Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Joe del Campo on losing the game due to winning a reward
With season 41 of Survivor delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show's past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they've been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
For Joe del Campo, winning a reward on Survivor was anything but. As the first septuagenarian contestant since Rudy Boesch back in season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars), Joe made it all the way to the final 5 of Survivor: Kaoh Rong. And not only did he make it there, but he won the final 5 reward challenge. And that is ultimately what did the former FBI agent in.
Joe's reward included a spa-set feast, a feast filled with steak kebabs — kebabs which Joe previously told EW, "I couldn't stop eating. If you put that satay in a line, it was about three feet of satay." Which sounds like about two-and-a-half feet too many, especially considering the state of Joe's body after a month of starvation. Sure enough, Joe's intestines rebelled, causing immense pain, multiple visits from the Survivor doctors, and, eventually, a medical evacuation out of the game on day 34.
We'll never know if Joe would have won Survivor had he practiced more restraint on his reward, but now thanks to his Quarantine Questionnaire, we can find out how he feels about the good and bad of his big challenge victory, as well as everything else that went down on his island adventure.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
JOE DEL CAMPO: I came back spent the summer and early fall in Murphy, N.C., where we had a cabin. Still have our home in Vero Beach, Fla. Part-time with my private investigation business. Sold the cabin last fall and purchased a getaway lake side home in Sebring, Fla. Been doing a lot of landscaping, including resurfacing and sealing a 100-foot wooden dock. Purchased an older pontoon boat, which is fun driving around our lake. Four rescue Yorkies complete the picture.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
My proudest moment, of course, was winning the challenge, which by the next day was my worst moment. Things probably would've worked out a lot different as for my chances at the final three. There's an old saying in the Navy, "That's the breaks of Naval Air.'' I was in pilot training early in my naval career.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
Read the above paragraph.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I think that would be some of the deleted video taken during my celebration of winning my challenge. And me coming out in a pink kimono. There were only three, and the girls got to pick theirs first. Then there is me taking a bath in that cowboy bathtub with the ensuing comments I made, and a couple other moments from that day.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
Survivor edits are very subjective, of course, in nature. Would I have liked to have seen some of the other interviews of me that were never shown? Hell yeah! But it is what it is. There was a conversation between Jason and me pretty early on where he wanted me to betray Debbie in support of the Brawn Tribe. I more or less intimated that I would consider going along with his proposition, when in fact I had no intention to do so. I believe that's when the friction really started between him and me and Scot.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
Dalton, I'm an old salt/soul. I was 71, going to be 72 that year, with a lot of life experiences under my belt. I always saw it as a game, outside of real life, so when I returned to real life, the transition was easy. The only real shock was I had to spend a number of months gaining back muscle/poundage (lost 20) and working my butt off at the gym to get back where I was pregame.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
There's a deleted scene the day of the merge where I'm being interviewed (it never aired) talking about how I felt. I'll look it up and forward it to you. The sum total of what I said about being there was that I was "thrilled." I'm still thrilled. I was given an opportunity, I did the best that I could, and the experience is one that I will cherish for the rest of my life, particularly at the age that I was able to experience it.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Aubry and I stayed in touch for a while. We still text once in a while, back and forth. Michele and I have maintained a postgame friendship. Her folks have a getaway house in Florida, and in these past several years we've gotten together from time to time.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I still watch the show, but, for me there's too much with the hidden idol stuff. I mean, it was bad enough six years ago, but now as soon as they hit the beach throughout, they are looking for idols. I'm looking forward to seeing season 41 with the diversity of cast members, and what I hear, also ages.
As for my favorite season, it has to be season 10, Palau, with Tom Westman. Prior to being selected as a cast member, I reviewed every season from Borneo on. Tom is the one person I fully respected for his honesty, loyalty, and integrity — qualities I would like to think that I have myself.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Now, as far as playing against Tom, I don't think so, he'd kick my butt from the get-go. However, I would have been honored to be on his team. My older son, Chris, is a firefighter and now the number three man in the Hollywood Fire Rescue Department. I actually had to get permission from CBS and the chief of Hollywood Fire Rescue to wear one of their sweatshirts during the taping of our season. I wanted to honor the men and women of that department.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I guess for me personally, it would be that if you had to leave medically but were fit in the future, you could return and do another season, which has been done for certain individuals in the past. Unfortunately for me, I never got a chance to go back.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Would I play again? In a heartbeat!
Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"