Bonanza City, New Mexico is unlikely to even be a dot on a map these days as the inhabitants are long gone. The previous inhabitants ran it into the ground in the 1800’s due to lack of leadership and the tumbleweed is blowing down mainstreet. However, for the next 40 days it is going to have some new pioneers living in its presence.
40 new pioneers are going to try and fix the mistakes of their forefathers and build a town that works. The amazing thing is though, these pioneers are Children. The oldest just turned 15 and the youngest is only 8 and they’re from all walks of life. City kids, country kids, rich kids, poor kids and everything inbetween.
8 year old Jimmy from New Hampshire isn’t sure what to make of the fact that there wont be any adults out here and wonders if he’s going to die. Mallory isn’t sure what to make of it either and is there with her sister Olivia from Indiana. 11 year old Jared from Georgia is worried about breaking his leg or getting some bad disease.
40 kids. No Parents. No Teachers. This is Kid Nation.
Host of the show Jonathan Karsh greets the kids as they arrive on a school bus where he welcomes them to the middle of nowhere. The city is still a couple of miles away and to get there, they’re going to have to walk. They’ll also have to drag their supplies with with them.
There is a town council that is made up of 4 other kids. 11 year old Mike from Washington who is a Boy Scout, 10 year old Taylor from Georgia who is a pageant queen, 12 year old Anjay who is a spelling bee champ and 12 year old Laurel from Massachusetts who is a respected student leader. These kids are in charge for the time being but Jonathan warns them that nothing is permanent.
11 year old Divad from Georgia thinks that it’s all going to fall apart while 9 year old Cody wonders if they’re the right people and whether they’re going to get right back on the helicopter that they arrived in. 14 year old DK from Illinois wants to know if they’re being serious.
There is a fence that the kids have to follow and hike to Bonanza pulling their wagons behind them.
There is a town hall meeting in a few days where, if it is too hard, some of the kids can pull out.
While the kids get the wagons ready and collect the goats, Jonathan talks to the town council. He tells them that they need to go to the town hall and read a book that has further instructions and then tells them that every few days they will need to decide on a kid to give a gold star to. The gold star is worth $20,000 which leaves them with mouths gaping.
14 year old Sophia from Florida is annoyed at Mike who isn’t really helping to pull the wagons to town and instead is barking instructions. 15 year old Greg from Nevada agrees that Mike could be doing more, physically wise.
It’s a hard slog dragging the wagons into town. DK pulls a muscle in his leg and Greg helps him onto the top of the wagon to give him a ride into town.
9 year old Alex from Nevada is surprised there is no adults. The kids are surprized at what they find in town. Everything is in disarray and they try and figure out what to do but no one seems to know what to do.
They start trying to sort out some dinner and fill a pot with water and load it up with pasta but it’s too much pasta and it ends up getting dumped in the street.
Sophia steps up to the plate and says that they should follow a recipe book that they’ve found since no one knows how to cook. 11 year old Jared from Georgia says he’s so hungry he wants to eat off his own leg. The pasta is taking forever to cook abd everyone is starving after a long day.
Taylor is crying and missing her home. Not really a strong leader for the rest of the kids.
Everyone wants to go to sleep so there will be no town meeting tonight. Mike is upset because he wants to make it work. Laurel and Taylor reaffirm him that everything is going to be better tomorrow.
The second day seems to start a bit better with a pancake breakfast. There are fresh eggs and goats milk but there are some kids who have missed out. There is a meeting but 14 year old Michael from Washington didn’t think there was any order. Neither did Greg who gets up in his face. Greg pushes Mike who is trying to asert his position. Some of the kids don’t like what is happening. Michael steps up and makes a speech to try and motivate everyone to actually build a society and show that kids can actually do it.
Mike and Greg patch things up but I don’t think that’s over yet.
The town council go to the hall to read the book that Jonathan told them about. The book says that they need to organise the town into four districts which they will each lead one of.
Anjay has the oldest kids in the blue district. Taylor has some of the younger kids in the yellow district. Mike has the red district and Laruel has the green district.
Jimmy is in Laurel’s district and is upset and thinks that he might be too young to be doing this. He misses his family and Laurel is nice to him to try and ease his mind.
While everyone is asleep, a couple of the older guys take some chalk and graffiti “Go Blue” around the town. When everyone wakes up, they’re not impressed.
Jonathan rings the bell and calls the pioneers together and asks if they think it’s a little unorganized. They all put their hands up. There is a a board in front of them which lists off a number of jobs and wages. Jonathan tells them that they will be running stores and doing jobs in order to keep the town running. Laborers get 10c for hauling water, doing laundry, garbage and latrine. Cooks get 25c. Merchants get 50c for running the stores and then there is the upper class who get $1.00 and have no assigned chores. To get assigned their chores there will be a showdown. It’s fairly chaotic.
The first showdown is all about teamwork and leadership. They need to fill three bottles with water in their color. They need to follow a map and find pipes and pump water out and catch the water and race it back to their bottles. Red fills their bottles first and manages to get home in front of blue to claim the upper class. Blue will be the merchants. Yellow district wins the cooks. Leaving green with the laborers jobs.
If they completed the task in 60 minutes then then entire town would win a big reward. The green team finished with 14 seconds on the clock. There are two rewards they must choose from. 7 more out houses or a TV. The council deliberate and decide on the toilets.
Everyone is loving the yellow team in the morning because their breakfast is great. However, yellow team doesn’t want to clean up and do dishes.
The merchants check out their merchant stores and are pretty excited by all the candy and soda.
While they pioneers start to spend their money on chocolate and soda, Sophia discovers a bike in one of the stores for $3 which she desperately wants. She starts busking for nickles and manages to raise enough to buy the bike.
Mike and Anjay talk about who they should give the gold star to. They go get Laurel and it looks like it is going to come down to either Michael or Sophia.
The first Bonanza City town hall meeting takes place. Jonathan asks everyone if they’re happy with the council. Everyone is but Sophia who is annoyed about the yellow district not wanting to clean up after cooking.
Jonathan asks if anyone wants to go home. He tells them that the decision is irreversible. Taylor has decided to stay. Jimmy wants to go though. The others try to convince him to stay but he was just too homesick.
One last piece of business to deal with. Who is getting the gold star. The council has decided to give the star to Sophia. Sophia’s jaw drops when Jonathan tells her that the star is worth $20,000. Jonathan gives her a key to the only building in the town with a telephone where she gets to call her mom and tell her the good news. Her mother is so proud of her.