I watched the large fire in awe as it crackled and illuminated our surroundings. It was a deep copper this year. My hands held tightly to the wrapped parcel in my lap as I awaited my turn, hoping my fellow scout would enjoy their gift.This event is one of many that happens during the last big camping trip of the year. It happens at the end of summer and occurs on the night before the Scouts' Golden Apple Pinning ceremony.
Annie Applebloom was always looking for new activities for her scouts to engage with. She aimed for a balanced mix of fun, learning, personal growth, and interacting with the community and other scouts. This tradition is one of the first she created. The week it occurs is meant to celebrate both the end of their summer camping season and the successes made during the year. Bonfire night is one last "hurrah" and a moment for a final connection before the awards night and heading home.
There are no specific items needed for this event aside from the bonfire. There is also always a satchel of powder used by a troop leader to change the color of the fire. Otherwise, the only other components are the gifts, snacks, and outdoor games.
A few hours before lights out, the center of camp is prepared for the evening. Assigned leaders gather dry wood and set up the fire pit. Tables are laid out with an assortment of snacks and drinks for the campers. Various activities are also set up for them to enjoy before the main event. Scouts are asked to set their gifts on an empty table before they enjoy the food and games. The fire is light by this time, but the powder is saved for later. As the night comes to a close, the scouts regroup with their parcels around the fire. A designated leader tosses in the powder with care. After any needed announcements are said, the scouts each take turns handing over their gift to their assigned camper. At the end, a few songs are sung and the fire is put out before everyone heads to their cabins or tents.
Before I retired, participating in the final week of camp was one of my favorite moments for the scouts. Bonfire night was always my favorite. I would never get over how delighted all the campers were. Even the most gruff scouts smiled at least once during that night. I felt so accomplished seeing the variety of people they would grow into over the years. Each and every one of them makes me so proud, especially during this time.
The main event of the ceremony involves scouts swapping gifts with one another. At the start of the week they are each given a sheet another member filled out. This has their name and basic info on what they might enjoy or don't like. This information is kept secret during the week up until the event. Scouts are encouraged to study the sheets and work out a gift suited to the receiver. Leaders may help those struggling. An item from the camp store is fine, using funds from a pool supplied by leaders, but handmade gifts are meant to be the goal by the end of the week. They are provided with time in between their main activities to work on this project. There is an ample supply of compostable wrapping paper campers may choose from. Many enjoy decorating the wrapping as well.
No one really knows why this was mixed into the ceremony. It didn't happen during the first bonfire night. This first appeared ten years after the tradition began. Many speculate Annie just wanted to add an extra bit of flare to the night. A month before the event a color is chosen at random. An alchemist creates the perfect mixture that will react with the fire and change it from different chemical reactions. It's always a safe process that will not cause damage to campers or the environment. This powder is delivered to the camp the day it begins.
Good vibes all around! This article brings me back to being a girl scout. Nice work!
Thank you! I too remember my scout days growing up. These connected articles have been fun to work on.
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
This is so lovely and cosy. What a wonderful tradition. I love the colour changing fire too. :)
Thanks! I remembered how fire reacts to certain metals and things and figured in a fantasy setting, a wide range could be achieved with different materials.