Top Five Mistakes Campers Make When Building A Fire

Top Five Mistakes Campers Make When Building A Fire

If you think you have enough, go get some more

Making a fire is a skill that has existed as long as civilization, maybe even longer, yet so many people struggle with this simple skill. Building a campfire today is easier than ever. Campers have access to everything from a simple match to candles designed to start a fire. Long gone are the days of rubbing sticks together. Even with these technological advances, I still see some campers struggle when building a fire. Building the perfect fire is a bit of an art. Each fire you make will have to be different. The approach you take to building a fire in the summer is different from the way you build one in the winter. Also, the purpose of the fire will play into how you build it -- you wouldn't build a bonfire to boil water. It's very hard to cover all the different approaches to fire building in one article, so the purpose of this article is to highlight some common mistakes I have seen. Usually you can get away with making a couple of these mistakes on a dry sunny day. When it's raining and snowing, these are the things you have to avoid to successfully build a campfire.

1: Not having enough tinder, kindling and fuel

Tinder is the driest, fluffiest stuff you can find. It's what you'll first ignite to catch the rest of the wood on fire. It can range from pine needles to wood shavings to dryer lint. You can never have enough tinder, especially because some sources, such as pine needles, burn out before they can catch the kindling on fire. What separates kindling from regular fuel wood is its size. Kindling should start off small as twigs to about the diameter of a quarter. Your twigs should be dry, but if they're a little wet it won't hurt it. Before you add any larger wood, your kindling should have burned down to nice hot coals. That's not to say that you should let it burn down to coals, but there should be very hot coals under your fire. A good way to judge this is that the fire feels much hotter than it looks. Then you're ready to start adding larger wood. This entire process falls apart if you don't have enough of one of three kinds of fuel. A good rule of thumb to have is if you think you have enough fuel, go get some more.

2: Building the fire improperly

When you see pictures of fires, you sometimes see that the wood is stacked in a specific way. The common pictures are pyramids, log cabins, and lean-tos. If you stack the wood the way you want it look when it's burning, it will not light. The fire needs room to grow and breathe, and if you cramp it it will die. I start almost all my fires as a few pieces of kindling and tinder mixed together and go from there. In my opinion, it's the best way to create a fire, and the easiest.

3: Smothering the fire

Even though you've collected all those extra fuel sources, you have to be patient when using them. You have to be able to read a fire to tell when it is ready for the wood. If you throw wood in the fire in excess, it will almost always go out. It blocks the airflow and prevents the fire from catching on the other wood. Most people think this is a pretty easy mistake to avoid, because you just stop throwing large pieces on, right? Wrong. Even if you're burning paper or cardboard, you can still smother a fire. When you burn these objects they don't turn into coals, and they don't immediately turn to ash. Instead, they turn into a black, burnt, and fragile version of its former self. Enough of it can clog the airflow and smother the fire.

4: Airflow

We've already discussed the problems smothering a fire by reducing its airflow, but it's much more than that. Airflow is what turns a cigarette butt into a wildfire on a bad day, but can also fuel a bonfire in a rainstorm when you know what you're doing. A fire may never even catch because it lacks airflow. I've seen this most when people try to start a fire in their backyard fire ring that is three feet tall. A tall fire ring on a still day can kill a fire. Usually, however, once the fire gets going, it can stand on its own. To help it along its way you can blow on it. Long smooth breaths on the fire's sweet spot work the best. You know you're hitting the sweet spot when the fire sounds like it's roaring, and flames shoot up after you finish. It's best to work in partners, because after a few breaths you may begin to feel light-headed. Another way to do this is with a metal pipe, as it allows you to focus the air.

5: Burning faster than your gathering

This goes back to "if you think you have enough, go get more". If you're burning straight through your kindling, you may run out before you can burn larger wood. Just like a car without gas, your fire will die down, and you may even have to restart from ashes. In most cases, your fire will get very low before this happens and you can save it. You really only have to worry about this mistake once your fire gets going. Campers tend to think that a fire reaches a point and it no longer needs as much wood or that it's fine without using more wood. As a fire grows it needs more fuel, because it is burning through wood faster than it was previously. Think of it as an athlete; the bigger their muscles get, the more energy they use, the more fuel they will need. You have to be careful though, as adding more wood to a bigger fire won't smother it, it will just make it bigger and harder to control.

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Just Because I Check My Boyfriend's Location Every Hour Doesn't Make Me A 'Psycho Girlfriend'

No, checking his location every hour does not make me psycho.

My boyfriend and I have been seeing each other for a few months now. He has come up with describing my actions sometimes as “psycho girlfriend.” As much as this bothered me at first I started to realize there is nothing wrong with my “psycho” actions.

I don’t monitor who my boyfriend hangs out with and I don’t care who he texts, I trust him, but I do watch other things he does.

I probably check his location about once an hour, maybe more if he isn’t texting me back.

This isn’t some way for me to find out if he is with another girl, it’s so I can ensure he isn’t dead in a ditch somewhere. If he was on Snapchat five minutes ago but hasn’t texted me back in 45 minutes, yeah I’ll call him out on it but I'm not actually mad. If he is with friends and not answering me, it’s cool. I just want to be able to make sure I know where he is and that he is alive on a regular basis.

I make him keep his read receipts on for me.

I don’t care if he leaves me on read, I just need to know he is seeing what I’m saying. Half the time, I text him random facts or thoughts I have throughout my day, those don’t always need a response back. However, I do want to know he is acknowledging me through reading my texts.

Yes, from time to time I will spam him and make him respond to my messages so we can make plans or I can know what he is doing with his day but it’s not like I plan out his every move for him or care if he is getting drunk with the boys on a Wednesday, not my issue.

I don’t ask for all of his time or anything. I know he is a busy person. All I ask for him to text me back on a regular basis (once an hour to be exact), for him to allow for me to know where he is at all times and to get one night a week with him.

I don’t plan to show up where he is or anything, I simply just like to know information and get a weekly time with him. I don’t care if I only see him that one night a week, I just want one night with a movie or dinner or snuggles so I can get my boyfriend time.

The rest of the time he is his own person, and I couldn’t really care less about what he does in that time.

Cover Image Credit: Grace Wilkowski

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How Dating Yourself Can Help You Regain Your Personal Strength

You don't have to let traumatic events redefine who you are.

Traumatic events are unfortunate things that will happen to all of us in our lives, and some circumstances can be particularly life-changing.

Such events can have massive impacts on our personalities, moods and behaviors, and it’s possible that one could begin to feel lost or unlike themselves as they cope with the trauma’s aftermath.

So what is one supposed to do when they feel they’ve lost sight of who they are?

I’m not a therapist, so I can’t give you a treatment plan or psychological consult. But, I can give you a general outline of how I got to a better place after my own recent trauma.

If you feel you’ve lost sight of who you are, the best way to get that back is to date yourself.

Now, you might be thinking, what does it mean to date yourself?

Well, let’s think about it. What is the purpose of going on a date with another person? To get to know them better and understand who they are as a person. If you’re dating yourself, you’re doing the same thing, just with your own psyche.

And what would be the benefit of dating yourself, or what could you expect to get out of it?

If you’ve lost touch with who you are, taking time for yourself to be alone and to do specific activities lets you process.

If you force yourself to do the activities that once made you happy, you might find that they produce that same level of happiness again.

If you take yourself out to eat, to a movie or a long hike by yourself, you can take time to appreciate your company and think as opposed to feeling social pressures that might exist in group activities or on a regular date.

Dating yourself will force you to consider what your expectations are in the situations, and you’ll develop better insight into what settings you’re comfortable in and what your actual beliefs are.

Since you’re not on a romantic date, you don’t need to worry about impressing anyone else.

Since you won’t be with a group, you don’t have to worry about participating in group activities.

All you have is you and the surrounding environment, which allows you to be authentically you.

In psychology, there exists a concept called post-traumatic growth, or PTG. PTG represents the positive psyche and life changes one makes and experiences after a traumatic event or crisis. If you’ve suffered from any sort of personal trauma, taking the time to re-find who you are can ensure you make the right steps to recovering and living life as you desire.

Learn to love your time alone. Learn how to be comfortable in your own thoughts and silence. Know what your likes and dislikes are, and what situations feel OK to you. Make an effort to date yourself as apart of your PTG.

Collectively, taking the time to find yourself will ensure that you won’t lose sight of who you are as a person. The more you date yourself, the more secure you’ll be, which will ultimately lead to a more positive life outcome and sense of security you need to live life to its fullest.

Cover Image Credit: Gianna Valoe

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