Campfires with Kids

FireplaceThis winter has renewed my appreciation for a good campfire.  When spending long periods of time outside in the cold, there’s nothing more rewarding than learning to build a fire.  Though some adults might hesitate to have their kids learn to light matches and build fires, I think it’s an important life skill.  Like all risks, it’s better to learn with parents than without!

I have memories scattered throughout my life where building a good fire was a rewarding skill to have: a damp camping experience in Newfoundland when our neighbors couldn’t get their fire started, in the fireplace when we ran out of kindling and had to deconstruct a clementine box to get the fire started, and when providing tips in the forest with kids.  I’ve listed some things to remember when you’re building fires below.  At the end of this post, check out the new simple fire-roasted recipe I tried out this week!

  • Let your kids take control!  If they build an imperfect fire and have to try again, that’s a great learning experience.  They’ll discover their own solutions and best practices.  Remind the group that fire needs three things: fuel, oxygen, and an ignition source.
  • Build a fire in a previous fire pit if possible.  If one isn’t available, clear an area of flammable materials and have water nearby.
  • firestartHave kids help gather various sizes of dead wood – from very small toothpick twigs to bigger (but still breakable) sticks.  It’s important to gather dead wood because it doesn’t damage living forest trees and because dry dead wood burns better.  You’ll also need to gather tinder – grapevine bark, birch bark, and dry dead pine needles make good tinder.  Tinder is anything that lights and stays aflame when touched by a match.
  • Place your tinder in your fire pit and pile twigs – smallest first – in a tee-pee shape over the tinder.  Make sure you can reach the center with a match…you can always add on bigger sticks later!
  • Take a moment to talk about lighting matches or using a lighter safely.  The main things to avoid is having the flame too close to fingers, clothing, or flamable parts of the forest beyond the boundaries of your fire pit.
  • Try getting your fire started!  If your tinder catches flame, add on larger sticks while allowing air to flow through the tee-pee.

Roasted Apple Recipe:
How did it take me 26 years to discover this campfire treat!!  We simply stuck apples onto sturdy sticks and put them in the flames.  Once the apple was baked to our preference, we removed it from the fire and allowed it to cool.   Fresh snow to cooled and cleaned the apples.  While our apples were still warm, we bit in and enjoyed!  The flesh was apple-saucy: soft, caramelized, and delicious!  A perfect and healthy way to warm up with a fireside treat.


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