Armed with his Boy Scout uniform and survival skills to match, McAllen native Terry L. Fossum, 52, will make his
television debut on the reality series “Kicking and Screaming” at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 9, on Fox.
“Kicking and Screaming” is a reality series that pairs 10 expert survivalists with wilderness impaired partners. In other words, people who have more than likely never seen the inside of tent, also known as “pampered partners” in the show. Paired off in teams of two, the contestants have to work together to pass game challenges while learning the basics of roughing it in the wild — making fire, finding food and ultimately, surviving. After each challenge, the teams advance in rounds, with each round becoming more grueling than the last.
“The goal of the producers was to pair us with our complete opposite — and they did a good job,” Fossum said. “My partner was an online gamer, a foul-mouthed, tattooed, pink and blue haired young lady. And think of it from her perspective, ‘Oh, great. They have all these young, strong military guys and they teamed me up with the old Boy Scout.”
Fossum, public speaker, author and philanthropist, was born in McAllen and graduated from Memorial High School in 1982, the school’s first graduating class. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in mechanical engineering and served as an officer and captain in the U.S. Air Force.
Fossum is a lifelong Boy Scout and at the time of casting, was a Scoutmaster in Spokane Valley, Wasahington, where he now resides. A casting call was sent out to the national scouting website and Fossum was nominated by someone who had been through one of his leadership courses. Fossum initially thought the casting email was a hoax.
“ The problem is, I’ve never gone to that website, and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have answered a casting call for a reality TV show,” Fossum said. “I’m not interested in being on a TV reality show in the least. I was 51 years old at the time, getting fat and had pretty much decided that my adventures were behind me.”
Fossum agreed to the casting call and tried out for the show. When it appeared he would be cast, he decided to leave it up to faith and accept the challenge.
“ Well, I’m a Boy Scout, always have been, always will be, but is that enough?” he asked himself. “I used to teach Wilderness Survival merit badge at Boy Scout Summer Camp as a youth. I took a real interest in it, being able to survive without much, or anything. I won’t pretend to ‘master’ the wilderness, because the wilderness is always the master and anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.”
Co-produced by Matt Kunitz (“Wipeout,” “Fear Factor”) and hosted by Hannah Simone (“New Girl”), the eight-part series will follow contestants into the jungles of Fiji, where they’ll battle extreme weather, dangerous animals and hunger. The team that makes it to the finish line will be awarded $500,000 and boasting rights.
In order to prepare for roughing it in the jungle, Fossum sought out an outfit that took him into the deep Guyanan jungle bordering the Amazon in South America. There, he practiced survival methods which included hunting, fishing, weapon and trap making. He said (aside from picking off ticks) the experience was beneficial in acquainting him with the jungle.
Fossum joked that he would be depicted as “the token old guy” on the show with the added pressure of representing the Boy Scouts of America by wearing his uniform the whole time.
“ I would actually be wearing my Boy Scout uniform the entire time, representing Boy Scouts everywhere. No pressure there,” he said. “But two things they (fellow contestants) didn’t count on — how much we really know as Boy Scouts and how tough kids from the Rio Grande Valley are.”
Find out how Fossum fared on “Kicking and Screaming,” on Fox. Local listings are Channel 2 on DirectTV and Dish Network, and Channel 6 on Spectrum (Time Warner) cable.