Lately, my family and I have been binge watching this show called Naked and Afraid on the Discovery Channel. If you haven’t seen it, they put a man and woman (usually) out in some remote part of the world. They have no food or water. They take them out there for 21 days to see if they can survive. Usually, these people are somewhat of survivalists in real life, so they’ve done a lot of hunting or fishing and they kind of know what’s going on. But, sometimes diseases, animals or bugs get to these people too much and they have to “tap out” on the show, which basically means they have the crew come in and take them back home safely.
Not only did my guest in this video, Chance Davis, survive all 21 days of his challenge, but on the very last day when he was paddling out on a raft with his partner to the final boat that takes them home, they ran into another group of survivalists who were on a show called Naked and Afraid XL, which is where the contestants go out for 40 days and 40 nights. Chance had survived all 21 days, and decided to stay another 19 nights in the jungle with the new group!! I couldn’t believe it. He’s a military veteran. He knows a ton about being outside in the wilderness. But being naked, afraid and with only one item is crazy!! Watch this video interview to see what makes him the most inspiring survivor that’s ever been on the show (and hear about his visit to San Diego!!).
Amanda: Welcome Chance! Thanks so much for doing this interview!!
Chance: It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Amanda: When you were literally hours away from a warm blanket and a buffet of food, what made you decide to stay another 19 nights in the jungle?
Chance: For me, it was about the challenge. They started asking me questions like, “Would you stay longer if you had the opportunity?” I knew where they were going with it. It was about day 19 when they started asking. I’ve always enjoyed challenging myself physically and mentally. I like putting myself in situations, testing my abilities and what I’ve learned, and putting it to the fire. That’s more or less why I stayed. I was in a bad situation, leaving a relationship and moving cross country. I had done that shortly before the show. Discovery offered a free hiking trip and all the food that you can gather and hunt. It was an easy choice.
Amanda: That’s crazy. I can’t say that most people would call that an easy choice. You met up with this group of other people. Did you think, “What am I thinking?” Was there any moment when you thought, “I’m going to starve out here. Can I last 40 days?” You said in another interview that you told producers you would stay if you could. How do you go all in mentally and make the choice to say, “This person is going to leave me tomorrow and I’m going to stay here another 19 days?”
Chance: When you’re out there, you’re so far removed from everything. There’s no Wi-Fi. There are no bills. There’s no drama at work. You have the struggle of being tired with no caffeine and no sugar. But you have the simplicity of being out there. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet, when howler monkeys aren’t screaming at you in the morning. I really enjoyed being out there. In the group, we termed it as “beautiful suffering.”
There were days where I would walk out in the jungle for a couple of hours, lay in a thick mossy patch, look up at the jungle canopy and feel blessed rather than soak in the struggle. On day 20, we were on a raft. We paddled from morning until evening to meet up with the group. You don’t really think about much else. You have caiman and anaconda in the river below you. You’re paddling and trying to get to the next destination.
In the military, we always talked about having your next target. You have your 25 meter target, and then your 50 meter target. That’s how it was in the jungle. You didn’t really think about day 21 or day 40. You think about today. You think about tomorrow. That’s it.
Amanda: That day, you went with her to paddle out. I couldn’t believe that. You said, “I’m going to stay with the group another 19 days.” Then you paddled out with her to the boat. You watched her get on a boat. You watched her say, “I’m done. I’m free. I get to go back and eat all this food.” Then you paddled back alone to meet this group. Did you have any worries at that point?
Chance: No. I really felt strong on day 21. We foraged a lot of food at the beginning of the challenge. We ate good. We had a lot of piranha, once we started understanding the lay of the land, where to hunt and where not to hunt. I felt strong on day 21. Both of us did. I knew that she had a family circumstance. That was why she had to go home. I wasn’t going to say, “Paddle yourself out.” It was a closing moment for both of us to be able to share that moment. I was happy to take her back.
Amanda: The producers had it all planned out. They planned out this meeting with the other group. Did they tell you where you had to paddle? How much of it was a surprise meeting this group?
Chance: Paddling out was a complete surprise. If you watch the show, the maps were so rudimentary. They were marked like, “Here are a couple of trees. Here is a picture of a puma and some caiman.” That’s it. With the Amazon, it was straightforward. We were paddling upstream the entire eight hours on our first leg.
Then we saw this cove off to the side as the sun was starting to set. That’s when we saw five naked people splashing around in the water. Everything out there is a surprise. You walk out and see a snake or new nuts to forage. It brings you an excitement to life in that moment. Seeing other people who weren’t staring at us with cameras was refreshing.
Amanda: Most people can get by on 21 days, but this was another thing. What was your biggest worry going into the next 19 days? Were you worried about food, disease or the other group of people?
Chance: I didn’t really know what to expect. That’s what I liked. I hadn’t watched a lot of the shows before. I’d watched a part of Matt Wright’s episode because I met him in Colorado months before. I didn’t know what to expect. That was exciting for me. I wasn’t worried about getting hurt, bugs or parasites. I don’t know whether that’s smart, but it wasn’t in my thoughts.
Amanda: Most people would be absolutely terrified. Let’s work backwards. You spent 21 days with Melissa who is from Michigan. I’m from Michigan. I watched the episodes backwards. I watched XL first. I watched this team fall apart and lose a lot of people. Then you came in and decided to stay. It was shocking because this group was falling to pieces. I only saw that little bit of Melissa. I went back and watched the other episode. I saw that she was from Michigan. She was very outdoorsy. You both found out you were going to Ecuador three days before you went. That’s crazy. How did you prepare for that exact place?
Chance: Google. You search what kind of vegetation is out there and what the locals eat. Everything is pretty basic in survival, like how to build a shelter and making fire. It’s not rocket science. As long as you’re proactive, you’ll be alright. I knew that in the military. If you’re willing to put the work in, things will provide and produce.
I did a lot of Google research, which didn’t really help. When they sent us into the jungle, we stayed at a resort for a few days to get acclimated and learn the lay of the land, which was completely different from where we ended up going. The vegetation and the animals that we saw at our camp setup versus where we inserted were completely different. We ended up being in a swampy area where there was nothing.
Amanda: You said in another interview that you didn’t watch any of the episodes because you thought it would be cheating. I think that most people would see it as preparing the best that you possibly can. What’s the difference to you between cheating and gathering every bit of knowledge that you can?
Chance: I wanted it to be a challenge. In the military, let’s say that you were going to do a shooting competition. Then you watch the stage where you’re about to shoot. You see everyone do it. In the military, they call it “gaming it.” I didn’t want to game it and see how someone else built their shelter, foraged their food and hunted. Looking back, I don’t know if it was smart. It’s my military mentality. I wanted it to be a rugged challenge. If I didn’t make it, I wasn’t meant to make it. That was the thought I had going into it. If I couldn’t endure or survive, that’s what I wanted to know. I wanted that lesson coming out of it.
Amanda: Was there something going into it where you thought, “If I do tap, it’s going to be for this reason?”
Chance: I knew that if I tapped, my Ranger buddies back at home would have joked me into the ground. It was survive or die.
Amanda: You mentioned online that you never applied for Naked and Afraid. You said that you got a phone call from the producers. They saw you on a different show. How did that happen? How were you accepted?
Chance: About six months before Naked and Afraid, I went kicking and screaming on Fox. They wanted me to be an extra for Season 1. I went out to Fiji. The day they started filming, they said, “We don’t need you.” I said, “Okay, cool. Change my plane ticket for a week from now and I’ll hang out here.” I went scuba diving with some of the locals. I went to a local village.
I was the first outsider to ever go to that village. I hung out there for the week with the village elder. He showed me how they built their roof and how they hunted. I enjoyed it there. When I was leaving, they said, “We want to get you on a show. We’ll stay in contact with you.” I guess the same production companies work with Naked and Afraid. Six months later, they called me when I was out on the farm with my Ranger buddy. They asked if I wanted to go to do Naked and Afraid.
Amanda: Was there anyone in your life at that time that was a catalyst for going?
Chance: It was kind of random. I had a lot of change at that point in my life. I had moved from Denver to central Virginia. I was in this transition period in my life. Any new change was welcome.
Amanda: Let’s go back to day 1 when you were with Melissa. It looked like you really struggled. How much of the show was the worst moments? Was it better but they only showed the worst? Day 1 looked pretty bad. You struggled with bugs a lot.
Chance: Day 1 sucked. You’re in a new place, new area, new country, new climate. We didn’t get a lot of time to walk around and get the lay of the land. We ended up going to the highest apex. It was this hilltop. It looked relatively clear. There was a path. There were some trees around, so we figured that would be a good place to set up shelter. We made a raised bed.
Every speck of leaf and grass that we cut, the bugs wanted to eat. By the end of the night, we were covered in bugs. Our shelter fell apart. We had no fire. There wasn’t much we could do. Even if we had overhead, the bugs still would have come. If you watch the XL episode, they entrenched our camp one night. It was a learning curve.
The next day, we moved back down towards the water, which you wouldn’t think would be a good idea. Surprisingly enough, the bugs didn’t bother us much. The key thing was getting fire. Once we had fire, they stayed away. We had the smoke during the day that kept the mosquitoes at bay. It was a learning curve, but it sucked.
Amanda: On day 2, you got grumpy. You said you either like being in charge or you like being alone, which is even better for you. How did you deal with being with Melissa, knowing that you were both trying to survive? Were you thinking about yourself? Were you trying to take her into consideration?
Chance: It’s hard watching the show versus being in the show. In life, we have the luxuries of support from our friends and family, television, podcasts that motivate us in the mornings, coffee and sugar. When you don’t have that, you get outside of yourself. When I get hungry, I get angry. By day 2, all of this anger was setting in. You’re going into that primal instinct of food, shelter, water.
Melissa and I were completely different personalities. I was the reserved military type. She was more of an upbeat spirit. I wasn’t used to being around that. I didn’t know how to respond and work cohesively with her. It was another learning curve. The luxuries and amenities that we have in a normal day, we take for granted how much that buffers who we could be. I work with people who, if you take coffee away from them for a day, they’re Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Amanda: For those of you who don’t know, the contestants on Naked and Afraid get to pick just one item to bring. I did some digging around on the internet. You get to bring four things with you and then the producers pick from those four things. You said you brought four knives and they gave you the biggest knife. Your partner brought fishing line. Is there something else that you wish she would have brought?
Chance: Not for that area. You really needed food. You needed some kind of hunting or fishing device. I wasn’t smart in my preparation. I was over confident and cocky. I think, at one point, I told production that I wanted to bring a six pack of Yuengling and Ranger panties as my survival items. I brought a small knife, a hatchet, a big knife and a medium-sized knife. I felt, being a Ranger in the woods, that a knife would be a fitting tool.
Amanda: That’s the knife that you brought with you?
Chance: Yes, this is the knife. It was made by TOPS Knives. EJ Snyder, another Naked and Afraid legend, worked with them to help design it. I wanted something that would work as a knife but would also help with cutting down trees and looked intimidating.
Amanda: How much firewood did you have to gather every day? To keep a fire going 24 hours a day is so much work.
Chance: We had a small fire starter with a ferro rod. I think we lost the ferro rod on day 7. We thought, “We must maintain fire.” That’s how you procured your water and the food that you ate. Everything revolved around the fire. During the day, everything was soaked and rotten. You would have to take a wet log, place it around the fire and dry that out during the day. It would create a lot of smoke. That would keep the bugs away.
During the day, you dry out everything that was wet. At night, someone had to stay awake. Someone had to sleep. You had to maintain the fire. While one of us went fishing, someone had to stay by the fire to maintain it. It was a constant effort.
Amanda: On day 3 and 4, things got pretty dramatic. You told Melissa, “We’re doing two collective efforts. I need to be away from you right now.” I thought that was funny. How much of the reactions and emotions were real? Did the producers take you aside and say, “Get more angry or say this?”
Chance: They wouldn’t necessarily provoke in that manner, but they would ask questions that at times made me angry. They would ask, “How does it make you feel that Melissa caught that fish?” I would think, “What do you mean, how does it feel? I’m hungry. I don’t care. You’re in my face with a camera. That’s making me angry.”
Then I’d have to go back. Like I said, not having the luxuries that we normally have really shows you how being tired, hungry and low on natural resources can make you. A lot of it was real. If you’re with someone 24/7, whether it’s your spouse or family, at some point you need a break. About day 4 or 5 is when I started feeling that.
Amanda: On day 4, Melissa killed a snake. That was crazy. She pulled it right out of the tree by the tail and chopped its head off. How did you feel when she did that? You said you were afraid of snakes. Are you still afraid of them?
Chance: The way that they piece together the show, that was day 18. I was in the woods chopping down one of the final logs to construct our raft. I saw the snake. No, I don’t like snakes. I was going back to our fire to get my hunting spear. She was more familiar with snakes and wilderness. When she learned what was going on, she said, “I’ll grab the snake.” I said, “Thanks.”
If we were in the military and we had to clear a building with an enemy, someone might have said, “Chance, you take point. This guy got shot in the face and he’s a surgical cric.” She’d probably hand me the scalpel. I have more experience with that. In that situation, she felt more comfortable. It was day 18. You can study as much as you want about the environment. When you’re hungry and tired, can you properly identify what type of snake that is? Is the squeeze worth the juice? She’s a strong girl. She went after it. I was thankful for it.
Amanda: The necklace you wore around your neck was the microphone. You still wear it. That’s crazy. The crew brought in supplies for women, like feminine products. Were there any behind-the-scenes things like luxuries that you got?
Chance: No. I would walk around in the mornings for about two hours, just to clear my thoughts and see if I could find any animals or vegetation. I found a pot one time. They didn’t let me keep it. I found a fishing spear that the natives used out there. It had a metal point. They didn’t let me use that. I found a lighter from production. As soon as I found it, they took that.
Amanda: I would have been digging holes and hiding my random things.
Chance: It’s survival. I was very impressed with them maintaining the integrity of the show. You would think, for them to boost ratings, that they would want to help you out. They did a phenomenal job with maintaining integrity. I was appreciative of that.
Amanda: There are so many dangerous bugs, pumas and wild hogs. What was the most dangerous thing you came across, where you thought, “This thing could kill me?”
Chance: There was not really much. We had the pumas that would come around the camp at night. With the fire there, they didn’t bother us. You would hear the anacondas splash around in the water. When we were building our raft on day 19, there was a six-foot caiman about 10 feet away from us. Production was in canoes around us with their cameras.
They said, “Splash around or something.” I thought, “Grab knife. Splash. Security. Check.” On the 40-day challenge, it was a little bit different. We would be hunting for the wild boar. You’d see these trails of ginormous anacondas. They would grab the pigs and squeeze the life out of them. You’d hear the pigs squealing. The anaconda would slam into the water.
I think you can see it on one of the episodes from the 40-day challenge. I left the jungle with four parasites. I guess that could kill you at some point.
Amanda: You grew up afraid of the dark. Were there any other fears that you had going into it? Have you worked through all of your fears?
Chance: Yes, I think I’ve worked through most of them. The military really helped. When you’re afraid of the dark, when you hunt bad guys in the middle of the night and that’s your job, you get over the darkness quickly. There’s the fear of heights. You jump out of airplanes. That takes care of that.
There’s the fear of death. The military makes sure that you’re not afraid of that. The only thing I was and am afraid of is failure. If you work hard, you don’t have to worry about failure. I guess I’m not really afraid of much now.
Amanda: How many times did you think about tapping out? Were there moments where you thought, “I want to eat a sandwich. I want to be done. I don’t care what people think of me?”
Chance: I think there was one time on the 40-day challenge when they started bickering. It was between days 34 and 36. I said, “If you guys want to continue arguing, I’ll just tap and get out of here.” As far as pain or suffering, I’d rather die than quit and have that stain on my conscience.
Amanda: That’s very inspirational. You have a very unique mindset. During the 40-day challenge, one of the most pivotal moments was when you went out hunting with two of the contestants. One of them went back to camp. You stayed there all the night with this other guy. Part of the way through the night, he tapped out.
He was wrapped in a blanket and left. You were there freezing cold all night. You said in the morning that him leaving was worse than you staying out there all night. How did you deal with that?
Chance: I guess I was lucky. In the military, you’re used to going through selections and people leaving of their own accord. In the beginning of the day, I kind of knew that was the direction he was going based on our conversations. I didn’t want to leave. We had built a bond between the people in the group. That was something that he had to deal with internally. I wasn’t going to stop him. I had to maintain my own composure at that point. Being cold and miserable in the military, you learn that pain is only temporary. Either I would die, or I would die. In that moment, I didn’t worry too much about it. I just had to get through the night and get to that 50-meter target.
Amanda: Is there something that goes through your mind? Do you count to 60 a billion times? Do you think about each part of your body? What do you do?
Chance: The Ranger creed in the military is our ethos, how we operate and live our lives. I would recite that to myself whenever I got down or demotivated. It was a personal mantra. “I will not quit.” I would say that to myself a lot walking around, and especially that night. It was a way of staying mentally engaged.
Amanda: Were there things that you missed so much? Were there people, places or foods that you missed?
Chance: Peanut butter. My wife now, I met her four days before leaving. I kept thinking what kind of dates I wanted to take her on and what she was doing. In the military, I would always look at the stars at night before we’d go on missions. I would do that a lot. With the group at night, we would sit around and go through the alphabet.
We would say, “When I get out of Naked and Afraid, I will eat a…” You would start with the letter A and work your way up to Z. We would do that every night. I had the longest list of foods that I wanted to eat, but it made it worth it. I’ve always wanted things that you had to work hard for, not something that came easy. In the morning, you do a hard workout, and you feel like you earned your breakfast. I wanted to finish the challenge and earn everything that I’d been thinking about.
Amanda: For 90% of the world, people do a 20-minute workout and feel like they’ve earned everything they can eat and drink that day. I think that’s the average mindset. You talked a lot on the show about Oreos and peanut butter. You mentioned that, when the show was over, you ate a jar of peanut butter in 10 seconds. The peanut butter and Oreo companies should be giving you unlimited peanut butter and Oreos for life. If you had a fridge in the jungle and you could have stocked it full, what would you have eaten? I don’t think you would have eaten peanut butter and Oreos every day, right?
Chance: Absolutely. The worst part was being hungry. Being hungry for that long plays on your psyche. I probably wasn’t that hungry. It’s the mental anguish of your stomach constantly talking to you. When I left the show, I felt myself get physically responsive to being hungry. I got angry. I walked around with a food stash in my pockets and the center console of my vehicle.
I walked around with a bag of food. I gained 70 pounds in the month after I left. I couldn’t stop eating. I didn’t want to be hungry. If I got hungry, I got angry. The people around me would let me know that. You eat a big scoop of peanut butter. It gets stuck in your throat. Then you feel full. I wanted that taste and texture of the sweetness, and not being hungry.
Amanda: Do you have a favorite type of peanut butter? Do you like creamy or crunch?
Chance: It doesn’t really matter. They’re all heaven. I love them all.
Amanda: Do you still keep in touch with Melissa or anyone else from the crew? I know that Matt Wright lives in Virginia. Do you see him?
Chance: I was living in Colorado before I moved out to Virginia. That’s where Matt lives. I met him at a gun show and took one of his knives to Fiji. When I was living in the village, I gave it to the village elder. I stay in touch with EJ Snyder. I stay in touch with Melissa. She’s always traveling and busy. I think she just did the latest XL 4. She’s had her hands full. We all stay a pretty tight knit family. Everyone has their hands in other pots and are constantly on the go. We stay in touch as much as we can.
Background & Early Life
Amanda: I want to switch gears and talk about your background and family life. There’s so much depth to you as a person. That little bit of Naked and Afraid doesn’t tell us enough. Tell me about Boys Home, what it is and how you got involved with that.
Chance: It’s a non-profit. More importantly, it was founded in 1906 for at-risk youth in southwest Virginia. I came to Boys Home in 1998. I was 11 years old. My mother was incarcerated at the time and was looking for a safe place to put me. This is a school in the mountains. It removes outside distractions but gives families that are impoverished or dealing with difficulties the ability to place their boys in an environment that will help them grow spiritually, mentally and physically.
I was there for about two years. It was one of the greatest parts of my childhood. I remember people caring about me unconditionally and providing for me. I didn’t have to worry about where my meals were coming from. I was educated. We spent a lot of time in the woods with Boy Scouts and other activities. After I left Boys Home, I was about 13. It was nothing but foster care and group homes until my last few years in high school. As I was moving from Denver to Virginia, I wanted to stop through, visit and see the campus.
I hadn’t been there in almost 18 years. I wanted to get something from my past, something that was positive from my childhood. I stopped in thinking I would stay for 10 minutes. I ran into the associate program director who was also in the Army. He was an infantry officer. He was a student when I was there on campus. We sat down and chatted about life. At the end of the conversation, he asked, “Do you want to work here?” I told him, “I’m leaving for this TV show, but once I get back, I would love to work here.”
After I got back from Naked and Afraid, three months later when the parasites were gone, and I’d put on some weight, I started working there again. It was funny. On day 20 of the show, I said to the producers, “You have to call Boys Home and let them know that I’m still interested in the job.” They called to let them know that I was fine, and that I’d be staying for 20 more days. Boys Home is a school where you can grow and learn.
Amanda: I know you said to Melissa that you don’t really want to talk about it, but I’m hoping you’re more open now. You said that you don’t have to fight for the clothes on your back or worry about food at Boys Home. How was it for you growing up? What led your mom to realize that Boys Home was the best choice for you?
Chance: Before that, my dad left my mother when I was three months old. It was just her and I. Then she remarried a veteran. He was a Marine in the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. There was a lot of post traumatic stress disorder. I lived with him for a few months in Oakland, California before going to Boys Home. My first week living with him, he gave me $10 and told me I had to be a man and make my own living.
I made a lemonade stand. I’d make enough each day to go to a Chinese buffet mid-day and fill up. That would carry me through the day. I’d hang out with the homeless in downtown Oakland. We’d go to the cafes and bakeries that would throw out expired food, and we’d eat that. I didn’t really think about it being 10 or 11, hanging out with them. I had my skateboard.
Going to Boys Home, not having to find my own food, that’s what made it a pleasant experience. Throughout her life, my mother has been involved in embezzlement. That’s why she went to prison. She’s still in prison for embezzling again. My father is serving a life sentence. There was not a lot of parental involvement. I was placed in situations where I had to find my own food. I was placed in dangerous situations where I had to fend for myself.
Not worrying about that at Boys Home and having people who cared about me made it great. I was one of the worst kids there. Even after I messed up, the staff would still love me and care about me. That spoke volumes. It was no so much then. I hated being there then. But leaving and knowing how to do chores, how to make my bed, how to work hard, having those lessons instilled in me, I was appreciative going into the military and as an adult.
Amanda: I had my son young. I went to an alternative school. It was different. Everyone around you had their own traumatic experiences. It’s like a group effort. Their only rule was, if you left for the day, you couldn’t come back that same day. I remember that people would scream, yell and fight. They would walk out the door. The staff would say, “I hope to see you tomorrow.”
That was the best thing. It gave me more respect. You have to make your own choices. They would say, “We understand that you can’t be here today. I hope you can come back tomorrow.” I think that gave people a lot of strength to come back. Did you have other people or friends around you that had bad situations at the time?
Chance: A lot of the kids there were sent by the courts. You had really impoverished families that would send their children there. The parents pay pennies to dollars on what Boys Home provides the students. During my time versus now, I believe it was a lot worse as far as the family situations.
Amanda: Did you learn things there? You said you were a Boy Scout. Did you know things before you started going there that you took with you to Naked and Afraid? Did you learn everything there as a Boy Scout?
Chance: I learned a lot there. We learned knots. We learned how to build shelter and fire. We would camp out a lot. Later in the month, we’re doing a three-day 35-mile hike. We really put the boys to work. The mountains make men. Between that and Ranger school in the military, survival is basic tasks put together with a mindset and the ability and will to survive. I learned a lot there.
Amanda: Did you go into the military right when you were 18? Were you waiting for that? Were you excited about that? Was it a random option? Did a lot of the other Boys Home boys go into the military?
Chance: The military was something that I wanted to do. I did a year of college. I was paying for it all on my own. My mom didn’t really contribute to the finances for college. I was working at a group home in Richmond. I was working in a night club as a bouncer. I was working as a receptionist at the college. I took some summer classes that put me over my budget.
As I was going to get a poster board to make a demerit system for the boys at the group home, I ran into this guy. He had a Ranger tab on with a strong chiseled jaw, upright stature. I said, “I want to be like that.” We had a conversation and two weeks later I shipped out as a combat medic. Once I got into the beginning parts of the military, they offered me a Ranger contract for having a really good PT score. It was history after that.
Amanda: How many years did you spend in the military? You said you ended up being a Ranger battalion. What does that mean?
Chance: I did four years active. I was in Ranger regiment, which is a direct-action mission where they do a lot of kill/capture missions. I was a special operations medic for Ranger regiment. After four years, I did security contracting in Afghanistan for about three years. I was a paramedic on a security mobile team. Most of my adult life has been working in foreign countries either going after bad guys or stopping bad guys from hurting good guys.
Amanda: Going into it, did you feel like you were more prepared than other people?
Chance: My childhood definitely prepared me. I did sports growing up. The physical portion wasn’t that tough. Having a strong mindset is what got me through my childhood. It definitely contributed to my success in the military. Learning how to work as a team was a struggle for me in the military, and obviously on the show. You have to learn to use what you bring to the table and help everyone to contribute to the overall mission.
Amanda: You said that the military taught you how to toughen up your feet, walking barefoot, using alcohol on them. What else did the military teach you as far as survival?
Chance: As far as survival, being proactive. You can sit on your butt by the fire and have the comfort and luxuries. The military teaches you how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. If you can do that, you can put yourself in action. You’ll find food. You’ll find water. You’ll build a shelter. If you can take one step, you can make it up the mountain. That mentality isn’t something that you get from a book. It’s not something that you get from a four-day course.
It’s not something you get from watching YouTube videos. You have to put yourself in the fire, in life experiences. You gain it over time. It’s the same as muscle. You can’t just go to the gym for a week and expect to have the body that you want. It takes time to build that. The military is where that started. It helped me in that process. I repeated that process over time. You see people doing Spartan races and different physical challenges. You put yourself in an uncomfortable situation and you learn how to work.
Amanda: On the show, you were still dealing with a lot of the mental demons that you had from being in the military. Are you still working through that?
Chance: It’s an ongoing battle. I had a lot of issues going into the military. I was very aggressive. I was very angry. You’re going after bad guys. I didn’t know how to turn it off after the military. I found myself hypervigilant, aggressive and angry. Leaving Ranger battalion, [0:55:47.1] held that in my heart. I felt guilty. I didn’t know how to release that. I didn’t know how to associate with people who weren’t military and didn’t have those shared experiences. I confined myself. It’s taken a while to learn how to assimilate.
Amanda: Do you see that with a lot of other veterans? How do they come back and get back to normal?
Chance: It depends on your experiences. Combat, in my opinion, is different than just serving in the military. When you’re asked to go out, night after night, to go after bad guys without forethought of your own life [0:56:49.7]. It depends on your experiences. Going out and doing kill/capture missions put you in a very specific mindset. The way you think, the things you think about and how you operate changes. In no other job have I had to take a picture in case I get killed so that they can send it to my family. It depends on your experiences and your mentality. The government is getting better with creating programs for veterans that are leaving the military. Combat experience rewires the way that you think and operate. That takes time and support.
Amanda: It’s great that you have support now. You have your wife. You have a baby on the way.
Chance: Yes, a little Ranger. We’re going to call him Colt Stonewall Davis.
Amanda: I love that. How did you meet your wife?
Chance: The week before I left for Naked and Afraid, I did a 12-hour Spartan race. One of my buddies that I contracted with was a former Marine recon. I did that. As I was leaving the race, I met my wife on Tinder. I said, “I know I’ve been blowing you off so I could practice being in the woods the last week. Just meet me for a beer.” We met at a bar and closed the bar down.
As soon as she walked in, I was star struck. We had a couple more dates that week. I told her, “I’m leaving for the jungle. This is crazy. I just met you. Wait for me maybe.” She was supposed to pick me up from the airport after the first 21 days. The producers called her and said, “He’s staying for 20 more days.” She said, “I knew it.” On day 40, she picked me up and took me out to eat. It was magic ever since.
Amanda: What a great story. Going through all of the Naked and Afraid challenges with Melissa, did you come home with a lot more experience of how to deal with women? What did you learn that you’ve taken into your marriage?
Chance: My wife’s pet peeve is people who are passive aggressive. I was very passive aggressive. I got to work through that with Melissa. The girls in the 40-day challenge helped me even more so with not being passive aggressive. I was learning how females think. I hadn’t spent a lot of time closely with females. I was learning how to talk their language.
Amanda: Do you think that she would ever go on Naked and Afraid?
Chance: I think so. She doesn’t have a strong background in wilderness and being outdoors, but she played collegiate sports. She still plays sports now, 26 weeks into the pregnancy. She’s a strong athlete and strong minded. We do a lot of hiking and camping now. I think she’d be fine.
Amanda: With how you’ve grown up and what you’ve learned, what do you think is important that you’re going to teach your child?
Chance: I’m not concerned about what my son wants to be, as long as he’s a man of character. It’s important that I instill values and honor into who he becomes, and that he becomes a contributing member to his nation and country. He’ll go with me when I do things like shooting, fighting, boxing and wrestling. I’m sure he’ll do soccer with the wife. All of those things are little compared to who his heart and character come to be.
Amanda: How old do you think he’ll be before you take him out for a night of survival in the wilderness?
Chance: It depends on when the wife lets me. I’d like to do it early on. I still haven’t figured out if you can put protein powder in formula. I’m sure it will be early on with him strapped to my back, going on hikes.
Amanda: Do you teach survival skills or hold classes?
Chance: After the show, the attention was great, but I don’t like it too much. I stay tight knit with the Boys Home. We go on a lot of camping and hiking trips. We do survival classes and first aid classes. I keep it limited to that. I find so much purpose and passion in my job. I like giving back to them and spending my time there.
Amanda: You don’t want to go on the Kim Kardashian Show?
Chance: What’s that? Who is she?
Amanda: Is there anywhere in the world luxurious where you’d like to travel?
Chance: Brazil, Australia and China.
Amanda: You said you’ve been to San Diego, right?
Chance: Yes, I went to San Diego when I was doing security work. I spent some time on vacation out there. I need fish tacos. I have to get back to Pacific Beach. The nightlife in San Diego is amazing. I had some phenomenal sushi there at the Hard Rock Café Hotel. I have a lot of good buddies in the Navy community that live out there. I’d love to get back to San Diego.
Amanda: Do you remember any of the bars or restaurants you went to?
Chance: No. That’s how good of a time it was.
Amanda: Was there anything that you didn’t do that you want to do in San Diego when you come back?
Chance: No. I would be open to suggestions.
Amanda: You’ll have to check out our website. We’ve just published our 300th story. We’re all about what to do and see in San Diego. We have a shooting range out here. I took my son there for a shooting class and basic firearm skills. I got a lot of backlash for that, for trying to teach my son a new skill. I don’t think we’re the wilderness type here in San Diego. What are your thoughts on taking kids out and shooting?
Chance: You have to start somewhere. We expect our nation to be protected and fend for itself. It starts at the lowest level. You have to bring up the next generation of strong countrymen that will defend. My son will be shooting at about six to eight years old. It’s important to instill firearms safety. I’m all for it.
Amanda: Is there anything else that you want to leave with our San Diego readers? Do you think anyone can do Naked and Afraid?
Chance: It depends on the person. A lot of people want to prove themselves as hunters or survivalists. They want to test their grit. You learn a lot of things in a win, but you learn a lot more in a loss. As long as you can count that loss as a lesson learned, you’re always winning. Coming back from it, I learned a lot of things that I needed to brush up on. It depends on the person and what they want out of life.
Amanda: We’d love to have your family out here in San Diego. We’ll have peanut butter and Oreos ready for you if you come.
My thoughts on assimilation… life is about change and survival. It’s literally as simple as sink or swim. You can blame circumstances, misfortunes, outside factors working against you, etc. Or you can constantly improve your fighting position. Meaning, self improvement, seek assistance from others you admire, doing the harwork required to achieve your own success. Assimilating isn’t easy… nothing great ever is. If you seek the path of least resistance in life expect to live feeling unfulfilled. Be proud of where you came from. Be eager to reach your next objective. Be humble about your success and seek to add value wherever you go. #assimilation