Campfire Planning

New to Campfires?

If you grew up with Guiding, you’ve probably been asked at some point along to way to lead a campfire, or have been a part of a structured campfire before. Maybe your leader’s asked you to lead a campfire for the first time. No worries. If you’ve never lead campfire before, then here’s a helpful guide to get you started.

Now, as Guides, we LOVE to sing, and campfire has traditionally been the place to meet for this type of  activity. Much like a story, campfires begin with an opening, then build to the climax, reach the climax, then fade to the closing and end. Using the correct terms, this is the structure for a campfire:

1. Opening Song
2. Buidling Songs
3. Middle Songs
4. Closing Songs
5. Ending Song

Let’s take a look at what type of songs go in each section.

Campfires usually begin with a slow, quiet song calling everyone together around the fire. We call this song the Opening Song. I don’t believe I’ve ever attended a campfire where the opening song wasn’t Fire’s Burning, but if you want to choose something else, go right ahead! This is your fire! Just remember that opening songs usually call everyone together.

The next few songs are called Building Songs. Building songs lead up to the climax, so you start with a few slow, pretty songs, and gradually turn to more energetic, loud, silly songs. Some examples of common building songs to start with are Land of the Silver Birch, It’s a Small WorldLu-La, or one of the World Centre Songs.

Next are the Middle Songs. This is usually the  longest part of the campfire, because this section often contains songs everyone knows. They’re usually loud, crazy, participation songs with actions or clapping. Favourite songs of your unit or group are usually sung in this section; they’re the songs you sing all the time. Some examples of Middle Songs are If I were not a Girl Guide40 Days on an IcebergPoor Little Bug on the Wall, or Three Little Angels.

Once you’re sung out (or it’s almost time for bed!) and it’s time to start wrapping things up, then the Closing Songs come in. Closing songs work like the Building Songs section, only in reverse. You start with loud songs and fade out to slow, quiet songs. Closing songs  typically are the songs that are about friendship and Guiding values. Some examples of Closing songs are One Tin SoldierSoftly Falls the Light of DayLingerMake New FriendsOn My Honour, or Ira Congo.

Finally, when the coals begin to twinkle out and it’s time to douse the fire, you sing the Ending Song. Usually the ending song is Taps, but really, you could sing any song of leaving, such as Say Why, or Go Well and Safely.

And that’s your campfire! Campfires are wonderful places to come together and aren’t too difficult to plan. Sometimes they’re completely spontaneous and you use whatever songs you know by heart.

Some tips for first time campfire leaders:

1. Create songbooks for everyone with all the songs you’re going to sing in them. Not only can you teach the girls new songs (and remind yourself of the lyrics!) but you’ll get greater participation as everyone will try to sing along.
2. Try and learn as best as you can the songs you’re going to sing. It’s easier to lead when you know what you’re doing. It’s awesome to learn new songs, but makes sure someone at campfire knows the actual version!
3. Keep in mind the age of the girls you’re doing campfire with. If you’re singing with younger girls, you’ll want to reach the climax as soon as possible, and keep campfire short. Whereas, if you’re working with older girls, you can take more time building up to the climax, and stretch the campfire over as much time as you have.

Good luck and have fun! 🙂

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