Manston teen Sophie Ainsworth earns top scouting accolade

Sophie with Karen Whybrow (1st Minster Scout Leader) and Ben Churchill (Assistant District Commissioner who presented the award)

Manston teenager Sophie Ainsworth has overcome hurdles presented by covid restrictions and earned the highest scouting accolade possible.

As a scout with 1st Minster troop the 15-year-old has determinedly worked through nine arduous challenges to achieve her Chief Scout Gold Award. This is the highest accolade that a scout can accomplish and is extremely difficult to earn as it’s designed to encourage young people to step away from their comfort zones and learn new skills.

The challenges are multifaceted under the headings: world, skills, creative, outdoors, adventure, expedition, teamwork, team leader and personal.

Sophie’s caring attitude and hard work resulted in her becoming a patrol leader. From this role she was always eager to share her knowledge with others, be it lighting a fire using a flint and steel, pitching a tent or demonstrating how working as a team is conducive to problem solving.

One of her scouting highlights was the 2017 Kent International Jamboree when scouts and guides came from all over the world for a week-long activity camp at the County Showground. As well as taking part in activities such as driving, archery and assault courses she earned herself the title of ‘Shower Queen’ after she and a friend used their initiative to get up at 4am every morning to use a clean shower before everyone else.

Sophie’s quest for her gold nearly met a stumbling block on her last challenge, the expedition. Ordinarily the scout and a couple of others would go for a two-day camp where they had to plan the entire event from location, equipment, first aid, cooking and navigating a hike.

However, this challenge fell at the same time as a national lockdown and with only months left to achieve her dream of gold Sophie’s hard work was in jeopardy. Following consultation it was agreed that she could do the exact same challenge, except by herself, in her back garden and navigating a socially distanced hike with one friend. Although this was not the end to her badge that she had envisaged it is the perfect example of her persistence in the face of adversity.

1st Minster Scout Leader Karen Whybrow said: “We are all extremely proud of Sophie for achieving her Chief Scouts Gold Award and hope that she continues to enjoy her scouting journey through Explorers.”