The castaways on Survivor really go without modern amenities and easy access to food during their weeks on the reality TV competition. But the producers still have to ensure the contestants are safe and healthy. That is why off-screen, the castaways have access to a secret medical box that the audiences watching at home never see. Former players have revealed what’s in the box.
The Secret Medical Box Has Feminine Products But It’s Not a Never-Ending Supply
The women of Survivor have access to necessary products if they get their periods while filming. Ghandia Johnson of Survivor: Thailand told Entertainment Weekly there is a hidden box on the island or in the jungle filled with things like tampons and pads.
Johnson said, “The one thing that happened behind the scenes that never made it on air was ‘the medical box.’ This was the box that was in the bush that had feminine products for the females to take care of their cycles while in the jungle. Worst period EVER!”
But the medical box isn’t a fully stocked supply kit. Elaine Stott from Island of the Idols told Insider the box contains items the cast members bring themselves and then turn in before filming starts. Those items include period products.
The crew puts those items in the medical box, which is kept in the woods away from the camp and the cameras. Stott said the crew allowed only one person at a time at the box. They didn’t want players to gather at the medical box to strategize.
Jeff Probst revealed back in 2008 to Today that the cast members have access to items like “tampons and condoms.” Players told Insider the box also contains things like medicine, bug spray and sunscreen.
Producers Have Stepped in to Help When a Cast Member Ran Out of Tampons
The crew does not automatically refill the medical box. But the producers have stepped in to help when the situation called for it. Lauren-Ashley Beck of Island of the Idols told Insider she ended up having two menstrual cycles during the competition and ran out of tampons. “I was ending my period the first day that we started, so then I actually had my period again there,” Beck said.
She asked a producer for a tampon. But Beck said she ultimately had to wait an extra 24 hours for a fresh one because the producer didn’t have one handy. They had to send a crew member to a nearby village to find feminine products.
Former castaway Andrea Boehlke, who has played three times, explained having her period on the show added extra stress to the situation. There is no soap and the castaways don’t have access to extra pairs of underwear, either. She told Insider, “It sucks to change your tampon out in the jungle next to a med box with no supplies or way to fully clean yourself. It’s pretty gnarly.” She added she was often “anxiety-ridden about what is getting up there.”
Boehlke said some women don’t get their period at all while on the show, either due to stress or lack of food. Boehlke told Insider she didn’t have her cycle during two of her three seasons. But she added it’s also possible for a period to be longer while on the show, too. “Your body is not sure what’s going on… so sometimes you just don’t get your period. Sometimes your period lasts three times as long, and you just don’t know how your body’s going to react to it.”
Castaways Also Keep Contact Lenses in the Medical Box But Can’t Wash Their Hands Before Putting Them in
Some of the castaways are seen on camera wearing glasses. If they wear contact lenses, extra pairs are kept in the medical box. But dealing with this can be tricky.
This. More than the bugs, the bamboo, and the “yeah baby,” this was the bane of my existence out there. I brought a couple of cases of two-week disposable lenses with me but I rarely made it through two days on a pair. My hands were never, ever clean out there, and as a result my lenses would get terribly contaminated as soon as I took them out of their packaging. Every day I’d spend about twenty minutes trying to get my contacts in. I’d sit on the med box (a 30″x18″x12″ plastic storage trunk), wash my hands with hand sanitizer and canteen water (which itself was filthy), and then struggle to get my dirt-covered lenses to stay on my eyes. Eventually I just gave up. I almost never wear my glasses in my day-to-day life, but out there I just didn’t have a choice.
To make matters worse, production strongly discourages wearing eyeglasses at tribal (they reflect the lights, etc.). On the night I was voted out I showed up in my glasses and was told that I would have to take them off. When I explained that I couldn’t see without them and that not seeing at tribal would be a bad thing (how else am I going to count three pen strokes when everyone writes my name down?) Dr. Ben tried to get me to throw in some lenses from my spare med kit. I think I managed to get one in before I gave up and told them I was wearing my glasses.
The entire experience made me really feel for Shamar. My takeaway: daily disposables or Lasik.