One of the relationships our Scouts form is a big brother/ big sister relationship. Rising Star Scouts get either a big brother or a big sister.
North Star Scouts get both a big brother and a big sister. Big brothers and big sisters spend time with their little brothers and sisters, helping them with their personal achievement projects, improve their performance in sports, and just spend time together.
This is a very important part of our Scout Programs. We have FUN, adventurous activities, but activities mean nothing if you do not like the people you are with, and if you are not having FUN with them. Big brother and big sister relationships create bonds between our Scouts, and those bonds may last a lifetime.
How We Match Scouts Up
First, our Scouts fill out a brief survey to help us match Scouts up my interest and personality.
When we match up a big brother or big sister with a little brother or little sister, we ask each Scout to write down their top three choices: the little siblings write down their top three choices and big siblings write down their top three choices.
It is great when it matches up and big siblings and little siblings choose each other as their first choice. We know however that sometimes this will not be the case. Sometimes one Scout will be chosen by several people and another Scout may not be chosen at all.
We strive to match every Scout up with someone on their list of top three. Use your common sense in the situation, and after voting, see how the numbers fall. It is ideal to give every Scout their first choice, but again, we acknowledge it may not be possible. It may be necessary to give Scouts their second choice to make sure every single Scout gets a name on their list. If a Team Counselor or Counselor sees a big brother or big sister already has a strong relationship with a particular little brother or sister, that may be something to take into account.
If actual siblings are on the team, they both still get another big brother or big sister on the team. It is okay to have more than one person looking out for our Scouts, in fact in everything we do, we strive to create a web of support for our Scouts. Ideally, all our Scouts will be looking out for each other all the time.
We put off voting on big brothers and big sisters until several weeks into the development of a team or after a new Scout joins. We all know from participating in a new group, we latch onto the first people we meet or the first people who talk to us when we walk into a room. Like a life-preserver, we cling to people who seem to accept us when we are in a room full of strangers, and adults exhibit this behavior as much as youth. Rarely however are these the people we ultimately become good friends with.
To make good friends, our Scouts need to have something in common, and to know they have something in common, they need to get to know each other. Getting to know each takes time. We suggest waiting 5-7 weeks after a start of a team and at least a few weeks after a new Scout joins before assigning big brothers and big sisters.
The Purpose of the Big Brother/Big Sister Program
The purpose of the big brother and big sister program is to build camaraderie and develop bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood in our Scouts. These relationships are intended to be like sibling relationships. Though they are clearly not biological brothers and sisters, we desire to cement their bonds until they become as close as family. There are many people in the world who have satisfying relationships with friends who have become as close as brothers and sisters and which have last life long. Big Brothers and Big Sisters share their adventures in our Scout Programs. It is this kind of relationship we want for our Scouts.
A web of support means our Scouts will have emotional support for a lifetime, but also competitive advantages from knowing other Scouts who go on to live and work in various types of businesses and parts of the country and the world. This enables our Scouts have friends wherever they go.