Campfires. What is it about campfires? They can be so mesmerizing. Why do we like campfires? Why do we like staring at fire? Why do people like to build campfires? These are questions I asked myself as I sat around a campfire at a friend’s house one evening this past week. For me, campfires are very relaxing, unless you have family and friends that are pyromaniac’s and can’t leave the fire alone! Always throwing wood on the fire and messing with the campfire. I have a few of those people in my life.

Sitting around the campfire this past week was so much fun. Very relaxing and enjoyable just watching the flickering flame and hearing it crackle. My friend Harlow made an outstanding campfire. He had three different kinds of wood to put into the fire, apple, pine and oak. The wood was inside a ring, which was raised off the ground so air can circulate through it. Genius! I was watching all the people sitting around the campfire, and I noticed that everyone was staring at the fire. Why do we do that? What is it about staring at fire?  I don’t have an answer for that question.

I have some great memories of campfires. Boy Scout camps, at the lake cabin, in our backyard, camping on vacations, church retreats. Since I have been married, Roxie and I have never agreed on how to start and build a campfire. I have no patience, so I douse the wood with lots of gasoline to get it started! Poof! It starts right away and its going strong.  My wife on the other hand, takes time to find some kindling and maybe newspapers and arranges the wood just perfect to get the fire started. Takes forever to get it started. My way the fire is going right away, no waiting. I have singed myself pretty good while throwing a match on the wood soaked in gasoline.  But it gets the job done!

When our kids were young, we went tent camping at the Wisconsin Dells. The tents were up and as Roxie walked to the restrooms in the campground, the boys and I started the campfire, using my method. When Roxie came out of the restrooms and was walking down the dirt road she had no trouble spotting where our campsite was in the campground. It had the biggest campfire! Flames 10 feet high! Fun times.

I have heard that sitting around a campfire and watching the fire reduces blood pressure and is very good for your mental well being. I agree with that. I just love sitting in my favorite lawn chair and watching the fire. Last week, some of my friends thought it would be better if we started singing some songs around the campfire. Ok, first of all, singing around a campfire should be illegal and no it wouldn’t better!  How can you hear the crackling of the fire if people are singing? To top it off we sang Kumbaya! I pleaded with the Lord to make it stop, but then realized it is a song about him. I just had to laugh.

Campfires have been around since the beginning of time and still fascinate us humans today.

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Summer is just about over and that means that sitting around a campfire is soon to end for another season. I have always enjoyed sitting around a campfire. Since I was a child, I have fond memories of sitting around a campfire on family vacations, scout campouts, youth groups, weekend camping.

So I did a study on why we like campfires and what it does to us. I found out campfires relax us and our blood pressure decreases. Of course campfires go way back to the stone ages when early humans would have associated the flickering light, crackling sounds, warmth and distinctive smells of campfires with relaxation and friendship. And it is still like this today. It’s still a social event to sit around a campfire.

 My favorite memories of campfires were when Roxie and I started dating as freshman in high school I started going out to their family cabin on Enemy Swim Lake near Waubay, South Dakota. Every evening after a full day swimming in the lake and doing lake stuff, Roxies’s mother and aunt would usually start a fire on the beach. The family would then gather around the campfire and tell stories, talk about the day, tease each other and laugh and laugh. They have a family tradition of throwing old shoes, and other things besides wood into the fire to burn. Such fun memories.

 We took our children tent camping for a number of vacations. Yellowstone, the Black Hills many times, Montana, Wisconsin Dells, and the North Shore. My four kids loved camping and having a campfire. They talk about those vacations often.

And of course if you have a campfire, you must have a pyromaniac in your family and hands down that would be my wife, taking after her mother. She loves to start a fire and play with the fire!!! I have started campfires and my campfires are big campfires!! My wife always said when she would walk around the campground she knew where our campsite was every time. Because of the size of the campfire. I was banned for a few years from making campfires.

The best campfire ever was when our youth group went out to a friend’s farm to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, sing Kumbaya and have a Bible study. Well the campfire, became a bonfire and a huge one at that! We couldn’t even get within 30 yards of the fire to roast our marshmallow’s because of the heat. Lots of laughs that night.

Now my campfires are in my backyard, I put wood in a steel fire pit and it’s very peaceful. I just sit in my chair and enjoy watching my wife continue to be the family pyromaniac! It always brings a smile to my face watching her trying to start the fire and trying to keep it going. Standing over it, watching it like it’s a life or death situation if it goes out. I just thought of something. Another favorite fire is the Christmas Yule log on TV Christmas Eve! Oh how I look forward to that!


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