Dan Russell has two sons of his own, who are 18 and 22.
But, during his nine years as a Scoutmaster, Russell had a front-row seat for watching the dynamics of sibling behavior.
He has had as many as three brothers in the same troop at the same time.
Generally speaking, he says, younger boys were interested in modeling themselves after older boys who treated them kindly, who were willing to spend time with them, and who offered positive, rather than negative, influences.
So, if a boy’s older brother was progressing well through Scouting’s ranks, was well-liked and took a leadership role in the troop, “he seemed to draw the younger sibling along with him,” Russell says.
Conversely, he adds, “if the older brother was being a jerk, I didn’t see that the younger brother would want to be like him.”
In such cases, Russell saw younger brothers who’d adopt another older boy in the troop as a surrogate big brother.
“You’d notice the boys that would go out of their way to help the younger Scouts.”
Younger Scouts “picked up on that,” he adds, and “the ones who didn’t have brothers, boy, they’ll make a surrogate brother (of) a Scout.”