I would show up every morning while the dew was still clinging to the blades of grass at Blythe Park. I would arrive an hour before everyone else to prepare the circles of safety and to collect tinder that would litter the ground under the giant pines. The circle of safety was about a 2-foot diameter circle of bricks I would order from the Bothell Parks Department about one week before camp started. This fire pit itself was made on the site of the old brick building plant that was destroyed by a fire a while ago. So when I built these fires, I started out slow so that the smoke from the fires didn’t disrupt any of the neighbors that surround the park.
The camp started out with a thirty-minute morning ceremony type of event to wake the kids up and to get them excited about the activities they are going to be able to participate in that day. When I heard them start to sing camp songs, I would know that I would have thirty minutes to get the fires hot enough to cook on before the first group came to cook.
Throughout the day, though I would be supervising all of the groups that would come in to the fire pit, I was always safe. I ran a very tight fire pit. I did not hesitate to ban anyone from entering the pit again. And with that attitude, I have taught these kids fire safety and the discipline it takes to properly maintain a fire and to keep it under control. I always tell them that a fire is a living thing and that is not to be underestimated.
Every year, it seems that more and more campers enjoy coming to the fire pit and learning from me. This is one thing that will always confuse me because I was one mean cuss in the fire pits, and yet the campers say that they have learned so much from me that they always want to come back and learn more.
I do believe that in teaching these kids how...