Tuesday, June 26, 2018

14 Summer Activities to Do with Your Little

Summer is the perfect season for having fun with your little. Your little is out of school and you both want to get outside, so this season is a win-win for fun!

There are, no doubt, endless possibilities of fun-in-the-sun activities to enjoy with your little this summer. To help narrow down your options, here are a few of the best activity options that you should put on your summer BBBS bucket list:

1. Hit the Trails

There are so many local recreational trails to explore. Walk, bike, run, or grab some roller blades. An exciting day in the sun with your little is just that simple. Check out the Wobegon trail or traverse your way around Lake George for a fun-filled day.

2. Visit the Quarries

Go for a long walk followed by a cool swim at Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park. This park is the perfect place to spot some wildlife, have a picnic, and go for a swim among the massive boulders.

3. Photo Hikes

Grab a disposable camera or your phone and help your Little tap into their artsy side. Take a scenic hike and record your journey or simply walk around the neighborhood and take portraits of each other. Whatever you choose, photography is a great skill and a fun activity for the two of you to explore. Bonus points if you get the photos printed!

4. Summertime by George

There is nothing more pleasant on a summer evening than listening to some music in the park. Check out the music series hosted at Lake George, Summertime by George, on Wednesday evenings every summer. It’s sure to be a blast.

5. Ice Cream

Beat the heat with some sweet treats. Stop by a DQ or Mr. Twisty in town for a cone. If you’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that has an ice cream truck, you might be able to catch one at the right time!

6. Summerland Fun Park

Create a full day of fun with the many choices of entertainment at Summerland Fun Park. Waterslides, bumper boats, go-karts, batting cages, and mini golf are just the beginning of the fun you can find at Summerland.

7. Chill by the Grill

Have a cookout! Not only is it delicious, but cooking teaches practical skills for your little and brings you both together to share a meal.

8. Rox and Twins Baseball Games

Take your little out to the ball game. A Rox or Twins baseball game is a great way to enjoy a summer day with your little. As an added bonus, BBBS often receives donated tickets to games, so be sure to check our website page under "donated tickets" for a variety of free activities for you and your little.

9. Play a Pick-Up Game

Hit the local park near you for a pick-up basketball, baseball, football, or volleyball game. This is an easy way for you and your little to get some activity while enjoying time together.

10. Fun Science Experiments

Who said that the learning ends once school is out? Science experiments, such as this list from Science Bob, create a fun and educational experience for you and your little that you can take outdoors during the nice weather.

11. Frisbee Golfing

Frisbee golf is the perfect summer activity to try out this year. It’s growing in popularity, causing Frisbee golf fields to pop up everywhere around the city. Check out Riverside Park or Calvary Park Frisbee golf courses to try out ‘Frolfing'.

12. Stop and Smell the Roses

Take a relaxing stroll around Munsinger Gardens to see the flowers in bloom.

13. Never Stop Learning with a Free Library Card

Hit up the library for endless entertainment. Library cards are free and they give you access to many opportunities for learning: including books, online class resources, local events, and more.

14. Volunteer in the Community

Spend special time together with your little and demonstrate values like the importance of giving back to the community. Take your little to a volunteer program of their interest that supports the community. Your little will love the feeling of doing something selfless for others in the community.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Benefits of Enrolling Your Child in Big Brothers Big Sisters

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, not only is it our number one priority to foster positive growth and wellbeing in the children of our community, but it is our passion.

By enrolling a child in one of our programs, parents take proactive steps to help their child grow and give them the tools needed for success in life. While the growth and wellbeing of all the children in our community are important to us, we wish to serve the kids who are most in need of our services. If a child is between the ages of 7 and 16 and fits one or more of these criteria, they’re eligible to become a Little!

You may still wonder, “Okay, my child is eligible, but how will the program benefit my child?” There are so many benefits for both Bigs and the Littles when they’re matched in our programs – many things change things for the better for both you and your child! 

The Positive Impact of Natural Mentoring

As defined by John Bridgeland and Laurie Moore in their article titled “Untapped Potential”, natural mentoring means mentoring that naturally occurs with a teacher, coach, or other non-parental adult. This type of mentoring is proven to be incredibly beneficial to kids in their schooling, work ethic, mental health, risky behaviors, and even physical health! In fact, BBBS took a few different polls to find out just what Littles think of their programs and how they’ve benefitted.

When asked “How much does your Big help you?” in relation to the previously mentioned areas, 80% said they help a lot. When asked if their confidence to reach their future goals has increased, 94% said they now have a lot of confidence that they can meet their goals. For more Q and A polls on the positivity of the Big-Little mentorship, click here.

Increased Self-Confidence and Healthy Habits

Although it has already been mentioned, we cannot stress enough how much and how positively how programs impact self-confidence and healthy habits. It can be easy to forget about those who inspired you to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams when you were a small child, but we all have those people from our childhood. Imagine where you would be today without those positive influences in your life.

Now, consider the children enrolled in our programs who are lacking these influences. We took a poll from our Littles nationwide and found some fantastic results. They have hugely increased confidence that they can achieve their goals, they realize the importance of having positive adult influences to help them do so, and they feel that their Bigs have helped to fill that role. Former Littles who are now adults and no longer in our programs said that they still keep in contact with their Bigs and still feel the positive impacts of their Bigs from their childhood. Furthermore, the results of another study we did show the better and healthier choices that our Littles are making for themselves.

All in all, our goal at BBBS is simple. We want to help you and your child by providing the tools and mentorship to build positive relationships, increase self-confidence, and make healthy life choices. The children of our community are our passion. If you think your child can benefit from our mentorship program, click here to learn more and enroll your child today!

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Superhero in All of Us: A Recap of the 2018 Magic Moments Gala

There is a superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape.

This year’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Magic Moments Gala took place on Friday, April 13th at the River’s Edge Convention Center in historic Downtown St. Cloud.

This year’s theme was “Celebrating the Superhero in All of Us” and volunteers and staff dressed in their superhero best.

Social hour began at 5 PM and was accompanied by rolling hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Short Stop Custom Catering. Cobourn’s Liquor provided wine tasting, Beaver Island Brewing Co. sampled a few of their staple brews, and J. Carver Distillery offered spirit tasting. The mood was set with live Jazz music by HV2.

Event co-chairs Renee Regal & Monica Voth introduced the emcee of the night, Janelle Kendall.

High school big brother and big sister of the year – Zach Faith and Hanna Ritter – delivered the invocation. Zach and his Little, Ethan, have been matched for a little over three years. The two bond over sports and meet every week at school. Hanna and her Little, Aryanna, have been matched since February of 2016 and enjoy playing games, doing crafts, and frosting cookies.

This year’s Big Brother and Big Sister of the year were Kenny Hendrickson and Jessica Holmgren. Kenny and his Little, Spencer, have been matched since 2008. They enjoy fishing, bowling, working out, and going to the movies together. Jessica and her Little, Kim, have been matched for over 7 years. Jessica has been a strong support for her Little and is excited to watch her graduate high school this year.

The Little Sister and Little Brother of 2018 are Daniel and Heavan. Daniel has been in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program since early 2013. He has had two dedicated high school bigs. His current Big, Maggie, stepped in after his first big, Kyle, graduated. Daniel loves sports and plays often with Maggie, who says he’s a considerate and caring boy who is rarely seen without a smile.

Heaven has been a dedicated Little to her Big and to BBBS for eight years. She enjoys volunteering and giving back to the community through the St. Cloud VA, the Red Cross, the Tri-County Humane Society, the Salvation Army, Kidstop, Feed My Starving Children, and Habitat for Humanity.

The final award given at this year’s Gala is the Annual Brianna Kruzel Memorial Growing UP Big Award. This year’s winner was Ixayana (Ixy) Gonzales. Ixy was a Little sister for 6 years and with the help and support of two of her Bigs, she is currently attending the College of St. Scholastica studying social work. She leads an effort within the Latin community to support education and training about mental health. She also supports her community by inspiring Latino students to pursue higher education. Ixayana volunteered as a tutor in the Duluth area and recently became an intern at the Catholic Charities Food Shelf.

The live auction was emceed by Central Minnesota’s own Andrew Imholte of Black Diamond Auctions. An amazing group of items was available for bid, including a “Gotham City Tour” in New York City, an RV rental from Pleasureland, a great outdoors package, and sports packages from the Timberwolves, Vikings, Twins, and SCSU Hockey. The Gala raffle included cash prizes as well as one year of milk and cookies, a barrel of craft beer, and a ride in a hot air balloon!

The result of this year’s Magic Moments Gala was outstanding!

The silent auction raised $13,955, and the live auction raised $17,350. Our goal for each was $10,000, meaning we surpassed them by a combined $11,305!

So far, we have raised over $190,000 to benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota – gifts are still coming in, so this number is not yet final yet. Our goal was $187,000 – another goal not only reached, but far passed, thanks to our generous donors, sponsors, and guests!.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota wants to thank all the attendees at the 2018 Gala, as well as our sponsors, donors and vendors. The support and gratitude we receive from the central Minnesota community just proves that not all heroes wear capes – at least, not all the time!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

6 Activities to Plan with Your Little This Spring

Winter is a huge part of being a Minnesotan. We can brave just about any tundra to get to where we need to be and consider a mere 30° T-Shirt weather.

Why would anyone live here, you ask? Because the lengthy winters make for a much-anticipated spring to enjoy with the friendly people this state has to offer.

You’ve seen your Little bundled up for months and they’ve made enough snowmen to start a small army. Just like the rest of us, they’re tired of winter activities and are looking forward to saying sayonara to the cold.

Luckily, Littles are nothing short of imaginative, and planning these activities should be enough to hold you and your Little over in the last hurdles of the cold stuff!

A Little Something to Get Started

Blow Bubbles

When was the last time you saw a grumpy person blowing bubbles? It’s basically impossible. Whether you go the classic route or try something a bit bigger, you’re bound to have a great time with your Little blowing bubbles.

Plant A Garden

Let’s face it, kids are messy. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something you could do together that makes a mess and constructive? Well, there is! Break out the shovels and embrace your inner farmer and plant something with your Little. Before the last frost, you can even get an early start germinating seeds.

Draw With Sidewalk Chalk

There’s a sidewalk Picasso inside all of us, and seeing the things your Little comes up with to draw is nothing short of a good time. If they’re more of the active type, hopscotch might be a good option.

A Big Way to Make a Difference

Have A Spring Cleanup Day

Seeing your Little care about their community is a big thing. You can grab some gloves, trash bags, and take a hike! It’s a great way to go for a stroll and get some fresh air, while also making our community a better place.

Earth Day Run

On the topic of caring about a trash free community, cheering on the participants of the annual earth day 5k could be a great way to spend the day. There’s a ton of kid-friendly activities and friendly folks that want to make their environment the place to be.

Attend a Big Brothers Big Sisters Event

Nothing short of exciting happens when you gather a bunch of Bigs and Littles together in the same place. Check out these upcoming events that include everything from fishing to trampolines and get excited!

You made it to the end of this blog, and before you know it you and your Little will make it to the beginning of spring. We hope a few of these ideas stuck, and look forward to joining you for the warmer weather and fun ahead!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Be a Mentor – Change the World, Little by Little

Mentors matter.

Take Tennessee. He can talk to his “Big Brother,” Daine Billmarke, of Foley, about anything.

“He motivates me to do things,” Tennessee says.

The two were matched through the Big Brothers Big Sisters community-based mentoring program 9 years ago. They meet two to three times each month for about an hour each.

In the near-decade since they first met, they’ve been through important life changes. Tennessee has grown into a young man, a high school student. And Daine has been there with him through it all.

Big Brothers Big Sisters also offers a school-based mentoring program. For mentor Carla Griffin, of Big Lake, that has made all the difference.

She was matched with her “Little Sister” Brooklynn three years ago through the program, and spends one hour each week at Brooklynn’s school.

“We are very compatible,” Carla says of their time together. “She’s just fun, I look forward to seeing her.”

More than just a convenient location to meet, school can be a place of encouragement and support.

Carla and Brooklynn spend the hour playing board games, working on arts and crafts or homework, or just talking.

Kids in Benton County, like Tennessee, and Sherburne County, like Brooklynn, need mentors. There’s a waiting list, and some wait over a year to be matched.

Big Brothers Big Sisters wants to change that.

You can be a role model for kids in your community. An hour a week is all it takes. This can be a great way to give back to the place you live, and ensure a bright future for the kids in your neighborhood.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota has operated with this mission since 1969: the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Big Brothers Big Sisters is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network.

Kids ages 5 through 16 are eligible to be “Littles” across our five-county service area: Stearns, Benton, Sherburne, Morrison, and the northern tier of Wright County.

To learn more, please visit bbbscentralmn.org or call (320) 253-1616. With your help, we can change the world, little by little.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How To Get Involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters

Maybe this is your first time hearing about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota or maybe you’ve heard of them but weren’t sure what they do. This is the time learn!

We are preparing for our annual Magic Moments Gala where we will raise money to “Change the World Little by Little”. This winter campaign is all about adding more Big volunteers. Donating your support and skills to help those in need without taking time away from your daily life is a great feeling.

Help us “Change the World Little by Little” with some of these great options:

Become a Big Brother or Sister

With this volunteer opportunity, you will become a Big Brother or Sister to a child in the program. This child will look up to you in times of need, for inspiration, or for help with their homework. It is a great opportunity to get involved in making a difference in a child’s life. 

Join as a Family or Couple

This is a great opportunity for you to inspire a child but not sacrifice your time with your family or spouse. It would be the same as Big Brother or Sister, only it’d be with your entire family or with your significant other! Think of all the fun you could have as a group!

Bigs in Blue

This is our mentoring program where a child connects with police in their community. As with a Big, it creates strong, lasting relationships between the child and a police officer. They help the child develop into confident adults. It also helps to build strong relationships between the police and the community, emphasizing our goal to “Change the World Little by Little”.

Become a Big on Campus

This is a great opportunity for college students to become involved with the community near their college. They have the opportunity to become a Big for a child in the program. Get involved in a child’s life and help them grow to become a strong and confident adult. You’ll also give them a unique perspective into college by helping them prepare and know what to expect.

Offer Donations

Another way you can give is through donations. As with most organizations, a simple way to be involved is by donating to the organization. Any donations help plan and set up Big Brothers Big Sisters events, including our annual Magic Moments Gala. You can find more information about donations on our website.

As you see, there are many ways to become involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters throughout the year, including during the winter. There are many children in our region that would benefit from having a Big in their life. We would love to have you join us as a volunteer as we continue to “Change the World Little by Little”.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Winter Activities for You and Your Little in the St. Cloud Area

Winter in Minnesota holds many fun activities for you to do with your Little, both indoors or outdoors. Time to bundle up and enjoy making memories with these special winter activities.

Hockey Day Minnesota: January 19-20, 2018

Headquartered from an outdoor rink to be constructed at Lake George, Hockey Day Minnesota takes place with St. Cloud as a backdrop. The event features a series of outdoor hockey games, including the first ever women’s college hockey game played outdoors, as St. Cloud State takes on U of M Duluth.

Open Skate at St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex

Friday mornings are the time for open skating for all ages at the MAC (Municipal Athletic Complex). Admission is just $6 for adults and $4 for kids. Children 4 and under are free with paying adult.

Great River Regional Library Activities

Did you know that local libraries have free movie nights on different nights of the week, including Cartoon Movie Night on the second Thursday of the month? Refreshments are even provided free of charge!

Also check the Events Calendar for things like Make & Take Craft Days, Pizza and a Book Teen Book Club, or the popular Teen Trivia Harry Potter Challenge Days throughout the month of February.

AirMaxx Trampoline Park

What could possibly be better than jumping on trampolines for an hour? Kids from the small to growing teens absolutely love AirMaxx, which features wall-to-wall trampolines, an arcade, and dodgeball. Just make sure you get a pass for yourself too, so you can jump alongside them! Admission is $12.50 per hour per person, and totally worth it.

Waite Park Movie Theater

The movies: simple, easy, and always a good idea. With 17 auditoriums and movies like Star Wars and several animated features out, you’re bound to find a good movie for you and your Little to enjoy.

“The Nine Who Dared: Courage at Little Rock” – Helgeson Learning Lab, Waite Park

This thought-provoking theater experience outlines a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement at took place in Little Rock, Arkansas, as one student fights back against the injustices in the school system. This powerful and educational feature is perfect for ages 13-18.

St. Cloud Area Community Events Calendar

For even more activities and events in the St. Cloud area, this online calendar from Fun4Kidsmn.com is a great resource.

We hope you find the perfect activities to experience with your Little this winter. From movies and crafts to outdoor sports, enjoy your next visit together no matter the weather!