I watched the first episode and was intrigued. I had been hearing about it for several weeks, both the criticisms and the praise, but I wanted to withhold judgement until I saw it for myself. I have a very strong feeling that this group of children is going to teach adults a valuable lesson. I hope I am not proven wrong.
The show is about a group of kids, ages 8-15, dropped off in the desert. There is a movie set town and they must make the town work. There aren’t adults involved (though they are nearby).
In the first episode, several things struck me. You could almost immediately pick out which kids have leadership qualities and which kids have issues. Unlike adults, they have not developed the “mask” yet. There was an argument between two boys (one about 15, the other about 12). For the 15 year old, it was about power and attitude. For the 12 year old, it was about right and wrong. However, shortly after the argument, the 12 year old went to the 15 year old to discuss the issue and clear the air. There wasn’t any backstabbing or plotting. They had an open discussion and walked away friendly. Now, I understand that may come back later, but I was impressed.
Another thing that struck me was the award they give out. There is a town council made up of 4 kids who are representative of all the ages present. They award a gold star (an actual gold star about the size of a man’s hand) worth $20,000 to the person they feel showed real leadership throughout the week. When they gave the first one, not one of the other children complained that they deserved it more and none of them were whispering behind her back. The first thing adults would have done was nitpick and backstab.
Finally, at each town meeting, the kids can say they want to go home. One boy, an 8 year old, said he wanted to leave. The kids all said they wanted him to stay, but when he made the final decision to leave, they all wished him well and told him he did a great job. I was impressed because he told them he was too young to do this and he wasn’t ready to be away from his family that long. I was very impressed that he could identify those feelings and express them in a large group of his peers.
I hope I am not disappointed with this show – partly because I still believe that the majority of people are good and there is no one better than kids to show us how to do.