Who hath smelt wood-smoke at twilight? Who hath heard the birch-log burning?
Who is quick to read the noises of the night?
Let him follow with the others, for the Young Men’s feet are turning
Too the camps of proved desire and known delight!
— Rudyard Kipling, “The Feet of the Young Men”
The campfire holds an important place in traditional scouting and guiding. The ideal is to have a campfire every night that one spends in the outdoors. What about the weather? you might ask. It’s true that the weather can affect your ability to have a fire outside — lighting a fire in heavy rain is difficult, and a large group might find keeping warm difficult in the severe cold. In cases like these, you can simply move the campfire inside.
Inside? you ask. Indeed! Why should the lack of a fire (and if you’re cabin camping, perhaps there’s a fireplace in the lodge) prevent you from putting on a campfire program? The fire is the ideal setting for a campfire, but it is not absolutely necessary if it can’t be lit due to weather or you’re in an area that restricts it (due, say, to environmental concerns). You should have a fire if you can, but don’t let not having a fire keep you from having a campfire program. Admittedly this can be difficult if the weather is very poor and you have boys (or girls) pinned down in hiking tents, but most circumstances can be accommodated. For example, if you’re camping with young scouts (wolf cubs), bring a large tent that can fit everyone inside.
What do you do around the campfire?
Do you stand around looking at the fire? Do you roast marshmallows? In a word, no. That’s not what a campfire is all about.
A Campfire Opening
Onward and upward, day by day,
Straight is the course, and narrow the way,
But others before us the path have trod,
And the top of the hill is the heart of God.
From the North [point to the north], from the South [point south],
From the East [point east], from the West [point west],
May good luck come to you. Brother scouts, I declare this campfire open.
A Campfire Closing
Now Chil the kite brings home the night,
That Mang the bat sets free.
The herds are shut in byre and hut,
For loosed till dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power,
Talon, tusk and claw.
Oh, hear the call — Good Hunting all,
That keep the Jungle Law.
From the North, from the South,
From the East, from the West,
May good luck come to you. Brother scouts, I declare this campfire closed.