Thursday, December 29, 2016

Defeating the Post-Holiday Lull with Your Little

Defeating the.jpg

When the holiday season comes to a close, it can be pretty disappointing to some kids. The weather is still cold, summer is months away, and it seems like there is nothing fun to do. We blogged in November about Winter fun focusing around the holidays: building a fire, making decorations, and finding ways to give back to your community. Those are all still relevant after the giving season, but what about some good old fashioned Minnesota Winter fun? We’ve made a list of some fun indoor and outdoor winter activities to enjoy with your Little:


Image by Wheresmysocks at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons

Attend a Winter Festival

If you and your Little are up for a road trip, there are tons of winter festivals going on around the state. The always popular St. Paul Winter Carnival takes place January 26th-February 5th, celebrating its 131st year! If you’ve never seen Minnesota’s ugliest fish, you might find some surprising fun at the International Eelpout Festival February 23-26th. Taking place on Leech Lake in Walker, MN, this unique festival will surely be a talking point for you and your Little! Check out Minnesota Native Andrew Zimmern’s favorite winter festivals for more inspiration.

Check out Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria

Voted 2016’s best family resort and waterpark, Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minnesota features 38,000 square feet of indoor water park fun. It includes three four-story water slides, a lazy river, a hot tub, and tons of water-related activities for your Little. View the full waterpark calendar here. For the older kids, rent a snowmobile or cross-country skis, ice skate, ice fish, or go sledding! There are tons of winter recreational activities at this all-inclusive site.

Attend a Hockey Game

Sure, the Minnesota Wild are always crowd-pleasers, but tickets are expensive and the trip to the stadium can be long and inconvenient. There are plenty of fun and exciting teams to watch right around central Minnesota this winter. The St. Cloud State Huskies are always fun to watch, and the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center is a sight to behold for the area. In the NA3HL league, check out the Granite City Lumberjacks, who play in Sports Arena East at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

Area Fun Closer to Home

If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, check out There you’ll find fun ideas such as open skate times at the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex, Playtime at Lake George Municipal Complex, KinderGym at the Whitney Senior Center, Open Gym at the North Crest Kids Activity Center in Sauk Rapids, and many more fun activities for winter and beyond!

There are tons of fun activities for you and your little this Winter. Keep away the post-holiday blues by having even more fun! After all, the Holidays aren’t the only thing that makes the season bright.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Not All Superheroes Wear Capes

Seeing Dave Fritz walk down the street probably wouldn’t concern you unless you know him. If you did, you’d probably say hello and he’d smile. If you didn’t, he’d say hello and you’d smile. He’s a guy that has that effect on people. You’ll leave his company feeling better about your day, completely unaware that that is his superpower; making people happy.

You’d also be completely unaware that underneath his sweatshirt and jeans, he’s wearing a cape and there’s a large “B” on his chest that stands for “BIG”. Dave Fritz, family man, business owner, Big Brother.

For those that aren’t aware of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, it is, as Dave says, “a really cool opportunity” both for the mentee and the mentor. “I came to the program thinking, ‘This kid can learn a lot from me.’, but I found that’s not the case. I have learned just as much from him as he has from me.” says Fritz.

“I’ve been a BIG to Jaylen for 5 ½ years. At when we were first paired together we would spend between two and five hours together once a week. Now that he’s older and working a job of his own, and we (Dave and his wife) have a new baby, we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, but I make it a point to get together a couple of times a month.”

Fritz is just one of the men in the Central Minnesota area to volunteer his time to make a difference in a child’s life, but the need is much greater than one man can handle on his own. Nearly 70% of all children on the Big Brothers Big Sisters waiting list are boys and, unfortunately, wait an average of 304 days before getting matched with a BIG. It’s time to Man Up, Minnesota.

“He’s definitely pushed my coward button, though. We went to the pet store one day when Jaylen was about 11 and he wanted to hold the tarantula. He looked at me with the tarantula in his hand and asked me if I wanted to hold it. How am I, a 30-year-old man at the time, going to say no to an 11-year-old boy holding a tarantula in his hand? He’s made me ride rides at Valleyfair and jump off the cliffs at the quarries.”

Fritz, an avid baseball fan, has taken his Little to Twins games, Mall of America, movies, golfing and bowling among many other adventures. “My favorite memory with Jaylen was taking him to my family’s cabin. It was an opportunity to teach him a bit more about my family history.”

It’s not all about going out to do things, though. Many Littles would be happy spending time with you at your home or theirs. Fritz said that Jaylen has helped them put in their garden in the summer.

“Kids are smarter than you think. When it comes to kids you’ve got to keep your wits about you. They’re going to push you. Find out what they can get away with and what their boundaries are. You’re going to have to come up with new ways to communicate and still get through to them.  Jaylen has taught me patience and that has transferred to my work. He’s taught me how to be a better worker.”

All at 16 years old. How cool is that?

For more information about becoming a mentor and how you can Man Up, visit or contact Rachel Johnson at 320-258-4537.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winter Fun with Your Little

The holiday season is almost here. Some people might dread the colder season, but there are still plenty of opportunities to have fun with your Little. Celebrate the season with some winter-themed fun:
Give Back to Your Community
Being a Big is about more than just having fun. Since it is the season of giving and giving thanks, why not give back to the community around you? One great place you and your Little can volunteer is the St. Cloud Salvation Army. Whether you have a specific talent to offer or simply an hour of your time, The Salvation Army is the place to turn your passion into action. For more information about volunteering see the Salvation Army Volunteer Opportunity page.

Build a Fire
Need a way to warm up this holiday season? Try building a fire! Unconventional yet fun, this is a great time to spend with your Little. If there is snow on the ground, you can make it even more fun by building seating around your fire pit. Stack the snow high all around your fire then pack it down and add a backrest.  Enjoy the cold with a snow bench and a warm fire and some hot chocolate.
Have an Indoor Snowball Fight
If it’s too chilly to go outside, bring the fun indoors. Have your own indoor snowball fight. Make paper balls, roll socks into a ball, sew your own snowballs. Warmer and much cleaner, indoor snowball fights can be just as fun!
Make Some Cool Winter Crafts
Winter crafts can be a ton of fun! Try your hand at igloo building (using sugar cubes, not snow) or break out the construction paper to make good old-fashioned paper snowflakes. You could even make your own snow globe to help get you in the holiday spirit! Check out more fun holiday crafts at
Make Winter Decorations
It’s cold outside, so spend the afternoon indoors making festive winter crafts. Design and create your own winter wreath and decorate them with ornaments. Freeze your favorite winter objects in a layer of ice to decorate the outdoors with ice ornaments. Crafting ideas are endless in the winter. Think about your Little’s favorite activities and check Pinterest for more ideas.

This Holiday season can be a ton of fun! Get out and enjoy them! Make the most of the time with your Little this holiday season. For more tips and winter activities, check the Big Brothers Big Sisters Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bowl For Kids' Sake 2016

Have you been looking for a fun way to give back to your community? Gather some friends and sign up for this year’s Bowl For Kids’ Sake benefitting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. The event takes place October 7th and 8th at Southway Bowl in St. Cloud, and October 11th, 13th, and 14th at Great River Bowl in Sartell. There are a few different ways to get involved in this event:

Bowl With Your Team

The minimum pledge per bowler is $50, but we encourage you to get as many pledges as possible! Your pledge gives you free bowling and shoes during your designated sign-up time. Best of all, you’ll be entered to win some fabulous prizes from J.F. Kruse Jewelry, Luther Honda of St. Cloud, Scheels, and more! The drawing will take place on October 24th.

Sponsor The Event

There are four sponsorship levels to choose from, ranging from the $500 Bronze Ball Sponsor to the $2,500+ Bold Strike Sponsor. General Manager at McDowall Company (a Silver Spare Sponsor) and long-time volunteer Karen Athmann was asked about her experience supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. “I have always enjoyed working with kids and this organization makes such a positive impact on the youth today, and they share so many different opportunities on how we can make a positive impact on a young child,” says Athmann. She has been on the Bowl for Kid’s Sake committee since 2012. She says she was encouraged to participate by volunteer Shari Wahlin and says she has been “hooked” ever since.


Karen’s involvement in Bowl For Kids’ Sake includes, as she says, “Working with an amazing group of volunteers on the BFKS committee, where we collaborate together by networking with community businesses to gain sponsorships, prizes, participation, and fundraising for the event. Also just spreading the word out about what BBBS does for our community.” There are many different ways to volunteer during the events: you can help decorate, hand out prizes, sell raffle tickets and more.

Karen says her favorite part of the event is the bowling. “It is a wonderful experience to see people of all ages come together and truly enjoy each other’s company while raising awareness and funds for the youth in our communities, who simply need a role model in their day to day lives.”


If you cannot make the event, but would still like to show your support, you can donate items to be awarded as prizes during the event. These can be products, services, certificates, or cash contributions.

If you would like to have fun while helping a good cause, check out this year’s Bowl For Kids’ Sake sign-up times. To claim your team’s spot, call 320-253-1616 or email You can also register on-line. Time slots will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

As Karen says, “It is a small fee to pay and a short amount of time to take out of our busy lives that makes such a powerful impact on the kids who otherwise would not be given the opportunity to have someone paired up with them who is spending time with just them and who cares enough to call them their big brother or big sister.”

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Golf Fore Kids Sake

We recently held the 10th annual Golf Fore Kids Sake tournament and it went really well. Nearly 130 golfers participated and all proceeds from the tournament went to BBBS. The day was a beautiful 85 degrees and the golfers had a great time playing at the Territory Golf Course.

The children in the photos (see below) are Littles who participated in our Little Putt activity. They each had a chance to interact with the golfers and putt for them - it was really sweet watching the golfers teach them how to putt!

One of the Capital One teams came in first place with the lowest team score in the tournament. One of the Godzala Brenny teams came in second place. The other Godzala Brenny team came in last place, but that's ok - they won free golf lessons!

A good time was had by all - looking forward to doing it again next year!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Becoming a Big: Aaron’s Experience

Big Brothers Big Sisters believes that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. The mission of BBBS is to make meaningful, professionally supported matches between caring mentors and children ages 5 through 16.

The enrollment process of becoming a Big includes four steps. The first step is attending the informational session at BBBS and learning what becoming a Big is all about. After your informational session, you complete an online application, an in-person interview, and a background check.

Currently, Big Brothers Big Sisters is at 111 kids waiting to be matched with a big - an all-time high. Aaron Moore shares his experience as a Big in hopes that you can decrease the list of kids waiting for a mentor.

Aaron applied to become a Big in November 2015 and has been matched with his Little Brother since February 2016. He describes being a Big as “essentially being a positive role model for a child. It’s about providing input when they seek answers and about leading them down a positive path when they walk the wrong way.”

“When becoming a Big, you sit in an interview to discover your likes and dislikes. My Little and I were paired after the team at BBBS looked through all our information,” says Aaron.

Moore states, “We are both very active. We like to play tag, catch, and we even create our own games to play. We also enjoy participating in BBBS sponsored events like the one at AirMaxx.”

The mentoring program at BBBS provides support to its matches by offers monthly activities and supplying donated tickets to attend sporting events.

“It comes to be around 4 hours a month”, says Moore, “I see my Little once a week during the school year. We communicate and participate in events during the summer.” Spending time with his Little involves working around his own schedule and that of his Little to find a time that works for them both.

Aaron said his favorite part about being a Big is that “it allows me to witness how things may have been if I continued my pursuit of a career working with children. My first major was Elementary Education, but my plans changed. Luckily, I got involved with BBBS, and I get to experience what life may have been like.”

Through the BBBS program, Aaron said he has learned to have patience. It has also taught him, “Listening is important and you won’t always have the right answers. Yet, you do the best you can, and life will work itself out.”

If you are wondering whether becoming a Big is right for you, attend one of our Informational Sessions to learn what becoming a Big is all about. Aaron said if you are on the fence about become a Big you should, “Take time to decide if this is something you can commit to. These kids have been waiting months, sometimes years, to be matched with a Big. The time commitment is short, but the commitment you make to support your Little is so much greater.”

For more information on becoming a Big visit our website Big Brother Big Sisters of Central MN.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Helping Your Little Prepare for College and a Career

Is it ever too early to start thinking about college and a career? Most of us started when we were little with dreams of becoming firefighters, police officers, or even the President. As we grow up, we realize that finding the perfect career is much more difficult than our daydreams made it seem. There are a lot of factors that go into being accepted into college, paying for it, and finding a career that you love.

One of our goals is to help you help your Little transition from high school to college with ease. A big part of that transition is planning! Here are a few things to help your Little consider as they prepare for college:

1. Finances:
College is expensive; there is no doubt about that but is definitely worth the cost. The sooner a student starts making a plan the less overwhelming it will be when the time comes. Help your Little to understand the importance of making a plan for their future.

2. GPA:
Grade Point Average is a major influence toward which college a student can get into and it’s something that your Little should be paying attention to as soon as possible. Good study habits are formed early in life, and should be promoted when students are in middle school or sooner.

3. Classes
Maybe your Little isn’t quite at the age where he or she can pick their own classes, but when the time comes, help them to understand that colleges don’t just look at the grade they get, but the class they took to earn that grade. Help them understand that they should use high school as an exploratory tool. PSEO classes are a fantastic option to save money and start a college career as well. If your Little is open to it, research PSEO options with them.

4. Scholarships:
There are thousands and thousands of scholarships out there, you just have to search for them and put in the time and effort to fill them out. Scholarship acceptance comes from a student’s combined GPA, volunteer hours, community service, career choice and more. Help your Little research some scholarship options open to them and help them beef up their applications. We are also fortunate enough to be able to offer scholarships!

Federated Challenge Scholarship
WWBD Memorial Scholarship
Big Brothers Big Sisters Nursing Scholarship

5. ACT
Students everywhere dread the awful 4-hour prerequisite test for college. It isn’t fun, but it’s something college applicants have to do and it is something that should be taken seriously. There are tons of ACT practice sites and study aids that can help out. It might not be the most fun, but your Little will thank you for the help when their score comes in the mail.

It is important to take these factors into consideration to help your Little start saving money, have an idea of classes they’d like to take, and start high school with the mentality to study hard and keep their GPA up all 4 years.

If you are looking for more ways to get your Little thinking about the future, we invite you and your Little to attend the Career Exploration Night at St. Cloud Community and Technical College on June 21st. There, your Little can learn all about many different career opportunities right on campus. BBBS will also be taking a bus up to Brainerd for the Central Lakes College Tour and Safari North Wildlife Park on June 28th. This will be a fun way for your Little to learn about the college, visit Central Lakes college campus, eat some pizza - even visit the wildlife park!