Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Thank you for responding to the last “Situation” in August’s eNews.
The Situation: You are taking a group of kids on their first camping trip. All summer, they've been excited about sitting around a campfire, telling ghost stories and having s'mores. As you're packing the car, you check the website one last time and learn that a campfire ban has been announced for the area you are visiting. What will you do as an alternative so that the kids have a memorable first camping experience?
How Agata and Jason Ketteridge from the Leave No Trace Staff responded:
To many, the tradition of the campfire is an integral part of enjoying the comraderie of any camping trip. Fires, however, have compromised the natural appearance of many recreational areas and are not always necessary to having a memorable first camping trip. There are many things you can do as a substitute to having a campfire:
-If the group you are camping with is very excited about having s’mores, then try roasting marshmallows over your campstove (it works!).
-When there is a fire going, people tend to forget to look up and check out the sky. Schedule some star-gazing time and everyone will be amazed and impressed. You can even download an application on your smartphone that will help you and your group identify constellations.
-Create the ambiance of a fire by putting a light into your colored Nalgene bottle or be creative and design your own luminaries.
-And don’t forget the instant classic “shadow puppet” theatre!
How you responded:
With a campfire ban I would get a bunch on candles to cook the marshmallows — perhaps one with a fat base, or a votive in something. Then put the assembly on a solid level surface on something that will not burn (diameter three times the height of the candle).
-Jay M. Dement
Having a "camp-fire" during a fire ban is fairly easy to accomplish. Any number of small battery operated lanterns can be set at varying heights in a "fire ring". You can also use those small battery powered lights which look like votive candles and intersperse them among some small branches to make it look more fire-like. S'mores can be made ahead of time in the oven by wrapping the graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate in aluminum foil and baking them in the oven. To re-heat, use a camp stove and griddle.
We always have a backup plan for campfire. We lite several candle lanterns or use our burner. This gives us the glow of the fire and allows us to safely control the surroundings. The troop has just as much fun, leaves no damage to the environment, and maintains the fire ban.