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campfire safety

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Campfires seem to be a constant challenge at our camping events. It wouldn't be camping without a campfire, and our Pack builds them for roasting smores and gathering around, usually after dark. Our camping trips are well attended, and often 20 families or more are there. Boys inevitably are tempted to dig in the fire with sticks, throw leaves or moss on them, and otherwise use the fire inappropriately, even when they are reprimanded repeatedly. While we encourage parents to supervise their own children, many do not, and many times the fire is either watched from a distance by the Pack leaders, or adults wander by and take an intermittent fire "babysitting" role. What suggestions do you have for keeping a safe, enjoyable, and stress-free campfire?

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G2SS guidelines state that the only Cubs who should be tending the fire are Webelos.


Suggest that the campfire always be the responsibility of the Webelos and their leaders - everyone else should follow a hands off policy . . . until you break out the marshmallows. Though, I always think it's better to see s'mores as dessert, rather than "campfire" - once it gets dark, it's time for songs, skits, etc., not running around with pointed sticks and globs of flaming goo!


Good Luck and Have fun.



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This is a leadership issue. If youre going to lead, then LEAD. Discipline the boys. Set a threshold; Johnny, Ive told you once, if I have to tell you again you will have to move away from the fire, and stick with it. Its that simple!


If you have a fire, the adults should be near the fire, not coffee claching around the cooler. The first thing you need to do is tell the parents what the expected behavior is! Then stick to it!!


Ive had pack trips where Ive prohibited smores and marshmallows around the fire. As Ive previously said in this forum, I am petrified of all those little kids walking around in the dark with pointed sticks and hot melting marshmallows. If you cant control the kids and the parents wont help, then douse the fire. Everyone needs to accept responsibility for this activity or it shouldnt happen.


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Camp fire is for watching...

Simple rule #1). Web 2's and Den Chiefs "work" the bon fire.

Simple rule #2). engineers tape on the ground or on cinder blocks

or on fence stakes mark "NO GO ZONE" for cubs and

sibs...if you want to be 'nice-nice' give 2 'strikes'

and send 'em home...announce policy in advance as one

for safety's sake'.

Simple rule #3. Follow rule number 2.

You then should only need one adult to be safety officer and enforcer.


S'mores- if you want them at the bon fire; set up a station on the side of the fire and let the Web 2's make the 'flaming balls of sugar' and cubs can then assemble at a table (therefor no walkin' around with flaming stick!


simple rule 1. for small campfires (at campouts)...what goes in fire stays in fire...put a stick in it stays in period. (even our boy scouts are taught this)

Bon fires are for watching and sharing fellowship and experiences not for 'playing in', nuff said.

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... and if they can't follow the rules, extinguish the fire. Better safe than sorry, and besides, it pollutes the air.


Many campers who care about the environment are moving toward no-fire camping. They uses clean-burning gas stoves for cooking, and spend the day enjoying the out-of-doors rather than sitting around a smoking stinky firepit.


This is certainly not the case in family campgrounds though (non-Scout related). There you'll find campfires smoldering away nearly 24 hours a day, usually unattended. I find the air quality around most public campgrounds to be equivalent to the worst polluted cities that I've had the misfortune of visiting in China (required by my job).


When my pack goes camping, my den only builds a fire just before dark, maintains it, and then puts it out cold before retiring for the night.


Most of the other dens light a fire by 7am, leave it smoldering unattended during the day's events, and then get it going strong again in the evening. I don't know if they extinguish it at night or not. I've presented my thoughts on this to the den leaders, but nothing has changed.


Its not that I don't like campfires. A well maintained campfire accompanied by great stories and discussion can be a real delight, but they aren't absoutely necessary for a fun campout, plus a smoldering campfire is nasty air pollution!

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