The language Logo (sometimes known as Turtle Geometry) has been around for 40 years, and has been used a lot for teaching kids programming (and math).
While I, too, first learned to program using a general purpose programming language (Commodore 64 BASIC), and while I find nested loops and pointers and narrowing/widening type conversions to be inherently appealing, the appeal of such languages is not universal.
If you want to get a broader base of people interested in computer programming, it seems that a language that gives some kind of visual feedback is more appropriate than the more general-purpose BASIC, C, etc. I'll bet there are a lot of kids out there who have great potential to be programmers and computer scientists and systems analysts, but they will never discover it for themselves because writing a program that generates prime numbers, for example, just doesn't "hook" very many students.
There are many high schools that teach Java programming with the AP computer science exam in mind. This is fine for a few students, who can then skip a semester of two of Java programming when they get to college. But more high schools (IMHO) ought to be teaching more fun languages (such as this kids programming language, Logo, Alice, POV-Ray).
Thanks for reading.