(no name) ((no email))
Mon, 18 May 1992 18:58:00 MST
Danny and others,
(warning, this is several screens full, I got carried away as usual!)
I remember working on my second class fire building (cooking). I had a
terrible time lighting the wet wood on a wet Michigan weekend. That's when
the scoutmaster taught me about pine needles. After that experience, I
cannot recall an incident of not being able to start a fire, even when
everything was soaked. I remember one incident when we were on an
overnight training course being done by the Los Angeles Area Council. It
was a backpacking training course and there were a lot of experience
adult campers along. I started looking for scrapes of wood. (This is hard,
because even the trees are stripped bare up to reaching height in this high
traffic area.) It was wet, (rain turned to snow that night) from a
constant rain which had been going on for some time. The ground and trees
were already wet from earlier rain.
I was asked, what was I doing? I told them I was going to build a fire. I
was quickly told I would never get one going. I laughed to myself and
continue at my task. No, I did not have plans to use the kerosine in my
backpacking stove, I had something better! (It was a good thing too, I
needed up all the kerosine to boil LOTS of pasta for dinner!)
I used a 1 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch square piece of cardboard, soaked in wax.
A home made fire starter. You can make them using newspaper, Sawdust in egg
cartons, lint from the dryer, etc. I have never failed to start a fire
with one of these (I have never tried to start a fire in a hurricane, close
maybe). I have started charcoal with these (my perfered method is with one
sheet of newspaper and an old #10 can). If you want to teach fire safety,
teach how to always be able to start a fire without the liqued fuels. In
fact, if you make starting a fire easy, who is going to bother with messy
liqued fuels? (Not to imply that people should go around making fires
because it is easy, but when it is time to make one, if it is easy who will
bother with gas?)
We had a campfire that night, despite not being able to find any sticks
that were dry (I am talking about the inside of the sticks after spliting
them with my knife).
By the way, making these fire starters is a fun project for the cub age.
It is probably better, if they make the buddy burners (Webelos Handbook).
As we all know, if they make something like a fire starter, they will want
to try it out. Buddy burners made right are easier to control.
RE: the rules on liqued fuels. I do not know what National BSA policy is,
but I do know that in areas like California where fires are not allowed
during parts of the year liquid fuels in backpacking stoves are used.
Regardless of the rules, youth members will fill and light these stoves.
It would take a super displined group to make sure that does not happen.
I do know that all gas (propane included) stoves are to be used with adult
supervision. Not difficult when you are backpacking. Consider the size
limits on your group (most areas like you to be 12 or under) and the
requirement of two adults for each group.
Last time I read the policy it stated that Boy Scout CAMPS do not allow
liquid fuels anytime.
Kathie, the policy you are familiar with may be different from the policy
out in the Western States. Coming from Michigan I never gave backpacking
stoves a thought (even when I was at Philmont in 1970, we used wood to cook
on). After all, why carry a stove when there was always wood and all you had
to carry were the matches?
When I moved to California, I thought they were crazy. Stoves, stoves,
stoves, everywhere! In the training classes for both youth and adults.
After seeing what California was really like, I understood. Imiagine my
starting wet pine needles with two matches and making a cooking fire. Now
consider the pine needles in some areas of California which have not seen
rain for weeks in 90+ tempuratures. If you want to see an exploxsion
WITHOUT any liquid fuels, get a bunch of those pine needles in a VERY SAFE
and LARGE fire ring. Light them up and in less than a minute you will have
flames better than any gas fire. They will last a little longer too!
P.S. For string burning competition (fire building), just use pine needles.
I instructed my patrol at a ScoutMasters training to build a fire of pine
needles and we beat the other patrols by so much that we were accused of
cheating. The object was to build a fire to burn the string, we carried
enough pine needles to do this with almost no wood at all. We were
declared winners and I think everyone learned a lession in fire building.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City