In July 2024, Season 11 of Survival Challenge, which will take place in Macomb, Illinois! Applications are closed, and a new cast will soon be selected. That begs the question – what do you do to prepare for a 5-day competition that will test physical, social, and strategic prowess in a fast-paced version of the CBS reality show, Survivor?

Participants will not merely compete; they will immerse themselves in the raw elements of the game: navigating epic challenges, forging alliances, and surviving the unpredictable outdoors. To help prepare future participants, we turned to the past by asking some former Survival Challenge players to offer their sage advice. Here’s what they had to say.

Shawna Evans (SC Season 10 Winner)

What a player can gain out of this experience does not need to be driven by their placement, and it has so much more to offer than the title of Sole Survivor. I would advise a future player to consider what else they want to get out of this experience and to play for that too. Whether that’s new friendships, survival skills like fire building, feeling what it’s like to be separated from time and technology, or pushing through new levels of physical fatigue.

I would advise players lean in to being present and soaking every bit of it in. Lastly, remember to be kind to yourself – this is a challenging adventure, and unpredictable forces will be at work. You got this.

MT Tomlinson (SC Season 10)

Survival Challenge is the most amazing game! It is an experience of a lifetime! It’s crucial to keep a few key principles in mind. Firstly, always remember that every player has their own unique strategy to secure victory, so be adaptable and open to different approaches.

Secondly, never assume that others will make decisions in your best interest or even their own. Everyone’s choices will be based on their perception of what benefits their game, which may not align with yours or even their own game.

Lastly, avoid becoming the “easy” vote. Never go too far outside the lines where even the perception can exist that you are not “part of” the majority. Stay vigilant and strategic, and don’t be afraid to make bold moves when the time is right to ensure your own survival.

Taylor Byerly (SC Season 10)

The biggest piece of advice I can give to somebody stepping into SC would be to go in it with an open mind, and don’t doubt yourself. You don’t have to be the fittest, most social, smartest person to compete. You just have to have the drive, and the passion to want it.

You are going to experience some of your quickest highs, and lows when playing this game and you’re going to want to be open to it, and be able to be flexible and adapt. Don’t stay in your comfort zone, because you may just find and learn something new about yourself by testing your own limitations. And lastly, have fun!

Matt Kulper (SC Season 9)

The excitement of playing Survival Challenge is evident the second you begin your journey to Macomb. The elements, challenges, and competitiveness of everyone involved speaks to the authenticity of the game.

Try to temper that nervous energy and stay alert to everything. The game moves quickly and making sure you’re attentive to your surroundings can mean the difference between making a big move, developing a vital relationship, or missing an opportunity and having your torch snuffed.

Kurt Conner (SC Season 4)

Don’t talk to your handlers. For one, we’re not supposed to talk to y’all all that much, even though we are excited to be in your space, watching Survivor from the best seat in the house. But to the extent that you’re trying to pry information out of us, we’re usually as in the dark as you are, except that we know what time it is.

And on a deeper level, every conversation you have with a handler is a conversation you’re not having with your fellow players, improving your game. I know the appeal – you’re in a relentlessly emotionally fraught situation where you can’t trust anyone, and you just want a minute to breathe and chat with someone without worrying that you’ll say something that sinks your game. I know why I was chatting with my handlers as often as I could.

But it’s a bad plan. You have plenty of time to talk to your handlers after the game. When you’re in the game, make the hard choice to keep your head in the game and politely ignore your handlers.

Chris O’Neill (SC Season 8)

I have two pieces of advice. The first is to attack the moment— every piece of time is valuable in Survival Challenge. This doesn’t mean constantly be strategizing, but figure out how you can use each situation to bond with your fellow players in a way that advances your game.

The second is to play with confidence, even if it’s faked. Everyone is going to be afraid— this is their one chance at their dream show. Most people will therefore be risk averse, not wanting to mess it up. If you take the opposite approach are willing to play big and take risky angles, you’ll have a leg up to ultimately get the win.

Alejandro Rico (Season 10)

The best piece of advice I got was to enjoy the experience. I think so many of us go into the game wanting to win – and you should – but hyper focusing on your placement only makes you not enjoy the rest of the experience.

You can be out early and get so much out of it, Survival Challenge is a competition but it’s also a community. It’s about a bunch of people who share one passion doing something so unique that truly bonds you for life. It’s a once in a lifetime thing so don’t waste it by being too worried about your placement.

Javin Drake (SC Season 9)

Not only should you consider moves based on your own relationships, but you have to think about your perception of the relationships your tribe mates have with others as well.

I think this can help work out where you think you could fit into other peoples’ plans, and act accordingly. It can also keep you from saying the wrong thing to the wrong person!

Adam Klein (SC Season 5)

I think the best thing you can do to do well in Survival Challenge is to be easy going and fun to be around. If you come in guns blazing and make the environment too intense, or if you let the elements get to you and bring the mood down, you’ll be an easy target.

People want to play with people that will make their experience more enjoyable, so put a smile on your face, crack some jokes, and try to make the experience of your tribe mates better. It won’t get you all the way, but it’ll give you the chance to make a deep run!

Chad Holloway (SC Season 9)

My best advice for playing Survival Challenge is to keep both your eyes and ears open. The game moves faster than you expect, and if you’re not careful you might either overlook a hidden advantage or idol, or mishear important instructions that could cost you a challenge.

John doesn’t like to repeat himself, so pay careful attention. Everything is said for a reason, and if perchance you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

~Chad Holloway 2024