The campfire and how it allows our teens to talk

I woke up this morning only to discover that my keys were locked in my vehicle.  The great thing about starting a day like that is that it can really only go up from there!

We’ve pretty much embraced all things summer around here.  Things like water on the trampoline, making jam and traipsing to every body of water within a forty minute radius.

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I’ve written before about how these are the days we live for, the days that get us through the rest of the year of homework and rain.

This year we’ve taken one of our favourite things to a whole new level.  The campfire.  It’s the best thing about camping.  I’ll even take the smoke saturated clothing and hair for days for what the campfire brings out in everybody.


We read aloud, page after page of the best books.  We hold sticks in the flames, poking at the charred logs until the end glows and we can write our names in the air in smoke.  We lean into the warmth and stare at the dance that never stops before our eyes and the stories start to come out.  The stories start to flow when we don’t need to be looking eye to eye.  When noone is watching for reactions.  When the dark engulfs us and we are hypnotized by the light we aren’t hindered anymore.

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We have learned more about our children around a campfire than any other time.  We ask questions that are hard to answer and for some reason they talk.  It just comes out.  Stories we missed during the school year.  Things we didn’t have time to listen to between basketball practices and dinner prep.

There’s no way we wanted those experiences on only the few weekends a year we actually go camping so we got a small fire that we can sit around on our back porch.  Turns out it works in just the same way.

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We’ve heard tales of times they ate 7 pieces of pizza and wanted to throw up.  We’ve heard stories about school dances that they didn’t attend.  We’ve heard about about the time one of their classmates came to school high and the time they were offered drugs.  We’ve heard about the time that they were bullied at school and the time they got really scared.  It all just flows…

And they ask questions about hard things.  About death and what it feels like to be drunk.  They admit to fears that are deeper than spiders and snakes.  They look for us to tell them about the time God provided in ways that seemed so mysterious.  They ask again about the day they were born and how you know what sort of career to begin.

They start thinking about big things while the smoke wafts around them and the flames heat up their knees and so we’ve created them more often.  They’re part of our normal now and it doesn’t matter if we’re at home or in the woods the effect is the same!


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