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Campfires in the SCA

The campfire is a large part of the fun of an SCA camping event. SCAdians gather around the campfire to drink, socialize, sing, and wench. Typically, campfires are small, with a ring of as many as twenty or thirty people seated around it on camp stools, logs, and blankets. For many SCAdians, a camping event is not complete without a campfire surrounded by people singing SCA songs.

Starting a campfire without the use of artificial fuels or tinder is surprisingly difficult, requiring a careful arrangement of the wood and tinder in relation to air flow. An even greater challenge is to use a traditional flint and steel striker, which was a period method of sparking a fire.

Be aware that cooking in a campfire is inadvisable if the fire contains burning plastic, diesel fuel, pressure-treated lumber, or any wood which has been stained or varnished; commercially available "fire logs" made of chemicals and sawdust are also not to be used for cooking. All of these release chemicals which can absorbed into the cooking food and then ingested.

Do not start a fire with gasoline, as the fumes from petrol can quickly build up and cause an explosion. Also, never pour a flammable liquid such as gasoline, kerosene, naptha or diesel fuel on a fire: these liquids burn faster than they fall, which can result in a flash-fire racing along the falling liquid until it enters the container, which may explode.

Common foods cooked in campfires include hot dog wieners, frankfurters or other sausages and marshmallows, all of which are treated as period by consensus. A good rule of thumb is the old Boy Scout maxim: Flames for boiling, coals for broiling, to avoid burning the food.

Traditional beverages around an SCA campfire are usually alcoholic, and may glow. If one is drinking to excess it is best to exercise extreme care around the firepit.

One suggestion for those who may be sitting on damp benches or the ground is to create a "sit-upon". Borrowed from the Canadian Girl Guides, sit-upons are simply several sections of newspaper folded in half and tightly sealed in a plastic bag, providing a waterproof cushion.