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Would a week in the wild stop your family feuding?

Would a week in the wild stop your family feuding?

Would a week in the wild stop your family feuding?

FOR many of us, the festive season will have been fraught with tension and petty arguments. So how better to resolve those differences than uproot the entire family from a comfortable suburban home and dump them in the Panamanian jungle to fend for themselves.

Four dysfunctional families agreed to do just that in an extraordinary social experiment to be broadcast on TV in a few days’ time. Stripped of all mod-cons and with absolutely no access to phones or internet, they braved crocodile infested swamps, deadly snakes, tropical storms – and even hypothermia. And for most of the participants, extreme back-to-basics therapy proved a life-changing experience – for the better.

One family who agreed to take part were the Masiaks, from Northamptonshire. They were forced to forage for food and build their own shelter deep in the rainforest after parents Fatima and Mark concluded they were suffering a very modern crisis: television, smartphones and computers were splitting the family apart, with children and parents eating alone and living separate lives in their own rooms. ‘I realised that we were spending too much time at home on the internet,’ says 45-yearold Mark, a businessman, who reckoned that a radical ‘digital detox’ in an inhospitable environment 6,000 miles from home might bring him closer to sons Jordan, 19, and 16-year-old Raul. ‘We were barely communicating with each other,’ Mark says. ‘I was losing precious time with my sons and I wanted to find a way to stop it.’

Five days in one of the most remote locations of the world proved a painful shock for the pampered teenagers – but eventually, and reluctantly, they began to rely on each other.

Wet, miserable and at first unable to cope, they were forced to clamber through the jungle suffering from hunger and dehydration. By the time they had gathered their meagre food supplies – sea snails, conch shells, mangos and coconuts – they were too tired to eat. ‘We couldn’t even build a fire because the wood was so wet,’ recalls 47-year-old Fatima, who worried that the children would become seriously ill.

Initially, the four turned on each other and the family came close to breaking point before finally realising that they were stronger as a team. And Fatima says the benefit has been lasting: ‘We do a lot more things together as a family since returning home. It has not only improved my relationship with my husband, but the children have become more active. They spend much less time on the computer than they once did.’

It seems even the boys have become more reflective. ‘It felt weird having no internet,’ muses Jordan. ‘A week of not going on to Snapchat or Facebook made me realise just how addicted I had become.’

The Week We Went Wild starts on Channel 5 on January 9 at 10pm

Source: The Mail on Sunday