Campfires are the highlight of every summer camp experience and the glow of a warm fire provides the perfect opportunity for kids to enjoy time-honored traditions such as roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories. Along with the traditional campfire stories, lessons can be learned about science and history that take on new meaning when they are taught outdoors. This season, arm your little camper with a few fascinating facts about campfires that they can share with their fellow camp friends.
1. Campfires Reach Extreme Temperatures
While everyone knows that fire is hot, campers are often surprised at the extreme temperatures a campfire can reach. It only takes a few hours for a campfire to reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt lead.
2. Coals Continue to Burn Underground
Many people bury their fire when they are done out of the belief that it will snuff out the flames. However, hot coals left beneath the ground can continue to smolder. If they are near tree roots or other flammable materials, then they can reignite and cause a forest fire. Coals can burn underground for an extremely long time. In Australia, Burning Mountain contains underground coal that has been smoldering for over 6,000 years.
3. Campfires Have a Long History
Evidence of what is believed to be the first-known fire has been discovered in Swartkrans, South Africa. There, charred antelope bones suggest that humans were cooking their meat over a fire as far back as 1.9 million years ago. Interestingly, it appears as though dried grass and leaves were used as kindling rather than wood.
4. A Campfire Has Many Purposes
Although campfires tend to be viewed as a gathering place for socializing, they have multiple purposes. For example, a fire can be built to signal for help when a person is lost in the woods. It can also be used to dry clothing, deter wildlife and burn refuse when there is not a trash receptacle available.
5. Netherlands Holds the Record for World’s Largest Bonfire
There are many different ways to build a campfire and some people take pride in building the best. The world’s biggest campfire had an overall volume of 151,288 ft³. It was lit on New Year’s Even in 2014 and burned for a total of five days.
6. Campfires are Color Coded
Those dancing, colorful flames are more than just fun to watch since the colors can tell you a lot about the temperature of the fire. The red light emitted comes from the cooler parts of the fire, and the bluish-white flames signal where the highest heat exists.
7. Most Wildfires Are Due to Human Error
Humans start approximately nine out of ten wildfires and campfires are the biggest culprits. For this reason, it is best to use existing fire rings when they are available and always make sure a fire is completely extinguished before leaving the site.
Using a campfire for warmth, food and survival is a tradition that dates back to the earliest humans. Today, kids at summer camp can also gather around the campfire to enjoy a sense of camaraderie as they sing songs and tell stories. With these bits of trivia in their pocket, your kid will be the star of the next campfire gathering.