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10 Remain on Quest to be Sole Survivor

Read about all the action that went down in Episode 7 of Survivor-Bloomsburg. Plus, an interview with castaway Jay Maurer

Episode seven of Survivor Bloomsburg was held on March 19th in the Quest Woods. This week brought new advantages, alliances, and the elimination of two castaways: Owen (OZ) Zulli and Lee Habalar.

The first challenge of the competition was titled “Don’t Bug Out. It’s a SURVIVOR Woods Workout.” This challenge was one that was completed in pairs, and it involved an advantage earned by Jake Casella at the end of episode 6. His advantage was that he could choose his partner for this challenge as well as pair up two other castaways as a team for the challenge. Casella chose to pair up with Lee Habalar, and they made up the red team. As far as the other castaways, Casella chose to pair up Jay Maurer and Alyssa Barnes to form the orange team.

After that, the remaining castaways were randomly paired up for the challenge. The yellow team consisted of Brady Armstrong and Katie Doebler. Alek Harkins and Marcus Vener made up the purple team. Hailey Carter and Anthony Witczak formed the green team. And the blue team was Claire Schmoke and Owen “Oz” Zulli. This challenge was won by the purple team, whose members were Alek Harkins and Marcus Vener. After this challenge, the castaways went to Tribal Council, where they voted out Owen Zulli.

The castaways during Episode 7 of Survivor-Bloomsburg, which was held at the Quest woods. Photo submitted by George Kinzel.

The second challenge of the night was entitled “The SURVIVOR Trivia Teeter Totter Fire-making Relay.” This challenge was also one that was competed in teams as opposed to individually. Because of their victory in the first challenge of the night, Marcus Vener and Alek Harkins got to choose which castaways were on each of the four teams. They decided to split up, as opposed to staying together, and created the following teams: Alek Harkins, Claire Schmoke, and Jake Casella on team one; Hailey Carter, Jay Maurer, and Katelyn Doebler on team two; Anthony Witczak, Brady Armstrong, and Alyssa Barnes on team three; and Marcus Vener and Lee Habalar on team four. These four teams competed against each other in the second challenge of the night. The winning team was Team One, consisting of Alek Harkins, Claire Schmoke, and Jake Casella. Upon the completion of this challenge, the castaways went to Tribal Council and decided to eliminate Lee Habalar.

After episode seven, the members of the Castaway Jury are: Hunter Ishler, Jack Holcombe, Own Zulli, and Lee Habalar. These are castaways who have been voted out of the game but will return during the season finale to vote on who should win the title of Sole Survivor.

Knowledge or Power- which is better for Survivor-Bloomsburg?

Episode seven also brought some new advantages for castaways to find and utilize. Over spring break, the castaways were given the option to submit a 10-second dancing video in return for a clue to a hidden advantage. Seven castaways took advantage of this opportunity, which allowed them to choose either the “knowledge” or “power” advantage for episode seven. The “knowledge” advantage provided castaways with information about the challenges that would be occurring in episode seven, as well as some ways to prepare for these challenges. Brady Armstrong, Katelyn Doebler, and Alek Harkins chose this advantage.

The “power” advantage provided castaways with a pair of foam dice. Castaways can choose to play these dice at a Tribal Council meeting, where they have seven chances to roll a seven on the dice. If they do it, they are granted immunity from that Tribal Council for themselves or another castaway. Alyssa Barnes, Jake Casella, Jay Maurer, and Anthony Witczak chose this advantage. Jake Casella and Anthony Witczak chose not to play their advantage during this episode, while Jay Maurer and Alyssa Barnes did play theirs. Maurer lost when they played theirs, but Alyssa Barnes played hers and won, granting herself immunity.

With only 10 players left, the pressure is on for the remaining castaways! Be sure to come watch episode eight on Tuesday, March 26th, at 7 p.m. in the Kehr Ballroom. And, save the date for the Survivor Season Finale show, which will take place on April 18 at 7 p.m. in Kehr Union Ballroom. You won’t want to miss it!

An interview with castaway Jay Maurer 

Jay Maurer, a junior psychology major, is one of the 10 remaining castaways on Survivor-Bloomsburg. They explained their time on Survivor-Bloomsburg so far by saying, “I am having the time of my life. I am having so much fun with it.” They originally expressed that they weren’t super into it, as they didn’t think they would last very long in the game. They really enjoy the social portion of the game, where they get to talk with fellow castaways and have fun together. However, they also still get nervous each week going into the competition, due to the unpredictable nature of the game.

Maurer was originally not supposed to be a part of Survivor-Bloomsburg. They applied for it and went through the interview process with the idea that they would never be chosen to participate. And then, when thinking about actually doing it, after being considered as a participant, Maurer decided they didn’t really want to do it and pulled their application. They offered to help with the behind-the-scenes of the game, however, since that is more of an interest for them. A few weeks go by and Maurer reaches out to George Kinzel, the organizer of the game, about assisting with behind-the-scenes work for the show. He responds to them, saying that one castaway had to drop out of the competition, and they still want to 24 people. He asked Maurer to join, and they agreed to do it, stating, “If I get voted out in the first round, great, wonderful, I don’t have to worry about it ever again. I can say that I did Survivor for a day.” But Maurer didn’t get voted out in the first round, and now they are one of the last 10 castaways remaining out of the original 24.

Jay Maurer, one of the castaways remaining on Survivor-Bloomsburg. Photo taken by Maddie Bolger.

Utilizing your strengths

Now that the game is down to only a few castaways, Maurer has to really focus on their strengths. One big strength they believe has been helpful in this game is their ability to socialize. They can talk to anyone, and they can get along with them. They also believe a big strength of theirs is that they are good at puzzles and quick-thinking challenges. On the flip side, they believe their biggest weakness is that they get tired quickly. Maurer clarified, stating, “I would say I have some endurance but I get like tired out very quickly. Like if it was just standing in one place for an extended amount of time, I would be fine, but like running endurance, I don’t have that.”

One of Maurer’s favorite things about the game is the relay races. Specifically, they really enjoyed the race that took place at the rec center, where the castaways had to do archery, lift sandbags, move tires from one place to another, and then throw yoga balls into those tires. They also really enjoy the social side of the game, and the mental challenges more than the physical challenges. Maurer states, “I also really like talking to people, like meeting people, getting to hear like different opinions, learning who you can trust and who you can’t trust. The social game is really fun too.”

“You can’t trust anyone but you have to trust everyone”

Maurer much preferred the earlier days of the competition when they were on their original tribe, Octoraro, stating, “I liked it so much better on the team. I loved my original team and I miss all of them so badly.” Maurer believes the original Octoraro tribe was such a strong group because “we worked together so well, and the communication was so solid.” Octoraro was actually the only tribe of the original four that never went to Tribal Council.  Maurer says that if they did end up going to Tribal Council, they probably would have volunteered themselves as a tribute to leave because it would “hurt too bad” to go through the process of deciding who to vote out.

Because their original team was so strong, Maurer didn’t go to Tribal Council until after the first tribe switch of the game, when they were part of a different tribe. They explained that they didn’t know how it was going to work since they had never been there before, but luckily they knew who everyone on the tribe was going to vote for, so they weren’t confused or flustered in that way. “It was very straightforward because we had all like agreed on something but I think if we didn’t have that agreement, I would be so much more confused.” In the more recent Tribal Councils, Maurer has not felt the same way. They say they have been “oh so incredibly confused and unsure who to vote, why, what to say, and it has just been kinda a mess.” They also added that recently, the individual game has become a lot more stressful because “you can’t trust anyone but you have to trust everyone at the same time.”

“I will still do what it takes to get as far as I can”

Maurer shares that, at the beginning of Survivor, they were not super invested in it. They state, “I was just kinda playing like the ‘I don’t really care that much; vote me out if you want’ type game. And for some reason, people just took that as, ‘Oh, Jay is just here for fun; why would we vote them out? Like keep her in for a while.'” This mentality continued until the team merge occurred, around the middle of the competition. This is when Maurer realized how far they had made it and that they should start taking this more seriously. Their strategy from this point on was talking to more people, making connections, and “letting people know I am here for fun, but I will still do what it takes to get as far as I can.”

Alliances are very key in a game like this, and Maurer feels they have some strong alliances that are helping them in this game. From the beginning, the girls have vowed to stick together and try to have each other’s backs, which Maurer believes has helped them get so far in the game. They also are still close with one of the members of their original team, stating, “I don’t know if he trusts me, but I trust him and I would stick with him.” These alliances are crucial to the game and Maurer’s chances of winning it.

“Thank you for believing in me and I am trying my best.”

If they were to win Survivor-Bloomsburg, Maurer has some big plans for the money. They would want to give some to a theatre group here on campus that they are a part of, as the club doesn’t have a lot of funding right now. They would also want to give some to a few of the people who really helped them get through the game, some of their biggest allies and supporters who helped them during the game. “I think I would want to split it amongst people that have been like close to me going through.”

Maurer believes their ideal challenge would include team-building exercises. It would be something where castaways would have to “work as a team to figure out how to get this thing from point A to point B.” Maurer also stated, “I also wish there were more challenges with mud. I like mud, I like rolling around in the dirt. I think if I have to design a challenge, it would either be in the Quest woods or somewhere with like mud, dirt, gravel, all that jazz.”

As far as advice for future students who consider participating in Survivor-Bloomsburg, Maurer says, “Absolutely do it; you are going to have so much fun.” They also encourage future castaways to “get alliances ASAP. Especially if you don’t have like the physical strength, get the social strength because if you have people that will protect you, you will be okay for a while.”

As the interview came to a close, Maurer wanted to thank everyone who believed in them and encouraged them during their time in Survivor. They stated, “Thank you for believing in me and I am trying my best.”

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Maddie Bolger, Multimedia Journalist

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