Discovery Channel star speaks to students about life's 'treasures'
Chris Beattie/Staff Photo - Brit Eaton, star of the new Discover Channel series "Ghost Town Gold," speaks at an assembly Wednesday morning at Finch Elementary in McKinney. Eaton talked to students about learning from history and finding their own "treasure."
His camel gave him water the day they rode around the Great Pyramids. Even ghosts leave ghost towns he enters.
Brit Eaton, star of the Discovery Channel's new show "Ghost Town Gold," is the most fashionable treasure hunter in the world. And when he visits schools, he prefers McKinney.
"I love my job more than anything because it's exciting," Eaton told Finch Elementary students Wednesday morning. "Every day is a new opportunity."
McKinney ISD's partnership with Discovery Education (DE), which provides digital content to grades K-12 and community colleges, fostered Eaton's visit. Destination America, the network on which "Ghost Town Gold" will air early next year, created Gen Z Gold to tie the show in with Generation Z students, like those at Finch.
Eaton's show chronicles his and friend Scott Glaves' journeys to track down priceless "treasures" of the Old West in mines, industrial rail yards and abandoned towns. The six-part series premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday on the Discovery Channel.
Through Gen Z Gold, students at Finch and schools around the country made time capsule videos highlighting the treasures of their time - items that could be considered treasure or artifacts just a couple decades from now. While Eaton preached the importance of constant observation and keeping up with history, his young crowd was fascinated by his own story.
Eaton, a.k.a. Indiana Jeans, opened Carpe Denim - "seize the jeans" - in 1997 in Durango, Co. The store features vintage, often antique, clothing that "inspire present-day fashion designers" like Gap, Levi's and Ralph Lauren, according to the company's website. It specializes in beat-up work trousers, hunting jackets, boots, uniforms and pre-20th-century denim - most of which Eaton found on his escapades.
"I got well known originally because I became the No. 1 finder of old clothing in the world, specifically old denim," he said. "But the show is a lot bigger than that. We're looking for all sorts of Western artifacts. I truly love the West."
Abercrombie came to his company's warehouse earlier this week, and Japanese citizens are his biggest customers, he said. But it is the history behind his now-televised expeditions that caught the attention of Mary Carole Strother, library media specialist at Finch.
After attending DE development workshops this summer, Strother agreed to host Eaton to help kickoff Gen Z Gold and the show. The few previews she'd seen on the Discovery Channel were enough to peak her interest.
"It's great because the things he'll discover, he'll then talk about their history," she said. "Kids get hooked into learning about history in a free, fun and exciting way."
Eaton's and Graves' treks will take them and viewers into a well that hid Prohibition-era moonshine, and through debris at an abandoned ranch, among other places. They have more than 25 combined years collecting and selling Western memorabilia, thus Eaton's warehouse already contains more than one million artifacts.
Showing his finds and fearless missions to the public is only somewhat new. His first such video, posted on YouTube, quickly attracted broadcast media interest, he said.
"It's been a long time coming for me," he said of the show. "It originally germinated in my head 10 years ago, and it's taken a long time to come to fruition."
Finch students got more of a sneak peek into Eaton's life than his show, asking countless questions - how much he travels, his most dangerous moment, how he gets money. Eaton encouraged them to read and learn from the past, and talked about the time he nearly fell 70 feet to the bottom of a mine. He told them gold was at an all-time high, about $2,400 an ounce.
And he urged them to blaze their own path - one that doesn't involve a mine shaft.
"There are so many different dangers that I don't advocate mine searching for anybody," he said. "You don't ever find anything...you could look in hundreds of miles of underground and the amount of money you generally make is peanuts."
Schools, however, could be a gold mine themselves, both in viewership and pass-along value. "Our show's going to have legs and 20 years from now, it's still going to be going on, so I'm going to be a geezer with a walker looking for old jeans and these kids will be my target audience," he said.
Eaton's lessons of the day were to seize the moment, learn from those who didn't, and find your own treasure. Fittingly, he relayed them while wearing a pair of his pricier work-dress combo denims.
If the students keep that in mind, they too could gain world renown.
"When you start buying and selling anything, it becomes a treasure hunt," Eaton said. "The more things that you can treasure hunt for, the more exciting life is."