This manual describes the rules of
choosing a campfire site, the technique for starting the bonfire and preparation of fuel
in field conditions. The manual describes different types of bonfires used for different
purposes. The activity is arranged in a form of a game with elements of competition.
This field study has instructional video
featuring real students conducting the ecological field techniques in nature. Each video
illustrates the primary instructional outcomes and the major steps in accomplishing the
task including reporting the results.
This activity begins a series of studies devoted to the organization of students’
research in winter. However, as with lessons from other seasons, the series begins not
with research itself, but with practical activities. In this case the activities
are aimed at fire- making skills and camp construction in field conditions. It is possible
that the skills students acquire in the course of the given lesson will prove useful in
following activities, i.e. when organizing ecological field studies in the course of a
camping trip and expedition that lasts several days.
The general plan of the activity
Because the lesson is not specifically oriented to scientific research, we recommend it
as a single day activity in the form of a game with elements of competition.
During the first stage of the activity, the teacher explains and demonstrates
the guidelines for choosing a temporary site for a fire, the technique of setting the
fire, methods of preparing fuel and various types of fires.
The second stage of the activity is the competition to start the fire. For this
purpose, it is best to take students to the forest where there is fuel and it is possible
to make a camp fire at the end of the day and to seat together after the competition.
At the field site we recommend that the group be divided into pairs. Each pair is given
five matches and the task to start the fire as quickly as possible. Each group must choose
a site for their fire, collect fuel and start the fire so that it will not die out. It
must be done quickly and with use of the least number of matches. If a group uses all
their matches the teacher may gives them another five, and so on until the fire starts.
After the competition all fires must be safely extinguished.
In this field activity a class report is appropriate. The report may include the
results of the competition (amount of time and number of matches for each group of
students), 2-3 pictures of students during the most important or funny episodes of the day
and pictures of different types of fires made by students.
What is a bonfire?
Hence, the present manual is not a manual according to its purpose, but it relates some
rules of organization for camping and expedition life. Unlike all the other manuals for
the educational activities of the given series it has been completely adopted from master
campers and enthusiastic hikers (G.Ya. Ryzhavsky, 1995). The author is an experienced
traveler, a master of sports in this field and a man of humor. We consider this text,
which he has written about fires, to almost completely satisfy our ideas of the fire
building aspects of hiking trips or field research, so we inserted it into the given
manual almost without changes.
If you announced a contest of the best camping emblem, undoubtedly, a fire would be
that emblem. In one recording, where "all campers' wisdom" is collected, it is
explained that “ . . . a bonfire is a contrivance designed for campers' warming, cooking
and drying of wet clothes.” Even a staunch pragmatist would not feel any interest in
hiking after having read such a definition. It is possible to cook, get warm and dry wet
clothes at home! Therefore, a bonfire is more than just a flame. It is the center of a
camp (bivouac). The bonfire is kitchen, dining room and sitting room. It means dry clothes
and hot water, protection from horseflies and other bloodsuckers; it is a place of
communication, and it is heat and comfort.
Moreover, the bonfire is an accumulator of cheerfulness, energy and activities. No
trips or hiking tours in forested areas are without a fire. The bonfire is a reliable
friend of the camper. One is to treat it skillfully and with respect. If it is treated
carelessly, it can become a cruel thief. Fires can be dangerous! So, a fire is an
emblem and a symbol. And a symbol should be held in high respect!
Site for the bonfire
What does any bonfire begin with? It begins with a site. If the camping site is
narrow and uncomfortable then the bonfire site is given the best place in the camp as the
beloved but fretful child.
The bonfire should be placed not high and not low, not far away and not close.
It should light up all the tents if possible and its smoke should disperse mosquitoes
throughout the whole camping site, and the fire itself should produce enough heat for all
the members of the group plus three cauldrons or buckets. However, it can be dangerous if
sparks from the fire do not have enough time to “die out in the air” and reach a tent.
It is not good if the smoke chokes not only mosquitoes but humans as well.
The code of rules on how to choose a proper site for the bonfire is serious
science, but it is an art to put them into practice! It is advisable to select a site for
the bonfire at an open place that is protected from the wind and is close to water. Wind
can set fire to...
This was only the first page from the manual and its full version you can see in the
Ecological Field Studies 4CD Set:
It is possible to purchase the complete set of 40 seasonal Ecological Field
Study Materials (video in mpg + manuals in pdf formats) in an attractive 4 compact disk set.
These compact disks are compatible with Mac and PC computers.
The teacher background information and manuals can be printed out for easy reference.
The videos are suitable for individual student or whole class instruction. To purchase the complete 4CD set
write a request to the authors (in a free form).
Some of these manuals you can also purchase in the form of applications for Android devices on
Ecological Field Studies Demo Disk:
We also have a free and interesting demonstration disk that explains our ecological field studies approach.
The demo disk has short excerpts from all the seasonal field study videos as well as sample text from all the teacher manuals.
The disk has an entertaining automatic walk through which describes the field study approach and explains how field studies meet education standards.
You can also download the Demo Disc from ecosystema.ru/eng/eftm/CD_Demo.iso.
This is a virtual hybrid (for PC and Mac computers) CD-ROM image (one 563 Mb file "CD_Demo.iso").
You can write this image to the CD and use it in your computer in ordinary way.
You also can use emulator software of virtual CD-ROM drive to play the disk directly from your hard disk.
Other Ecological Field Studies Instructive