Parents are always looking for ways to bond with their children and create leading memories for them. One way to bond with your kids, and create those memories that they will look back on with nostalgia, is by teaching your children to build fires. Fire has always fascinated man, it’s arguable without fire there would be no civilisation. Building a fire adds a raw authenticity to camping, a chance to rough it out with your kids, tell stories by the fire, roast marshmallows, and play at being cowboys.
There’s a more profound reason to teach your kids how to build fires: developing your kids’ confidence is all about giving them the means to learn to be in control of their environment. It is about instilling faith that they can handle themselves, and allowing them to be creative and experimental. One simple way to develop this confidence is by teaching them how to build a fire. There’s a whole lot of science that goes into that lesson that can help kids begin to learn about intake, combustion, and exhaust, the three components that make fire possible.
In teaching your kids how to build a fire, you want to tailor your approach to their age, their confidence and readiness to learn and their learning style. One child may be ready to go the whole nine yards, whereas another child may only be ready to gather firewood. 4-year old children can be taught the different kinds of wood that make for good firewood, without giving them the responsibility of actually making a fire.
Cub Scouts, for example, are usually taught to build a fire on their own when they get to grade 4 or 5, though of course with adult supervision.
Remember that you do not have to teach everything to your kids all at once. Teach progressively and according to the developmental stage your kid is in. In the end, nobody knows your child more than you.
Know the Rules
You need to know the rules of the area you will be building a fire in. Some popular sites like beaches and campgrounds may have restrictions on open fires. If you’re out West, many states have seasonal bans on open fires due to dry conditions. You may also be forbidden from bringing your own firewood. Read the rules with your child so they understand the importance of being responsible with fire.
Get your tools out before starting your fire. Make sure you have a bucket of water and a shovel to smother the fire with, using nearby dirt. When you leave, make sure the fire has been put out and the coals are cold to the touch.
Build a Fire Ring
Many campsites and beaches will have designated fire rings. If there isn’t one, find a flat area with minimal vegetation around it. Do not build a fire near overhanging trees or other flammable structures. To protect the soil underneath your fire, you should build your fire on a flat rock or a fire bowl.
Gather your firewood
Every fire needs three types of wood, each with its own purpose. You need tinder, which includes grasses, leaves, and shredded bark. You need kindling, which ranges in size from small twigs to bigger sticks that measure the length of your forearm and are up to two-inches-thick. Then you need firewood, which refers to larger logs that keep the fire going. You can also try firewood delivery if you are not sure you will be able to get firewood or if the rules forbid you from gathering wood.
Build your fire
It’s important to involve your kids in every stage, either by explaining what you are doing or helping them perform a stage. Explain the use of each type of wood and why you are layering the wood the way you are and the science behind fires. Remember to put out the fire so it is cold to the touch, when you are done.