Kid Nation: An Awkward Inspiration to Us All

xl.jpegKid Nation is the Survivor for kids yet set in the dull old American West. Literally, the old West – in a town called Bonanza that a whole bunch of settlers (adults mind you) couldn’t pull together as a working community.

The premiere was certainly interesting. As Andy Dehnart of MSNBC describes: “the show’s first episode was alternatingly uncomfortable, inspiring, and awkward.” And that it was.

I absolutely believe that kids are amazing people who can handle an extreme amount more than we tend to give them credit for. Yet, while I believe kids can absolutely be mature and handle living on their own, it still made me a a tad bit nervous watching these young kids being dropped off and then abandoned by their one adult, the host, in the middle of nowhere.

Okay, perhaps the cameramen surrounding them are perfectly capable adults who could step in at a second’s notice of an actual emergency, and clearly the host is always around somewhere as he pops up to make the kids do very Survivor-esque challenges… but in essence, these kids really are running a town on their own. We have 8-year-olds lighting an old stove, a 14-year-old girl bossing them around especially after she was demoted to latrine cleaning duty (by losing a team challenge), and a 15-year-old boy intimidating a 10-year-old to tears and graffiting the town in the night. Clearly, chaos.

But yet, after a good amount of tears from the stressed, tired, and hungry youngsters, they really started to pull things together. After a challenge that determined by the winner down to the loser of the four established districts of the town, the kids were separated into “classes” which also meant a distinction of what group had what responsibilities. This most definitely helped get things under control, but it was not just the help of the set up of the show that got these kids working together.

Among the group popped up very mature and supportive kids who really rose to the occasion when things got rowdy, when other kids were having a hard time being there, and even when one kid decided he was too homesick to stay. The kids were all very happy for Sophia, the girl who really stepped up and took control of the cooking the first few days, when she won the now very much coveted gold star – which is no joke as it’s worth $20,000 – how’s that for inspiration? And they all encouraged the homesick 8-year-old to stay, but still cheered and sent their love with him out the door when he decided to leave.

So overall, yes, Kid Nation is inspiring. It’s great to see these kids show what they’ve got and really get the chance to learn, grow, and even teach us adults a little something about the way things should be. The discomfort of watching kids out on their own will probably continue to be a little unnerving, but in general, it seems as if, as long as a group of kids can keep a TV audience’s attention, the inspiring part will win over and make this a pretty good experiment after all.

Watch Kid Nation now on SideReel!

Dehnart, Andy. “‘Kid Nation’ shows real side of young relations.” 20 Sep 2007.

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