Tag: campfires camp activities

What a Campfire Means to a Summer Camper


Camp life may thrive on variety, but the traditional evening campfire has remained constant for as long as anyone can remember. The mere mention of a campfire brings back a flood of memories for many summer campers; memories of friends gained, challenges overcome, and a time when all there was to worry about was playing games and growing stronger. Nothing captures the spirit of the summer camp experience quite like the snap-crackle-pop of the hot fire and the magical smell of freshly split logs waiting to get thrown on the flames.

A day at camp is often hectic and wild, and the evening campfire offers everybody a chance to wind down. Camp simply wouldn’t be the same without it. After all, the traditional evening campfire represents more than just a nice way to stay warm on a brisk night; gathering around the fire represents community, the circle of life, and togetherness with friends new and old.


Fire has been a life source for all of recorded history, from the first ancient person to rub two sticks together to the diligent camper wielding flint and tinder. For all that time, friends and family have gathered around the fire to tell stories, play games and enjoy good food. (or s’mores, as the case may be!)

Building a fire with only matches, kindling and elbow grease is a chance to pit your wits against nature and enjoy a connection to “the old days” — before light bulbs, or flashlights, or flashlight apps on your smartphone.

Experiencing a campfire, and perhaps even starting one yourself, is a taste of independence for campers, for whom camp is the one of many steps towards independence and self-sufficiency.


Another thing campfires represent is a time for winding down through songs, skits, and theatrical games. Charades is never as funny as just before bedtime, when your best friend is dancing and gesturing desperately to get everybody to guess the right word. Even if you’re feeling tired after a long day of activities, you can count on this to be true: laughter flows freely by firelight. Just watch out for all the camp-related inside jokes!

And of course no mention of campfires is complete without talking about traditional camp songs, especially the kinds that involve audience participation. (“Hey, Burritos!” anybody?) Legend has it that there are campers out there who know so many verses of “The green grass grows all around” that it would take a whole day just to sing it from start to finish. Even if everybody sings out of tune, the harmony comes from the camp community’s commitment to keeping the traditional melodies alive — even the completely goofy ones.

…And of course we can’t forget s’mores!

One part of the fire nobody wants to miss: s’more time! Crafting the perfect golden-brown marshmallow is an art as old as marshmallows and fires. Like any fine art, roasting a marshmallow to perfection is a tricky task that takes hard work and commitment. (Thankfully, perfection is in the eye of the beholder, and truth be told some folks prefer to let them catch fire for a crispy flavor!)

Whether you prefer a classic graham cracker and hershey’s milk chocolate s’more or have your own special recipe — I for one appreciate homemade chocolate chip cookies — roasting marshmallows on a rip-roaring campfire is something nobody forgets.

Plus, it’s just the right amount of sugar to keep you awake for the closing songs, but not so awake that you have trouble drifting into peaceful dreams after lights out!

Camp Traditions: Friday Night Campfire

Every Friday night at Camp Weequahic, we enjoy a tradition that has occurred since our founding in 1953 – Campfire.

After a great day at CW, campers and staff don a white shirt and walk with their bunkmates to the beach. Once there, everyone is offered the choice of two 10-minute services: a Shabbat or a non-denominational service. Normally, camp splits evenly between these two options and many will change which they visit each week.

At the end of these short services, everyone gets together around the campfire which Cole, our camp director, lights. As the fire begins to burn, Cole spends ten minutes talking about one of camp values: Gratitude, Attitude and Courage. He uses stories, quotes, and poems to make everyone think a bit more about the topic of the week and get them excited to practice that value more in their own lives.

Campers then enjoy the awards part of the evening. The kids who have stood out over the previous week are recognized by all of our Program Heads in front of the entire camp. Then, it’s the Division Heads’ turn to give our their own awards – Camper of the Week and Honor Bunk.

DSC In a new and already loved tradition, Honor Bunk (the cleanest bunk of the week for each division) gets to come forward and spin the Prize Wheel. While there are a number of fun prizes available, everyone seems to want “Walk the Plank” and the chance to make a senior staff member dive into the lake in front of the whole camp – with their cloths on!

At the end of Campfire, our photographers show a fun slideshow of all the best photos of the week for the entire camp. Kids get a chance to cheer for one another when their smiling face comes across the screen.
Once the slideshow is over and the only light is from the campfire and the stars and moon above, we joinarms and sing Taps and Alma Mater with our CITs leading the whole way. Then, as campers and staff are dismissed, everyone enjoys homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk before heading off to their bunks and bed.

Campfire is a fantastic tradition involving laughter, community, and a bit of learning in a beautiful and memorable setting. We are thrilled to continue this deep tradition at Camp Weequahic. Hope to see you around the campfire soon!