Fire- and fun-building at Woodscraft

Fire- and fun-building at Woodscraft

Fire- and fun-building at Woodscraft Camp Ondessonk

By Sara Bell Clifford

In the Ondessonk Grotto, campfires start with a “Heepwah!”

At Woodscraft, they start with a song, performed and pantomimed by the activity area staff: “Down, dispersed, dead and dinky—the secret ‘D’ is ‘dry!’”

The cavewomen of Chabanel fan out in the forest to gather that type of fuel for their firebuilding challenge. Two or three to a pit, they build bridges of twigs over the trenches that will deliver oxygen to their sparks. A handful of pine needles come next, folded in half and given a little twist. Then, skinny sticks are arranged like a teepee, with a hole left for the match.

All campers, even from Mini Camp, visit Woodscraft to learn this essential survival skill.

“Usually they tell me, ‘My parents don’t let me help build fires,’” said Woodscraft Director Molly. “But they are so capable!”

Two petite girls in white Air Force Ones hover over their pit, laser-focused. They use their packs to fan the flame from their first match, which snuffs the fire out. With their second match, they strike a balance, and the first fire of the day is lit.

“You guys are basically fire-breathing dragons right now,” Molly told the girls. “I love it!”

Fire- and fun-building at Woodscraft  Ondessonk

Further down by the lakeshore, campers learn to tie lashings: One clove hitch to start, then down and around and back up again, squaring a beam horizontally to the posts. The girls work in teams: one holding the beam steady in the middle, two others practicing the technique on either side.

Woodscraft Instructor Regan likes the teamwork this activity teaches. Even if they aren’t grasping the lashing concept, they can still hold a beam.

Before the activity block closes, the whole unit trickles back to the lashing station. They build a teeter-totter and line up to ride it; they build a chin-up bar sturdy enough to sit on and hang from. They pat the beams they’ve hoisted up and secured by themselves, and smile. Nature has become their playground.

Click here to learn more about Camp Ondessonk Summer Camp programs.


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