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How to Getaway

How to Build a Campfire and Campfire Safety Tips

There’s nothing quite like roasting s’mores or cooking dinner over an open fire while spending time in nature. That’s why we try to make the process of starting a fire easy, even for those who have never built one, by providing campfire starter kits.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that millions of wildland acres burn unintentionally each year, and the great majority (90%) of forest fires are caused by humans. To ensure that as many people as possible can experience the wonder of nature far into the future, we are dedicated to wildfire prevention and helping our guests practice safe campfire practices.

Each cabin fire pit has already been appropriately located and built, and we provide the rest of the necessary materials to start a fire. Our campfire starter kit, available at each cabin for a small fee, includes firewood and firestarter.

Before you build your fire, it’s important to abide by local fire regulation, as some regions suffer from droughts, during which fire bans are put in place. You should check the White Mountains for Getaway Boston, New York State Land for Getaway New York, or the Shenandoah Backcountry for Getaway DC before starting your campfire.

Here’s how to build your fire:

  1. Use local wood and tinder (newspaper and dry leaves will catch instantly) to get the fire going. Firestarters will also easily do the trick. Never cut or break wood from live or standing trees — these are often homes for birds and other wildlife. Please only use the firewood in the starter kit to build your fire.

There are two popular methods to set up your wood:

  • The teepee. Put a few handfuls of tinder in the center of your fire pit and build a small cone of kindling around it. When the fire is lit and going, add larger pieces of wood in a similar arrangement to the kindling.
  • The log cabin. For this, take two pieces of wood and lay them parallel to each other with space in between, then rotate perpendicular and place two more pieces of wood on top to make a square. Add your tinder inside the square, and continue adding wood in the same manner, with slightly smaller pieces as you add layers. If you’re using a fire starter, place it in the square area.

Last, light your fire. Using waterproof matches or a lighter (provided in all of our cabins), spark up the tinder.

The fire needs oxygen to burn, so blow air at the base of the fire to help the kindling and firewood catch and increase the flame. Continue to stoke the fire by adding more wood, but don’t let the campfire get too big. And never leave a fire unattended.

After you’ve basked in the glow of the fire you built, you still have one last crucial step – to extinguish the fire.

To do this, pour water on the fire, then stir the ashes. Repeat as necessary, until the ashes are cool to the touch.

Pack out any campfire trash that remains (and never attempt to burn plastic, foil or cans).

Fires are a fun and, dare we say, an important part of the camping experience, but it’s even more important to respect the natural setting you’re in when you enjoy one.  

Before checking in for the night or checking out from your Getaway, make sure your fire is completely extinguished and that no embers are exposed and still smoldering. Remember: if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.