Leedzie’s Loopholes: Survivor Shelter Shortcut

As this is an equal opportunity gaming blog, today we’re going to step away from video games to have a look at one of our country’s most demanding and unforgiving competitions: Survivor. Inspired by the 1997 Swedish survival show Expedition Robinson, Survivor premiered in the United States in 2000, and quickly took the country by storm. Now, 14 years and 28 seasons later, the series continues to run strong by innovating new rules, formats, and play styles.


Each time a new season is announced, millions of diehard fans flock to auditions in hopes of earning their chance to outwit, outplay, and outlast their peers for that sweet, sweet $1,000,000 — and I am NOT one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I want to play the games and prove my strength and possibly win enough money to set my family for life, but unless they’re giving me free birth control pills for 39 days, I have no intention of dealing with my period when the nearest Aleve can only be reached by helicopter.

But even if it’s a game I never intend to play, that doesn’t mean I can’t still break it.

Survivor is one of the most punishing games in the world. It puts its players through numerous physical and mental hardships, some of which can have lasting consequences once the players return home. In addition to the challenges of the game itself, Survivor contestants face malnourishment, inadequate sleep, difficulty creating fire, few or limited hunting supplies, bug bites, homesickness, infected injuries, and Richard Hatch getting a bit too personal. There’s no shortage of ways that Survivor makes its players miserable, but I will contest that nothing destroys spirits faster than bad weather.

While some seasons of Survivor see relatively calm atmospheric conditions, it’s not uncommon at all for the players to be pelted with excessive rain for days at a time. A basic storm is bad enough, but when it evolves into a tropical monsoon, the game can rapidly nosedive. Players find themselves unable to keep dry, warm, maintain a fire, sleep, or fish. Many players additionally suffer soreness due to the overabundance of water absorbed by their skin, which makes them more susceptible to injury. Teams that were doing great can be brought to their knees by the rain — which is why winning the tarp reward challenge is possibly more important than winning fire. Fire can be obtained in multiple ways, but there’s only one way to get a tarp.

Until now, that is.

Let’s suppose for a moment that I didn’t care about any impending uterine woes and I actually auditioned for Survivor. If I got a call from one of the producers and was informed that I’d been chosen to play, I’d thank them for the call, drive two miles down the road to the department store, and buy a large tarp. I would then bring that tarp home, and instead of getting to work on packing, I’d instead get to work sewing. Why? Because I’d make a tarp suit, that’s why!

Screw silk, this is a thing of beauty.

I’m sure there’s a rule in the contract that teams can’t bring their own tarps, but that isn’t what I’d be doing; I’d simply be wearing an outfit made of an unconventional material, which apparently can be very trendy according to Project Runway. I’d go the whole nine yards, too: I’d show up the first day decked out in my tarp shirt and pants, tarp suit jacket, tarp bra, tarp tie, tarp hat, tarp socks… Hell, I’d top it all off with a tarp cape. Yes, I’d be sweating my ass off that first day, but I can guarantee you I wouldn’t be the one booted when Jeff Probst invariably asks each tribe to vote someone out based on first impressions. Who in their right mind would get rid of the chufty girl with one of the most valuable materials in the game?

Call it weird if you want, but using the clothing you came with in unconventional ways isn’t uncommon. In past seasons, contestants have used eyeglasses to light a campfire and stacked their clothing together to make a poor man’s filtration system for water. How much more of a stretch is it, really, to disassemble some water-resistant clothing to make the shelter more durable?

…Of course, after we got to camp and disassembled my tarp suit to use on the shelter, then I’d probably be the first to go. I’d like to think it’s because my brilliant idea illustrated that I’m too crafty and likeable to stay in the game, but it’s a lot more likely I’d get blindsided because I’m too nice. Or annoying.

But at least I’d be dry and comfortable for those first three days!

Obligatory Legal Crap

Survivor and all affiliated logos and… characters? are property of CBS. I’m pretty sure it’s politically incorrect to refer to real people as characters. What is wrong with me.

The tarp suit idea is my own, and while it may not make much of a fashion statement, I expect a cut of the winnings if someone on a tropical island wins $1,000,000 because of it some day.

I also idly considered a duct tape suit, but we’d probably all kill our fingertips trying to unstick it from itself. That’d get me voted out even faster than being nice or annoying.


About Leedzie

Leda "Leedzie" Clark is a writer and game designer with a sharp eye for detail and a kooky sense of humor. She's been a nerd as long as she can remember, and always seems to notice the wrong thing first in any given situation.

Posted on March 6, 2014, in Feature Articles, Humor, Journalism, Leedzie's Loopholes, TV and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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