You’re eight. You’re standing at the foot of a tree, a very big tree. It might be as tall as a house, maybe even taller. At the top is a ledge, a small ledge with an instructor waiting for you. All you have to do is climb to the top using the ladder and the large staples. Once you get to the top you zipwire down. Can you do it?
That’s H’s PGL experience – or one of them – summed up.
PGL Adventure holidays are a whole new experience for us. We went to Marchants Hill for our Brownie camp, taking just ten girls. You let PGL know what sort of activities you want to do and they tailor them accordingly. We asked for confidence and team building, and on the second day we found ourselves on a foggy Sunday morning standing by the zipwire.
We were moved from the two slightly easier accessible by stairs ones – which left us unsure whether our girls would complete it. In the end only half managed – but the ones that did had the time of their life. Some girls surprised me because I didn’t think they’d do it, but they had the determination. H was one of them.
It was high – any zipwire expert knows you need to start high to get a good run. H said she got half way and felt terrified. She didn’t want to continue. But then she also thought about it rationally, she didn’t want to come down either as that looked pretty difficult. So she kept on going, looked down to me when she got to the top (for reassurance) and then dealt with the final hurdle, getting off the platform. The instructor had H shouting over to the other zipwire instructor (something like “Craig is a muppet”), and once the giggles took over she was ready, and that was that.
That to me is what the PGL experience is about. It’s what you make it. If you want to do something then only you can be the one who does it. Being part of a team and having a go is so important. If it’s an individual task then having a go can improve your confidence.
As a leader I could have joined in but chose not to, and to make it about the girls. I tried not to help as much as possible and let them work it out. Also – my back.
Other things we did include quad biking, raft building, buggy building and problem solving. Lots of different activities which involved water, knots, working together and laughter – very important.
Oh, and PGL has a songbook – you will learn many songs. They will probably involve Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or various fizzy soft drinks. Or toilet water. Or cow poo. They will make your child feel included.
The quad bikes are limited to 10mph. Once we got there the course was pretty small as well, just the right size. This was H’s favourite activity by a mile.
With a hearty breakfast, lunch and evening meal included we always felt well-fed and ready to face the day. You need to eat well and feed yourself more than usual as you’ll use a lot of energy walking around the PGL site. Each activity has a different instructor, and as they finish you’re returned to your main instructor who gets you to where you need to be on time.
The evening’s entertainment was organised for the girls, the first night we had a quiz night and the second a disco – this was the only time we were indoors too (apart from food breaks). This was a good excuse for us Brownie leaders to head to the bar on site and have a 30 minute break. The second night there was a free wine and cheese night – of course we went! The girls are looked after by their PGL leader and we’re always nearby thanks to it being a really well laid out area.
We visited PGL Marchants Hill for three days (two nights), at a cost of approximately £115 each. There are Girlguiding deals available. Generally for every six girls a leader goes free, and they offer additional discounts so it’s always worth asking.
When we asked each girl what they enjoyed the most about PGL everyone had something different – from learning knots and building something, to the zipwire. H’s favourite was the quad bikes!