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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Great American Backyard Campout

So you have signed up for the National Wildlife Federation's annual “Great American Backyard Campout on June 23rd. The kids are planning their to do list and you're in charge of everything else. Here are a few tips then to get you started.

No backyard camp is complete without a campfire feast. Sitting around flickering embers trading ghost stories, listening to night critters and rediscovering nature are all part of the spell and some camp cookery is a must.

First thing, besides food of course, you’ll need something to cook over. A campfire is a natural but for safety sake, not always the best solution. There are several alternatives: camp stoves, barbecues, outdoor fire bowls or fireplaces even portable gas logs but nothing so bespeaks the great outdoors as a flickering, dancing campfire. So, if you’re up to it and it's safe and not prohibited in your neighborhood here’s how to get started.

As fuel use dry (cured) wood ranging in size from small twigs to branches 1-3 inches in diameter and split logs 18-24 inches long, 6 inches in diameter You’ll need some sort of wood shavings or kindling to start the fire. Never use gasoline, lighter fluid of similar accelerant to start the fire.

Build a pyramid starting with the shavings and small broken twigs stacked in a loose pile then lay on some of the smaller branches followed by a tee-pee arrangement of from four to six pieces of the split logs. Using a long fireplace match light the kindling and you’ll soon have a glowing, crackling campfire.

As always, the best campfire safety instructions come from the U.S. Department of forestry.

  • 1. Dig a small pit away from overhanging branches.
  • 2. Circle the pit with rocks or be sure it already has a metal fire ring.
  • 3. Clear a five-foot area around the pit down to the soil.
  • 4. Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby.
  • 5. Stack extra wood upwind and away from the fire.
  • 6. After lighting, do not discard the match until it is cold.
  • 7. Never leave a campfire unattended, not even for a minute.
So, be safe, have fun and camp out America, June 23rd. and be sure to send us your camp stories and photos for Greener's "Campout America" Album.

Next week, some Greener "camp" recipes for your GABC and some advice we call "Give Me Shelter".

Greener Magazine

Helpful links:: Campfire safety


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