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Benefits of a camp fire

A common aspect of camping is camp fires and it is probably safe to assume that most people’s favourite part about camping is sitting around the camp fire. The camp fire is where people get together while outside, preferably in nature to enjoy food cooked on the fire, share stories, and lose themselves in the magic of the night sky. A camp fire offers light, warmth, and heat for cooking. It can also act as a beacon and a predator and bug deterrent. Well-established campgrounds usually provide a steel or stone fire ring where it is safe to build your fire. What is it that makes a camp fire such a magical and mesmerising event? We look at a few aspects and give tips on how to create magic with a camp fire.

The right site

Firstly, it is important to find the right site to build your fire. The best place to build a campfire is in a fire ring. A makeshift fire site may be built if a fire ring is not available. A fire site should be on bare rock or in an area with no vegetation. Alternately, to reduce damage, turf may be carefully rebuilt once the fire has cooled by removing it to create a bare space. Another option is to cover the ground to a depth of a few inches with sand or another soil that is largely free of organic stuff that can catch fire. There are occasions when a fire is surrounded by a ring of rocks. However, fire rings do not completely prevent material on the ground from igniting. Flying embers remain a danger, and the fire ring could heat up to the point where it ignites objects that come into contact with it or turns water into vapour, which would then cause the rocks to fracture.

Quality time spend with family or friends

There may not be a finer setting than being outside and gathering around a campfire to catch up with close friends and family. There are no TV, mobiles, email, or other distractions. Around the gentle warmth of a fire, we loosen, unwind, and let our guards down a little bit more. As a result, conversations are richer, stories are funnier, and you’re sure to discover some new information about the individuals you’re with. There is nothing else to do but enjoy the meaningful interactions and hearty belly laughs you likely haven’t had in a while as the campfire serves as your entertainment for the evening.

Food really tastes better

No matter how you spend your day in the great outdoors, if you’ve had some camp fire cooking waiting for you when you get back, you’re in for a treat. The simple joys of food cooked on a fire, like those “braai broodjies” with all kind of fillings, “pap” and sheba, boerewors skewered on a stick with a piece of dough behind it dripping with the fat out of the “boerie”, to mention but a few delicatessens. These simple dishes taste even better than the elaborate dinners you could make over properly stoked coals or even a home. Of course, save room for dessert. Can you think of anything more fun than marshmallows melted over the fire and smothered in melted chocolate with sprinkles on top?

Reminiscing

While it’s true that the best memories are made in the present, there’s something about gathering around a camp fire that makes us long for those times even more. At times like this, we remember the camping excursions with our families with great affection. Camping brings back memories of our awkward adolescence. Or all of a sudden, we’re back in college, gathered around a camp fire in the bush or even on the beach with our closest friends, sipping cheap wine and reminiscing about the good old days. Or we recall the excitement of our offspring’s first experience with marshmallows on a stick. Many of us find our best selves around campfires.

Zen moments

As the evening draws to an end after everyone has had their fill, there comes a point around a camp fire when silence falls over the group. The sky is filled with stars, and maybe a full moon, you feel the sudden night chill settle in, and everyone moves closer to the fire to keep warm. Out of the blue you find yourself in a trancelike state. There’s no doubting the hypnotic and relaxing effects of a fire’s orange light and flicker with sparks flying up from time to time. Once you let yourself get carried away by the captivating flames, it’s hard to come back to reality. It’s up to you to decide where your Zen moment takes you.

Safety measures

Despite the mesmerising effect that a camp fire can have on you, it is very important to also keep in mind that camp fires can spark wildfires. It is very important to take safety precautions such as:

• Never leave a camp fire unattended.
• Having enough water and a shovel close by to smother an out-of-control fire with water or dirt.
• Avoid building camp fires under hanging branches. It is also a good idea to clear a few meters in a circle around the fire of all flammable debris.
• Never bury hot coals, as they can continue to burn and cause root fires or wildfires.
• Make sure you extinguish the camp fire properly. Use plenty water or dirt, and stir the ashes or wood and add more water. Check that there are no burning embers left whatsoever.
• Making sure the fire pit is large enough for the camp fire and there are no combustibles near the camp fire.
• Avoid the construction of the camp fire on a windy day.
• Never sit to close to a fire or put your feet up facing the fire.

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