Interview with Scout Cloud Lee
Scout Cloud Lee finished third in Survivor: Vanuatu thanks to an amazing knowledge and application of basic survival and social skills. In January, 2005, Unofficial Survivor Guide caught up with Scout to talk about her time in Vanuatu.
Unofficial Survivor Guide: You’ve led an extremely accomplished life, writing numerous books, recording music, teaching, speaking – is there anything in particular that helped you prepare best for Survivor and helped you tough it out as many days as you did?
Scout: I was there 38 of the 39 days. It was often very cold (it’s winter in Vanuatu during our summer). I was sometimes thirsty and sometimes hungry. I lost lots of weight. My leg was very stiff. It rained and the men’s shelter leaked. These were not, however, the most challenging things with which to deal. The social challenge of being in each others face for 24-7 for 38 long days was! I believe that as I’ve matured, I’ve found ways to keep my mouth shut, unless the issue is my own “hill to die on”. I have found that others like to talk about themselves. Let them. Even encourage them to do so. Show an interest in others. Listen. Gather others opinions. Use the information you find to formulate a strategy. Give others plenty of rope to hang themselves. Let others take credit for your deeds, if they need to (e.g. I choreographed all the building – Twila seemed to get credit for that; I taught everyone how to open coconuts – Ami often took over that). Teach others the skills you have and let them own it as their own. Share leadership…or at least create the illusion of “shared leadership”. Years of maturity allowed me to reign in my ego during the game. I also dropped all caffeine and sugar 4 months before the game. I drank only water. I cut back on the amount of water I needed. I walked barefoot on the land to toughen up my feet. I joined the gym to muscle up. And I tanned a bit so my skin would not blister. I read lots about Vanuatu, including the native culture. Finally, remember: Open Minds and Open Hearts Open Doors!
During filming, the locals referred to you as the “Spirit Woman.” Do you know if there is anything you did in particular that would have earned you that nickname? Do you think they related to you in the same manner they do the “spirits” that are part of their culture?
From the opening ceremony, the native NiVanuatu seemed to respect me. Perhaps it was my age. The Medicine Man did not herd me along with the other women. I took sacred corn and bone to the island and offered it to the sacred places in the jungle. I sang my own spirit songs to ask silent permission to walk on the land. I offered silent prayers and humility when I took food. I prayed silently to honor the spirit of the snails and crabs that we ate. I went alone to sit with the rocks and trees and listened in the silence. In the silence there is power. I took every opportunity to enter into the silence and listen. It was my salvation in a very stressful situation. Finally, I am the Spirit Keeper of Mt. Wolumbian in Australia. It is also known as Mt. Warning. The NiVanuatu are close kin to the Australian Aboriginal people. Perhaps they sensed my kinship.
Was there a sense of dread or apprehension when Brady took the spirit stone in the opening ceremony?
From the moment of seeing the Spirit Stone and what it meant to the NiVanuatu, I respected it. During the game, the stone seemed, at times, to be a bad omen for the men. When the merge happened, I saw the stone fall to the ground where it was left to lay. I secretly put it in a special place. I’ve spent too much time with indigenous people to lack respect for their ways. In the end, the stone may well have been an omen that a man would win. Women have won most of the Survivor shows. I had a feeling that a man would win when Brady got the stone.
What was the specific agreement between you, Ami, & Leann regarding the final four? How was it expressed? Was it implied or explicit, and if it was explicit – what were the words used to seal the deal?
We spoke often about “going to the end of the game together”. I don’t believe that we ever used the words “final four”. We agreed to “stick together” and sealed the deal with a “thumb circle”. You saw us do this act often on film.
Did you notice anything interesting about the relative contributions of the others in the daily chores around camp in regards to alliances? Did you see any players that significantly changed their work ethic as the days passed?
It was obvious from the beginning who the basic alliances were. “Birds of a feather, flock together”. Lisa was the only odd one out with the women. She was an older woman who first aligned with the younger women. However, she worked side-by-side with the older women. She was an excellent worker, and ultimately she joined the older group. Ami never quite forgave her for her original alliance. Too bad. I really, really liked Lisa.
You seemed to have a plan to go to the final 2 with Twila. Was there a contingency plan in place if you or Twila didn’t win the final Immunity Challenge? You didn’t appear to have been working Chris too much; was it confidence that he’d take you or lack of confidence?
Had either Twila or I won the final immunity challenge, we would probably have gone together. At the time of the final challenge, I was very much in the present moment. I had no real plan, other than to give the best I had. I had a very bad infection in my foot and found that standing on that small pole was unbearable. Chris and I had talked before the challenge. He had already told me that he didn’t think he could beat me. Thus, I knew he would not take me with him.
On that note, some of the jury had it in for Twila and would never have voted for her to get the million dollars. Do you think you would have had a better chance than Twila did if you had been up against Chris?
How does the inability to shower, brush your teeth, etc., affect the game? Does it add to the fatigue, or is it possible to put that aside and focus totally on the tasks at hand?
I found it only possible to focus on the task at hand. It is truly a “chop wood, carry water, make fire” focus. The basics of living are ever present. I spent all day walking with wood or water, thatching a roof, boiling water, or finding food. I got up early and went to the creek to bath and wash out my mouth. I used bamboo as a toothbrush. I washed at least two pieces of clothing every day. I tried to stay as clean as possible. We had to spoon each other to stay warm. I wanted to be as clean as one can be in these circumstances. It was nice when it rained and the leaves were wet. It made me feel cleaner when using them to “wipe”. It was almost like having a “wipie” at home (smile).
We know that sometimes things are edited out of sequence for the show in order to fit in with a storyline. During the show, was there anything you noticed that was blatantly out of place or left out altogether that you felt might give viewers the wrong idea of a particular event or person? Did editing accurately portray each survivor, or were some players really misrepresented in the episodes?
I found the editing to be reflective of the absolute truth of each person. There was never a time when the result of something was distorted in any way. There was once a playoff for the final in the shuffleboard game. I was in the finals with Chris and Twila. While the editing didn’t show the run off, it showed the result. That is all that mattered. I’m totally amazed that the producers are able to weave together the truth of the story line and show the result. Sometimes the viewer would not see a blatant statement being made, but that is because it would give away the final vote and ruin the punch of the show. The producers and crew of Survivor are genius. Remember that this is a documentary. They have to catch it all on film and audio and then patch it together. There is 300 times more footage than what is aired, but what is aired is an accurate basic account.
One of the “surprises” for some people this season was how long you were able to stay in the game – and thrive – despite the knee problems you were experiencing. Were you surprised by how much your knee impacted your ability on the physical immunity challenges and reward challenges, or even the daily activities of surviving?
Yes. I had no idea that my knee would limit me so. I knew that I couldn’t run fast. But the rough corral and the vines made even walking challenging. My success in the game, devoid of a strong physical game, is reflective of an important truth. This is a game about “relationships”…..just like life. People will support you if you are in “good relations” with them.
What was your first thought when you saw the vertical maze challenge the occurred during the final 4?
This was a favorite challenge. While I did it slowly…and often moved to help my castmates be more successful….I still did it and so enjoyed it. It was genius! I want to build one on my Ranch!
You have studied Native American culture – did that knowledge work into your game plan or how you were able to play the game, for example, knowing how they live off the land, etc.?
Absolutely! I found water, watercress, hearts of palm, opened coconuts, taro, and snails. Eating off the land was easier for me than most. Dah helped us the most. Twila and I shadowed his every step, even during the night while others slept. I also knew that those chickens can’t be caught, and if we did catch them they would be too tough to eat.
What happened to change the other players perceptions of you? You didn’t get a vote at TC until fairly late in the game, what do you think accounted for that?
As I said before, I was in good relations with everyone…except I did coach Liza to talk less, which she didn’t like. I also nurtured everyone, built the hut, made hair piks for everyone, made toothbrushes, bowls, spoons, etc. They called me “Mother” sometimes. It’s hard to throw your Mother out of the game.
What was your very first reaction the first time you heard of Twila’s promise on her son?
Big damn deal! She meant it at the time. She had no intentions of turning. It was when LeAnn and then Ami bumped me down in the final four that Twila saw the writing on the wall. She would be next. She wanted to win. Thus, we made a new plan and voted LeAnn off, then Ami. Others said, “I swear to God…” The ruckus over Twila’s pledge was absurd. They didn’t like Twila because she spoke her truth and she was a blue collar worker. Most could not relate to her for this reason. None of them had ever worked as hard as she did. She is a fine human being.
What was your take on Chris’s “BS” in light of playing the game?
On the one hand, he played a “hell of a game”. He lied and conned his way to the top. And, that is the truth….Chris won with deceit. In the long run, people will remember him for that. I personally believe that a million dollars worth of integrity will go a lot further than a million dollars. Remember, “What you see is what you get!” Chris will be just that big of a BSer in real life. He is what he is.
What can you tell us about the application process that could give future applicants an idea what influences the producers?
By all means, present yourself as yourself. The game will take you to your knees. Who you really are will be revealed. So, have the courage to put it up front. If you make it, great. If you don’t, great. And apply if you want to be in the game. Don’t stand around and talk about it. Do it.
Is there anything you feel you miss about Vanuatu? Would you consider going back?
I made friends with a NiVanuatu family. I’d like to go back to visit them one day.
One more question: Oklahoma State – final four material?
Absolutely Final Four material. They would be National Champions if Eddie would put “Seven Foot Two Inches” under the basket, in the paint, and tell him to just flap and wave! Think about it….7 feet, 2 inches! Also put Bobik on the bench, except to run in and shoot his one great 3 pt shot. Use him to rest other players…and only shoot his one great shot. Ha! So there you have my arm chair coaching.
Thanks for the opportunity to share!
Scout Cloud Lee
Special thanks to Llanolover, without whom this interview might not have been possible!
Caps, books, CDs, shirts, and scents can be purchased from Scout’s website at www.scoutcloudlee.com. They are also working to put together 5-7 retreats for Survivor fans who would like a Survivor-like experience. Stay tuned for those or contact Scout via her site for more information.