By Tina Everett, Brian Lloyd, Don Sasser, & Eden Borrowman
Why do we have campfires?
To make s’mores, to “play” with the fire, because that’s what you do outdoors, etc….
Scouting and campfires have gone hand in hand. Holding a successful campfire can add to a scouts outdoor experience. Whether your den, pack, or troop hold overnight camps or just a simple outdoor campfire experience many lessons can be taught and learned from a well planned and executed campfire program.
Campfires provide a fun, entertaining, non-threatening environment to involve all scouts. It is a great way to fellowship and inspire the boys. Often times campfires are a time when boys will open up and share their dreams, concerns, and relax and be themselves.
Campfire requirements for Cub Scouts
Each rank in the cub scout program includes a campfire requirement. Here is a list of each rank and the corresponding adventure loop or pin that a successful campfire program will help the scout achieve.
Tigers in the Wild Adventure Loop
- Participate in an outdoor pack meeting or pack campout campfire. Sing a song and act out a skit with your Tiger den as part of the program.
Call of the Wild Adventure Loop
- On the campout, participate with your family or den in a campfire show. Prepare a skit or song and then present it at the campfire for everyone else.
Howling at the Moon Adventure Loop
- Work together with your den to plan, prepare, and rehearse a campfire program to present to your families at a den meeting.
- Practice and perform your role for a pack campfire program.
Bear Necessities Adventure Loop
- Attend a campfire show, and participate by performing a song or skit with your den.
Roaring Laughter Adventure Loop
- Practice at least two run-ons with your den and perform them at a pack meeting or campfire program.
Webelos and Arrow of Light
Cast Iron Chef Adventure Pin
- At an approved time in an outdoor location and using tinder, kindling, and fuel wood, demonstrate how to build a fire; light the fire unless prohibited by local fire restrictions. After allowing the flames to burn safely, safely extinguish the flames with minimal impact to the fire site.
Camper Adventure Pin
- On a pack campout, work with your den leader or another adult to plan a campfire program with the other dens. Your campfire program should include an impressive opening, songs, skits, a Cubmaster’s minute, and an inspirational closing ceremony.
Planning a Successful Campfire
A good campfire program as purpose and direction. Using the campfire program planner can help you as leaders and scouts be prepared and present a successful program. A campfire program planner form can be found at http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33696.pdf.
Planning can help provide an order to the campfire. It helps everyone who is participating know where they fit in the program and keeps things moving. Scouts can learn and practice leadership skills as they direct the program.
Building Blocks of a Good Campfire
Four “S” Pattern
Showmanship is part of the atmosphere of the fire. Different campfires are based on location, theme of the campfire, and tone of the campfire. Good programs with showmanship add pizazz and good energy to the program. It adds sparkle to the program.
Stunts and skits are included in campfire for FUN!! This is a great way to involve all scouts. Those who are more reserved can be a part without having to be the center of attention. There are many sources for ideas from Pinterest, the internet, scouting magazines, and other scouting sources. These elements are also a great way to let the scouts imagination flow. Many of them have a great ideas on skits. Remember as a leader that your job is to help supervise. Make sure the content is appropriate and that it doesn’t embarrass or put down anyone. One good rule is to teach the boys “does it follow the scout law of being friendly, courteous, and kind? Maintaining high standards helps lead by example the qualities we are trying to instill in our scouts.
Songs like stunts add variety to the campfire program. There are different types of songs—scout songs, quiet songs, upbeat songs, action songs, inspirational songs, patriotic songs, etc. Implementing songs into your program in specific places can help set the tone for the campfire, encourage audience participation, and guide the campfire in appropriate directions. When planning songs pick ones that add to your program. Some might find it helpful to have songbooks available so the audience can have the words to unfamiliar songs which helps participation.
Stories is the fourth “S”. Like songs there are many types of stories that can be used in campfires. Ghost stories are one example. Remember to keep them appropriate for the age of boys attending the campfire. Other types of stories such as humorous, adventure stories, inspirational stories, or just a good scoutmaster minute. Stories are a great way to portray examples of ideals we are trying to teach our scouts.
Planning ahead helps everyone be prepared and presents a well-run, well-paced program. Everyone can enjoy the fun.
Follow the Flames Rule of Thumb
One pattern to follow when planning a program is to follow the flames!
Starter: have it planned how to start (different techniques—flint/steel, teepee, log cabin, or even a skit based on lighting the fire)
High Flames: this equals high energy (high energy songs, skits, stunts, time to be more rowdy)
Fire Dying Down: this equals lower energy (slower/mellow songs, quieter activities/stories, scoutmaster minute) time to prepare to extinguish the fire
Extinguished: while not a true part of the program remember to safely extinguish the fire using proper methods and being responsible for the area you have had your campfire. Use this time to teach the scouts.
Remember to plan your campfire time accordingly. If using this for a pack meeting or den meeting keep it to 45-60 minutes. This helps maintain attention spans and keeps the energy and excitement. If programs are too long interest is lost and what was fun can be destroyed.
Roles of Scout Leaders
Campfires are not meant for leaders to put on a show and scouts to sit and watch. It is a great teaching tool. Remember the scouting program is about the boy! Imagine if every scout year the boys did achieve more responsibilities. Then as adults they shared what they were taught with future scouts! A really good trickle down effect of trained boys and leaders! As a leader help them plan, prepare and carry it out. The following comes from a roundtable training located at www.scouting.org/filestore/program_update/pdf/2015_06_Topic_Guide.pdf.
Campfire Conduct (roles of leaders)
- Tell Them! (let the boys know what is expected)
- Use the Opening (set the mood with a well-planned opening)
- Use the Sign (use the cub scout sign to bring the group back if things get out of hand or off course)
- Well planned/well-paced (if it is well planned everyone knows their place and things will flow together)
- Stop if not approaved (restore order and move on—maintain the BSA standards)
- Keep control (keep it moving from one thing to the next, everyone has a good time)
- Campfire Skits
- Campfire Stories
- http://www.boyscouttrail.com/skits.asp this website has skits based on age, theme, and rank advancement (check for appropriateness)
- http://moorecountyboyscouts.org/uniform_pdf/100_skits.pdf this website has a printable booklet of short skits
- Roundtable—attend your district roundtable this a great place to share ideas
- Cub scout songbook—also available at the scout store for purchase
http://10dyuk2k99c42ykeneovawpk.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Cub-Scout-Song-Book.pdf (this is a printable book someone made for their woodbadge ticket)
- Skit resource—this has a collection of over 400 skits and run-ons
- Scout Skits book by Thomas Mercaldo (available at the scout store and on amazon.com) He has written several books for campfire songs, skits, and run-ons.
Remember to have fun and others will have fun too!
Idea for a campfire: Flag Retirement
This is a very special campfire. If you choose to do this type of campfire remember to maintain reverence for this ceremony. Patriotic songs would be a good choice for this type of fire. Use stories about the flag or heros of our country to express the importance of the flag to the boys. Have the boys invite veterans or law enforcement people they know to the campfire. This will help teach the boys about community heros. This type of campfire is a great way to teach proper respect for the flag. Remember that the fire is the final resting place for the flag. Remember that nothing goes into the fire after the flag has been laid to rest.
Stories about the flag
- How the star-spangled banner was written http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-story-behind-the-star-spangled-banner-149220970/?no-ist
- Folds of the flag