Campfire Essay, Research Paper

t s a cool, breezy evening in mid August, the sound of buzzing insects and croaking frogs

surround your campground, but your without the most important camping element; the fire. A

camIping trip wouldn t be complete if the campfire couldn t be constructed. So you grab for the

How to Build a Campfire for Idiots, manual and follow the directions. For most people

building a fire is as simple as lighting the match to ignite it, but for some it can sabotage a

potentially perfect trip.

When building a campfire there are many different structures that can be built to start a

fire while camping. The most common arrangements are the teepee, log cabin, dugout, and the

tunnel structures. Almost anyone can build a campfire if they follow these key instructions, don t

forget any component or this process will get VERY frustrating. A fire needs three elements: air,

fuel, and an ignition of some kind, this is the most important information you need, don t forget

them. For a campfire the air element is easily accessible; it’s the air a person breathes or oxygen.

The oxygen element is most important and must exist to have a fire. The fuel component is

equivalent to wood or kindling. Sometimes lighter fluid or gasoline is used to start big fires

immediately, but usually in a forest or campground using these wouldn t be a wise decision.

Ignition can come from numerous sources such as a spark, match, or lighter, it is anything that

initially starts the fire. Going deeper into wood subject, there are three categories to classify

under, kindling is the stuff that is easiest to burn, it could be leaves, dryer lint, or very small

twigs chopped or scavenged around you campsite. The next largest size of wood are sticks and

small logs, these will range in size from about one half inch to two inches in diameter. Anything

bigger than sticks and small logs shouldn t even be considered campfire material. The fuel is the

logs that will burn for hours at a time, or as long as desired. When a fire is started it needs to be

built like this: kindling first, then sticks and small logs, last is the fuel, and then the fire is

flaming hot. Using these techniques with the following fire structures will ensure an easy guide

ensuring family bonding and a fire perfect for s mores.

The teepee style structure is probably the most commonly used and easiest to build, but it

doesn’t necessarily result in the hottest or longest burning campfire. To build this fire think about

the name “teepee.” Start by placing the intermediate size wood or sticks in the ground in a

circular shape about eight to twelve inches in diameter, leaning the tips of the sticks together in

the center. The sticks should already start to resemble a teepee shape, if the figure is a jumbled

mess of twigs, I would suggest going back and starting over.

Continue layering the walls of the teepee with more sticks, but not too thick, because the

air needs to be able to pass through the walls easily. Don t forget to leave a hole on one side large

enough to place kindling inside the stick walls. This hole is also left to light the kindling from the

inside and may be filled in once the fire is lit. Once this is completed, the structure should be a

recognizable teepee or cone shape. The kindling should be lit on the underside inside the teepee

walls through the hole that was left. Due to this easy structure, when the smaller sized twigs start

to fall in and burn up, larger sized sticks can be placed on the outside in the same manner as

before, keeping the teepee shape.

A log cabin campfire structure is just as easy to build as the teepee, but must be built

more accurately in order for the fire to burn efficiently. This method is most commonly used by

experienced campers or pyromaniacs addicted to the sensation of large fires.

In the same way the teepee s name resembled it’s shape, so does the log cabin. It’s

built by placing two sticks parallel to each other, and then another two on top also parallel to

each other, but perpendicular to the previously laid sticks. When viewing the structure from the

top it should look like a square or rectangle. Continue this procedure by sliding each layer to the

middle very slightly so it will produce a pyramid shape without a top. The end result will appear

to be a miniature log cabin that grows narrower towards the top. In the center of this cabin is

where the kindling is to be placed. When lighting this structure, a hole might have to be dug

under one side if there isn’t sufficient clearance to light the kindling from the bottom side. After

it’s lit, sticks can be laid across the top like a roof, and then eventually the fuel will be added on

top, but only a reasonable amount is needed.

The next two structures are to be built when there isn’t a fire ring in the campsite and a

hole needs to be dug to contain the fire, a shovel or some type of tool is a requirement for this

one. The first of the two is the dugout, it s started by digging a hole on flat or pebbly ground,

preferably away from dry shrubbery, tents or forests. The initial hole should be slightly oval in

shape and reach into the ground about one foot. At one end of the hole two sticks should be

shoved into the ground at forty-five degree angles, about six to twelve inches apart. Smaller

sticks are then placed perpendicularly across the larger support sticks forming a lean-to structure.

A batch of little twigs can be piled up as long as the support sticks can hold them and they don’t

get packed together. Once this structure is built, the kindling is placed under the lean-to, so

eventually when it is lit, the flames reach up into the pile of sticks that hang over. Adding sticks

to this configuration is very simple, just pile them on the supporters in an orderly fashion and

you ve constructed an immaculate fire.

The last fire structure is the most time consuming to build so if it s getting dark and

daylight is nearly gone, one of the previous structures would be more beneficial. The tunnel fire

is composed of a hole dug in the ground, like the dugout, and additionally a tunnel running into

the bottom of that hole. First dig a hole for the fire to burn in with the same dimensions as the

dugout. Then decipher which way the wind is blowing, which can be done by picking a blade

of grass and letting the wind take it from the direction it s blowing, but never spit into the wind.

Next dig into the wind from the bottom corner of the fire hole. This tunnel should be about five

inches in diameter and submerge two and a half or three feet away from the edge of the hole.

When the tunnel fire structure is assembled, anyone of the previous fires may be built

inside of it. Possibly the dugout is a good choice, because the hole is already dug for it. Despite

which fire is built, the tunnel opening should not be covered because that would defeat the whole

purpose of the tunnel. If this structure is built precisely, air will blow through the tunnel into the

base of the fire creating an inferno of heat. The fire will burn up the wood rapidly resulting in an

extremely hot fire, which may not be suitable for small children. Adding the proper size wood at

timed intervals will keep the fire blazing and prevent it from being snuffed out.

Any of the four campfires that were explained in this manual are exceptional structured

fires with an equally easy composition. They will burn efficiently if the proper steps are taken in

building them. Remember, the key elements how to light, add wood and assemble the structure

will help in make every camping trip a memorable one in the family scrapbook. If getting the fire

started is still in unattainable event, a good suggestion would be to ask a neighboring camper for

help or the park ranger. Don t forget to keep a bucket filled with water ready in case of

uncontrolled emergencies. Remember, Smokey the Bear says, Only you can prevent forest


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