company she worked for closed her division.

Legions, 55, has ties to North Dakota. Her father is from Kindred, and she spent some of her childhood years living in Kindred and Rollag, Minn.

Legions began working at the front desk of Bear Paw Lodge in July last year and has advanced to become the assistant camp manager.

She had the opportunity to return to her company in California and chose to stay in Williston.

"I cannot sit in a cubicle again," Legions said. "I love it here. I like dealing with all the people."

Charla Vetter, the housekeeping supervisor, has worked at the lodge for nearly one year.

She said the security guards prevent people who don't belong there from entering and they keep everything running smoothly.

"When you get used to everybody, it's like a big family," Vetter said.

Dalrymple is a reporter stationed in the Oil Patch for Forum Communications Co.