Campfires and Inspiration

Scouts and campfire programs are a timeless combination. While they are historically linked to Cub and Boy Scouts of America troops, Girl Scout troops have become more involved in planning campfire programs and enjoying the benefits. Whether performing, helping in the background, or just watching, campfire programs offer Scouts of all ages the opportunity to get involved, express themselves, and learn a bit more about their peers and themselves. Campfires and SCOUTS go together. The fondest memories of many former Scouts are often the camps they attended and the campfires held at those camps.
We are not talking bonfires here. We are talking about a smallish campfire at the end of a busy day in camp with about 30 to 60 or more people singing their hearts out and sharing the experience with their friends. These are special events in the life of our SCOUTS and as the next generation of leaders, it is our job to continue to hold equally memorable campfires and pass the skill on to those who will follow us.

A campfire program is a gathering of Scouts, troop leaders, and family members for fun and fellowship. Despite its name, it doesn’t have to take place at night, nor does it have to include an actual fire.

A successful campfire program includes four key elements:

  • Songs: Sing all kinds of songs, from silly Scouting songs to the National Anthem.
  • Stunts: Both pre-planned and improvised skits work great as stunts; invite some audience participation to make things really interesting.
  • Stories: Whether they’re funny or scary, stories are a vital part of campfires.
  • Showmanship: Great opening and closing ceremonies add some flair to your event and can include a creative way to light the campfire (if you’re using one).

Organization and Contributors

Determine who will:

  • Be the Campfire Chief
  • Do cheers (who and which ones to avoid duplication)
  • Sing songs (who and which ones to avoid duplication)
  • Do skits (who and which ones to avoid duplication)
  • Tell stories (who and which ones to avoid duplication)
  • Be the photographer
  • Purchase and bring refreshments (juice & cookies – remember allergies!)
  • Reimburse the person who purchased refreshments
  • Send out invitations to parents (they can sit around outside the campfire circle)
  • Serve refreshments (juice & cookies)
  • Be Hosts and Hostesses to guide people as they arrive
  • Be responsible for bringing the electric campfire and extension cord (identify outlet ahead of time)
  • Set-up the gym including electric campfire (tape down extension cord using masking tape, not duct tape!)
  • Be responsible for lighting the campfire during the event
  • Be responsible for post-event clean-up
  • Be expected to be part of the welcome message at the beginning (contact leaders and group commissioner)
  • Contact special guest
  • Contact the custodian to turn down the gym lights (talk with the custodian ahead of time)
  • Determine where photos will be taken (section and/or individual)
  • Send a copy of the schedule and coordinate with section leaders/group commissioner

special thanks for Bkaldorf Pittsburgh (US) & N.S.Silwa

To start the new year off I figured I’d do another beginning to end post on a recent personal project I completed.  As visual communicators, I think it is incredibly important to hone your vision through the use of personal projects.  After all, if you don’t exercise your vision how can you expect to obtain stellar results on your clients work?
Step 1.  Initial sketch.
I always begin with a very rudimentary sketch of what it is I’m trying to accomplish.  In the immortal words of Doc Brown, “Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn’t have time to build it to scale or to paint it.”

sketching the concept

Concept sketch for the campfire stories photo shoot
I know, I’m a regular picasso right?  Anywho, from here I start fleshing out the particulars; models, lighting, wardrobe etc.  For this particular project I had people already in mind, so it was just a matter of convincing them that they wanted to do it:)  Luckily I have wonderful friends who like to see my imagination come to life so they were more than willing to help me out.  The biggest problem was going to be the location.  I wasn’t keen on carting my entire studio setup out to the middle of a campsite, so I decided to bring the campsite to the studio.  It was a full day of prep work to build the site, but it was totally worth it.  This way I had complete control of the lighting and the models would be much more comfortable (being that it was already the middle of October in the north east).  The only thing that I wasn’t able to replicate in the studio would be the background, that would have to be photographed outside at a later date.
The lighting for this shot was somewhat complex.  I really needed to replicate the glow of the campfire as much as possible without being overly lit.  We ended up going with 8 lights, all of them gelled with various orange and yellow mylar.  The lights on the two boys were up high and at 45 degree angle while our scout leader was lit from a strobe hidden in the campfire.  the highlights were created by two low strobes on either side, which were flagged.  The whole scene was then bathed in fill light with a magnum reflector.

strobe diagram for campfire setup
lighting diagram for campfire setup

The studio shoot itself went off without a hitch.  The background was kept dark so I had an easy time punching it out from the foreground.  That way I could just pop in the correct background at a later date.

behind the scenes campfire shot, unretouched

image before knocking out the background
From here it was just a matter of photographing the background on location and popping it in.  I chose a spot in a local park that kinda fit the mood of what I was after.  From here I just waited for the right time of day, set up two strobes, and fired away.

photograph of the background image

background shot, park near my studio
Once I combined the two images together, it was just a simple matter of my regular post production set up along with adding all of the eyes digitally (I took a bunch of photos of my cats eyes!) and voila, the final image!

finished campfire stories image

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