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Parksville woman to appear on ‘Naked and Afraid’ reality TV show

Meagan “Sunny” Forsythe put survival skills to the test in wilderness of Colombia
Ballenas Secondary graduate Meagan “Sunny” Forsythe is one of just a handful of Canadians to make it on the ‘Naked and Afraid’ TV reality show. (Contributed photo)

A Parksville woman is one of just a handful of Canadians to ever make it onto the ‘Naked and Afraid’ reality show.

Meagan Forsythe, who goes by Sunny, was paired up with a British soldier and put her survival skills to the test in the wilderness of Colombia for the Discovery Channel series.

Each episode chronicles the challenges of two strangers who meet for the first time naked and must survive for a period of time, although Forsythe was not allowed to say how long she was in the jungle.

The Ballenas Secondary graduate had to be careful every time she left her shelter and watch out for scorpions, pumas and coral snakes — even the caterpillars were venomous.

“The minute your feet are on the ground, you are so hyper-vigilant because everything can hurt you, from a caterpillar to a wasp,” she said.

Even the plants can be a hazard, Forsythe added.

“There are micro barbs with these needles that will be burning for three days if you brush up on the wrong type of grass,” she said. “Every time we had to go into the water to get our food or get our water supply we had to make sure we weren’t stepping on a stingray.”

Meeting a stranger naked in the jungle sounds like an awkward situation for most people, but Forsythe said it was not a big deal, partially because of her medical background. There were also much bigger distractions in the environment.

“We’re very professional with it. We’re also just completely covered in bug bites and trying not to step on scorpions and spiders in the grass,” she said with a laugh. “You’re in such a survival atmosphere that it’s not your concern at that point. It’s the last thing on your mind.”

Forsythe was not allowed to tell people she was competing on the show until after it was done.

“They thought I was in Arizona doing medical training,” she said. “Only my partner knew and a few people that I trained with because they could tell that I was training for something.”

Forsythe put herself through a rigorous training process, spending four hours each night in the shower with freezing cold water splashing down on her to simulate a night spent in the rain. After that she would go sleep on the patio in 12 degrees Celsius or colder.

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She also prepared by hiking four to eight kilometres a day in bare feet with 30 pounds of weight on her back and fasted while exercising.

“I put my body pretty much through the closest simulation of what you could get and made it even worse,” Forsythe said. “So when I got out there I was pretty well-acclimated to it.”

She was one of the first girls on Vancouver Island to join the Boy Scouts in Shawnigan Lake and her love of the outdoors continued with windsurfing in Parksville Bay.

“Parksville, as you know, it’s got so many beautiful places,” said Forsythe, who now lives in Vancouver. “That’s kind of what we do out there, is we spend our time out in nature, so I was lucky to grow up where I did.”

Making it onto the show is an accomplishment in itself. Forsythe said that in the show’s 17 seasons only seven Canadians have attempted the challenge. Approximately 60 per cent of all challengers do not make it, she added.

There is a lengthy application process with a medical screening, psychological evaluation and ensuring the person possesses the right skill set to endure safely, she said.

“I really didn’t think they were going to choose me, and then when they did I thought they were going to replace me with someone better,” Forsythe said with a laugh.

She found being taken out of modern urban life allowed her to focus on one thing at a time, which was relaxing in a way. The experience also provided her some time to process the pandemic years without the distractions of everyday life.

“It can be hard to sit and process it,” Forsythe said. “My dad had died during the pandemic and because of the restrictions I was never able to go to his funeral.”

She said she recommends anyone dealing with mental health challenges to apply for the show’s 14-day fan challenge, or to just go camping without their phone.

“If you’ve ever been in a serious life-and-death situation, you really meet yourself,” she said. “Once you have that type of situation, when you come back into your everyday life, you’re not questioning yourself. You’re not questioning your values or can you do this or are you capable. You know exactly who you are and it’s just such certainty.”

Forsythe said she would “absolutely do it again” given the opportunity. Her episode airs March 17 on the Discovery Channel.

Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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