I recently watched a new Netflix show called, “Snowflake Mountain.” Based on the trailer, I set my expectations low. I was looking for something lighthearted to drown out politics for the day and it looked like the perfect escape. I got more than I bargained for.
“Snowflake Mountain” is a reality series hosted by Navy veteran Joel Graves, retired Army combat engineer Matt Tate, and professional survival instructor Cat Bigney that takes 10 spoiled, entitled twentysomethings to a remote camp and teaches them survival skills, independence, hard work, and ultimately, how to make more of themselves than they (or their parents) ever thought possible.
The contestants are a mixture of the two most disliked generations in our society: Millennials and Generation Z, with the participants ranging in age between 20 and 26. They can’t (or won’t) hold down a job, they sleep all day, party all night, and are entirely void of responsibility. The show really drives home the depiction of both generations as whiny, lazy, and privileged, and fragile like snowflakes. They are everything the prior generations set them up to be and now despise.
This got me thinking about how we got here and how we can fix it.
At the beginning of the series, you see the snowflakes’ parents at their wits’ end. Dreaming of bright futures for their children, but unable to see a path to that reality, the parents are actually the ones who signed their children up for this challenge (unbeknownst to the kids). The videos from the parents reveal a clear pattern: Although well-intentioned, their parenting style of “friend first and parent second” led to their children walking all over them. This dynamic engulfs these families, regardless of their status as a one or two parent household, their ethnicity, or their income bracket.
The issue lies within human nature and our inability to find a balance. We go from one extreme to another without pausing in the middle. Generations before were hard on their children or had distorted views of discipline and used it as an excuse to physically abuse their children. The next generation didn’t want to repeat the cycle and created a new extreme, resulting in virtually free-rein parenting.
Luckily for these 10 contestants, their parents gave them the push they needed. They arrive under the belief that they are staying at a fabulous resort when it is really a campsite fit with tents and outhouses. Once they realize what is happening, none of them are pleased.
At first, the whining was incessant, the sum of times I heard “I can’t do this” or “I’m going home” was innumerable; pair that with the complaints about Joel, Matt, and Cat pushing them, and I really didn’t see how they would finish.
Yet eventually, the group dynamic began to shift.
Leaders emerged. A few of them showed a desire to prove they could persevere. They demonstrated a willingness to be and do better. It was amazing to see positive changes in such a short amount of time. The sight of the hosts offering a balance of well-rounded support through structure and discipline, coupled with counsel and guidance, showed me that given the right environment, any of the unsavory traits disliked among these generations could be chipped away to reveal true potential. They just haven’t been pushed yet.
I commend all three hosts on providing this style of support system that made the contestants push themselves physically and mentally. The hosts knew when to motivate to achieve one result and when to communicate to achieve a different result. “Snowflake Mountain” proves that strength truly has nothing to do with the “generation” you’re born into, but rather the foundation laid for you by your parents and society. The solution begins at home and, although these steps are not always easy, they are necessary for turning a child into a responsible adult.