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#102413 - 08/13/07 02:48 AM Fire Lighting Competition with a TWIST
SwampDonkey Offline

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
Hi all,

Two days ago I assisted in the running of a Family Games Day/BBQ/Bonfire for my Association (like a Company Picnic). Part of the event was that the 90 partitipants (ranging in ages from 2 to 60 years, with varied experience) were divided into 10 teams to compete in outdoor related events (e.g. blindfolded canoe race, casting competition, strange item identification/matching, etc).

The event I lead was a Firelighting Contest, with a TWIST.

This was a timed head-to-head event with 2 teams competing at a time. There was the fire-builder (experienced adult, who had to explain what he was doing and actually light the fire) and the fire-assistant (youth, who prepared/handled the materials), the remainder of the team provided ideas/encouragement and blocked the wind if necessary.

The objective was to burn through a jute string 16 inches above the ground with a fire built from the ground up (like seen on the TV reality show "Survivor"). All groups were told to work through any problems that arose, if they asked for a "hint" from me there was a significant time penality.

Each group was provided with a bag of white birch bark, a bundle of dry, split pine kindling, 5 cotton balls and (here is the twist) a large BIC lighter with absolutely no butane fuel in it!
The contestants were unaware that the lighters were empty until they tried to light the fire, then they had to use their heads and come up with a solution, quickly.

Most groups stumbled briefly, when they could not light the birch bark directly with the flame of the lighter. Eight out of ten groups recovered well on there own and managed to light a cotton ball from the spark of the lighter alone. One group needed a slight nudge to get them to think back to the brief lecture about "fire building basics", I delivered just before the competion. A single group became very frustrated with the situation (they wound the cotton around the wheel of the lighter) and I had to clean it and then prove to them that it was feasible, before they would continue.

The winner of the event did it in 1min. 8sec. the slowest was 5min. 30sec.

It was an interesting exercise on problem solving and team dynamics, and I think all involved learned something in this fun competition.

In the end, the day was a BIG SUCCESS and the event ended with music around a bonfire late into the night.


#102420 - 08/13/07 03:56 AM Re: Fire Lighting Competition with a TWIST [Re: SwampDonkey]
GarlyDog Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/05/07
Posts: 776
Loc: The People's Republic of IL
Very cool! Do you mind if I steal your ideas?

#102423 - 08/13/07 04:25 AM Re: Fire Lighting Competition with a TWIST [Re: GarlyDog]
SwampDonkey Offline

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada

Go for it GarlyDog, it's not called stealing, it's called sharing.

This fire starting method is called a "Prison Match" I do not know where I saw it years ago, but I think Les Stroud used it in one of his "Survivorman" Shows?

For the race I removed the windsheid from a bright red lighter and concealed the altered end of the lighter in the cotton balls, all within a plastic bag. That way the participants expected to get a lighter but were not aware the lighter was defective until just before they tried to light the birchbark. This did not allow them time to pre-think the problem until the pressure of the competition was on.

After the event I had each team promise to not share the information about the lighter defect with any of the other teams.

Have fun,



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