Campfires 101: A Class Every Camper Should Take

by Dian Thomas

Camping is a fun summer activity that most of us enjoy. But one thing is essential for every camping trip?a campfire. If you don?t know how to build a safe and proper fire, your trip will most likely be cut short. Fire building is a skill that may save your life. There?s also no substitute for the cozy warmth of a campfire.

  • Before you decide on a campsite, find out what the fire regulations and recommendations are for the area. It is always wise to go prepared to cook on a camp stove and, where permitted, to use your campfire for a delightful social atmosphere.
  • For building the fire, select a spot at least 15 feet from trees. Fires built over roots are dangerous because the fire can follow the roots back to the trees or bushes and cause fires larger than you want. Never build a fire directly under branches or near dry grass or weeds.
  • If you are not building your fire in the concrete rings provided in most campgrounds, use large rocks to enclose the fire. Always be aware of wind speed and direction. Sparks can travel great distances and smoke can annoy your neighbors.
  • Never leave a fire unattended, and always have a bucket of water and a shovel near the fire to extinguish it in case it gets out of control. Put out your fire completely by drowning it with water.

Now that you know the basics of caring for a fire, you need directions on how to construct a fire pit. The keyhole fire, named after its shape, is one of the most common fires used today.

Keyhole Fire

The keyhole is the best design for both a campfire and a cooking fire. It is the most efficient to use in cooking since there is a constant supply of fresh coals that you can rake in when the temperature drops. Build the fire in the circle area and draw hot coals for cooking from the circle into the lower part of the keyhole. The keyhole can also be formed using bricks to provide a stable place for a grill.

Dian Thomas is the world famous author of the Roughing it Easy books. You can find these ideas and more in Dian Thomas' Recipes forRoughing It Easy. Dian used the knowledge and love of the outdoors she gained during childhood to write her first book, Roughing It Easy, in 1974. From there her creative lifestyle spiraled her into the public eye, from appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, to regular segments for eight years on NBC's Today Show, and six years on ABC's Home Show. The time spent on both of those shows also gave her the material to write and publish eight books that encompassed the ideas she was able to bring into people's homes weekly.

For more information about Dian Thomas' books, check out her web site at