Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Recreation/Fire Building & Camp Cookery

Fire Building & Camp Cookery
General Conference
Skill Level 2
Year of Introduction: 1956

Requirements annotated with the symbol are from the General Conference edition.
Requirements annotated with the symbol are from the North American Division edition.

1. Lay five different kinds of fires and know their uses.1. Lay five different kinds of fires and know their uses. Two of these fires must be cooking fires. edit

Hunter's Fire edit

Hunter's Fire

The hunter's fire is a cooking fire. The logs on top are spaced close enough together such that a pot, pan, or Dutch oven can be placed on them. Try to lay it as level as possible.

Reflector Fire edit

Reflector Fire

This fire can be used for baking, though it is not as efficient as a reflector oven (which is has a metallic reflecting surface and often surrounds the item. The fire itself can be of any other form, and is placed in front of the reflector. The item to be baked is placed between the reflector and the fire. This fire is also good for getting oneself warm. The reflector can also be a large rock. If you sit (or sleep) between the reflector and the fire, the side of you facing the fire will be warmed directly, while the reflector throws heat to the opposite side. Very toasty.

If making the reflector from logs, the vertical members should be driven deeply into the ground to support the weight of the horizontal members. You can also use rocks to support them.

Star Fire edit

Star Fire

The advantage of this fire is that the logs can be of any length, avoiding the need to cut them up. As the ends of the logs burn, they are pushed into the fire. The fire is lit at the center of the star. If the logs are propped up on the fire ring, gravity will feed them in as they burn.

Teepee Fire edit

Teepee Fire

The teepee fire is probably the most recognized campfire. It is somewhat difficult to lay however, as getting the logs to balance against one another can be tricky. Sometimes the log pile will topple and upset the kindling and tinder beneath, and you'll have to start again from scratch. If necessary, you can lash them together at the top with twine (but don't use a synthetic rope such as nylon or polypropylene). Once laid, the teepee fire is very easy to light, as convection will take the flames right to the fuel.

Adding fuel to a teepee fire can also be challenging as the balance problem is still there, but it is now complicated by the presence of heat. For this reason, teepee fires often devolve into a chaotic heap.

Log Cabin Fire edit

Log Cabin Fire

The log cabin is easy to lay, and it is fairly stable as well. It is laid very much like a log cabin (hence the name). It is somewhat difficult to light though, as the fuel is off to the side of the tinder and kindling. When it burns, it falls in on itself, confining itself to the fire ring. It is also easy to add more fuel and maintain a neat orderly fire.

Council Fire edit

Council Fire

The council fire was used by Native Americans during their meetings (or councils). It is very much like the log cabin fire except that more than two logs are laid on each layer. Be careful not to lay the logs too close to one another. Leave gaps of at least one inch (2.5 cm) between each log to allow air to circulate. Like the log cabin fire, the council fire is very stable, and it falls into itself as it burns, remaining within the fire ring. Unlike the log cabin fire, the council fire lights easily as the main fuel is located directly above the kindling and tinder where convection will carry the flames. This fire is hot, and will make a nice bed of coals for cooking. It also uses a lot of fuel. This fire is sometimes called a pyramid fire as well.

2. Safely make wood shavings or fuzz sticks. edit

Making a fuzz stick with a pocket knife
The finished product

A fuzz stick is a small piece of wood which has had slices cut in the sides to create small shavings. Ideally, the shavings should remain attached to the stick, but if they are accidentally removed, they can still be used. Because the shavings are thin, they are easy to ignite. Because they are attached, they in turn ignite the larger host stick.

To make a fuzz stick safely, choose a piece of dry wood, preferably a dry, dead stick from an evergreen tree. The stick should be about the size of a pencil, or perhaps a little larger. Place one end of the stick against a firm surface, such as a log or a rock, hold the upper end with your left hand, and hold the knife in the right. Carefully slice into the stick with a downward, diagonal motion, maintaining even pressure. Stop before the knife reaches the center of the stick. Take another slice a little higher up, and repeat until the stick is covered with the slices of "fuzz." Turn the stick over and make more shavings on the other side. This is far easier to do with a sharp knife and with a soft wood such a pine, fir, spruce or hemlock. Be sure that you are always slicing away from your fingers. Think at all times about where the knife blade will go if the shaving breaks off, or the knife slips. Make sure that your hand, foot, leg, companions, etc. are not in the path!

Make several fuzz sticks and use them as the first layer of kindling, positioning them atop the tinder. In some cases, the fuzz sticks themselves can be used as tinder.

3. Show correct techniques for starting a fire. edit

A fire needs three things in order to burn: fuel, air, and heat. You need to pay attention to all three for building a successful fire.

Fuel edit

Fuel is categorized into three groups: tinder, kindling, and fuel. Tinder is light, fluffy stuff that is easy to ignite. It may be made of many different types of material, including, dried grass, dead pine needles, fine wood shavings, bird feathers, pocket lint, paper, milkweed seeds etc. The key to tinder is that it should be dry, thin, and wispy. Tinder is laid first, and then it is surrounded with kindling.

Kindling is a bit bigger than tinder. Pencil-sized sticks make excellent kindling, but if all your kindling is that size, you are going to need a lot of it. Sort it by diameter, and stack the smallest stuff over the tinder. You can arrange it in a tipi, log cabin, or even a ridge-pole and rafter arrangement. As you build up the kindling pile, add larger and larger pieces, but do not add anything larger than a 1.5 inches through - any bigger than that, and you are into the next size category. Stacking the kindling is perhaps the most important aspect of building a successful fire. If it is stacked too tightly, the tinder will not ignite it. If you do not have enough of it, it will not ignite the main fuel.

Fuel is the largest stuff you're going to burn, though for camping, it should not be larger than six inches in diameter. Any larger than that, and you will either be up all night tending it, or you'll find yourself dousing it before turning in yourself. It is far better to burn all your fuel completely.

Air edit

It might seem that you would need to do nothing to make sure that your fire has a good air supply - after all, air is all around us. But a fire needs lots of air, and the way the fuel is stacked can affect this greatly. Do not pack the fuel tightly. Kindling should be stacked such that the spaces between pieces are equal to the width of the pieces (on average). In other words, the kindling pile should be about 50% air and 50% wood by volume. These gaps will allow the flames to get in between and burn all the kindling, thus igniting the larger fuel logs. When you add logs to the fire, make sure there's at least a one-inch gap between each piece. Otherwise, you will cut off the air supply and the fire will die down without burning all the fuel.

Heat edit

Heat is initially added to the fuel and air with a match, lighter, or other fire lighting device. If using primitive lighting techniques, the tinder is lit first, and then transferred into the kindling pile. Heat is transferred from the match (or spark) to the tinder, and then from the tinder to the kindling, from the kindling to the main fuel, and finally, the heat from the main fuel will be sufficient to maintain the fire, igniting additional fuel (and sometimes drying it out) as it is added. To get a fire to die down, separate the logs so that their heat is spread out. To burn all the fuel, keep pushing the unburnt ends of logs to the center to concentrate the heat (but do maintain some distance between the logs to allow air in).

4. Start a fire with one match and keep it going for at least ten minutes. edit

Again, the secret to keeping a fire going after it is lit, it to stack the fuel progressively from smallest to largest. Be sure you have enough kindling to ignite the main fuel, and keep the stack loose enough to allow air to circulate. Stack the kindling atop the tinder and have the main fuel ready to go - but do not add it yet. Light the tinder. As soon as you have a good flame, start adding the main fuel to the fire. Add it in an orderly fashion, using one of the techniques detailed in requirement 1 (the council fire works particularly well for this, as it is easy to lay and it the fuel is positioned directly over the kindling).

5. Know and practice fire safety rules. edit

  • Locate the fire in a safe place. It should be clear for 10 feet (3 meters) all around.
  • Do not light a fire beneath overhanging branches.
  • Do not use accelerants, such as lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene, etc. Learn to light a fire without these.
  • Put the fire out completely before leaving it. If it's too hot to put your hands in the ashes, it's not sufficiently out. Douse it down with water, turn the coals with a shovel, and be sure to extinguish every coal and ember.
  • Do not build a fire on top of flammable material such as grass or leaves.
  • Cut away the sod (keep it moist so it stays alive, and replace it before your leave), and clear away the duff and litter.
  • Keep fire extinguishing supplies handy and near the fire. A bucket of water or sand, or a fire extinguisher are recommended.
  • Do not remove burning sticks from a fire.
  • Watch for embers that escape the fire pit and extinguish them immediately.
  • Wear proper footwear around a fire.
  • Be aware that paper, cardboard, and leaves create floating embers that rise out of the fire pit and may land dozens of yards away.
  • Do not light a fire when conditions are adverse (high winds, or drought conditions).

6. Show how to correctly and safely cut and split fire wood. edit

Once you have found a large, dead limb, it is time to cut it loose and drag it to the campsite. You can do this with either an axe, a hatchet, or a saw. Be sure you have firm footing before swinging an axe or a hatchet, and be sure no one is within six feet of you to the sides or to the rear, and within twelve feet of you towards your front. Axe heads have come off before (2 Kings 6:5), and they are very dangerous when they do. For this reason, it may be better to use a saw. A saw will also leave more of the wood intact with the log for burning rather than as wood chips that fly all over the place.

If you need to chop a log in half, do not lay it directly on the ground. Otherwise the axe blows will push the log into the ground. Instead, lay it on another small log (three inches in diameter is good). Strike the log to be cut at the point where it is in contact with the supporting log. Otherwise, the log may flip up and strike you or a bystander. This can cause a serious injury, so be watchful. Again, it is better to use a saw.

Unless the log you wish to split has been sawn and has a flat end, it will be very difficult to split it. Steady it on its end, and make sure it can stand on its own. Instruct everyone to clear away from you, and do not swing the axe if anyone is near. Grip the end of the axe handle with both hands, and gently lay the blade of the axe on the top of the log, on the edge nearest where you are standing. Fully extend your arms when you do this, and back up if necessary. Spread your feet apart by about the same distance as your shoulders are wide, and make sure your footing is firm. If you are right handed, slide your right hand towards the head of the axe as you draw it towards yourself. Take aim, and draw the axe over your head, bringing it down mightily as your right hand slides down the handle. The right hand should meet the left about the same time the axe strikes the log. Note how the axe strikes the wood farther away from you than where you were resting it at the beginning. This is why you should aim for the edge nearest you. If you overshoot the log, you will bring the handle down on the edge of the log and damage the axe. Do that enough, and you'll need to replace the handle.

When splitting a log, try to divide it into two equal masses. If you try to split off a smaller segment, the split will run out, and the piece you remove will be smaller on one end than on the other.

To split a small piece of wood (less than 10 cm  in diameter), place the blade of a hatchet on the end of the log, raise the log and the hatchet together, and bring them down sharply on another log or a rock. When they strike the second log, the hatchet's momentum will drive it into the log. Raise the pair again, and strike repeatedly until the log splits apart. Do not steady the log with one hand and strike it with the other. If you miss the log and hit your hand, you will cause an unnecessary emergency.

7. Demonstrate ability to start fire on a rainy day or in the snow.7. Start a fire on a rainy day. edit

The hardest problem to overcome when trying to build a fire in wet weather is finding dry fuel. Even in the wettest weather, dry fuel can be found by splitting open a log and taking the wood from the center of it. You can get both your kindling and your fuel from this source. Another place to find dry fuel is on the underside of dead branches - especially those still on a tree.

Before you begin gathering your fuel, you will need to set up a dry place to store it as you collect it. A tarp can be used for this if you lay it out on the ground, place the wood on it, and fold the tarp over it. This will keep the wood off the wet ground and keep rain off it as well. If it is windy, you should place a few rocks on top to hold down the tarp.

Once you have your fuel, you can begin gathering tinder. If you have some with you, you're good to go, but remember, that because your kindling may be slightly wet, you will need more than the usual amount of tinder. If you need to collect it, there are still several options for finding some. Milkweed seed pods are fairly waterproof, and the fibers inside are pretty easy to ignite. Pocket lint is another possibility, but you may have difficulty getting enough of it to light your kindling. You can also make wood shavings from the same wood you're using as kindling. If available, birch bark can be lit even when wet.

Once you have your fuel, kindling, and tinder, you are ready to lay the fire. This is done as with any other fire. You may wish to place a tea candle in the tinder pile as well, as this will help keep things going long enough for the kindling to catch.

Once your fire is lit and the fuel is burning, you can lay wet logs next to the fire to dry them out before trying to use them. The heat from a good hot fire can drive the moisture out of even the wettest logs. You may need to turn them over periodically to dry all sides.

8. Demonstrate simmering, boiling, frying, baking bread on a stick, aluminum foil baking, reflector oven baking. edit

Simmering edit

Simmering is a cooking technique where food is cooked in liquid that is almost hot enough to boil. Simmering allows the outdoor chef to cook foods longer to soften them without overcooking them and without using excess fuel. On a backpacking trip, this is especially important, as fuel is generally carried in the pack (and more fuel equals more weight).

Tough vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, turnips, and dried vegetables (such as beans and peas) are ideal candidates for simmering. Simply fill a pot with water (about half way), and add the vegetables. When the water begins to bubble, back off the heat (turn down a camp stove, or raise the pot higher over an open fire). Soup mixes are also ideal for simmering.

Boiling edit

Camping foods that are prepared by boiling include:

  • Pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, etc.)
  • Oatmeal
  • Boiled eggs
  • Cooked vegetables (carrots, green beans, corn, etc.)

Frying edit

Foods that are prepared by frying include

  • Pancakes
  • Scrambled or fried eggs
  • French toast
  • Vegetarian sausages
  • Veggie burgers
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches

Bread on a stick edit

First you will need a bed of coals. If you attempt to bake your bread over a flame, it will be burned on the outside and raw on the inside. Make the bread dough or bring a frozen tube of pre-made dough. Get a straight stick 100-130cm  long and clean the end of it off. You can do this by removing the bark or by washing it in clean water. Wrap the dough in a thin layer around the stick, spiralling it as you go. The dough should cover the top 10-15cm  of the stick. Once the dough is secured to the stick, jam the other end of the stick into the ground or support it with rocks or large pieces of firewood, so that the bread is held over the coals. The bread dough should be held at a distance from the coals where it is uncomfortably hot to hold your hand. Turn the stick every couple of minutes until the outside is golden brown (this is why you need a straight stick). You can eat the bread right off the stick. This is an excellent early morning activity while everyone is tying to warm up around the fire. It works equally well at night.

Aluminum foil baking edit

There are many foods that can be wrapped in foil and dropped into a bed of coals for cooking, but potatoes spring to mind immediately. Corn on the cob is also very good. Simply wrap them in foil, place them in a bed of coals, and take them out after a while. It's that easy.

A tasty dessert can be made by coring an apple, stuffing it with marshmallows and a few pieces of cinnamon candy (such as Red Hots), wrapping it all in foil, and placing it in a bed of coals. Take it out after about 15 minutes and check that the marshmallow has melted. If it has, the apple is ready to eat.

You can also wrap vegetarian burger, thin slices of potato, carrot, and other veggies in foil. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt (if desired), some pepper, and some garlic powder, seal, and place it in the coals. Check it after 30 minutes or so. When the potato is soft, it is ready to eat.

Reflector oven baking edit

A reflector oven is as simple as a cardboard box lined on the inside with aluminum foil. Run wire through the box to create an oven rack. Make sure the rack is horizontal when the box is placed on its side. Put the box next to a bed of hot coals with the opening facing the heat, but not so near as to ignite the box. Put whatever you wish to bake on the rack. Heat from the coals will bake whatever you put inside the box. There are countless variations on this theme, including the practice of completely removing one side of the box and tilting it at a 45° angle. You can prop the box up with rocks or logs, or build legs into it.

You can also construct an oven out of sheet metal, aluminum flashing, or large tin cans as shown below. This tin can oven was constructed by a Pathfinder leader, and tested by Pathfinders in the field.


9. Know one method of keeping food cool while camping other than with ice. edit

One way to keep food cool without ice while on a camping trip is to place the food in a mesh bag and secure it in a stream or brook. Another way is to put the food in a bag, cover it with several layers of burlap, wet the burlap, and suspend it from a tree branch. As the water evaporates from the burlap, it will cool the food. You have to re-wet the bag occasionally.

10. Know ways to keep your food and utensils safe from animals and insects. edit

The most important thing you must remember about storing food on a campout is that it should never be stored in a tent where people will sleep. Animals will smell your food, and if it's in your tent, they will find a way in. Instead, store the food outside the tent.

If you have a vehicle available at your campsite, you may store the food inside, but be sure to seal it tightly. A determined bear can get inside a locked vehicle, and if he decides that's what he wants to do, the car will sustain heavy damage. On the other end of the animal spectrum, are mice, which can also enter a locked car - even the trunk. It is therefore important to seal the food tightly so that the aroma does not draw unwanted attention from unwanted visitors.

If you do not have a vehicle or a trailer in which to store your food, you may place it in a bag and suspend it at least 15 feet (4.5 meters) above the ground by tying the bag to a rope and hanging it over a tree branch. Black bears can and do climb trees, so make sure the bag is well out of their reach - away from the trunk, and at least 4 feet (1.2 m) below the branch from which it is suspended.

11. Why is it important to keep your cooking and eating utensils clean? edit

Make sure you clean your cooking utensils thoroughly as soon as your meal is over. Raccoons will sneak into a camp full of people distracted by tending their campfire and carry away your utensils so they may lick your ladles clean. The only problem is that they almost never return them. Ants an other insects may not abscound with your gear, but you do not want them crawling all over your spatulas either.

12. Showing knowledge of proper nutrition and food groups, make up a complete and balanced menu for six camping meals. Include the following:a. A breakfast, lunch, or supper good for a trail hike where light weight is important. The meal should not need cooking but should be nutritious.b. The remaining five meals may be made up of any type of food: canned, fresh, frozen, or dried. One of the five must be a one-pot meal. edit

Proper Nutrition

The food groups are defined by the USDA in the food pyramid. The amount of each food group needed by an individual varies by age, sex, and amount of physical activity. The chart below shows the recommended amount of each group for Pathfinder-aged people who are fairly active (and it is safe to assume they will be fairly active on a campout).

USDA Food Pyramid
Food Group Grains Vegetables Fruits Milk Meat & Beans
10 year-old Male 7 oz 3 cups 2 cups 3 cups 6 ounces
10 year-old Female 6 oz 2.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups 5.5 ounces
11 year-old Male 7 oz 3 cups 2 cups 3 cups 6 ounces
11 year-old Female 6 oz 2.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups 5.5 ounces
12 year-old Male 8 oz 3 cups 2 cups 3 cups 6.5 ounces
12 year-old Female 7 oz 3 cups 2 cups 3 cups 6 ounces
13 year-old Male 9 oz 3.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups 6.5 ounces
13 year-old Female 7 oz 3 cups 2 cups 3 cups 6 ounces
14 year-old Male 10 oz 3.5 cups 2.5 cups 3 cups 7 ounces
14 year-old Female 8 oz 3 cups 2 cups 3 cups 6.5 ounces
15 year-old Male 10 oz 5 cups 2.5 cups 3 cups 7 ounces
15 year-old Female 8 oz 3 cups 2 cups 3 cups 6.5 ounces

Trail Meal edit

Sandwiches, trail mix, and fruit are a good combination of foods that do not require cooking. Powdered milk is another option also not requiring cooking, as are any of the weight-loss milkshakes, however you really do want to bring something with a lot of calories. Peanuts and other shelled nuts are also good as they are high in calories (which are needed on a hike).

One-pot meal edit

A one-pot meal is any meal that can be cooked entirely in one pot. Often, dehydrated foods are used for this, as they are extremely space and weight efficient. You can buy many dehydrated food packages at an outdoor outfitter, but the selection is limited for the observant Adventist. Many of these foods contain unclean meats (Lev 11) or wine, but there are a few that meet Adventist dietary requirements. If one turns from the outfitters and looks in a grocery store, even more choices are available. Many rice mixes are ideal candidates as one-pot meals (red beans and rice, dirty rice, etc.). Soup mixes also work well, as do pastas, macaroni and cheese, etc.

13. Make up a supply list of items that will be needed to prepare the above six meals. edit

The most obvious things on this list will be the ingredients for the meals - but don't stop there! Inexperienced campers have been known to bring canned foods, but no can openers. An industrious individual may find a way to open a can without one, but it is so much easier (and safer) to open a can with the proper tool. You will also need proper cookware for these meals. A pot will certainly be required (for the one-pot meal), but you will also need something to stir and serve the food with, as well as a plate or bowl from which to eat. Don't forget flatware. If you're planning to cook over an open fire, you'll need something to light it with as well as the needed fire safety gear (fire extinguisher, or a bucket to fill with water at the camp site). Otherwise, you will need a camp stove and fuel. Other items may include a cutting board and a sharp kitchen knife, a Dutch oven, pot holders, and a skillet. But don't just blindly pack all of these items - think first. If you will not need a Dutch oven, leave it behind. Imagine yourself going through all the steps to cook the food - with as much detail as you can - and note what items you'll need.

14. Know how to properly and safely handle food, dispose of trash and garbage, and wash your gear. edit

Food safety edit

There are two key elements to handling food safely: cleanliness, and freshness. Wash your hands before and during cooking. Be aware of the "danger zone" for food - fresh food above 4°C  and below 60°C  is in danger of spoiling. Keep it in a cooler, make sure the lid stays on, and make sure it stays cold inside. Use fresh foods early in the camp out, and do not rely on a cooler for more than a day and a half. When all the ice in a cooler has melted, the food inside should no longer be used.

Trash disposal edit

Try not to make more food than your group will eat. Dispose of any leftover food as required by a campground, or store it in a cooler. Under no circumstances should food be brought into a tent where people intend to sleep. All food needs to be put away as soon as possible and it needs to be kept out of the reach of wild animals. Skunks, raccoons, and bears can be very clever when it comes to getting food. Suspend your food 10 feet above the ground and at least five feet away from a tree trunk.

Wash your gear edit

As soon as the meal is over, wash all the dishes and kitchen utensils. Wild critters will be happy to drag your spatula from your kitchen and lick it clean for you, but they rarely return such items, nor do they clean them satisfactorily.

It is a good idea to number all the plates, forks, bowls, knives, spoons, and cups your group owns, and then keep like-numbered items in a hosiery bag. Each camper is assigned a number, and each camper is responsible to clean his own eating gear. If you find an abandoned bowl on a picnic table, it is a simple matter to check the number, determine the owner, and convince him to do his part. Once the dishes are washed, they are returned to the hosiery bag and hung on a line to dry. It is also a good idea to number the clothespins with which the hosiery bags are hung, and hang them in order. This is not a much trouble is it sounds, and makes finding your own dish set a snap.

Assign a kitchen crew to for each meal and have that crew cook the food and clean the kitchen gear. Optionally, you can use two crews for this, with one doing the cooking, and the other doing the cleaning.

References edit