Stranded: Water Valley 2018 one for the ages

16 Aug Stranded: Water Valley 2018 one for the ages

There are some things that Canadians miss out on, simply because the opportunities aren’t available like they are in the United States. In-N-Out Burgers are one example of that, reality TV shows are another one (save for a few reality shows that have specific Canadian instalments, Big Brother Canada comes to mind). One reality TV show that Canadians can’t take part in is one of the most popular TV shows around with a cult-like following – Survivor. Only those residing in the south can participate, leaving superfans up north with no way to take part in the longest running reality series of all-time.

But we’ve found a way to offer it here in Calgary with our own spin – Stranded: Water Valley.

On Aug. 10, the 16 contestants selected for a whirlwind, three-day weekend in the woods embarked on the opportunity of a lifetime.

Cameras would follow their every move. Immunity idols were hidden around camps. Alliances would be formed and shattered within minutes.

The game started when the contestants arrived at the Kids Up Front office downtown and met each other. Then, they loaded the bus for an hour drive to Water Valley, not knowing if the person they were talking to would be in their tribe.

Once they got off the bus, the contestants walked in and were split into the two starting tribes: Burnstick and Fallen Timber. It was off to the races, as a challenge awaited the contestants.

Conditions were not easy Friday, with the mercury hovering above 35 degrees. Challenges were tougher, and establishing camp for the night brought out some more sweat.

It’s obviously a huge challenge to live outside with just a sleeping bag and rice, so we were able to get support from some companies to provide rewards after challenge wins to brighten everyone’s days throughout the weekend.

Thank you to the following:

- Little Blue Canoe (sweaters for the winning tribe)

- Norton Rose Fullbright (blankets for the winning tribe)

- Hurraw! Balm (lip balm for the winning tribe)

- Crickle Creek Coffee (coffee for the winning tribe)

- Cartel Energy Services (s’mores and hot dogs, winning individual got to pick four to join)

- Via Bar (energy bars for winning tribe)

As night fell upon the tribes, they climbed in their warm sleeping bags, stoked the fire once more and well some passed out right away, others were restless and quietly schemed or looked for the immunity idols.

Morning was a rude awakening around 6 a.m. and straight to tribal council, where our first competitor was voted out. They got a chance to take a shower, nap and have a full plate of breakfast – a nice reprieve from rice.

With a milder day in store, it also meant some moisture, but everyone was ready. Saturday went by quick, jumping between challenges and tribal council. Around midday, there was a tribe swap, sending everything into limbo for the contestants. Late into the night, the two tribes were merged into one for the final 10 – one of them would be crowned our Stranded champion the next day.

Sunday presented itself with some rain throughout, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of anyone. The Blindside team continued to throw curveballs at our players, making them face some tough decisions and questions their alliances. The final three were decided, and after an emotional final tribal where the jury grilled them, a Stranded winner was declared!

Stranded would not be possible without the support of some of our major sponsors, including FIT Capital, the presenter. Partners Development Group had our video crew covered, Morrison Homes graciously sponsored our prizing, Blakes was the equipment and challenge sponsor and Social Media Breakfast YYC supported our social media and communication. Also, thanks to CORUS for running ads for us, drumming up support and recruiting contestants.

We must thank all 16 of the competitors who trusted us to be placed in the woods with little supplies and food, all in support of the kids we serve. So far, our participants have raised over $64,000 (sponsorships included) and more is on the way!

The weekend was led and developed by Blindside Entertainment, who incorporated a prohibition theme into the game and constantly threw unexpected changes at our contestants to keep them on their toes. Blindside’s work on this event is unparalleled and we are so grateful for the passion they bring.

Having the prohibition theme meant we needed great presentation and décor, and we knew exactly who to call. Blazing Saddle Western Displays did a remarkable job in providing everything we needed to sell the experience and transport our players to Alberta in the prohibition days.

There was no prohibition for the volunteers, crew or voted out individuals thanks to Northam Beverages providing Hey Y’alls, Lone Tree Cider and Bowen Island beer in the lodge.

With every good production comes a solid crew and equipment. Crooked Cinema joined us for their second year of Stranded and caught footage of the challenges, tribals and little conversations around the camps. With gear lent from The Camera Store, it made for clear sound and HD footage that we cannot wait to see!

Communication is also key for us making sure everything is on time and Wi-Com Solutions once again stepped up with radios for the crew. Safety at an event like this is paramount for us, so having Armour Safety around all weekend as a precaution was much appreciated by our team and competitors alike.

These Stranded contestants didn’t go home empty-handed either: thanks to several tremendous sponsors, we had gifts from: Goodlife Fitness, UST Brands, David’s Tea, Mr. Mike’s, Lace Brick Designs, Two Wheel View, Home Depot, TriWest Capital, Freybe, Purdy’s, Aspen Crossing, Atmosphere, Cactus Club, Happy Yak, Sweetsmith Candy, Kensington Wine Market and more. Plus, they got to keep their buffs from Hoo-Rag as a memory for the different tribes they were on. 

With the game wrapped up, a champion named and emotion beginning to come down, the contestants, staff, volunteers, crew and all others involved headed to the Water Valley Saloon for a well-deserved, scrumptious meal. Awards were handed out in the form of superlative, like the ‘Bear Grylls’ or ‘Olympian’ Award, accompanied by laughter and high-fives. Then, it was back onto the Willco bus to take us to Calgary where many had family and friends ready to pick them up and hear about the tales.

At the conclusion of Stranded, the Kids Up Front Calgary team reflects on a weekend that soared by and we want to thank everyone who supported us and our contestants. The belief in our fundraiser and the impact we have on kids and families around Southern Alberta keeps us going.

In the fall, we will be releasing a few episodes of Stranded: Water Valley before hosting the finale at a movie premiere, likely late-October to early-November. Stay tuned for more.

Want to see photos from the event?: https://www.facebook.com/pg/kidsupfrontcalgary/photos/?tab=albums

Interested in competing next year? Email neil@kidsupfront.com!