Naked and Afraid
As you all know, I am an extreme survivalist; I practice survival skills every chance I get, and I never stop researching new techniques and ideas. I also watch the survival shows that are on the Discovery Channel, and when the one called “Naked and Afraid” came out, I thought it was just a gimmick to get people to watch. But I have watched a ton of survival shows, and this one has to be the most extreme of anything I have ever seen.
Discovery does an extensive job of finding suitable candidates through a strenuous screening process. They also do a lot of research to find places to host these adventures. Once they have the place and the candidates, they take a man and a woman, who don’t know each other, and put them in a hostile survival situation with no food, water, or clothes. Each person gets to bring one survival item, and usually one person brings a knife or machete, and the other brings a fire starting device, but not always. Sometimes a fire starter is replaced by a pot, which is equally valuable. The couple has to survive for 21 days, including reaching an extraction point at the very end of the journey, which usually requires a lot of physical effort when the participants are at their lowest point of energy and morale.
Just so you know, I am not being paid by the Discovery Channel to write about this, I am writing about it because it is a survival show that you can really learn from. In fact, they have a survival rating test that you can take by clicking here. It’s a pretty simple test, but somehow I could never get better than 9 out of 10, probably because I chose that my greatest liability would be a weak partner, which is kind of selfish. I had to be honest, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t care about or for my partner. It’s just that in the reality of a life or death situation, the ability of your partner has an extreme impact on the chances for both of you to survive.
I submitted an application to be a contestant on that show, but after watching a “behind the scenes” episode about how the show is produced, I saw that people put a lot more effort into their applications than I did. All I did was complete the application, add some verbiage about the master outdoorsman that I am, and referred them to my website. But other people sent in videos of themselves performing all kinds of survival skills, some impressive, others not so much. But there are a lot of people who spent a lot more effort on the application than I did. I didn’t even know those things were an option, or I didn’t think about it at the time. So if I don’t hear anything in the next month, I will submit another application.
In the mean time, I had an idea. I live very close to the wilderness, so why not do my own “Naked and Afraid” just to see how I can deal with it. There wouldn’t be any camera crews filming it, but I can go into the wilderness and try this out myself. I kind of do this any ways on a regular basis, but never without clothes or shoes, or without all of the necessary preparations. The shoes are the big item; in every episode of the “Naked and Afraid” shows, the lack of foot protection is a huge problem. But I could place myself in a situation in the wilderness where I have nothing more than my knife and a fire starter of some sort, and see how I do in that situation. It sounds very appealing to me. The only problem is doing that for three weeks; I do have a day job.
But now the thought is imbedded in my mind, and I want to do this, even if it is only for a few days. I have to plan this out and do it. How exciting is that?! I can bring my Go-Pro cam and record it all, or most of it. I can put myself to the test, to see if I can do it. I know I can do it.
I originally wrote the above material on June 26th and for some reason I had been waiting to publish it. Ironically I received a call on July 2nd from a casting scout from The Discovery Channel; he wanted to do a phone interview with me to be on the show. He said that my application was impressive, and that my website really set me apart from other contestants, I couldn’t believe it!! So we talked for about 30 minutes, he asked me all kinds of survival questions and personality questions. He liked me enough to send me the full application and schedule a video interview. I was so excited I couldn’t stop smiling.
The full application was very detailed and took me four hours to complete. He also asked me to send in pictures and videos of me doing outdoor activities, and luckily I already had a ton of both. My video interview was scheduled for July 9th at 6:00 PM, I would do the interview by phone while recording it with the video function on my smart phone. I was pretty nervous about the interview, but at 6:00 PM Corey, the casting scout called me and wanted me to set up test shots and then email them to him so he could see how it would look. After 40 minutes of back and forth with that (can you adjust the light behind you, that picture behind you is a little crooked, can you sit closer to the camera, etc…) he finally said everything was good and that the casting director would call me in a few minutes, which he did.
The interview went OK, although I don’t feel like my true personality came through. I had lost my mental focus after the 40 minutes of adjusting things for the interview. I felt like my answers were really good, but after watching the replay, now I know why I don’t do better on job interviews; I am just not good at being interviewed.
After Corey received the video file he said it was great, and that they then would put together a “b-roll,” like I knew what that would mean. What it means is that they would take my interview video, my pictures and videos I sent them, and put together a profile video of me to present to producers. I imagine that takes a lot of work, so I asked Corey when I could expect to hear about the next steps, and he said “Sometime in June.” I said “June?! You mean June of 2015?” He said “Yeah, this whole process takes a while.”
I was quite deflated after hearing that. Here I was all excited to be considered for the filming of the coming episodes, which takes place from November through April, but I am actually a candidate for filming that will take place in 2015. While I was disappointed, I still feel pretty good that I at least had that level of interest from The Discovery Channel, and maybe it will still happen. I am trying to remain optimistic about it, but 11 months is a long while to wait. Plus I think I might be too old for what they are looking for on the show. I don’t feel like my age is a barrier, but the people who want to attract viewers might think so. I guess we’ll see next June.
What I took away from this experience thus far is this; never underestimate yourself. While I have always had a great deal of confidence in myself and my abilities, having two interviews from The Discovery Channel was confirming to me that out of the thousands of people who apply to be on this show, I was worthy of two interviews, and maybe more. If nothing else happens, my confidence has been boosted, and I feel a certain level of validation that I actually know what I am doing.
I think I am still going to make my own version of “Naked and Afraid,” and now I have even more reason to practice my skills, more to come on that.
I am leaving on Saturday with my two sons for a trip that is kind of a secret at this point, so I can’t divulge what that is all about, but it will be a good trip I am sure. I will have lots to write about that and photos/videos to share the week of August 4th. I hope you are all getting out and enjoying the outdoors!