TOS Review: Growing Up Wild

I went on my first missions trip when I was a college student and it changed my life. Although my home church supported missionaries, there was very little encouragement for us as kids to consider missions in our own lives. For me, it was always "for the grownups." Fast forward 20 years. As a parent, I have been determined not to let my kids grow up with that idea. We have read missionary stories, prayed for different people groups, collected our pennies to help with various special projects. And our kids are catching that vision! My oldest daughter had the opportunity to go on her first trip this past year, and one day, we hope to be able to go as a family.

So when this review opportunity came up, I was really excited about it! If you also want to encourage your children to impact the world for His glory, read on!

Company Information: Growing Up Wild chronicles the jungle adventures of the four Wild brothers in Wano land in Indonesia. The Wild family developed this series with the desire to inform and inspire the next generation of missionaries. The videos are a family affair, with the kids as the stars and mom and dad serving as producers.

Product Reviewed: Volume 1 and Volume 4 of the five-volume series. Each contains three-15 minute episodes on DVD, and a CD-ROM with a PDF activity guide.

Price: $18.99 per video, plus shipping and handling.

Age Range: ages 5-12, although older kids (and adults!) may also enjoy the series. Even though this series highlights a family of boys, this really is a series for the whole family.

Parental Preparation: My kids were quite happy simply to watch the videos. However, to get the most out of them, parents may wish to preview the activity guides that accompany each episode in advance. This helped me to get an idea of what the main points and purpose of the episode was so that I could draw that out with my children.

The actual activities in the guides do not require a lot of extra equipment. Much of it involves exploring your backyard, printing up the charts, or reading Scripture together. They do suggest some special projects that will require you to do a little research on your own to carry out; full instructions for those are not included. However, that has provided us opportunities to learn how to use the Internet!

How We Used It: For us, we chose the casual approach. The boys watched the videos, and then I asked Matthew which video he enjoyed the most or was the most interested in. Using that video's activity guide, we chose activities to extend the topic.

One of the videos that Matthew really enjoyed was on Volume 4 on culture. We started out with the PDF chart that was included with the activity guide comparing our culture with Wano culture. As we thought through the different categories, we had a wonderful discussion of what culture was. We started in comparing the Wano culture with US culture, but then it branched out into Chinese culture as well.

But as suggested in the activity guide, it prodded me to consider other sub-cultures within our own American culture, particularly the American Christian culture. Although it was a little over Matthew's head, it is one that we will revisit and examine as he gets older.

What We Liked:

  • My sons especially enjoyed watching the boys of other cultures and realizing that they liked to battle with sticks just as much as they did!
  • I liked how the boys did a lot of the explaining, even while mom did the narrating. Just seeing their family work together to encourage and exhort other believers through these videos is a wonderful example of what God can do through a family committed to loving and serving Him.
  • We enjoyed the real-life footage of jungle life. It gave our kids a better picture of what that means, but instead of focusing on all the deprivations, the Wild family has showed how they have worked with what they had to create a home for themselves in the midst of where God has called them.
  • The emphasis on the Gospel and on Christ. They point all glory to the Lord, not to themselves.
  • It is evident that the Wilds have counted the cost of obeying the call of Christ, but also rejoice in the privilege they have to serve Him. These young men have been an excellent example of the heart of a missionary to our children, reminding them that they are never too young to serve Jesus.
  • The videos are of high quality and well-shot.
  • The activity guides are very well done. It was more than just a list of fun ideas but thoughtfully designed activities that helped highlight the main points of each episode. They offer a variety of options, including Scripture references to study and discuss together.

What We Didn't Like: Nothing! However, do note that the DVD works best on a widescreen TV monitor. We're old-school over here and still have a full-screen TV, so it did cut off the sides.

My boys were a little squeamish about the nose piercing in Volume 4 (as was I!), but it provided an opportunity to talk about how different cultures expressed their values and commemorated milestones--as well as talk about how missionaries need to be open to entering into the culture in which they live.

Overall Summary: I think this would be an excellent series to go through with our children, one at a time, to explore various facets of missionary life. If this is a passion of your heart, this series is an excellent way to help you to develop that vision and heart for missionary work in your children.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. If you'd like to read more reviews on this product, click the banner below!