Augusta boy, 12, is part of Kid Nation
AUGUSTA — For any kid that ever thought they could run things better than the grown-ups, the trial begins tonight.
Nathan Gibes, a 12-year-old with local ties, tried his hand at creating a functional Neverland on the new reality show "Kid Nation," debuting on CBS at 8 p.m. The show features 40 kids in the derelict mining town of Bonanza, N.M., for 40 days without adult supervision.
Although the show sparked plenty of controversy, Gibes and his family said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"I thought it would be kinda like summer camp," Nathan Gibes said. "I've been away from my parents for a week before, so I thought a few more weeks wouldn't be any harder."
Nathan attends the American Boychoir School in Princeton, N.J., and was a member of the Battle Creek Boychoir for several months before beginning filming in May.
His father, Kernon Gibes, began working at Kellogg Co. in January, and his mother, Valerie, is in the process of moving their belongings from Illinois to Augusta.
The Gibeses caught wind of the show through an e-mail to a homeschool parent list passed through a Chicago children's choir. Both Nathan and his parents thought it would be a good experience for him.
"I tried to emphasize to be friendly and make friends with everybody and be outgoing," Valerie said.
The kids, ages 8-15, were challenged to create their own town — from cooking, cleaning and drawing their own water, to running their businesses and creating a government system.
So can kids stand up to the challenge? Nathan said they can — and they did.
The show did have a few safety nets. Concerns over child labor-law violations and safety arose after one child reportedly was burned while cooking and several accidentally drank bleach.
According to CBS, they were treated immediately and a full medical staff was on-site at all times.
Valerie said she wasn't concerned with safety issues, but instead by the fact she couldn't talk to her son for 40 days.
"They would call every three days to say he was fine," she said. "I was just annoyed I didn't have the details."
Nathan plans to watch tonight's premiere on a big-screen television in his dorm. He's mostly excited, but still a little nervous.
"Most of the time I'm pretty sure it will be fine, but there might be some things on there I wish they didn't show," he said.
The experience made him physically stronger and slightly changed his ideas on politics, but overall, he said he now knows most kids have what it takes to get the job done.
"It depends on the kids," he said. "But I think it's possible."