Learn How to Safely Build a Fire
Campfires are probably the most important part of camping. A campfire provides warmth, light, protection and a way to cook food. It's crucial you teach your children fire safety when camping. Most kids love to play with the fire, and who can blame them? There's something oddly meditative about sitting around a flickering fire, poking it with a stick.
Have the kids help out with building and putting out the campfire. They'll enjoy the responsibility and learn fire safety basics at the same time. Don't forget to strongly enforce the rule that the kids are never, ever to build a fire without an adult present.
- Gather firewood. Pick up only what you find on the ground. Never cut down a live tree or break off live branches. It's not good for the tree, and live wood doesn't burn well anyway. Ensure you get a good mix of twigs (kindling) and bigger pieces.
- Most campsites offer existing fire pits. If you don't have one, clear an area and dig a shallow pit. Ring the pit with rocks if you can find them. Put aside a bucket of water for later.
- Put a pile of dry tinder in the pit (this can be anything from pine needles to dried moss, dry grass, or even pocket lint). Use kindling to build a small box (think log cabin style) around the tinder.
- Light the tinder with a long campfire match. Gently blow on the tinder when it catches fire to encourage the flame.
- Once the fire is burning, slowly add more wood to fuel the fire.
Remember, never leave a fire unattended and never go to sleep or leave the site without putting out the fire completely.
For more on family activities, check out the links below.
- "Camp Crafts." Kaboose. 2011. (April 9, 2011) http://crafts.kaboose.com/cub-scout/camp-crafts.html
- "Camping Scavenger Hunt." Camping-Field-Guide.com. 2009. (April 9, 2011) http://www.camping-field-guide.com/camping-scavenger-hunt.html
- "Campfire Stories." Ultimate Camp Resource. 2011. (April 9, 2011) http://www.ultimatecampresource.com/site/camp-activities/campfire-stories.html
- Editors of Publications International, Ltd.. "Camping Activities for Kids." HowStuffWorks.com. Oct. 26, 2007. (April 9, 2011) https://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/camping-activities-for-kids2.htm
- "Stick Art." Disney Family Fun. 2011. (April 9, 2011) http://familyfun.go.com/summer/summer-crafts/summer-camp-crafts/classic-camp-crafts/stick-art-672465/
The cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park lie at 7,000 feet high and are some of the oldest Native American archaeological sites in the U.S.