Campfire Safety Rules
Here are the rules and regulations that I like to use with girls of any age when we're at a campfire. When I review these rules with kids, I often accompany them with simple (and over-acted) demonstrations to emphasize to the younger girls WHY fire can be so dangerous, and how to enjoy it safely!
1. The campfire pit is defined as the stone ring containing the fire, as well as all the space between the fire pit and the benches/logs/stones which people sit upon.
2. NO RUNNING in this area! Ever. Even when there's no fire.
3. No balancing/teetering or other horseplay on the campfire ring logs. When singing action songs around a campfire, have everyone stand behind the logs to prevent tripping.
4. No one touches, pokes, or adds wood to the fire except the designated "pyromaniacs" for the occasion - this may be a leader or a couple of girls, depending on what age group you work with.
5. When the fire is burning, it is always attended.
6. Talk about why we have water buckets, sand buckets, etc., and explain what to do about flying sparks.
7. Talk about the placement and size of the fire itself - away from overhanging tree branches, keep the fire small and sheltered from the wind. Remember not to build a fire on straight bedrock - unless you're a geologist and know what the rock's composition is! We did that once at my cottage and parts of the bedrock exploded, sending fire flying in several directions.
8. Talk about appropriate campfire clothing - no loose clothing, hair tied back, hats are fine but lots of dangling hat crafts are not, k-ways and other nylon clothing is not allowed (I usually show off the burn marks on my nylon pants at this point).
9. At the end of the campfire, show them (if Sparks or Brownies) or help them (Guides) or supervise them (Pathfinders etc.) to properly put the campfire out. Explain that the fire isn't out until the ashes are cold to the touch. Demonstrate by picking them up in your hand!
Campfire Snack Rules
1. For a group of 24 girls, I never bring more than 6 roasting sticks for doing things like s'mores, bannock, or hot dogs. This minimizes the number of sharp objects which are being waved around after dark. :-) It also minimizes the crush of bodies around the campfire pit.
2. Only girls with roasting sticks in hand are allowed to stand by the fire, in the ring between the sitting logs and the fire pit.
3. Once each girl has roasted her particular treat, she sits down and hands her stick to her neighbour, who can then head to the fire to roast their treat.
4. I usually demonstrate with a flaming marshmallow why it is so dangerous to wave it around... I like to be able to show the girls that waving it around doesn't help put it out! Then I take a second marshmallow, light it in the fire, and show them that if you calmly blow on it, it goes out! (Yes, I do this safely, honest!) (I also volunteer to eat any blackened marshmallows... mmmm... you can never have too much charcoal in your diet.)
5. Assign one leader to be in charge of handing out the marshmallows, wieners, etc., to avoid confusion.
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