How to Plan the Best Scout Campfire Program

Campfire Programs in Scouting
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Scouts and campfires are a timeless combination  Whether performing, helping in the background or just watching, Scouts love a good campfire program!  While most of us think about an actual fire, a campfire program doesn't have to be at night nor does it have to include an actual fire.  A campfire is a gathering of Scouts, leaders and family members for fun and fellowship.  

Benefits of Campfires 

Campfires give our Scouts the opportunity to practice their public speaking skills.  Whether the Scouts are memorizing lines or ad-libbing, she will be learning how to speak in front of a group.

Scouts have the opportunity to be creative as they plan and perform their skit.  Some Scouts may want to strictly follow a script, but others will want to add their own personal touches.

The campfire program also gives all boys an opportunity to participate if they want to.  Even if they don't want to perform, offer them a behind-the-scenes role.  A Scout can be the props person and give the needed prop to the actor when appropriate.  He can also hold the microphone for the boys with speaking parts.  Try to include all Scouts in your campfire programs.

Purpose of Campfire Programs

Campfire programs provide fun and entertainment to the Scouts and their families.  By including group participation skits and songs, everyone at the campfire can get involved.  Campfires offer fellowship with other Scouts and their families.  This shared experience is what bonds packs and troops together.  

What Makes a Successful Campfire Program?

A successful campfire includes:

  • Songs -  Include all kinds of songs, from silly Scouting songs to the reverent singing of our National Anthem.
  • Stunts - Audience participation songs and stories work great as stunts.
  • Stories -  Whether they're funny or scary, stories are a vital part of campfires.
  • Showmanship - Have a great opening ceremony which can include a creative way to light the campfire (if you're using one). 

"Follow the Flames"

A good campfire program lasts about 45 to 60 minutes.  This is long enough to keep everyone's attention, but not so long that the Scouts become restless.  A good rule of thumb is to "follow the flame."  When the campfire flame is high, there should be lots of energy in your campfire.  This is the best time for your audience participation songs and skits.  As the fire burns down, the mood should come down too.  Slower songs, calmer stories and a short inspirational leader "minute" talk will wind down the campfire.

Planning

To have a memorable and enjoyable campfire program, it is imperative that you plan it in advance. Prior planning will help ensure that your program runs smoothly.  Everyone can be ready for their turn on the campfire stage.  

Over the years, there have been some Scout skits and songs that are simply not appropriate today. These include skits with sexist or racist jokes, skits that portray drunkenness, drinking or using drugs, and those that humiliate a Scout or leader.  There is no list of approved or disapproved skits for either the Boy Scouts of America or the Girl Scouts.  Instead, the Boy Scouts of America's Campfire Program Planner says, “Be sure that every feature of this campfire program upholds Scouting’s highest traditions.”

There are some skit topics that fall into a "gray area" where leaders should use their judgment about the appropriateness of the skit.  Underwear and "potty humor" top the list.  Scout leaders should think about whether the skit will uphold the BSA's Scout Oath and Law or the Girl Scout Promise and Law.  

Two great resources to help you plan a great campfire program are the BSA's Campfire Program Planner and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland Council’s Campfire Resource Book.  They both provide a form to use while planning your event.  The Girl Scouts' resource book gives you many more details about holding a campfire, so even if you're a Boy Scout, I recommend that you read through the resource.

Skit Ideas

Below are websites that have a plethora of skits that you can use at your campfire program.