Rating the activities on Pulau Tiga

Experts: How realistic is `The Survivors'?

June 21, 2000|By Rasmi Simhan | Rasmi Simhan,SUN STAFF

Who will survive? Should we care?

Outdoors experts and show fans alike talk about what makes "Survivor" a study of human nature or why we shouldn't try the participants' wilderness tricks at home.

"Mountain" Mel Deweese, survivalist.

On choosing "Survivor" participants: "They're like the seven dwarfs, Sleepy, Dopey and Grumpy put under stress without food, fire, water or shelter. They don't want 16 of us [survivalists]. We would've whacked the monkeys the first day there and eaten them."

On surviving in a group: "They've got to know each person inside out. One guy's a fisherman, and they didn't believe him. Somewhere in somebody's background, you've got the skills to maintain your life pattern."

On preparing rat: "We made rat traps in the jungle in the Philippines. The trick is you never touch rats because they'll bite you. We took them and drowned them first."

Credentials: Director of the Nature Knowledge program, a wilderness survival camp in Grand Junction, Colo.

Tom Brown, survivalist .

On the show's realism: "To me, if you bring anything into the wilderness with you, even clothing, you might as well be camping. I teach survival as if they're going to walk into the wilderness naked."

On group work: "Native Americans used to live together as one big family because they worked for a common goal. As soon as you put individual gain in there, the back-stabbing situations come up. They're not following the rules of the wild, they follow the rules of society."

On the last survivor: "If it was completely based on skill, I would say that Greg would win hands down. He's had four classes [with me]. Problem is, it's got a lot to do with not getting anyone else angry and a whole social structure."

Credentials: Founder of the Tracker School, which offers nature, tracking and philosophy classes in Asbury, N.J.

Bert Weiss, radio show host.

On how much he likes the show: "I'm glued to the screen. My world stops. The first thought I have Wednesday morning: `Survivor' is going to be on!' "

On who should survive: "Gervase. The first week when they introduced him, I thought, `There's a guy who can make it.' He's like a YMCA counselor."

On who should not survive: "They should boot Ramona off this week. She's a wuss. She eats rice and pukes. Nobody's picked her [for the morning show's betting pool]. If they boot Gervase before Ramona, I'm writing a letter to CBS."

Credentials: "Survivor" fan and host for "The Jack and Bert Morning Show" on WRQX-FM (107.3). The morning show staff placed bets on the last survivor. The losers take a camping trip together while the winner gets to stay home.

Bill Greer, editor of Great Outdoor Recreation Pages.

On taking the show seriously: "Not to take the fun out of it, but realize there's a serious side to survival. The least realistic part is the energy that goes into the show. When you're out in the wilderness lost, it's all about conserving your energy. I hope people tend to be more inspired to go on adventures by watching `Survivor' than be put off by watching it."

Credentials: Founder and editor in chief of Gorp.com, an online outdoors and adventure magazine

Dr. Gary Nussbaum, expert on wilderness techniques.

On the show's realism: "I just came back from [Colorado]where it's freezing at night with snow and 45 to 70 mph winds. [Pulau Tiga] is not Gilligan's or Fantasy Island, but it's much closer to those than to my context. For me, survival isn't competitive unless it's an extreme situation when decisions are made on who's going to get eaten or who's going to get thrown off the boat."

On why the "booting" process confuses him: "My experience has been that the old salts have some of the most valuable wisdom when it comes to surviving. This program doesn't have that sense; it reinforces cultural stereotypes about seniors. I think my students would tell you if they wanted to place their bets on who they'd survive with, they'd place them with me."

Credentials: 52-year-old chairman of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism at Radford University in Radford, Va.

Gary Ferguson, author.

On learning from anger in the wilderness: "The challenges involved with living simply can stress you out faster than anything you come into contact with on a daily level. At first you lean on the coping strategy you would've used back home. If coworkers aggravate you, you might not talk to them. In the wilderness, you find ways to abandon avoidance techniques and deal with the situation when, in daily situations, avoidance would be possible."

On why survivors must stay on their toes: "Over time (living outdoors) gives you a feeling of constantly thinking and being in the present that you don't always get in everyday life. People unable to use forward-thinking judgment can get into trouble."

Credentials: Wrote "Shouting at the Sky: Troubled Teens and the Promises of the Wild" (St. Martins Press, 1999)

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