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Our Fat Guy in the Woods

See how nature treats him on the Weather Channel July 19

Ron Gamble, top, a 36-year-old policeman from Arnold, takes to the wild July 19 on The Weather Channel’s Fat Guys in the Woods.

Anne Arundel County cop Ron ­Gamble, of Arnold, always considered himself a fat guy. Now the ­Weather Channel has made him a Fat Guy in the Woods. In the reality show episode airing July 19 Gamble and two other fat guys venture into Kentucky cave country guided by survival expert Creek Stewart. Stewart — who is neither a fat guy nor a cop — intends to teach them “the skills that make a man a man.” Here Gamble previews his week-long experience — from ordering room service to hunting crickets for dinner.

Bay Weekly How did you get to be a Fat Guy in the Woods?
Ron Gamble In our police department, we play very elaborate jokes on each other. I have a Facebook group called Fat Guys R Back. When the producer posted an advertisement for the show there, I thought it was a joke. I’m a manly guy, but I knew going into the woods would be way, way out of my comfort zone. But I said I would give it a shot.

Bay Weekly How far out of your comfort zone did it take you?
Ron Gamble I was a little nervous. I’m not the guy that sleeps on the ground. I’m a room-service type of guy. Making it through was worth its weight in gold.

Bay Weekly What was hardest?
Ron Gamble On the show they focus on basic survival needs, so when you get in there, Creek tells you, Alright so we’re gonna look for food, water, shelter, fire. I’m thinking we’re gonna look for food first, but he explains to us that food is at the bottom of that list. I’m used to eating every two or three hours, so I’m getting a little nervous. But I’m not going to let everybody know that.

Bay Weekly What did you guys finally get to eat?
Ron Gamble Let’s just say the eating wasn’t that much. It was barely enough to keep us alive. I consider myself a guy that loves eating. I love the taste of food, but the thing I love more than anything is syrup. I put it on everything. Not just pancakes, waffles. I put it on sandwiches, pasta, you name it. So Creek surprised me by showing us different types of trees and showed us how to find maple trees by the leaves. He actually shows us how to use a thin branch and almost make like a straw, and he showed us how to tap into a maple tree to get maple syrup.
    But when the syrup came out, it came out like water. He told us if you sit it over the fire and let it boil down, that’s where all the sweetness is. Once it boiled down for an hour or two, it’s great. Drinking a nice warm cup of syrup was amazing.

Fat Guys in the Woods host, Creek Stewart, left, shows the Fat Guys how to make fire.

Bay Weekly Just syrup?
Ron Gamble Creek explained that if you boil it down even more, you get a hard pasty thing, similar to the consistency of toothpaste. If we spread it out on the rocks of the caves, we could get some insects, which are full of protein. I was not excited about that, but I’m starving at that point so I’ll do whatever Creek says. So we set some syrup paste out on the rocks and come back in the morning, and there were cave crickets on there. They had these long legs, and they were very, very nasty. It was bad. I didn’t know what to expect when you’re hoping to catch a bug to eat, but they were worse than I could have imagined.

Bay Weekly Did a week in the woods change you?
Ron Gamble It let me know that I can go out and survive. Being a normal person in 2015, we’re clearly living in severe abundance. This is gonna sound ridiculous, but the first couple weeks back I’m taking my kid to lacrosse practice, my oldest son, Jordan, and there’s this section of woods near the lacrosse field. I’m looking at the woods, and I’m starting to get queazy. I had to turn away. I don’t know how much the other guys knew how rough it was for me, but it was rough. It was definitely a little traumatizing. The first four days back I’m sleeping in my bed like normal, and I keep waking up thinking I need to put more logs on the fire.

Bay Weekly Did you take away a revelation to share?
Ron Gamble I want to encourage people to do things they’re not comfortable doing if they want to broaden their horizons.