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Are campfires getting doused for good?

Brief by Central Staff

Outdoors – November 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

The traditional campfire is fading away, even when there are no drought-inspired bans.

For instance, there were the Camp Fire Girls, now known as Camp Fire USA. The girls used to be encouraged to “sing around the campfire.”

In 2001, though, the group adopted a new logo with a stylized flame that doesn’t much resemble a campfire. Next year’s guidebooks will emphasize propane stoves, rather than wood fires.

The Boy Scouts, who stressed “building a campfire” as a vital skill, have changed the requirements for their cooking merit badge: the meal now comes from a stove, not an open fire.

Most of this results from changes in public land management policies. There’s always the danger that even a tended campfire can throw sparks and ignite a wildfire, and then there are the people who drive off without dousing their campfire.

When too many people gather wood from a small area, it gets picked so clean that wildlife habitat suffers. There are also dirty fire pits and sooty rocks that many people find ugly.

So there’s both social and official pressure against the old-fashioned campfire. As for us, we’re divided.

Martha likes a campfire. Ed thinks campfires involve too much work and worry in exchange for the dubious pleasure of being roasted on one side while freezing on the other.