We have recently run a fire lighting evening, where our Beavers have just learned about fire safety. They then put what they learned into practice in the traditional Scouting way by lighting their own small fires.
I think it is fair to say that fire lighting is a pretty traditional (some would say fundamental) Scouting skill. Its is not something that our Beavers have done in a while though, so we decided it was time to let them light their own small fires in a safe, supervised environment. Many of them have used matches when we taught them how to light candles safely, and matches are annoying in that they blow out in a breeze and don’t work when wet. Given this, we we decided to introduce them to another fire lighting technique, the firesteel.
A firesteel is basically a rod of reactive metal with a steel scraper. It is really the modern equivalent of the flint and steel. When one strikes the scraper hard along the rod, a shower of hot sparks is produced in the direction of the strike. It will do this reliably in wind and even when soaking wet. In the wilderness, it could literally save your life. We also introduced the beavers to laying a fire using kindling with tinder underneath. The tinder was made using the old Scouting trick of coating cotton wool balls with Vaseline! This lights really easily, even when its a bit damp and burns for long enough to light pretty much any kindling.
The Beavers all had a go at laying and lighting a fire. In one small group at a time, that is. Supervision was key. Not all were strong enough to get the required sparks, but they all gave it their best.
Its all very well being able to light a fire, but it is vitally important to be safe when we do so. The Beavers learned about how to keep the area around a fire safe. Also talked about fire safety in the home. In particular, they learned how important it is to be sensible around fire, and to follow an adults instructions. We also covered a few practical points such as tying back long hair and removing dangling clothing (such as neckerchiefs, for example).
All in all, the Beavers were very sensible. They obviously had a respect for fire. They know it is a tool to be respected rather than feared. Also that it can be dangerous if they do not show that respect.
Night everyone, great Scouting Guys!