It was with some trepidation that I made the journey up to the wilds of Oldham for a thrilling night at Scream Camp. It had been quite some time since my last immersive event and the memory of that night still sends a shiver up my spine. Even with the information pages, FAQs and disclaimers this night at Scream Camp was still an unknown entity. How extreme would it be? How would the scares arrive? How much was it going to hurt? Knowing the creative team behind the event and eagerly following each extremely effecting teaser released on their social media pages filled me with a level of excitement that hadn’t waned over the lengthy wait for the summer to arrive.
On arrival in the car park at Higher Counthill Farm I was greeted by a few of the friendly team who managed to both soothe my nerves and heighten my anticipation for the events to come. After signing the usual lengthy disclaimer it was time to assemble the guests for the pep talk and warnings and to wait for “Tracy”, one of the camp leaders, to collect us for our night of thrills and chills. Our home for the night was an innocent looking campsite a short walk down the hill. Well it was short going down the hill. Later in the night and filled with exhaustion this short walk would feel torturously long, made all the more arduous by the darkness and visual impairment.
Once in camp with our belongings stored in a set of cheerfully neon tents we met “Lola” the slightly unhinged half of the duo leading the camp. Lola and Tracy then introduced us to the storyline for the evening, a family of murderers who had themselves disappeared, seemingly to unfortunate ends. Then it was time for the evening to start and it started with a few “getting to know you” games and icebreakers. After introducing ourselves and possibly learning a bit more about each other than we really needed to know, it was time for Tracy and Lola to choose their teams for the evening. My intuition that friends would be forced to compete against each other proved to be correct (despite my best efforts) and we were informed that for the rest of the night we were in competition, with points available for all sorts of tasks and games.
The first games were physical and designed to pit us against each other, health and safety had well and truly taken the night off but barring the odd unfortunate incident we all survived, a bit sweaty and out of breath but ready for whatever came next. Suddenly we were sent to our tents, there was something or someone coming. The first indication that they’d arrived was the sound of screaming from the tent next to mine. Now I recognised this as the tent belonging to the youngest guests attending Scream Camp that night and unfortunately it was the beginning of the end for them. Ultimately, not long into the night they would leave with their group after deciding it was too much for them. No judgement here; sometimes people who have enjoyed scare mazes decide to take the next step and go for something immersive, some can handle it and some can’t. The Scream Camp team made sure this group was well looked after and escorted safely offsite.
When it was my turn to have a confrontation with the characters menacing our camp I had a visceral reaction to the tent invasion, the characters were truly terrifying and continued to unsettle me for the remainder of the night. Once we were given the all clear to return to the campfire a number of abductions were made and I knew the fun was about to be taken up a notch. I watched my friend disappear into the night and eagerly awaited my own fate. Unfortunately I had quite a wait, although the evening ran smoothly I did grow a little bored watching people undertake two tasks before I’d been “taken” for my first. Finally, it was my turn, I’ll not reveal the details of the individual tasks but needless to say I came back terrified and more than a little unsettled. I thoroughly enjoyed every second and couldn’t wait for my next encounter with the sinister fiends.
Back at camp the games had changed to something a little more sedate but also more mentally challenging; this part of the evening was a chance to catch my breath and spend some time laughing, not to mention scoring those all important points. While in the camp I had the opportunity to take part in my second task, something altogether different and one of the most unique experiences I’ve had at a scare event. I loved this change of pace and mood and it is one of the parts I’ve continued to reflect on. It was also around this time that the soundtrack to the evening began to take its full effect. Another clever device to throw us off balance, the music was an integral part of the experience and one that many campers and team members mentioned.
Soon it was time to be taken to my third and, although no less enjoyable, most painful task. Again something different to challenge me in a different way, I spent this time laughing and screaming in equal measure. The lead into and out of the task was disorienting, dangerous and utterly hilarious, while the task itself was some of the most guilty fun I’ve had at a scare event. I was forcefully led back to camp by one of the menacing characters and retook my place by the fire ready to continue the games until the final showdown of the morning.
Periodically the terrifying figures of “Shadow”, “Luna” and “The Boss” had entered camp to keep us on our toes and it was now time for their final appearance. Strangely the final task demanded of us was a dance-off, how anyone mustered any energy at that point of the night I’m not sure but they did and a spectacular face off began between the rival teams, culminating in a display of acrobatic tongues that was frankly disturbing. The tongue belonging to my team, team Tracy, proved to be the most disturbing and we were declared the winners of the final showdown. Time to total up the points and find the overall winner. After a miscalculation and a premature victory celebration (sorry team Lola) team Tracy were declared the overall winners but I think everyone left feeling like they’d achieved something.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Scream Camp and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to take their scare experiences to the next level or continue their adventure into the more immersive side of scare attractions. I’d describe this event as immersive with some extreme elements rather than fully extreme and it’s about the level that I enjoy the most, I fear my days of fully extreme events are gone but this was exactly what I wanted. The team did an impressive job of maintaining character consistently throughout the night and produced an interesting event with a good storyline, having said that I would have liked to have seen a couple of theatrical scenes to further embed the storyline in the evening. I’d definitely attend this event again and with an October event (Scream Camp Unleashed ‘The Ritual’) already sold out it’s not hard to see that others share this opinion. I’m excited to see what this creative team can accomplish in the future.