Part 2 Of my Durham Survival Warrior Challenge Experience (Or the Closest I’ll ever get to being on Survivor)
The camp was everything I imagined it would be, buggy, overgrown, and possessing a toilet made from wood and a partially melted home depot bucket. The tribe set to work clearing the sticks and leaves from what would become our sleeping area, and making a fire pit from the remains of a previous fire pit. (We really just moved those rocks from one place to the other) As we were collecting wood it dawned on me just how possibly screwed I was in this tribe, with no one my age I felt a bit like an outsider so I sought out the only other person on my tribe who had reason to feel on the outs of the group. That was Matt, I knew as a former Survivor he would be nervous about his place in the tribe. Also I’d be lying if I said that as a super fan of the show aligning myself with a former cast away wasn’t the most awesome thing ever. We made a final 2 deal roughly twenty minutes after arriving at camp. Things were going pretty well, and the tribe was living in harmony until that damn idol was mentioned. Earlier in the day I saw Mike from the Bezo tribe playing around with one of the wooden square pieces on his box, naturally I called him out on it asking if he was “looking for idols” Clark was right there and laughed so I figured if I brought this story up Clark would support me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I intended to use this story to transition into taking the idol off the box and using it to bring the tribe together, but as soon as I start telling it Clark points out that the idol is already gone, and disagrees with my depiction of events.
Full on idol paranoia sets in, being a superfan of the show has it’s perks when playing Survivor, being accused of finding the hidden immunity idol because you’re one of the only people on your team who would look for it in plain sight is not one of them. Ronnie suggested dumping our bags out to prove we didn’t have it, a move I quickly followed.
At this point Matt had gone to sleep because he wasn’t feeling well, and I saw Becca, Clark, and Ronnie go off to talk. I knew that this threesome could be dangerous and I went to put out that fire before it began. Immediately upon reaching them Clark point blank asks if I have the idol, I say no and he asks me who does? Well John the Lawyer on our tribe had lied to us about being a vet, and when we dumped out our bags he didn’t, so I full on threw him under the bus here. I believe my quote was something along the lines of “I mean… I don’t want to throw shade, but John already lied to us and he didn’t dump out his bag” I stopped just short of an actual accusation, then shifted gears to protecting myself. I knew that Clark was a competitor, and I felt like Becca, and Ronnie were kind of with Clark, so I threw out the idea that Survivor is all about being a strong team, and bringing that strong team into the merge. Basically I was saying hey, I’m not going to be too great at challenges, but you should protect me because we’re a team… guys seriously we’re all in this together. Fortunately it worked out and that coupled with the fact that our team had good chemistry helped us in the challenges, which in turn helped me stay in the game longer.
The next morning we came to an obstacle course, now I’m not going to bore you with all the details of every challenge because they are going to be putting out a video which I’m sure will be much more interesting.
But here’s a picture of me gracefully climbing over a wall… try to contain yourselves ladies.
So I’ll just tell you about the highlights of the day, first thing that happens when we arrive at the challenge is Coby comes over to me and tells me that the idol was on the side of our box, confirming my suspicions, then he tells me that Clark was telling everyone that I had the idol which was not cool, not cool at all. That day we were fortunate to only go to two tribals, I have to imagine that Matt probably protected me at the first vote and helped get the vote off of me.
Honey was more than willing to go at that first tribal, but we thought John had the idol so we came up with the idea to split votes, always a risky proposition but who was I to go against the tribe? Especially when my name wasn’t coming up. So we had Ronnie, Matt, Honey, and myself vote for John, while Becca, and Clark voted for Honey along with John. This way the vote would be 4-3 and if John did play an idol the votes would bounce back on Honey, which she was okay with.
"Hey my dog has this weird thing on his back, any chance you could check that out after the game?"
John didn’t play the idol, because he didn’t have one and was voted off 4-3. The second tribal was a million times worse for me personally. You see the only reason we were even at tribal was because I completely messed up the challenge.
Pictured: Me carrying me team on my back… right to tribal council.
It was the final tribal before the merge and I was so nervous that I was going to go out premerge because of my performance. Fortunately Honey volunteered to take the fall, still tribal council is a crazy place where anything can happen, and I was fully expecting a blindside.
"So in conclusion, unless you want to see a chubby man ugly cry please don’t vote me out."
Though if we’re looking at it logically with that performance I should have been the first person everyone wanted to take to the merge. In the end Honey was voted out 5-1, as she threw her vote at Becca.
"Please, please, please work."
I had made the merge.
When the merged tribe came together we were treated to a few hot dogs and hamburgers for a feast. We devoured them eagerly and set off to our new camp. The numbers at the merge were 5 former Skog members Clark, Ronnie, Becca, Matt, and myself, 4 former Awasos members Coby, Ian, Steve, and Jan, and 2 former Bezo members Andy and Laura. Naturally the two tribes with less members formed a 6-5 majority and promptly ended any illusions that Skog could stay together. The tribe actually got along great for the first hour or so, we all shared some beers, and just talked. Coby let me ask any questions I had which was amazing, and generally it was just a good vibe. Enter professional pot stirrers Richard Hatch and Sandra Diaz-Twine, they took the castaways from camp and began asking questions that really mixed things up. By the time they were done we had gone from 11 people hanging out and swapping stories to 11 psychos running around the woods trying to talk to everyone about everything. Ian and I had a very frank conversation at this point where he spelled out that it was going to be the Skog 5 going out first, but I was the last target of those 5, then the Bezo 2 were going to get axed and it was going to be an all Awasos final 4. I thought I knew Andy as a player fairly well at this point and I just couldn’t believe that he would settle for 6th or at best 5th place. So after conferring with Matt the only person I felt like I could trust 100 percent I hatched a plan. The first step was getting Matt to bring Coby away from the camp because he had that shit on lock as Laura and I found out earlier when we tried to talk game. Once Coby was preoccupied I was able to talk with Andy and offer him and Laura a final 4 deal with Matt and I. The plan was to just wait and let the 6 take out two of the Skog members, then at final 9 we would take the remaining Skog member and join them to our 4, to make a 5-4 majority. The hope was that since things would be going Awasos’ way they would let their guard down and the move would take them by surprise. We really were going to need to sell this, so when Matt suggested that he would sleep away from the group because he was afraid his snoring would keep everyone up, I jumped at that opportunity and said I would do the same. My hope was that if everyone saw Matt and I sleeping away from our other Skog members they would see that there was divide between the tribe. There wasn’t a huge divide, but it was clear that Matt and I were on the bottom of the 5, and as Sandra said I didn’t come all that a way to settle for 5th place. That night it was so cold that I couldn’t sleep so I came out to the fire, Jan, Andy, and Laura were all awake. I knew that Steve from had spoken to Andy and Laura about a possible final 4 with himself and Ian. That conversation went on forever so I didn’t know if our plan was still on. This is when I decided to take a different approach, I decided to not talk about game with Andy and Laura, but instead just try to get to know them. I think it was one of the best things I did, because Andy and Laura are just such awesome people. Talking to them made me feel more at ease and took me out of the game, it wasn’t players talking about the game, but instead just people talking and getting to know one another. I’m very happy that I had that moment, and I think they enjoyed talking to me too. (Who knows maybe the whole time they were like “Oh my god, does this guy ever shut up?”)
The next morning I woke up with a terrible stomachache, this freaked me out because the year before I knew they had an elimination challenge involving gross food. At that point with the way I was feeling if you had offered me a cheeseburger, I would have thrown up, so I thought I was screwed. We came into the challenge and it was a Survivor auction, now I’ve watch enough survivor to know that eventually there was going to be an advantage to a challenge or a clue to an idol at this auction, since food didn’t really interest me at this point there was no way I wasn’t holding out for the note.
So that was my Survivor experience, I’ll save who I voted for at final tribal for the video. It was such an amazing experience, I met some great people. Each and every Survivor who came out was as nice as could be. I finished 11th, I felt like I had a lot of game left, but in the end it was an unforgettable experience, and most importantly it was for a great cause, a cause I urge everyone to donate to. I can’t wait to volunteer next year, and see all the people who made this event so special.When the note came up it took all 5 Skog members combined to bid enough to win it. The next challenge was of course gross food. The twist being that the last two who didn’t finish their food would be put up for elimination Big Brother style. The first course was fish eyes, which I didn’t finish,
If I throw this into the pond will anyone notice?
the second pig tongue again I couldn’t get it down, the third clam worms which I finished, just not fast enough. So after the dust settled, and the vomit was cleaned up, Coby and were the two people put up on the block. We weren’t allowed to plead our case and the other nine had to vote. The four Skog members voted for Coby, and the other five voted for me. I was hopeful that Andy and Laura would save me, but I figured it was just too early for them to make that move, so that was the end of my game going out 5-4 to one of my favorite survivors. (Just a quick aside, the fact Coby hasn’t been brought back to play Survivor is criminal)
So that was my Survivor experience, I’ll save who I voted for at final tribal for the video. It was such an amazing experience, I met some great people. Each and every Survivor who came out was as nice as could be. I finished 11th, I felt like I had a lot of game left, but in the end it was an unforgettable experience, and most importantly it was for a great cause, a cause I urge everyone to donate to. I can’t wait to volunteer next year, and see all the people who made this event so special.
Part 1 of My Durham Warrior Survival Challenge Experience (Or the closest I’ll get to being on Survivor)
I was blindfolded, starved, pushed to my psychical limit, forced to eat fish eyes and somehow it was the best weekend of my life. This past weekend I partook in the second annual Durham Warrior Survival Challenge in Durham Maine. The event put on by former Survivor, and winner of season 17 Survivor Gabon Bob Crowley and Survivor “superfan” John Vataha simulates a season of Survivor over 3 days.
There were 18 players this year, and each contestant had to raise 300 dollars in order to compete. With the 18 new players came 3 Survivor veterans; Coby Archa from season 10 Survivor Palau, Kathy Sleckman from season 16 Survivor Micronesia, and Matt Bischoff from season 26 Survivor Caramoan. Upon arriving my bags were searched, and I was lead to a holding cell in a barn where I sat in silence for the better part of 2 hours.
After that we were blindfolded and lead to cars to be driven to an unknown location. When we arrived the blindfolds were taken off and we were put into canoes with one other contestant. The catch being we weren’t allowed to talk to one another. I was paired with a lovely lady named Linda and promptly began screwing up the trip in epic fashion. I have never rowed a boat before, and being put in the back meant it was my job to steer the thing, naturally this lead to our canoe drifting from one side of the lake to the other, instead of traveling in a straight line like all of the other canoes.
Eventually we did arrive at the landing spot and were given a torch. At this point all 21 contestants were lead into tribal council, and greated by Bob and John. They explained that we would all be spending the night together as one group, and then dumped water onto the fire.
Fortunately some resourceful people (read anyone other than myself) were able to save the fire. Next everyone began getting to know one another, this was an exercise in perception management, it was quickly discovered that I was the youngest and I wanted to prove that I wasn’t just some immature kid. In short I just wanted to fit in, and I was going to have to go to their level instead of expecting people to come to mine. I was the reverse Rudy from season 1.
After a cold night filled with no sleep and regret in regards to my blanket choice John came back to give us our first taste of the game. In his hand was a bag from which all of us collected a wooden chip, my mind was going a million miles an hour at this point. Is this for captains for tribes? Does anyone have a chip with the same color as mine? What’s going on here!? John then gave us a map with four Xs on it. Each X was a station with items on a table, when we reached these stations we would trade our chips for whatever item we wanted on the table. John raised his hand, said “Survivors ready… Go!” and the game was officially on. A large group went right, a smaller group including myself went left, at a fork in the path most of smaller group went right, and I continued on with one other contestant, trying to reach the furthest station. This is when Andy the other contestant and I got lost, for most of our thirty minute time limit we wandered the woods hopelessly looking for that elusive table. Suddenly out of the trees comes a woman named Honey who lead us to a table where I collected a tarp and sprinted (okay jogged lightly because I’m terribly out of shape) to the place where this challenge began. So came the next twist.
After everyone had returned John had another bag, each of us drew a rock. My was black which meant my part was easy, three others had colored rocks. Orange to Clark, White to Linda, and Green to Ian. These three were captains, the selection process is kind of a blur but I do remember that I ended up on the orange Skog tribe by way of Matt picking me as “the kid with the bad ass hair” From the beginning I felt that the Skog tribe was the strongest tribe of the bunch, we had Clark a super athlete, who may have been sent by casting from California, Rebecca a doctor and former all american Lacrosse player, Honey the amazing woman who helped Andy and I find that table, Matt the former Survivor, Ronnie the hardworking southern badass, John the Vet… uhm Lawyer, and myself the chubby, curly haired, superfan. I mean at least I could be the comic relief I suppose.
That day we competed in several reward challenges in order to gain points, 5 for the first place team, 3 for second, and 1 for third. They were very psychical, with the exception of Survivor Jeopardy, the challenge that earned me the nickname “The Survivor Savant”
The Skog tribe ended up coming in second for the day, which earned us a platter of 6 apples, 1 slice of bread with peanut butter on it, 7 stale chips, and a tarp. We headed back to our camp and I quickly went to work.
To be continued…