Wednesday marked the season finale of "Kid Nation". Both of my kids, ages 5 and 8, have been fascinated by this CBS reality show for the past thirteen weeks - and I have watched along with them.
Forty children ranging in age from 8 to 15 spent 40 days last April and May in the wilderness of New Mexico, at a privately owned ranch built to look like the fictional ghost town Bonanza City. The kids were completely (well, mostly) on their own - cooking, cleaning, and generally looking after themselves for 6 weeks.
Divided into four teams, they competed in challenges every three days. How well each team did in the challenges determined what place they had in Bonanza City society - the Upper Class, the Merchants, the Cooks, or the Laborers.
Kid Nation was also an exercise in government. There were elections, and four kids were chosen to be on the "town council". What was this town council? It was essentially the township committee form of government - just like we have here in Hillsborough. There was no directly elected mayor - no separate branches. The four council members worked together to solve problems, lead the town, and most importantly, award a $20,000 gold star to one lucky kid at the end of each episode.
Overall the kids did a nice job running the town. So good in fact, that Bonanza City just might make Money Magazine's best town list next year - at number 24!