Campfire Perfection Con’t

Your guide to the perfect summer campfire

By Sarah Ryeland

What’s summer in Muskoka without a campfire? Everyone has their own traditions when it comes to this favourite family tradition, but it’s fun to switch things up a bit, too. So whether you’re camping, in your own backyard or visiting a friend, here are some handy campfire tips to help you create memories that will last a lifetime.

So gather some kindling, some friends and some bug spray and enjoy your campfire this summer.

Music

A campfire needs music. Plugging in an iPod or radio can be a good option, but for the true Muskoka experience, you’ve got to do a little singing. It also helps if you’ve got a guitar player handy.

Here are two favourite campfire songs. One is a round and the other is a classic repeat-after-me song.

A round: a song for three or more unaccompanied voices or parts, each singing the same theme but starting one after another.

Black Socks

(Sing one time together and break into rounds, entering after the first line)

Black socks

They never get dirty, the longer you wear them the stronger they get

Sometimes

I think I should wash them but something keeps telling me “no, no, not yet!”

Not yet, not yet, not yet, not yet…

Repeat

A repeat-after-me song: a song where the leader sings a verse and the rest of the singers echo back.

The Moose Song

(Singers echo back after leader sings each line)

There was a great big moose

He liked to drink a lot of juice

There was a great big moose

He liked to drink a lot of juice

Chorus:

Singing whoa-oh, whoa-oh

Way-oh, way-oh, way-oh, way-oh

Waay-oh, Waay-oh

Way-oh, way-oh, way-oh, way-oh

He drank his juice with care

But he spilled it on his hair

He drank his juice with care

But he spilled it on his hair

Chorus

Now he’s a sticky moose

He’s a moose

Full of juice

On the loose!

Chorus

Snacks

Campfire snacks are a must. If you want to go the traditional route, find a stick and roast some marshmallows, or take it up a notch and get some graham wafers, chocolate chips and make yourself some s’mores.

If you’re up for something really different, try making some fired-up banana boats.

Here’s what you need:

Bananas, a knife, tin foil, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, peanut butter, or any sugary treat you can think of

Here’s what you do:

Peel the banana just enough to reveal one half (length-ways), leaving the peel attached at one end. Carefully slice the banana length-ways and fill your banana boat with whatever goodies you want. Place the peel back over the banana and wrap tightly in tin foil. Set it over the fire for four to five minutes. Open carefully and enjoy!

Stories

What’s a campfire without a good scary story to tell? One of our readers submitted this fantastic tale – it’s spooky enough to delight even the most seasoned campers.

The Madman of Muskoka

By Debbie Adams

The best campfire story I’ve ever heard was when I was a cottage kid back in the ‘60s. To this day it has never been trumped: the tale of The Madman of Muskoka.

I’m not completely sure, but I think the story came from the imagination of a neighbouring cottage kid, Brian Thompson.

The story also involves assistance from a co-conspirator, such as Brian’s cousin Gary, who would sit in the bushes waiting for his cue.

Here’s the story as I recall it and have embellished it.

“Way back in the ‘40s during the Second World War, there was a prisoner of war camp in Gravenhurst. It was originally a sanatorium. It’s still there today in Gravenhurst Bay, seemingly empty, but filled with ghosts from the past that wander its halls.

There was a prisoner held there, who had been a pilot in the Luftwaffe, the German air force. His warplane was filled with a payload of phosphorous bombs that he was supposed to drop on London, England. But his plane never made it and he crashed into the countryside in England. He was captured by the British Army and sent directly to the POW camp in Gravenhurst.

During the plane crash, the phosphorous managed to get into his blood stream. Phosphorous, as you know, glows in the dark and it made the man glow in the dark, too.  But worst of all, the phosphorous in his body made him insane. He would howl like a wolf, scratch the ground like a dog digging for a bone and he would drool like an animal with rabies.

One day he escaped from the POW camp and headed deep into the woods of Muskoka. The guards, police, and even the army that came up from Base Borden couldn’t find him hidden in the woods.

There were sightings of this madman but he was too quick to catch. Authorities following the trail of Madman of Muskoka would report finding animal bodies, disemboweled, that he had eaten raw. They would find areas where the Madman had rolled over rocks like a bear searching for worms and grubs.

The phosphorous in his body also preserved him. He became like a zombie, the walking dead, and he is in these woods even today!

(Cue cousin Gary, nestled in the bushes, who turns on his flashlight, holding it under his chin casting an eerie glow)

And look! There he is! (Brian pointing to his dutiful cousin)”

I’ve lost touch with most of the kids I hung out with during the ‘60s. But if you’re reading this Brian, please know that campfire story certainly scared the beejeebers out of me. I’ve gone on to retell it many, many times with the same result and the screams would most certainly startle even the Madman of Muskoka!

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