About a year-and-a-half ago my husband began watching a reality television series called ‘Gold Rush’. It’s on the Discovery Channel and it began three years ago. At first, I didn’t watch it with him, though I sometimes listened from my desk. One day I sat down on the sofa and actually watched the show. I watched it the next week, also. By the end of the second episode, I was hooked. To my surprise, it has become one of my favorite series.

For those of you who don’t know the show, it’s about three gold mining crews in Alaska. All three began with little or no mining experience. One crew is led by Jack Hoffman, who is in his sixties, and his son, Todd Hoffman. They are working with a group of long-time friends. Another team began with only two members, again a father and son, ‘Dakota’ Fred Hurt, who is also in his sixties, and Dustin Hurt. This season they added a female miner, Melody Tallis. The last team is led by a seventeen-year-old boy (now nineteen), Parker Schnabel, with occasional help from his grandfather, John Schnabel, who is in his nineties. Parker took over his grandfather’s gold mining operation and his team when he retired. The teenager is supervising men who are much older than him, and occasionally must deal with insubordination or disrespect.

We’ve watched other gold mining reality shows. What intrigues me most about this one is that the miners are committed to their relationships—friendships, families, teamwork—even in the most difficult environment, and they somehow maintain positive attitudes. Throughout each season those relationships and attitudes were put to the test by machinery break downs, disappointments, mistakes, weather problems, stresses, injuries, and disagreements. Not only have they survived, but each season these miners have come back more determined and dedicated, pushing themselves and increasing their goals, not out of greed or desperation, but out of a need to give their dreams a real chance. How could the audience not root for them?

In the early seasons, the payouts were dismal and the men lost money. In the season that just ended, the Schabel team broke even and the Dakota Boys made only a small profit—both teams, however, met their goals. The Hoffman team, who had set a nearly impossible goal, came close to reaching their gold target and hit the mother lode.

Next season, the Hoffmans are going to South America to mine, and they will have their own separate show. The Dakota Boys and Parker Schnabel are taking on new gold sites in Alaska and expanding their operations. Both shows promise to be exciting.

As a viewer, I’ve learned a lot about gold mining, ingenuity (because when their equipment broke down, these miners frequently had to come up with creative repairs), and teamwork. Most of all, I learned that with hard work and a good attitude you can learn new things and attain your dreams at any age.

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