Lauren Burnett (she/they) is a Rainbow and Brownie leader in Tranent and St Andrews, and volunteers at the Girlguiding Scotland shop on Coates Crescent. Here she talks juggling life as a university student and Girlguiding volunteer.
I’ve been in guiding since I first started Rainbows in January 2008 aged five, and have always loved it! I’ve been through all sections of Girlguiding, and had my Adult Leadership Qualification done and sent off as soon as I turned 18! As well as being a leader in Girlguiding, I’m also a Speak Out Champion, and volunteer at the Guide Shop in Edinburgh when I’m not at university.
I started volunteering at the shop at the start of summer, as part of my Queen’s Guide Award for volunteer hours, but even after those hours were complete I stayed on, and worked once or twice a week until I went back to university.
I’m currently in third year of study at University of St Andrews, and am entering my Junior Honours Year for Psychology. It was a little tricky to adjust initially; trying to make sure I don’t forget to study on top of [volunteering with] Rainbows every week, but after a few weeks settling in, it became part of my routine, same as at home. Personally, I set one night a week (the day of our meetings) aside to go over the following week’s activities, send out any emails to parents, and update GO.
After two years here, I’m one of the main leaders at my unit [and] organise the programme schedule, special events, and day trips (like to the cinema!). And though I unfortunately have to miss some meetings because of my university timetable, it’s super rewarding and reminds me to take time off studying to focus on something I love! I also look forward to the times during semester I go home to help out at the units there, often just for big events like the Gang Show or a sleepover. But the normal every-week meetings I get to go back to for an evening make all the travelling worth it!
Most rewarding though, especially from my view as a student, is being able to be a more
active part of the community in the place [where] I’m studying. It makes the town feel less like just a huge campus, and more like a home away from home; as I can be walking to my 9 a.m. classes past the primary schools and see some of my old Rainbows going up into P5! I also find it super rewarding that I have learned from the leaders I had, seen their best and worst, and am trying to improve on that, and make guiding exciting for the next generation!
In terms of other students getting involved in Guiding, whether you’ve been in guiding for
ages like me, or if you’re just intrigued, I think it’s a wonderful escape from the repetitive nature of studying; it takes you out of the student sphere for just two hours a week and allows you to take on more responsibility, too! While it can be tricky to adjust, and find a unit that is a good fit for you—be it the age range or even the leaders themselves—it’s one of my favourite parts of my schedule while I’m away from home and it lets me be myself, away from the demands of deadlines, to the world of crafts and camp songs!