Learning how to safely build a campfire satisfies a child's natural curiosity and teaches them an important survival skill. Toddlers and preschoolers can help by gathering kindling and twigs, as long as they're supervised and don't get too far from camp. Better still, they can practice starting their own campfires using cereal and marshmallows for a fire ring, and then making a "fire" from shredded coconut topped with stick pretzels, and then candy corn.
Older children can get closer to the action. Have them start by removing combustible items (like sticks, grass and leaves) from a 6- to 10-foot (1.8- to 3- meter) circle of ground and then show them how to dig a shallow pit in the center. After lining the pit with rocks, demonstrate how to layer tinder (using some of those combustible items they cleared) and small twigs. Stack larger branches and logs nearby, along with a pail of water.
Adults can then use matches or another fire-starting device to ignite the tinder, which should be piled loosely to allow adequate ventilation. Steer clear of combustible liquids, like lighter fluid, because it can turn your tiny campfire into a roaring bonfire. The best part of a campfire is using it to make sticky treats with a modern twist. It's all on the next page.