Summer Camp’s Matt Rogers: “It’s Not One of Those Stab-You-in-the-Back” Shows
Matt Rogers | Photo Credits: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network
"No counselors. No inhibitions. No rules." Judging by the promos for USA's new reality competition series, this isn't your mom's summer camp. From the producers of Big Brother, Summer Camp (Thursday, 8/7c) follows 16 players as they compete for $250,000. Each week, there will be a camp socials, color wars and — like any good reality series — drama. TVGuide.com spoke with host Matt Rogers of American Idol fame to get the lowdown on Summer Camp.
How would you describe the show?
Matt Rogers: Its summer camp for young adults that get a chance to go back and relive the most magical times of their lives. Over nine million kids go to summer camp every year, so it's definitely relatable to the mass audience. But it's super cool because young adults don't really get a chance to do what these people did, so that's what makes it unique from any other reality show.
How will it stand out from similar reality shows like Big Brother?
Rogers: The cast is unlike anything I've ever seen. We kept true to the summer camp theme, so you have a geeky girl, a nerdy guy, a cowgirl, a cowboy, supermodel girl, a firefighter poster boy. It's 16 different personalities and it's not one of those stab-you-in-the-back, make-you-feel-terrible cutthroat reality shows. It's summer camp, so it's upbeat and positive. These people really bonded, but at the end of the day, it was a game and there was a quarter of a million dollars on the line, so obviously some feelings got hurt. Tempers did flare. There were also some hook-ups and there are romances even outside of the show. If you're a reality TV show fan, you're going to love it. ... I've been a reality TV show host for nine years and this is the first time for me where I really, even when the show is over, like hanging out with the cast. They're good people and they're super fun.
How much time did you get to spend with the cast?
Rogers: On the show, they call me the camp director. I tended to stay close to that title. I explain the challenges — what we call color wars — and also I'll explain the camp socials, which is a chance for these people to let their hair down, have some food, have some drinks, and we had fun at each camp social. ... But then I leave and I let them do their thing. They get a chance to be teenagers again, to do it over. For most of us, at some part in our life, we want a do-over. Even if you went to camp and you were a nerdy person and you didn't have a good experience, you might want a do-over. Or if you were the popular person, you would want to do it over again because you had such a great time.
There's obviously a lot of fighting and hooking up, so how much of that were you aware of as the show was filming?
Rogers: You can tell just by reading people who likes who, who doesn't like who. In the first week, everyone is just feeling everyone out and then once you're at this camp, after two or three days, you start to feel comfortable with one another and start to bond. So by the third elimination, I've got people holding hands and kissing each other, so it's like, "Oh my gosh, you guys are so cute! It's like camp all over again."
Did you go to summer camp when you were growing up?
Rogers: It's so funny too because I went to summer camp and winter camp every year from 8 years old to 16 years old, and the winter camp that I went to was literally 50 feet away from where we filmed this.