By Ng Yan Zhe Calvert (20S03K), Chairperson, Samantha Joelle Arcilla Villanueva (20S03P), Vice-Chairperson, Ashley Tan Ying En (20S03B), EXCO Member, and Jebakumar Blessie Malar (20S03Q), EXCO Member
Any S03 student will tell you that a primer is a strand of nucleic acid that serves as a starting point for DNA synthesis. But what is a BB Primer? The Primers Programme is a structured programme for 16-18 year old youths administered by the Boys’ Brigade Singapore (BB). It offers a diverse range of experiences, from adventure expeditions to leadership development and community service. More importantly, in the Raffles Institution Boys’ Brigade (RIBB), Primers are like the older brothers and sisters of the Y1-4 Boys in RIBB.
Do you like adventure? Then our biannual camps are just for you! You will be able to take part in urban navigation hikes by using a humble map and compass to navigate yourself through corners of Singapore you may not even have previously known about! We also do fun activities such as barbecue and archery during our camps every year. You can even look forward to “Primers’ Challenge”, a 4D3N camp in Malaysia, where adrenaline-pumping activities such as waterfall abseiling, white water rafting, and caving await.
Like marching and want to look smart? We have regular parades and drill practices, upholding high discipline standards as a Uniformed Group. What’s more, our smart white and blue uniform will surely wow your friends and family!
The Boys’ Brigade might not be a Sports CCA, but who says we don’t do sports? Our Primers are responsible for preparing the Boys for the annual “BB Blaze” competition, an outdoor adventure race where they run, cycle, and kayak a combined 30km, as well as take part in various challenges! As Primers, we not only plan the training programme for the Boys, but also train alongside the Boys. NAPFA surely won’t be a problem after this!
Now, have we mentioned that we have our own Band? The Boys’ Brigade isn’t all about sports, camps, and drills. Tracing its roots back to Glasgow, Scotland, the Boys’ Brigade also provides opportunities for you to learn the Scottish Great Highland bagpipe (which sounds fantastic) and the snare drums! The Band is also where many Primers and Boys find another family comprised of individuals who share their love and passion for music.
Apart from the programmes that we run for our Primers in Y5–6, Primers are an absolutely vital part of the Boys’ Brigade. Primers are responsible for teaching the Boys skills during badgework sessions such as knot-tying and foot drill. Working closely with the Teachers and Officers (many of whom are past alumni), the Primers also prepare the Y1–4 Boys for events like our Annual Parade and company VIA events—these events include going to elderly centres, or distributing food packages to needy households during the holiday season.
However, as Primers, we do more than just teaching and planning. As part of a well-structured mentoring system, the Primers play the role of mentors to the younger Boys, guiding them, and helping them to grow into Boys of character and excellence through their BB journey. This love and care for our juniors makes BB more like a family than just a CCA.
Of course, the Primers are also a close-knit batch in RI. In the Primers Programme, we spend a lot of time with one another and become very close friends that go through everything together. For example, we meet every morning at the parade square steps and celebrate one another’s birthdays in amazing ways. You can definitely depend on your batchmates if you need any help—be it advice, ‘tuition’, or just someone to listen to your troubles.
FAQ1: How busy will I be, if I choose to join BB Primers?
CCA times are on Mondays and Wednesday, 4-6pm. Primers are only required to attend the Company Contact Time (where the Boys, Primers, Teachers and Officers come together) every Wednesday, as well as Company events like camps. All commitment apart from these is largely flexible, very much depending on what committees you join, and each of us gets to decide what and how much we want to do—from training Boys for competitions, to teaching badge work and mentoring Boys, and even running Company Events. Involvement in events and courses at the national level such as Primers’ Challenge are also not compulsory and sign-ups are based on personal interest.
FAQ2: Can girls and non-RIBB (Y1–4) boys join? What if I wasn’t part of the BB programme in Secondary School?
You are welcome to join us too! In fact, girls make up half of the batch in the Primers Programme! We welcome anyone from any background—you don’t have to be from BB/GB or a UG to contribute in the Primers Programme! With the BB programme being so diverse and multifaceted, anyone can contribute in their own unique way. The Primers programmes also caters to youths who did not have the opportunity to join the BB before, and your fellow batchmates will be there to guide and learn alongside you.
FAQ3: How does it count towards the Raffles Diploma and other awards?
The BB’s Primers’ Programme ensures that all of us are definitely able to meet the minimum criteria for the Raffles Diploma. In fact, most Primers will get the BB Anchor Award through our participation in the CCA, earning us minimally a Merit Award. The Primers’ Programme is also aligned with the NYAA Gold requirements, so Primers can work towards that if interested.
FAQ4: How can I find out more about the RIBB Primers Programme?
You can come down to the BB Primers booth during Open House or visit us during the January Induction Programme’s CCA feste. If you want to find out more, approach any of us (we’re at Raja Foyer every day), or check out @our60th on Instagram!
We hope to see you in BB!