First of all, collect plenty of firewood : this needs to be as dry as possible, but it doesn't matter if it isn't completely bone dry. Sort the logs by size - to build a decent campfire you will need 10 or 12 large logs (4+ inches diameter, about a yard long - the exact size doesn't matter) for the framework of the fire, plus lots of thinner wood to stack and stuff it.
Select a suitable site for your fire, preferably on hard bare ground, certainly well away from inflammable materials, dry grass etc. - recognised Guide or Scout sites will usually have a designated campfire circle. Stack the larger logs into a pyramid, alternating the logs two by two and starting with the biggest at the bottom and sloping the sides inwards (see diagram.) When your framework is as high as you want it, give it a good shove to make sure it is stable - you want the wood to collapse INWARDS as it burns but just in case, it is a good idea to construct a safety ring of rocks or logs outside the fire and a little way away, to trap any errant logs which try to escape.

When you are satisfied, begin to insert long thinner branches downwards into the heart of the pyramid - at this point it is a good idea to smuggle in a box of firelighters or stuff the centre with home-made fire starters and dry kindling, to prevent embarassment at the crucial moment. Continue filling the pyramid with smaller branches and twigs, then finish it off by lightly stuffing any cracks around the bottom of the fire with DRY newspaper or any available dry paper, cardboard etc. from food wrappings (save it up as your camp progresses.)


Now cover the whole fire with a groundsheet or large piece of plastic sheeting and weight the corners of the sheet with rocks or logs; you don't want a sudden downpour ruining all your hard work. If you want your fire to last, you may want to collect more wood and construct a woodpile to replenish the fire - make it away from the fire circle and out of the way of stray sparks, you don't want TWO campfires on the go! You must also have a fire bucket (full of water!) handy - or two, one on each side of the fire.

When the time comes, you will need to light the fire on the windward side so the flames blow into the heart of the fire. Don't try to do this directly with an ordinary match : make yourself a "giant match" by tying a firelighter or something guaranteed to burn onto a LONG green stick, light this and use it to light the paper at the bottom of the fire and insert the "match" well into the heart of the fire and leave it there. Providing you have constructed the fire with plenty of dry wood and spaces for air to enter, it should blaze away merrily for quite some time. Keep it going by adding logs from time to time, although if you intend cooking in the embers the original fire shoule be sufficient and will provide charcoal embers that will continue to glow well into the night.

Finish off your firelighting ceremony by a suitable reading, or singing a round such as "Campfire's Burning..."

Camp fire's burning, camp fire's burning,

Draw nearer, draw nearer,

In the gloaming, in the gloaming,

Come sing and be merry.