Big Sisters Picnic – Our First Outing as Big and Little Sister

Big Sisters Vancouver picnic

Me and My Husband Bruce – Who is a Big Brother!

I’m a professional blogger (ie, I make money from my blogs), and my first outing with my new Little Sister has inspired me to let my personal life creep into my blogs.

My Little Sister and I went to the Big Sisters picnic in Vancouver today, and I’ve decided to chronicle our outings. (Of course, I won’t share her name or anything that identifies her or her family. Privacy! That’s why I’m posting pictures of me and Bruce, not me and my Little Sister).

I’ve never been big on the whole “this is my life” aspect of blogging – I’m definitely a “quips and tips” gal! I write articles to help people achieve goals, solve problems, and move forward in their lives.

But, people change.

I’ve only been on one outing with my Little Sister, and I’ve already changed. And that’s why I want to blog our journey as Big and Little Sister – because she has already changed my life. I feel better about who I am and what I’m doing in this world.

And, I want my Little Sister to be able to look back on these posts one day, and remember, and see herself and our friendship through my eyes. I was a Little Sister 30 years ago – when I was 11 – and I would LOVE to have this opportunity! I’m still in touch with my Big Sister today, which is wild.

So this is my future gift to my Little Sister. And, I hope my posts and our journey as Big and Little helps other volunteers who are considering mentoring through Big Sisters Big Brothers organization.

What I Learned On My First Outing With My Little Sister

Little Sisters watch everything you say and do! I asked for extra watermelon at the Big Sisters picnic, and so did she. I chose a particular type of dessert, and so did she. I marched around asking Big and Little Sisters questions about the “Get to Know You” bingo game, and so did she. Mentoring – which is what Big Sisters and Big Brothers is all about – means you’re constantly being watched.

Mentors need to walk the walk – not talk the talk. I can lecture my Little Sister about manners, life skills, and social interaction until I’m blue in the face, and not have any affect on her. But, if I make a point of saying thank you to bus drivers, flowing with schedule changes, not getting miserable when it rains during the Big Sisters picnic, and not criticizing her family — that’s where I’ll make a difference in her life.

When you’re first starting a match with Big Sisters or Big Brothers, you should immediately start your scrapbook. My Little Sister and I are talking about what our scrapbook will look like, what we’ll include, and how big it should be. We met a match at the Big Sisters picnic today who have just celebrated their first year together, but couldn’t remember most of the activities they did. That’s why a scrapbook is crucial! They’ve decided to start a Second Year Scrapbook, and regret not starting one when they were first matched.

Realize that fun can be life-changing. All I remember about being a Little Sister was roller skating (it was the 80’s, after all), going to a scary movie at the drive in, and going camping. A solid, life-changing mentoring relationship doesn’t have to be about serious heart-to-heart talks about careers, finances, or life decisions. Changing your Little Sister’s life is about showing up once a week, and being enthusiastic about whatever you’re doing. Even if you’re eating cold hot dogs in the pouring rain.

Let kids be kids. We watched a magic show at the Big Sisters picnic, and on the way back I thought my Little Sister say it wasn’t that good. I said agreed with her – I could sorta see how the magician was doing his tricks. But my Little Sister said she thought he WAS a good magician! And here I was, cutting down the magician. I felt horrible, like I’d stolen a big of the magic away. So, on our first outing as Big and Little Sister, I realized that I need to embrace the magic, enthusiasm, and wonder of a child.

Being a Big Sister changes how you see yourself. Research shows mentoring increases the Little Sister or Little Brother’s self-confidence and self-esteem. But, does research reveal how it impacts the Big Sisters and Big Brothers? I don’t know. I do know that one of my Big Brothers (I’m currently working as a Mentoring Coordinator with Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, which I wrote about in my post about being scared to quit my job) says that being a Big has changed his life. And, I know I already feel better about who I am and my contribution to the world – and it’s only our first outing! And that’s another reason I want to blog about being a Big Sister, to chronicle my own growth.

Thank you, Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland, for the picnic, for matching me with my Little Sister, and for all the good you do in girls’ and womens’ lives.

If you have any questions or thoughts about being a Big Sister or Big Brother, please comment below!

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
Welcome - I'm glad you're here! I can't give advice, but you're welcome to share your experience below. I'm a writer in Vancouver; my degrees are in Psychology, Education, and Social Work. I live with my husband, two dogs, and cat. We are childless, & have made peace with it. It helps to love Jesus :-)

3 Responses

  1. Your article made me realize that me and my sister haven’t gone out to an outing or bonding for quite awhile and I think we should do this soon.

  2. Laurie says:

    Thanks, Jacqueline, it’s great to hear how long-term your friendship with your Little Sister is! That’s amazing – it really is a life-changing experience.

    Yesterday at the Big Sisters picnic, they handed out awards to the 3 year, 5 year, 10 year, and graduating matches. That was really cool to see. I knew about long-term matches, as a Mentoring Coordinator with Big Brothers, but I think it was excellent for my Little Sister to see how long-lasting our friendship could be.

    I was scared that I wouldn’t connect with her – what if we just didn’t jive? I think that’s the scariest part of being a Big Sister…not “getting” your Little.

  3. Jacqueline says:

    Being a Big Sister was one the best gifts in my life. I met my Little when she was 10. She’s now a remarkable 30 y.o. Running a restaurant and engaging them to donate to Big Sisters (& yes, we started a scrapbook from day one- so fun to look back at it now!).

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