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Woodbury native one of 16 picked for TV's 'Summer Camp'

Lauren Von Drashek has no problem embodying the mean-girl role.

In fact, her friends had remarked for years that her sassy attitude would make her a perfect fit on reality television.

So when Von Drashek, a 2008 Woodbury High School graduate, saw a Twitter post last year seeking out character archetypes for a reality show, she jumped at the chance.

“It just sounded like something I’d be really good at,” the 23-year-old said.

Cable TV viewers will be able to decide for themselves beginning this week, when Von Drashek hits the airwaves on “Summer Camp,” a USA Network reality TV show that pits men against women in a series of summer camp-like competitions. The show chronicles the lives of the 16-person cast, who live together for a month in a California retreat as contestants compete for a $250,000 group prize.

Von Drashek was cast as the group’s “mean girl”; other members are dubbed “The Yogi,” “The Bayou Bodybuilder” and “The Nerd.”

USA Network bills Von Drashek, a 2012 University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate, as “one mean Midwestern girl from Woodbury, Minnesota, who has no filter and always tells it like it is.

“Growing up Lauren played hockey on both the girls and boys teams, but spent most of the games in the penalty box because she was too aggressive.”

So how much of that TV persona rings true in real life? Most of it, Von Drashek said.

“People think I’m mean because I don’t have a filter,” she said, adding that she played bantam-level hockey in Woodbury against boys until high school, where she went on to serve as co-captain for the Royals during her senior year. “I don’t know if that’s being mean or just being honest.”

Her mother, Rhonda Von Drashek, chuckled at the notion of her daughter being cast as the group’s meanie, but said Lauren’s strong personality tends to stand out.

“She’s very direct,” Rhonda said.

Lauren is contractually limited to discussing “Summer Camp” in broad strokes, but said she thoroughly enjoyed her time on the show.

“It’s like a life-changing experience,” she said. “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Among the activities the cast encounters are water challenges, scavenger hunts and socials.

There was no time to adjust to the radical change in life that meant being fixed with a microphone and followed by a camera for days on end, Lauren said.

“But you get used to it and you kind of forget the cameras are there,” she said. “I didn’t hold anything back. It’s definitely not scripted. It’s totally real.”

She didn’t know at first that the show would involve a men-vs.-women competition. Lauren said she tends to befriend more guys than gals in everyday life, so she was forced to change up her strategy.

“I think the way they put it together made it a lot more competitive,” she said.

As for her newfound stardom, Lauren said she expects it to hit her once the show airs.

“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” she said. “It’s probably going to be pretty surreal to my friends and family.”

Lauren said time will tell whether her affair with television will continue. For now, she’s going to wait and see how the show plays out -- and what kind of response it generates.

“I kind of want to watch the season and see where it goes from there,” she said.

“Summer Camp” premiers locally at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 11, on USA Network.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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