Kid Nation
I'm Trying To Be A Leader Here

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M. Giant: B- | Grade It Now!
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The Mild, Mild West

The kids roll into town, and are clearly not impressed with the condition of the place. Wouldn't you think the Santa Fe County Historical Society would have something to say about letting a show take over this site for over a month? Think of the damage they could do. And that's just the production crew. "This place is dead and we need to bring it back to life," Mike interviews. Alex, nine, from Nevada, says he thought there would be adults. Are kids even running the cameras here? Kids run around, chase chickens, and explore the town's four single-room bunkhouses, which look like somebody worked very hard to make them look like they've been abandoned for 120 years. One kid is even moved to use the word "disarray." The rooms contain foot lockers with thin mattresses rolled up inside. There's some chaos around who's going to sleep where, and Mallory suggests to Mike that they call a meeting to get it all organized. For now, gender segregation appears to be the only priority. Mike wants to put off the meeting until dinner, when everyone will be together anyway. He will live to regret this.

Anjay supervises the unloading of the wagons. They find the mess hall, with an old-style wood-burning stove and a "cookbook" that is actually an old journal with handwritten recipes. Michael, 14, from Washington, interviews that none of them have ever done dinner like this before. And just to underline the point, we see a kid futilely stabbing at the top of a sealed food can with the point of an old-style can opener. You know, speaking as someone who has been camping a few times, the first meal after you arrive is always the hardest. It takes forever to find everything and get it all organized and set up even if you do know what you're doing (which these kids don't), and you're already hungry from the traveling and the unpacking. This is why my first meal on every camping trip now is a Big Mac in the car en route to the lake. It takes a lot of the pressure off. That probably wasn't an option for these kids, though. A bunch of girls get the fire lit in the stove, and start making some mac and cheese in a big pot. Except they put too many noodles in before the water is even boiling, making it completely impossible to stir. It's like Top Chef in reverse. Sophia comes in and takes over, pointing out that a 1:3 water-to-pasta ratio isn't going to work, whereupon she takes the pot off the stove, carries it to the door, and dumps its entire contents out in the street right in front of the building. Half of it retains the shape of the pot, so it had clearly been in there for a while. Some of the kids complain about the waste, but Sophia and Taylor manage to get everyone calmed down and focused on following the cookbook. Mike interviews that Sophia's working her butt off. Meanwhile, a bunch of other kids, including Anjay, Laurel, and Taylor, make the long hike to the pump outside town to fill buckets with fresh water while Sophia keeps the reins on the kitchen.

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Kid Nation

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