I can report that we all had a good night’s sleep on our first night at PGL Liddington. This was a surprise to everyone, not least the children themselves. The plan was to be up at 7.00am this morning so the children could prepare for room inspections at 7.30am and it more or less happened on schedule. There’s always a real frisson of excitement in the air, with cries of ‘they’re coming’ preceding the teachers doing their rounds. It may seem a bit cruel, checking the state of the rooms and awarding points but it ensures that the children don’t let their belongings get out of hand and they seem to really enjoy the competition. Some of the children up the ante with a special greeting at the door or the offer of treats to sway the judges. We’re waiting for a room to put on a little cabaret act – that would definitely gain an extra point or two.
After working up an appetite with all that tidying, it was off to the dining hall for the first banquet of the day. Breakfast was sausages (including a vegetarian option), hash browns, mushrooms, baked beans and tomatoes plus cereal and as much toast as we could eat. With hardly a moment to spare, it was straight off to the first activities of the day – Raft Building and Trapeze. The rafts all floated and were sturdy enough to do a lap of the boating lake. They were so well-built that the only children who got wet were those hardy souls who wanted to jump off their craft into the murky depths - all 4 feet of it.
All of the morning activities were accompanied by glorious sunshine and we thought we’d cracked the whole weather thing when, just before lunch, we were hit by, what can only be described as, a tropical rainstorm which accompanied us through our lunch of jacket potato plus beef or vegetarian chilli.
After a short rest in our rooms (and luckily for us, the rain took a break too), we headed off for Buggy Building, which involves constructing a moving vehicle from logs, barrels and lengths of rope, and Jacob’s Ladder (imagine 11-year-olds attempting to climb up a ladder built for an enormous giant with the rungs getting further apart, the higher they climb and you’ll get the picture).
After all that effort, we had definitely earned our dinner which was a choice of peri peri chicken, beef bolognaise or vegetable biryani followed by raspberry ice-cream cake. The digestion process had scarcely begun before we were outside again for our final activity of the day – Passport to the World. This meant running around with a map to find posted information about countries of the world to answer a series of Geography questions.
The teachers are easily clocking up 20,000 steps a day, so you can imagine the sort of numbers the children must be achieving. Maybe I could strap my watch to one of them tomorrow and give myself a rest from the tyranny of steps.
All of today’s activities involved ever increasing levels of challenge and it was inspiring to see the children encouraging each other to achieve success at the very limits of their personal ability and share in the pride of each other’s accomplishments. You parents can be proud of them too.
Finally, a little bit of PGL contextual information for you. The Centre has about 400 children on site this week which is well below their 1600 capacity. All children keep to their own bubbles and have their own separate sleeping accommodation. We don’t mix with other groups as we would have done in previous years. It’s like having the place to ourselves!