As counselor in this summer camp sim, I gave a kid 'the most terrifying experience of their life'

Bear chasing campers
(Image credit: Deli Interactive)

"My kid said it was the most terrifying experience of their life" – A parent's review after I spent a week as a camp counselor.

Despite Camp Canyonwood's adorable art, there are vicious bear attacks, ghost sightings, and UFO abductions. 

As a new summer counselor at Camp Canyonwood, my first day doesn't go so well. I'm in charge of four adorable little kid campers, and one gets bitten by a snake, another collapses from malnourishment, and a third finds the skeletonized body of a former counselor in a cave. Horrifying as all that sounds, it may wind up being the bright spot of the summer, considering this adorable summer camp simulator includes everything from bear attacks to ghost sightings to UFO abductions.

Did I mention that each night when I go to sleep I'm visited by a goat demon? It's going to be a long summer.

Each camp session lasts seven days, and in that time you have to keep your four campers safe, fed, and maybe most importantly, stimulated. They'll follow you everywhere and demand activities, which means racing around barking orders at them to catch bugs, pick flowers, chop down trees, go fishing, and pick up trash. If a kid does an activity enough times they'll earn a merit badge for it, and at the end of the summer the amount of badges your kids have will determine how much money their parents pay. According to the owner of the camp, my boss, that's the only thing that matters.

I personally think it might be more important to make sure the kids don't get mauled by a giant bear, which I have to admit I failed to do. More than once I wound up picking up an unconscious child and running them to the first-aid tent, though most of the time they simply passed out from a lack of food rather than bear injuries. When they regain consciousness, I think it'll be time to make them work on their fishing badges so we can all eat dinner.

Camp Canyonwood has a pretty big map to explore, and while it's filled with cute pudgy racoons and lovely butterflies, there are also loads of hazards like venomous snakes, stinging mosquitos, prickly cactuses, and the aforementioned bears to avoid. A weirdo living in a camper can sell you tools like a shovel to dig up artifacts to earn extra cash, and over the course of many summers you can actually start fixing up the campgrounds, build new structures like cabins and watchtowers, and add decorations.

And when the parents come up to pick up their kids at the end of the summer, you not only get paid (unless their kid is missing) but also reviewed. How I managed to get between three and four stars for my first summer is a mystery, but maybe despite the horror of skeletons and ghosts and a vicious bear mauling, those parents are just happy they got a week to themselves.

(Image credit: Deli Interactive)

Camp Canyonwood comes from Deli Interactive, the same team that made undersea roguelike We Need to Go Deeper, and it just entered early access on Steam where it's currently 10% off the $20 price tag until August 11.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.