Alum Spotlight: Lincoln Samuelson ’15

What do you get when you combine a MCWS alum, the Colorado River, a few rattlesnakes and wild hogs, and no food or clothing? You get a reality TV superstar! Meet Lincoln Samuelson, MCWS ’15 alum and Naked and Afraid survivor!

Last spring, Lincoln starred on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid, an American reality TV series that chronicles the experience of two contestants who meet for the first time and are challenged to survive without any food or clothes in the wilderness for 21 days. I had the chance to chat with Lincoln and learn more about this experience, what he did to survive the challenge, his doctoral project, and how his Waldorf education influenced his life path.

Q. What made you want to audition for Naked and Afraid?
A. So one day I was watching Survivor and I realized there was no actual real survival going on. It’s just like surviving social stuff, more like a social game than anything else. I Googled ‘real survival show’ and saw Naked and Afraid. I was like, “Oh, that’s awesome! I can do that!” So, I applied to the show then forgot all about it. About four months later I heard back and they wanted me to make a video doing survival stuff. One early morning, I went to a park and made some fires, filtered some water, did a few more survivally things and submitted the video. They liked it.

Q. How did you prepare for the show? Did you know you were headed to Texas for the challenge?
A. A few weeks before the show they told me I was going to Lost Springs, Texas. This gave me time to study things like the wildlife and the flora and fauna so I could get an idea of the things I’d be eating or hunting. I read a lot about the local plants; the edible plants. At that time I was living in San Francisco so I started walking around everywhere without shoes to build up my feet. I also took really cold showers hoping that would prepare me for the freezing temperatures. Honestly though, really nothing prepared me for anything.

Q. What was the hardest part of being on Naked and Afraid? Did you think you would make it through the whole 21-day challenge?
A. The freezing cold nights, I had no idea how bad that would be. I remember watching the show and saying to the people on TV, “Oh my gosh, it’s 56 degrees! Seriously, 56! That’s not cold, stop whining!” But when you haven’t eaten for two weeks, only sleep 2-3 hours a night, and are constantly wet and on the cold ground, 56 degrees is awful! Oh my gosh, not fun at all.
Going into it I was cocky as anything. I’d say,“I’m definitely doing this, like 100% in. But then after the third day I was like, oh my gosh, there is no way!” I had no idea how the cold of the night would affect me. The sleet and the cold were the worst.

Q. What did you eat?
A. Well, I prepared myself for no food. The human body can go something like 30 days without food so I just knew I wasn’t going to eat. I basically survived on persimmons and grasshoppers the first 18 days and finally caught a fish towards the end. I ate one tarantula, it was cooked so much it basically tasted like a fried potato chip. I ended up losing 37 pounds.

Q. Would you do it again?
A. Oh yeah, definitely, definitely, definitely! There is a longer 40-day challenge, instead of just 21, which I think I would really enjoy because then you really have to focus on living, not just surviving.

Q. How did you acquire your survival skills? Did Waldorf education have anything to do with it?
A. So I started at Maine Coast in the nursery program and graduated high school in 2015. Waldorf is such a different kind of education, one that really values nature and relationships between people. I read this book recently about your peers, who you grow up with, and they are actually more influential in your life than your parents. I think that going to Maine Coast and having those strong relationships with my friends made me who I am today and it’s definitely a very different person than I would have been if I went to another school. Also, being raised in the outdoors made me love nature and have a free spirit. I went to Camp Glen Brook in New Hampshire which was run by the Waldorf School of Garden City in New York. That’s where I learned much of my outdoor skills. We went camping and hiking among other things so I think my love for the outdoors began there. Waldorf education does such a great job teaching children to love nature. I mean once you go into Gnomeville there’s no way you’ll forget how to build a shelter.

Q. What are your future plans?
A. Well, I recently got married and my wife and I live in California. I’m virtually completing my Master’s degree from the University of Auckland and hope to move to New Zealand as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. I’ve always been fascinated with New Zealand because of its natural beauty and like 1/3 of the whole country is a national park. Eventually I hope to complete my Doctorate degree. I’d like to travel the world and be a teacher and hope to make my Doctoral project a reality.

Q. What is your Doctoral project?
A. I hope to combine my interests of design, technology, architecture, and sustainability and create a greenway, more like an elevated garden in Karachi, Pakistan. I hope that this will be a mechanism to provide clean water to the residents that need it most. Currently I’m in the research phase but hope to make this project a reality.

Q. What advice would you give a recent high school graduate?
A. Don’t take life too seriously. As recent history has shown us, who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow? Live in today and have fun. Definitely have fun.

Naked and Afraid, season 12, episode 6 “A Tangled Web in Texas” can be viewed on DiscoveryGo, DiscoveryPlus, or any other network that supports Discovery.