For my birthday my Grandparents took me to the cottage, and my Grandpa gave me a list of these four requirements that I would have to try to accomplish within the next twenty four hours:
Build a fire that lasts all day.
Build an insulated lean-to by the fire.
Sleep in the lean-to all night.
Cook breakfast on the fire in the morning.
Each one counted for a reward if I accomplished it. I started by building a fire so that I could look after it while building a shelter. I put some small tinder and kindling in the shape of a teepee around some newspaper, and then lit it on fire. I slowly added larger and larger pieces of wood gradually making a bigger fire. My original teepee design collapsed but I kept the fire going. I found a big log in the shed and put it on, and Grandpa found another big rotten log to put on. After that I only had to check on it every once in a while and throw a few sticks on, because larger logs burn slowly. But they only burn if the fire is hot, if it is not, the log won’t really burn.
I then started an insulated lean-to. I picked a location just behind the fire. I started sticking some forked sticks into the ground. I lay a long stick across the two of them. The frame was quite wobbly so Grandpa showed me how to take advantage of a nearby tree, and to use it as one of the end posts. For the other side we fastened two sticks in an X. We lay the top stick that we had tied to the tree in the top of the X and tied it down. We reinforced the main structure with a few more poles. Grandpa explained that a shelter does not only have to be nature (sticks, leaves, etc.), because scouts are scroungers, which means that they can find uses for anything they find.
After that, I found an old tarp that we lay over the top and tacked down to the ground using some twigs. Grandpa found some cardboard and an old shower curtain. We put the clear shower curtain over the entrance so that I could still see the light of the fire. Grandpa used the cardboard to cover the opposite side while I dragged some evergreen branches and put them inside for bedding. Grandpa found a plastic blanket that we put on top of that. We set up a light in case I needed it, and Grandpa even hooked up a little old heater!
Later that night I went out and got into my sleeping bag. I had a knife with me, just in case (grin) but I never had to use it of course.
In the morning I revived the fire, quickly prepared a pancake mix, and grabbed some bacon. I started with the bacon because it takes longer to fry. Grandpa came out of the cottage and helped me make breakfast. We tried to find the right place over the fire for the pan so it wouldn’t burn the food but would still cook it evenly.
Later, I fried some sausage and eggs as well. Grandpa told me a story of when he was on a camp out in boy scouts. He had brought eggs and he was worried about them breaking in his pack, but his friend had his eggs already cracked into a bottle, so all he had to do was dump them into the frying pan. I thought that is a great idea if you have to hike to the camp site.
After breakfast we cleaned everything up and Grandpa reminded me of the scout’s camping motto:
“Leave only footprints, Take only photos.”
I learned a lot from Grandpa and had a lot of fun!