Sometimes all you want is to get away from the hustle and bustle of city folk and turn over a new leaf; that’s why I jumped in my camper van, and set off for a new locale, where I can peacefully do a spot of fishing, barbecuing, you know, holiday stuff.
I’ll admit that when I first set out, I didn’t expect to made the head of the camp site on my arrival. But organiser Isabelle, who seems like a very sweet anthropomorphic dog-person, was so sure that I was the man for the job I didn’t quite have the heart to let her down.
Well, it might not be the holiday I was intending, but I’ve gotten away from the city, at least - though just because we’re away from high streets and retail centres doesn’t mean we’re away from the hustle - or, hustling.
Goldie, Apollo and Jay, my new friends that hang out nearby my campsite, are needy, frankly. I want this, I want that; I want an apple picked from the tree directly behind me. Yeah, thanks for that Rosie, I’m sure it would’ve been impossible for you to do it yourself.
Of course, my moody reply was quickly quietened when I realised that, anthropomorphic they may be, it seems most of the animals that live here are actually lacking opposable thumbs, making picking fruit much more difficult than I gave her credit for. Once again, I’ve learnt not to judge people or animals before knowing their story.
Luckily it’s not too much of a hassle to keep everyone pleased; almost everyone just wants fruit picking from trees, or a few shells collected from the beach. Aside from that, relaxing with a few pass times of my own, namely fishing and bug collecting, also kept the animals entertained, always asking me for a butterfly or a squid.
After running around the campsite like an errand boy for a couple of hours, I decided to take my camper van over to Giovanni and his mechanic crew to find out if everything’s still in ship-shape after my long drive over.
Well, the van is fine, but for some reason they decided to give me a new paint job - black with pink stripes. Honestly, I’m okay with it, but what’s more baffling is the laws of space and time they’ve broken in order to make my camper van more spacious on the inside, without making it at all larger on the outside. Spooky, but I’m not one to complain.
Giovanni and his crew seem a bit suspicious though, I felt practically strong armed into a deal with the mob as they started to work on my van and then only gave me the 10K bell fee afterwards. “Don’t worry, just pay us back like a loan” Giovanni explained. I nodded along and accepted, wondering how long I’d be able to keep my kneecaps for.
So far, being Camp Manager for the animals hasn’t had a bad start, but this is just day one…
Day 2 began… Well, basically at midnight. Have you ever been restless and just decided that a spot of fishing is the only thing that’ll help? Well, if not, maybe you haven’t been Pocket Camping lately.
I headed straight down to the river, where Goldie was hanging out. Throwing my rod into the river I fished up my first rare Koi - not bad at all, and sells for a high price too!
After asking around my campsite, I discovered that every animal seems to want a squid. I have no idea why, but I guess, since it’s squid season, I thought I might toss a net into the ocean, see what I get out.
Finally, I relinquished some of the Leaf Tickets I’d been given from Isabelle to buy a Large Net, and pulled out a nice catch - though, it’s not like it would’ve been difficult to fish up a similar haul without them.
Before heading to bed in my camper van, I decided to ask Cyrus to upgrade my tent on my campsite. It took him a hefty twelve hours, but that’s fine as I was fast asleep after drinking some soup with Tex.
Come dawn, I had a brand new tent, and animals from across the campsite came to celebrate with me.
But that’s not all, my successful life as a professional fisherman had left me with some extra cash in my wallet, and I decided to pay off my loan to Giovanni before he breaks my kneecaps, only for him to expand my van and increase my loan once again - he clearly has no intention of letting me stray too far.
Giovanni doesn’t let you put everything on a tab though, in addition to expanding my van he also decided to renovate how it looks - nice, although he wanted 5,000 bells up-front. Five grand. I could’ve bought a brand new van with that kind of money.
After talking to Rosie and Apollo - the latest permanent residents of my campsite, I decided to retire for the day, after loading Cyrus up with a couple of crafting jobs for me.
Tomorrow, I set my sights on the Shovelstrike Quarry and the loot hidden within…
As usual, I wake up, check my mailbox, and today I’ve got a nice surprise from Isabelle, the lovely dog-lady who appointed me to the role of camp manager. She sent me a dress. That’s… nice?
Not one to let traditional gender roles get in the way of fashion, I promptly don the dress and go about my daily business like a university student who lost a bet.
I didn’t know how breezy dresses could be.
Eventually, I relent, and pop to the Market to buy a pair of shorts to cover my modesty - the fashion gods however, being fickle as always, deemed that a dress and shorts didn’t go together, so I had to pair it with a white vest after all. Sigh.
Most of the animals in town have a good relationship with me now, so I decided to start inviting them all to my campsite - they loved it, once I’d gotten incredibly specific pieces of furniture set up for each of them.
Only now the wonderful peace that I was experienced at my campsite, just Rosie and me, is entirely ruined.
Animals are absolutely everywhere, the hammock, the bed, the sofas… They’ve basically taken over the place. As camp manager, you’d think I’d be overjoyed. You’d think.
I tried having a word, but most of them actually had gifts for me, and it’s actually pretty difficult to act stern after getting a present.
Of course, that’s not all. I asked Cyrus to put a picnic area in my campsite, to keep everyone pleased - forty eight hours, he said it would take. 48! It’s a basket and a blanket mate, does it really require that much effort?
Well, I’m not an expert in these things, but he put up scaffolding and there’s a lot of hammering noises happening. Can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for me…
It’s been a long weekend, to say the least. Multiple visits to Shovelstrike Quarry, many orders from Cyrus and a fair few satisfied animals have been my main activities.
Cyrus finally finished the Picnic Area, which, yes, is basically just a blanket and a basket. It took 48 hours to build. When I question him on it he shook his head and promised it’d only take a few seconds to upgrade it to level two. I’m tempted to get Dom from Cowboy Builders onto him.
Other than that, I met a new best friend, Kid Cat. He’s a cat, obviously, but he basically wears a motorcycle helmet. Or maybe it’s part of his skin. Or fur. Either way, he’s always happy to see me and I need that positivity.
Lately I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to fishing, scoring some Tuna, Koi and even a Blowfish - not a bad haul at all!
Oh, did I mention I paid Giovanni off again? And yes, once again, he’s utilised his powers over the space time continuum to expand the upstairs of my camper van. The fact is, my camper van doesn’t really have enough space for an upstairs, let alone an upstairs extension.
Fifty grand, this time. 50K. 50,000. He put his hand on my shoulder and firmly clenched, staring me in the eyes as he said; “You’ll be able to pay it off in no time. Won’t you?”
I’m starting to wonder if this camp manager gig is actually just a way to enslave people in Shovelstrike Quarry…
The water looks really nice at this time of year during the evening. Blue, pink and purple hues all crashing against one another with the odd silhouette of a fish circling my float. It’s a peaceful kind of day.
Well, aside from Cyrus, once again with his scaffolding and hammering. As it turns out, animals around here will only like me so much unless I build them a tent they like. I don’t need to have the tent up, I just need to have the tent. I asked why, and Rosie just said; “This place is, like, so not cute.”
Butch kept saying how much he appreciated our friendship too, but it only goes so far until I build a Sporty Tent. Whatever, he has his damn tent now, he can stop leaving the Picnic Area a mess.
In good news though, I met Peanut, a lovely pink squirrel, and my penguin pal Tex gave me a nice jacket that I paired with a pair of tartan trousers. I reckon I look quite dashing.
I’m looking into getting my Camper Van a new paint job, but all the good ones cost an absurd amount of Leaf Tickets…
Giovanni called me in about my van in the middle of the night. I had no idea what he wanted, but he was ranting in his accent and I could barely understand on the phone, so I drove over.
He screams something about a crisp paintjob, and then something else about late loan repayments. I told him that I’d been busy with the camp, but he didn’t seem to care. Oh well. I left my van with him and went fishing. I caught a football fish!
My van is ruined. Giovanni acted like he was doing me a favour, but this is clearly just some cruel and unusual punishment because I’ve only paid off about 5K of my fifty grand loan. Cheeky bugger.
His weird raven compatriots laughed me out of OK Motors. That wasn’t the best night’s sleep I’d ever had.
In others news, my pal Kid Cat has come to live at my campsite. I caught him sat at the table with a cup of tea while cutting vegetables this morning.
Each to their own. I sat there with a nasty brainfreeze from my milkshake.
I’m gonna have to talk to Isabelle about the racket Giovanni is running…
Isabelle sent me a hat to go with that dress she gave me and I look like I’m gonna hike up a mountain and do some yodelling or something. Fashion has never been my strong suit but this feels a bit intense.
Oh well, luckily I’d already bought a pair of black tights to keep my legs warm in the Winter and this feels like the perfect opportunity to test them out.
Animals get really boring once they’ve been in your camp a week, you know? I’ve finally started exercising my camp manager powers and, boom, Apollo? You’re gone. Go back to sleeping in a text next to the river. Cherry? So long my dear, we’ll always be friends.
Kicking people out is the best, because I got to invite my pals Beau and Punchy, who are in general far less aggressive and aren’t begging me to buy them a bloody electric bass. Seriously Apollo, how is that not out of order?
The rest of the camp is continuing as usual, though I’m growing concerned with the culture around here. The other day I straight-up saw a beak for sale. A beak. As in, one to put on your face?
I know I told Isabelle I was getting rid of the undesirables when I kicked out Apollo, but I didn’t want him chopped into pieces for the “greater good,” Hot Fuzz-style…
For the record, I bought the beak. Couldn't resist.
Ah, ten days down as camp manager. To celebrate the fact I’ve actually shown up for work ten days in a row, Isabelle said she’d get OK Motors to bring back my old van and spit shine it a bit, if I wanted. I was going to take her up on the offer, but knowing Giovanni… I’ll pass.
Camp manager life is a weird one. Every morning I wake up, catch insects, argue with people at my camp… And for what? Appreciation? Sure the animals at my camp throw 100 bells my way every now and then, but at what cost?!
I’m thinking I’m going to have to make kicking people out a regular thing. Punchy wanted me to go to the shop for him. “I’m thinking ASAP” he says. He’s on his final warning.
At least everyone’s enjoying the street corner I put in place to give that taste of the city - sadly I can’t use the phone to call home and report everyone here to the police for enslaving me here.
On the upside, I have a God damn half pipe being built. Cyrus better put his back into this one, I’m not waiting 48 hours for nothing…
There’s something about this camp manager thing that’s becoming greatly unrewarding. Sure, animals stand around and clap with their odd, stumpy hands with no opposable thumbs whenever I erect a new amenity, but what for?
Afterwards they stand around in my campsite, where I have painstakingly decorated and slaved, and Butch just comes up to me and says; “Hey, what is there to do around here anyway?”
I just put a God damn half pipe, we’ve got Kid Cat doing flips in the back, and this Butch guy stands, looks me in the eye and asks that trash? Oh boy oh boy.
They say any job gets tiring after a while, but this? After I deal with people constantly asking for help, for advice, for me to pick shells up off the beach which are on the sand three damn feet away from them because, again, evolution considered them unworthy of thumbs? And for what?
It’s rigged. Isabelle threw me in here, instantly got me in debt with OK Motors, and everything I’ve done since has been to keep them happy. Not a single damn one of them thinks about me. Sure, they give me more wood, more cotton, so I can keep giving Cyrus all my money so Cherry can have a damn sports car to sit in.
I’m talking to Isabelle about this, I’m at the end of my rope.
As soon as I woke, it was time to tie up those loose ends. Nothing has to tie me down to this campsite, not anymore.
Sure, I feel bad about abandoning a job after just two weeks, but these working conditions… They all act like it’s fun. Day in, day out, slaving over a fishing rod a bug net, but I get nothing in return. Fancy clothes? A bigger camper? It’s just not worth it, and I’m out.
I go over to Isabelle to try and tell her I quit, but she keeps acting like she doesn’t hear what I’m saying. “Anything else?” “Can I help you with anything today?” Yes Isabelle, I’m trying to quit! Give me my P45!
I got pretty sick of her being purposely obtuse, so I stormed over to OK Motors and threw money at Giovanni.
“Here’s your God damn ill gottens gains, you filthy crow!” I screamed at Giovanni, Beppe and Carlos, the three feather-brained nitwits running OK Motors. I’d had enough of their attitude.
“Oh, so you want a bigger camper, huh pal?” Giovanni mumbles in his backwards twang. I swear, I just made it clear that I didn’t. “That’ll be… 100,000 bells!” What the hell did he not understand about what I just said?
“Giovanni. I’m leaving the camp. Going far away. I’m never seeing, nor paying, you ever again.” My face hardens as I try to get my point across.
Suddenly, Giovanni’s feathery brow furrows. “You don’t leave. Pal. That’s not an option.”
That’s the last thing I remember. I’ve been stuck with the Gyroid in Shovelstrike Quarry since - literally stuck. Those crafty crows have buried me up to my neck, right next to the Gyroid. Apparently he was like me once, passed onto the other side, his soul never let to leave its service, trapped inside a talking Haniwa for the rest of his days.
I just want to go home…
I don’t know how long I’ve been here. Sun rise, sun set, sun rise, sun set. It’s been torturous. My Gyroid pal goes from some sort of terrifying arm swinging when he’s excited, to a deathly silence that made me wish I’d perished long ago. Nights are long, days are longer, and I’m here, still buried up to my neck, still just wishing for the end.
That was until the Crow Mafia strolled up to me; I could hear the tawny talons grasp the dirt with each step, and at that point, I could barely even beg to be let out.
Silently, they dug me out of my predicament and, in the dead of night, led me back to my camp site and sat me down on the sofa. “100,000 bells, kid.” Giovanni says, deadpan, piercing my gaze and forcing me not to look away.
“Look, I just want to go home…” I begin to plead, all too willing to have this debacle end.
“This is your home, pal. And there’s no where else to go to.” He sits back and admires the work I’d done to the camp site. “It’s not so bad here. You’ll learn your place. You have to.” he pauses for a moment to see if I’d offer any resistance to his words, but I had none.
With his work done, he stands and beckons his crow boys back to his van, glancing over at me periodically, almost checking by my facial expression if I knew the situation. I knew. I knew there was no where else to go. I was trapped.
But by the light of dawn, everything felt a little… Brighter. I went down to the river to fish, and my friend was there. Calling him over, he tells me stories about his camp site, how he’s just moved in, and he loves the place.
Knowing speaking out of turn could mean the end for me, I nod along, and just offer an off-hand comment saying he should be wary of the crows, and Isabelle too, for that matter.
Although I’m trapped in this endless loop of serving my animal masters, it’s not all bad. My friends are here, at last, giving me the confidence and drive I need to keep moving forward. I reckon, once I’m able, I’ll put in a tree house - somewhere I can finally call home.
Plus, there’s Christmas-themed furniture to craft now. I definitely need those.