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5 Camp Fires
Council Fire
Week Program
Heart of the Camp
Ceremony from India
Mowgli Story
Oath Ceremony
Evening Pow Wows
Accounted For!
Scout Law
Story of Fire
Good Story Telling
Timber Wolf Ceremonies
Scout Yells
What To Do?
The Gray Areas
Philmont Song Book
Campfire Skits & Stunts
Scout War Songs

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By W. C. Wessel

A special feature at the evening council fire helps to round out the program.  At the Pittsburgh Summer Camp, an interesting dramatization is presented by four boys dressed as Indians, who bring with them a birch-bark roll.  A group of Scouts step into the camp fire ring to accept this deed, which carries with it the privilege of using the old hunting grounds, and emphasizes their responsibility for preserving them.  A sketch of this kind will do much toward developing the proper attitude on the part of new campers in protecting camp property.

Another type of ceremony might be staged to present the different ways of making fire. The story is as follows: An Indian enters the council ring and walks over to a small altar fire which dies down just as he is about to warm himself.  This effect may be produced with an alcohol cube.  The Indian appears cold and sets about to make his own fire by friction.  As the tinder bursts into flame, he places it upon the pillar.   When the fire begins to blaze, he first warms himself, and then passes along his trail. 

The Indian is followed by a Buckskin man, who also appears to be cold.  He sees the fire of the Indian, but finds himself disappointed . . . the fire is dead.  He proceeds to open a buckskin pouch and produces a flint and steel, with which he strikes fire.  He then places his tinder upon the pillar, warms himself and then travels on.

A Devil then appears.  Again the fire has burned out.  He touches a clump of tinder with his wand, when suddenly it ignites. (This is pre-arranged by mixing a tablespoonful of potassium perchloride with an equal amount of sugar in a small box, below the tinder. On the edge of this box is set a small glass dish containing a teaspoonful of sulphuric acid; the acid coming in contact with the mixture in the box, causes a bright flame, which is sufficient to ignite the inflammable material.  Possibly some red fire powder might be on the pedestal at this time to add mystery to the occasion).

The Devil departs.  A mysterious character enters cloaked in black.  He gestures to the North, the East, the South, the West, and then makes magic movements over some tinder which is previously laid ready.  Suddenly, smoke pours forth without his touching the tinder. (The materials necessary are a  battery, some copper wire and some small resistance coil, made of a strand of picture wire, or use steel wool.

Tacks serve as terminals and connections.  At the proper time, the connection is made at the battery, and the resistance coil is made to ignite the tinder, which will produce smoke and which will, in turn, ignite the fire).  He then lifts the fire with the magic wand, upon the pedestal which supported the previous fire.  (Possibly some green powder might be placed on the pedestal to produce another effect).  The magician exits.  A dapper youth appears on the scene with a modern lighter, or lights matches with a flip of his thumb, lights the tinder to renew the fire of the previous character and departs.

When the fire has died down again, a ghost appears.  Peculiar noises are made in the offing.  He makes his approach stealthily.  Suddenly, from the sky there appears a ball of fire which follows him and lands into a previously set fire, which is properly soaked so as to burst into flames (Here also, the effect of blue flare powder adds to the mystery. The mechanics for this set-up require a thin wire which is led from a tree or some pole directly into the fire which is to be lighted. A ball of cotton waste, soaked in alcohol, is lit as the ghost appears, and released.  It slides down the wire or string on a pulley and ignites the fire when it reaches the pedestal.)

Finally, a clown enters the scene with huge cans marked "Gasoline" and "Dynamite." He sets off a salute with fire cracker or flash powder.

When this excitement is over, the real council fire begins to burn and the campers settle down for the regular program.  It might be desirable to have as many different pedestals as there are characters in the ceremony, to support the different fires.   It will be necessary, of course, to set up all mechanics in advance.  One or two boys may be assigned as stage managers to prepare the pedestal for each succeeding fire or else each pedestal might contain sufficient fuel to keep on burning during the entire performance.

Campfire Helps






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Peer- Level Topic Links:
5 Camp Fires ] Bibliography ] Firelight ] Council Fire ] Week Program ] Heart of the Camp ] Ceremony from India ] Invocation ] Mowgli Story ] Oath Ceremony ] [ Pantomime ] Pointers ] Evening Pow Wows ] Accounted For! ] Scout Law ] Story of Fire ] Good Story Telling ] Timber Wolf Ceremonies ] Traditions ] Scout Yells ] What To Do? ] The Gray Areas ] Philmont Song Book ] Campfire Skits & Stunts ] Scout War Songs ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.