Campfires are a classic summer experience, especially here in Ontario. Who doesn’t love sitting around a fire, feeling warm and cozy with their loved ones? A huge part of what makes a campfire so fun is the food that goes along with it—think roasting marshmallows, making s’mores, or cooking a hot-dog on a stick.
But the campfire food isn’t all there is to get excited about. There are tons of other benefits to campfire cooking. Here are some of our favourite reasons why you should try campfire cooking this summer:
1. Because it’s part of our DNA
Humans have been eating around a campfire since the discovery of fire. Perhaps that’s why eating around a campfire feels so safe and familiar. We sit in a circle, reinforcing a sense of connection and equality. We open up and share stories—sometimes we even sing! Even silence feels comfortable when you’re staring into the fire.
2. Campfire cooking is for all ages
Who doesn’t get excited about a campfire? Kids of all ages love it: from the toddler that has to be coached to look but not touch, to the teenager who usually retreats to their bedroom or device. Everyone looks forward to it, everyone is willing to sit together, and everyone wants to help out.
What I love most about campfires is how they inspire adults to share childhood memories with their kids and to pass on traditions. I acutely recall, and now pass on to my boys, my father’s techniques for choosing and whittling the perfect weaner roasting stick.
3. It builds hands-on skills
These skills are not just for kids, but for adults as well. Making a campfire is a task that engages people of all ages because it is both challenging and playful at the same time. I’m constantly learning new things: I’m a competent fire maker, but no expert. I can manage dry wood and split kindling, but my aspirations are to learn to build a fire in the rain and, perhaps some day, with a hand-drill.
See if you can apply what you know about the physics of combustion, thermodynamics, and simple machines (splitting wood with an axe) to making a good fire. At Family Earth, we’ve been perfecting the construction and use of “Swedish candles,” a cooking campfire invented by the Swedish military that allows you to start cooking over a fire shortly after making it.
4. The food just tastes better
We’re serious! Maybe it’s the smoke, searing temperature, the special type of hunger you build up when exercising outdoors, or because our senses are heightened when in nature, but our chili at Family Earth is hands-down twice as good when made over a wood fire. Come try it for yourself at one of our Campfire Cooking workshops.
5. It gets you outside for longer
Spending time in nature is good for us physically and emotionally, and it strengthens our relationships with each other—and with our planet. When we spend time in nature, we feel more connected with the world around us, compelling us to protect Mother Earth.
Adding a campfire and a meal to the time you’re already spending outdoors makes the experience even more memorable and keeps you outdoors for longer. The fire keeps away the bugs and the evening chill, and it opens the door to nighttime experiences. Staying up late around the campfire is when my family watches the stars and delights in fireflies—we’ve even heard wolves howl.
We hope these benefits inspire you to get outdoors with your family this summer, and to give campfire cooking a try!
A note on responsible campfires
Family Earth helps families engage in outdoor activities like campfire cooking in ways that reduce harm to the environment. Campfires are magical and can help people deepen their relationships with the natural world, but they need to be built responsibly. At Family Earth, we educate about fire safety and how to reduce any negative health and environmental impacts of campfires.
If you’d like to learn more about campfire safety and learn how to cook a delicious campfire meal, Family Earth is offering Campfire Cooking workshops all summer long on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. Please visit our registration page to learn more and to book your spot: https://www.familyearth.earth/campfirecooking
By Rochelle Johnston
Founder, Family Earth