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Your Claim to Flame

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Hey, Fiery Camp Fans!

Summer camp teaches us many skills and provides us a lot of new experiences! Some are crafty while some are athletic, others are academic and some are survival skills. Building a proper fire is an essential survival skill and a very challenging process to perform. First we’ll go over a few fire building basics and then we’ll take a look at all the different ways you can get your tinder to smoke and then flame!

Creating a pit for your fire is the first step. Then, place your smallest pieces of dry wood on the bottom and lay your firewood on top around the small twigs and other kindling. Then there’s the tinder—that’s the very heart of your fire that you’ll use to get the kindling going. Tinder is a finely divided material that, if used to your benefit, you can get your tinder to smolder or burst into flame.

You can use lots of things as tinder:


  • Dryer Lint Packed into a Used-up Toilet Paper Roll
  • Tightly Rolled and Knotted Sheets of Newspaper
  • Potato Chips
  • Evergreen Sap (it can work even in wet conditions!)

Here are several different ways to get your tinder to flame:

Of course, a pack of matches or a pocket lighter will get the job done. These tools of technology technically belong in the Striking category, since they both use the same concept to produce the flame, but because of their modern convenience, I put them in their own category.

Good ol’ Fashioned Friction
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the utmost primitive means of stoking a spark with rubbing wood against wood. Creating heat through the friction is a difficult, but eventually productive method.

Striking Effects
Flint and steel with charcloth is a popular choice that’s a happy medium between matches and friction. Striking the softer steel against the harder flint will produce sparks enough to make your tinder smoke. A more primitive version of this would be striking quartz rocks against each other (if you can locate and identify these natural tools).

Harness the Sun
If the sun’s out in an open sky, a glass lens is probably the easiest way to get some tinder to start smoldering. Simply use your magnifying glass or what have you to direct the sun’s beam at your tinder collection until you see it smoking.

Once your tinder is smoking, you’ll want to blow on it to make the flames emerge. With the right prep work, your tinder fire will spread to the kindling and then spread to the logs for fueling the the campfire. Be sure to practice all these methods with the supervision of experienced adults. And, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Filter from Nature

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Hey, Camp Folks!

There are lots of cool things you learn throughout your camp stay. Some are crafty while some are athletic, others are academic and some are survival skills. The proper filtration of water is an essential survival skill which can come in very handy should you ever find yourself in need in the wilderness! Water filters can be made with common camping material and other natural items from around a campfire. Check out what you need:

Plastic bottle, scissors, cloth, charcoal, sand, grass, and rocks.

It’s surprisingly easy to put together. Simply cut off the bottom of your plastic bottle, position it upside-down, and lay a small piece of cloth over the mouthpiece opening—this is just to ensure nothings falls through. Gather some charred pieces of wood around the campfire for your charcoal and fill the top inch or two of your water bottle with it. On top of that, add an inch or two of sand. Then roll up a good handful of grass and put that on top of the sand. Last, add a couple inches of rocks.

Pour your stream water or whatever water source you have handy over the stones in your plastic bottle. The water will run past the rocks which will filter out any larger particles like chunks of sticks, leaves, or dirt in your water.

After that, the grass will catch any other larger particles like frog eggs and other things you definitely don’t want to drink!

The water then reaches the sand which starts working on catching lots of the smaller contaminants that slipped by the rocks and grass.

Lastly, the water passes through the charcoal to give it its final and, in some ways, most important stage in filtration. I say most important because the charcoal layer is the one that works on the most micro level removing contaminants from the water that you can’t even see!

Now that this water is filtered, keep in mind that you still don’t want to drink this—you just ran water past a bunch of stuff that you found on the ground! It’s not purified for consumption! You need to boil the water. Parasites that can do you harm cannot survive at 170-175°F, so bringing your water to a rolling boil is a surefire way to provide yourself with properly purified and 100% safe water for drinking.

Enjoy your drinking water and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John