I got an email from the casting producer of the History Channel’s ALONE show asking if I would be interested in being considered for Season 9. I thought it over, looking at the pros and cons of being part of a top-rated survival competition, where competitors film themselves and are out on their own in the wilds without anyone else. The last person standing wins $500,000.
I’ve watched the show since the first season and quiet enjoy it. I also know all of the Canadians that have participated in the past: Joe Robinat, Jim and Ted Baird, and Kielyn Marrone. They’re top-notch individuals and all seemed to gain from being on it. Jim and Ted even won Season 4.
But what would I gain? I doubt I’d win the money. I doubt I’d even last one episode. But maybe it would be cool to be part of a major television production. Throughout my career I’ve created half a dozen pilots for T.V. None of them went anywhere.
Heck, maybe it’s a good way to lose my pandemic weight gain.
To get a feel for what others thought, I posted about the request on my social media pages, jokingly superimposing my face into the photo of Season 4’s Jim Baird. That certainly got a good giggle.
Kevin Callan... and Jim Baird?
I was shocked at the responses. I got hundreds of views and comments. Most were telling me to go for it, claiming it’s a chance of a lifetime. A good number questioned why I wouldn’t consider it. One guy stated that in a world of “fake adventures” on television with participants that are too full of themselves, it would be a breath of fresh air to see someone who is practical, has a great sense of humour, and is not out there trying to tell the world that you are better than they are.
My friends had a good laugh over it, joking about the 10 items I would bring along. Most participant’s top choices would be things like an axe or flint and steel. I’d make sure to pack a cozy camp chair and a keg of good scotch.
There were also a few colleagues that joked that it would be better than seeing me on another popular survival show—Naked and Afraid.
Interestingly enough, there were a lot of people asking me not too; even pleading for me to refuse. They believed it would likely make The Happy Camper not so happy, and it was unfitting to my true character. I’ve always tried to thrive in the wilderness, not survive. An appearance on ALONE would disgrace all what I have done throughout my outdoor career.
This wasn’t the first time the History Channel asked me to consider being on the show ALONE. I received a similar request for Season 1. Thinking back, I would have agreed to it back then. I knew nothing of the show at the time and my filmmaking friends were all saying how it was going to be a big production and that it would certainly boost my career. Mentally I was ready for it. My wife had just asked for a separation after 20 years of marriage. I had the psychological fortitude to spend countless days in the wilderness. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’d have to force me to leave after I won. But when my young daughter heard about it, she became very distraught and asked me not to go away at the time.
I turned down the offer without a second thought.
Times are different now. My daughter is a teenager and spends far more time with her friends than her dad. So, being away for a long time wouldn’t be that much of an issue. Mentally, however, I’m in a different head space. I’m happy. For that reason, I contacted the casting producer and declined her offer.
Quite simply, I had no desire to be on the show. I was okay with what I was doing and where I was going with my career. I didn’t need a reality survival show to prove my skills and mental fortitude while in the wilderness. I just wanted to be in the wilderness. To me, that feeling of being comfortable out in the woods, thriving and not surviving, is worth far more than $500,000 and five minutes of fame.