Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, third from right, with a group of rangers learning how to ride segways. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

BECKIE WILSON

beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

Friday night’s stormy weather did not deter the 300-strong group of rangers who descended on Masterton for the international girl guiding ranger event in the weekend.

The first weekend of the event, Flight 2018, covered a range of outdoor activities, and saw the arrival of Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

The eight-day international event drew in rangers, aged 12 to 18, and volunteers from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, to Rathkeale College.

Masterton ranger Amber Kennedy, 13, has been to many camps over the six years with Girl Guiding New Zealand.

“I get the opportunities that I don’t normally with school, like going on camps and interacting with other girls,” she said.

She enjoyed the commitment because of the extra knowledge and skills she can learn along the way, she said.

Baillie Fawcett, 15, has been with the organisation since she was five years old.

Miss Fawcett is the oldest at the Masterton branch, and enjoyed the range of activities at the camp.

Girl Guiding New Zealand chief executive Susan Coleman said each camp was another chance for the girls to build on life skills, meet likeminded girls and to have fun.

Much of work around girl guiding events is about empowering the girls from a young age, and to instil that through the years of being with the non-government organisation.

“They get opportunities to develop leadership skills and develop team work skills,” she said.

Because the weather on the first night was not favourable for the 300-odd girls sleeping in tents, they were moved inside as a precaution, she said.

To have the Governor-General meet with the girls, was something special, she said

Dame Patsy Reddy was on site on Sunday morning speaking to the rangers as they completed activities such as raft building, riding segways and learned about girl guide advocacy.

As the patron of Girl Guiding New Zealand, Dame Patsy was proud of the leadership skills the girls clearly had built on over the years.

It was her first official event for this year, and was the beginning of a big year, she said.

“This is going to be an important year for us in talking about women’s empowerment,” Dame Patsy said.

This year marks 125 years since the women of New Zealand got the right to vote.

She could not think of a better way to celebrate that anniversary than to meet with girls who had been with Girl Guiding New Zealand since as young as pippins and who were now rangers.

“It’s a wonderful range of activities. . . and there’s great community support and I think it’s all so wonderful.”

Dame Patsy commended the girls who rode the flying fox, and admitted she would never have been able to do that at their age.