Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Scout Cloud Lee says 'Survivor has gone soft over the years'
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed 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.
Scout Cloud Lee knows something about toughness. She made it 38 days out in the elements of Survivor: Vanuatu after a knee replacement made it difficult for her to even walk. So it’s not surprising that the woman who “survived cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, car wrecks, and horse bucks” is less than impressed with the conditions contestants have to endure these days on her former show.
“I think Survivor has gone soft over the years,” says Scout. “Right after Vanuatu, the producers started building huts, toilets, watering holes, etc. Most of us old timers call the newer seasons Survivor Hilton.” (Old timer Bruce Kanegai certainly agrees.)
A hard worker even with her bum knee, Scout worked hard in the social and strategic aspects of the game as well, forming an early alliance to keep her safe, and then siding with her adversary-turned-temporary-ally Eliza Orlins to completely flip the game and oust Ami Cusack. Ultimately, she came up one day short, but Scout still has plenty to say about her time both during and after Survivor — and say it she shall in her Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
SCOUT CLOUD LEE: For a few years, I did a lot of Keynote speaking about Survivor. I’m the CEO of my consulting firm, so I also did corporate training for Leadership and Team Development. In 2017, we moved to Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma, and settled into our beautiful lake home. Over the years since Survivor, I’ve published several more books (available on Amazon, etc.) COVID took my business away, so we have been holed up with five dogs, four cats, and lots of reading.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Being on TV gives us “reputation.” I’m happy to say that I am remembered for my integrity and hard work. While I was handicapped by an artificial knee, I never complained. Of course, if I had complained, I would have been toast! I believe that my strategy was useful in the game. I decided to play with integrity and I pretty much stuck to my guns.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
I don’t really recount any regrets. I suppose I could have focused more on winning a million dollars, but the money was not a motivator for me.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
We, of course, had to poop in the woods like a bear. I found large leaves with fuzz on them. We tested them for poison. They were good to use, so I stockpiled them in the woods. It rained all the time, so they were wet like baby wipes. They were almost as good!
Also, we have to send our clothes to the casting directors prior to the show. On the island, they gave us our bag in which we discovered they have removed most of our clothes. No underwear! Shorts, a shirt, socks, tennis shoes, and a bathing suit. Strangely, our clothes didn’t stink as bad as I thought they would. Well, except for the guys who brought cotton to the island. Cotton never dries in salt water. It just stinks and stretches. Sleeping while spooning those guys did stink, but they kept us warmer.
Cameras always followed us. We got used to it and really didn’t notice, except when we were naked, taking a bath in the small, dirty stream. It was freeze-ass cold so much of the time, and it rained 30 of our 39 days. We were forced to cuddle and spoon in order to make it through the night.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
The edit I got was what got on camera. It was totally me. Some people say that they got bad edits. It was my experience that if it got on camera, it probably happened lots of times. Personally, I was amazed at the edits. Survivor is a documentary! Most every moment is filmed from several angles and then pieced together to tell the story, while keeping the mystery alive at Tribal. The editing is actually a masterpiece.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
The transition back into normal life was hard. It was loud, and fast-paced, and smelly. I could barely stand to go to Walmart. I could actually smell the “cheap” of the products. It was also hard because people stopped me all the time. They would even pull up to my car at a traffic light and snap pictures. I’m not naturally a patient person. I learned to be with all the people stopping me for pictures, etc. That window, gratefully, was short-lived. I could not tolerate the taste of sugar. It made me sick to my stomach. My sense of smell was acute and sometimes over-powering. I just wanted to hang out with my horses and dogs.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
As I said, no regrets. The nature of my keynote speaking changed from topics about “Human Excellence” to all about Survivor. I learned to love doing Q&As about the show, lessons, etc. I still mostly enjoy Q&As. I know some people from the show that suffered emotionally. It’s not my story to tell about them, but “reputation” sticks and it hurt some people.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I still stay in touch with Julie Berry, Ami Cusack, and Twila. I’ve contacted others, but nothing repeated. Twila has been to my ranch. Ami and Jules are kindred spirits, so I contact them from time to time. I’m on Twitter with Bob and Peggy Crowley. Bob is my favorite all-time Survivor. It’s surprising that he has not been back. I also camped with the Queen on Catalina Island. She is a very funny person. I also am in touch with Ethan sometimes. Sonja Christopher is a friend. We often talk. I met her at our Vanuatu finale and remained friends over the years.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
Season 40, Winners at War. It was good to see all the old winners. However, I think Survivor has gone soft over the years. Right after Vanuatu, the producers started building huts, toilets, watering holes, etc. Most of us old timers call the newer seasons Survivor Hilton. If Jeff ever moves on, I would like to see Boston Rob host.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
As I said earlier, I would like to have played with Bob Crowley. I would have learned things from him about living in nature. Also, Ethan, who is just an upstanding human being.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Even though I think Survivor has gone soft, I wouldn’t change anything. It is what it is, a documentary of people living on an island for 39 days.
Lately, the challenges have become a lot of puzzles. I like the hard, physical challenges better. The vertical maze on Vanuatu was one of the most difficult and interesting. Jeff has learned to “stir the pot” more at Tribal. At first, I didn’t like it, but I’ve come to like the chaos at Tribal now. It’s amazing that the show continues to evolve and hold our interest. I miss it now.
John Kirhoffer is the mastermind of the Dream Team, who designs all the challenges. He and his team deserve an academy award!!!
Finally, would you play again if asked?
I was asked if I would return. Not now. I’m sporting 2 artificial knees and 2 artificial shoulders, and… I’m much older. I would love to go back as a coach. That would be great.