Camp Salerno, Afghanistan
The camp is in the Khowst region of Afghanistan which is located in the eastern lowlands, along the border of Pakistan, and it experiences a warm semi-arid Mediterranean climate.
The rainy season lasts from December to February and the annual rainfall can reach up to 442 mm. The FOB was built in a dry riverbed and, while they are trying hard to divert the flooding, the camp will become one big mud pit. You will be muddy, your room will be muddy, the dining facility, the Ed Center, even the toilet seats (for some unknown reason) become muddy! You .. just .. get .. used to it!
January: High: 53° F, Low: 33° F
July: High: 94° F, Low: 72° F
- Threats are plenty here; however, most can be avoided by always being completely aware of your surroundings. They can be anything from a crazy monkey, coyotes, rockets, hepatitis and malaria to tripping in the dark, spider and snake bites, and (for the women) male aggressiveness.
- Once the sun goes down it is 'lights out'. This reduces the camp's vulnerability to attacks while it increases the risk of other dangers if you are not alert to them. There is no light, save for the moon, to guide you around. White flashlights are not allowed and you have to rely on your instinct and little colored flashlights to guide you.
- Chapel: Various religious services are available.
- Gym: You will find available treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, weight machines and free weights. There is a second smaller gym available, as well.
- Call Center: The call center is open 24 hours. Calls to the US are free and your calls are limited to 20 minutes.
- Theater: Certain movies are available for your choosing. If you stop in early and pick out a movie, they will play it at one of the times they have designated. Grab some popcorn from the machine and relax on one of the couches.
- Café: Offers all sorts of coffee goodies. It also hosts various theme nights such as “salsa night” and “hip-hop night”.
- Subway: Get a sub of your choosing out of the back end of the truck!
- Bazaar: Local vendors sell all sorts of things like blankets, DVDs, fake watches, Afghani goods & electronic equipment. The bazaar is open every day but Friday.
- Electricity: is 110V. Power outages are very common.
- Mail: The mail is brought in by planes or helicopters out of Bagram. There are an average of two mail shipments per week. Certain influences affect when the mail will arrive such as weather.
- Plan accordingly when you are preparing for your departure from Germany. Be sure to mail your personal belongings, to Camp Salerno, well in advance if you expect them to be there when you arrive. It may be wise to set up automatic bill pay as there is no guarantee that your outgoing mail will reach its recipient in a timely manner.
- Employees work 11 hours per day, 7 days a week (77 hrs/week).
What to Bring
- Hiking Boots (waterproof). The terrain is harsh on your ankles and it is not uncommon to have to walk through 6 inches of water at any given time.
- Mattress cover, pillow, sheets & blankets
- Flashlights (lots and lots of flashlights!!) red, blue or green only
- Shower shoes and shower caddy or backpack
- Sleeping bag and travel pillow (for those overnight trips to other camps)
- The PX is very limited so if you have any specific toiletries that you like, bring them or be prepared to become drugstore.com's best customer. (note: the mail takes FOREVER to get here) The PX keeps basics stocked, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, etc.
- The recommended malaria pills (you can obtain them from the pharmacy) make you prone to sunburns, so I suggest a hat.
- The dress is very casual … basically anything that you don’t care to get dirty or worn that looks half-way decent.
- Rain jacket
- One of those Gerber pocket knives with all of those doo-dad things (screwdriver, nail file, etc.)
- All of those books that you always intended on reading but never had the chance to…
- Your sense of adventure…