So, on this show that's all about kids, the first person we see is...an adult. He's Jonathan Karsh, who's going to be the host/camp counselor for this little experiment. He walks around what looks like an abandoned movie set, but it's actually Bonanza City, New Mexico, an old ghost town. He tells us that the town already failed once, but now some new pioneers are on their way to make it work. And you'll never believe this: they're all kids! Whoa! Kids? What kind of show is this?
On board the yellow school bus (of course) carrying most of the kids, the very first one we meet is Jimmy, from New Hampshire. He's eight. Eight. Jeez Louise (I can't bring myself to curse yet with all these kids around). He thinks he's going to die out there. He may be onto something. Mallory, also eight and from Indiana, has reservations of her own, although she's glad to have her mute sister Olivia along. Jared is from Georgia, and yet he reminds me of a cross between Jonathan Lipnicki and Seth Green in Can't Buy Me Love as he borscht-belts about his fear of catching a disease or breaking a leg. Jared strikes me as your basic, weird, spazzy eight-year-old, which is kind of a shame, because he's eleven. Jonathan tells us there are no parents, no teachers, and the leaders are kids, too. "It's the first ever Kid Nation." Wait, you mean there are going to be more?
The title sequence is all inspirational-like, with kids doing stuff together and waving a big flag, but it's short, and there aren't any names in it. There are forty of them, what do you want?
Jonathan stands by the side of a dirt road, near a corral full of goats and a bunch of parked wooden wagons. The school bus stops there. The kids all pile off with all their stuff, and the school bus takes off, so they're stuck now. They gather in front of Jonathan, who welcomes them to the middle of nowhere. He says Bonanza City is a few miles down the road, and they'll be there for forty days. But not to worry, they have each other (they're doomed). Jonathan also says that four leaders have been chosen for them, although he doesn't really explain the criteria for their selection.
Right on cue, a big white helicopter swoops in over the horizon and sets down, disgorging Mike (eleven, a Boy Scout from Washington with glasses and a black cowboy hat), Taylor (a ten-year-old "pageant queen" from Georgia who still needs a bit of work on her "world peace" speech), Anjay (twelve, a bowl-cut spelling bee champ and Texan of Indian descent who can only think of three adults -- Washington, Franklin, and Gandhi -- who have done a good job with the world), and Laurel (at twelve, a "respected student leader" from Massachusetts, as if her Boston accent didn't give that away). Jonathan tells the rest of the kids that these four are in charge, and the rank and file clearly have their doubts. But that will have to wait. Jonathan points to the big, old-fashioned wooden wagons filled with supplies, which they'll have to pull the "few" miles to Bonanza City from here. He says they're in for a tough time, but there'll be a Town Hall Meeting in a few days where any of them can decide to quit and go home. "Pioneers! Are you ready!" Mike yells, and Jonathan cuts them loose. The kids rush to the wagons like it's a race, because kids are excitable and, more importantly, gullible. They start loading up and rounding up the goats. One of the human kids lassos a goat kid, which is really kind of impressive. Not as impressive as the reverse would have been, mind you. "In Chicago, nothing like this has ever, ever, happened to me before, ever," says DK, fourteen, as he walks down the dirt road leading a goat on a rope. Yeah, there aren't many dirt roads in Chicago.