Lift up your hearts and rejoice! I am a Raleigh convert! A Raleigh evangelist! Yay! Or, as we Raleigh alumni say, Woh! Yes, I know what you’re thinking. A group of people going, ‘Woh!’ at every opportunity is not a group I wish to be a member of. I thought the same at the beginning. I continued to think the same when we had to introduce ourselves with a distinctive little dance move (I was the funky chicken), as an ice-breaker-cum-aide-memoire. But such bagatelles soon paled into insignificance as we undertook a practically non-stop series of challenges over the next 28 hours.
Unfortunately, as a signed-up Raleigh convert and evangelist, I can’t actually tell you what these challenges were. I know! How irritating is that?! Particularly when my preferred role, should I be favourably assessed, is in communications, given that blogging is practically the only string to my bow (excellence in the art of throwing parties as long as one has staff or arranging the placement cuts little ice in the world of Raleigh, while mixing cocktails is strictly verboten, since Raleigh is a no-alcohol zone. I know!).
What I can say is that a) my knees were the least of my worries; b) so was my backpack; c) so was 'sleeping' in a tent on a freezing night in October. They became irrelevances as we pitted our wits and girded our loins against the mighty challenges before us.
Raleigh is all about learning through experience, using your own brains and common sense, not through being told what to do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a brawny triathlete or a weedy desk-worker. There’s no A team racing on ahead and B team (losers!) bringing up the rear. No, at Raleigh, all beings are equal. You’re a team on a level playing field. You move together and work things out together. And the amazing thing is, because I wasn’t cast in the role of loser/ignoramus, I faced my fears and overcame them! Yay! I mean, Woh! No longer an inferior incompetent but a valuable member of a team! Am marvellous!
Though, of course, if we’d been there longer than one night, and/or if it had rained, I’d be going, ‘Waa!’ But let us not be negative. Let us keep the faith! Let us get some sleep! But first, let us drive like the clappers to see my little darling perform on the saxophone at the school Harvest Festival. Aah. When I tell her of my triumphs over adversity, she’ll be so proud of me!
Reach The Manor just before Lily is due to play. As she spots me slipping into a pew, she glares and mouths the words, ‘I want to stay in tonight!’
Back to reality.
As we file out of the chapel, Lily hisses, ‘Mu-um! We were going to watch The Hunger Games tonight!’
I tell her she can watch the X Factor results if she comes back with me, and she can see The Hunger Games another time. I win by a whisker. Yes! Eliza Gray, Team Raleigh, meeting challenges, working out strategies, overcoming adversity! Woh!