By Terelyn Leong (22S03B) and Maegan-Ruth Tan, Exco Member (22S03K)
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 (Yes! Girls can join BB too :) of the Y1-4 Boys in RIBB.
When you picture a uniform group, you might imagine doing marching and drills. While RIBB upholds a high level of discipline, we also conduct a multitude of other activities as well, like camps, sports, and music!
The Grand Colour Party at our Enrolment Parade 2021! *Picture taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
If you enjoy outdoor activities, then our biannual camps are for you! You will be able to take part in urban navigation hikes by using a map and compass to navigate yourself through Singapore! We also learn to tie knots and eventually build structures such as basha tents and catapults. You can also look forward to the “Primers’ Star Challenge” organised by BBHQ, involving many enriching tasks such as going on hikes, learning new skills and meeting Primers from other schools.
Batch Hike! *Picture taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
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 Primers, we not only plan the training programme for the Boys, but also train alongside the Y1-4 Boys. NAPFA surely won’t be a problem after this! You can watch this video to find out more.
As Primers, we planned a Mini Blaze in 2021 to work within the Covid-19 restrictions. This is the winning Blaze Team standing behind the finishing line! *Picture taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
RIBB also has our own bagpipe 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.
South East Asian Pipe Band Competition 2019 where we clinched Gold!
Primers play a vital part of the CCA by teaching the Y1-4 Boys skills during badgework sessions. This includes hard skills like knot-tying, foot drill, and soft skills such as leadership.
Our Primers teaching the boys how to pitch bashas during March Camp 2021. *Picture taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
We also used our knot tying skills to set up an obstacle course with catapults for the boys! *Picture taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
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. Through this, we get to know each of the boys on a personal level, making BB more like a family than just a CCA.
Squad 6 Primers and Boys in March 2021. *Picture taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
Besides serving within the CCA, we also serve the community through BB Share-a-Gift, the nation-wide donation drive where BB officers and members collect grocery items and gifts for distribution to the needy. Our Primers also give weekly online tuition to kids from lower income families with Whampoa Family Service Centre.
Primers Batch 21 organised their own school wide Donation Drive in July 2021. *Picture taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
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 study together every afternoon and celebrate one another’s birthdays with games planned by our Welfare committee. You can definitely depend on your batchmates if you need any help—be it advice, ‘tuition’, or just someone to listen to your troubles.
Batch games at the start of 2021! *Picture taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.
FAQ1: What is the commitment level like?
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), 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: Who can join Primers?
Anyone is welcome to join us, regardless of gender or secondary school CCA! In fact, girls make up half of the batch in the Primers Programme! Even if you were not from a Uniformed Group in secondary school, you can still contribute! Your batchmates will be there to guide you and learn alongside you too.
FAQ3: How can I find out more about the RIBB Primers Programme?
You can check out @our60th on Instagram to learn more!
*Cover image taken by Raffles Photographic Society, in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.