How to Prepare for a Firecrafter Candidacy

There are many things a Scout can do to prepare to candidate for the rank of Firecrafter.The following will help a Scout be ready for the challenge of the week long candidacy.

One of the most important things for a Scout to keep in mind is time management.

(Schedule and recommendations are based on a typical week at Camp Ransburg, adjustments may need to be made based on the camp the Scout attends)

On Sunday when the Scout arrives he will attend an induction ceremony that typically will happen after the evening opening campfire. During the induction ceremony Scouts will receive basic instructions on the candidacy, and they will receive the candidate card and manual.

Monday would be a good day for the Scout to acquire wood and begin working on creating a Fire-by-Friction kit. Each day of the week there is a mandatory meeting of candidates.  This meeting is scheduled by the camp Firecrafter coordinator. At the Monday meeting, the candidate should provide the Day and Time that he will conduct his campfire program.  It is advised that the campfire be toward the beginning of week to allow for time to redo the fire if not passed the first time.  Each day the Scout should also have a uniform and tent inspection.  Sometimes a camp will have special times that are open for Scouts to easily complete certain requirements.  For example typically on Monday evenings at Ransburg, the Aquatics area is open for Scouts to complete the swimming requirement.

Typically on Thursday night the camp will conduct an overnighter for candidates. They return around breakfast time on Friday. All candidacies end at 11:00am on Saturday, but it is strongly encouraged that all candidacies are completed by Friday evening closing campfire.

Lets break it up by requirement:

1. Understand and demonstrate the principles and high standards of Firecrafter in personal attitude and example, showing respect for your fellow camper and your environment. Discuss the ideals of Scouting and Firecrafter with your Unit Leader.

This is actually the last requirement that will get signed off on the card.  This requirement can be considered similar to a Scoutmaster Conference. The requirement asks that the Scout be a fellow good and respectful camper all week and uphold and understand the ideals of Friendship, Leadership, and Service.

2. Complete a daily uniform and tent inspection

This is pretty self-explanatory, each day the candidate needs to have a unit leader or Firecrafter inspect the uniform and tent. The inspection is not meant to be extensive, but should point out ways the Scout can approve his appearance and cleanliness.  The Scout is not expected to re-sew patches during the week that are out of place, but should fix any mistakes prior to the ritual if possible. A candidate should attempt to have a full uniform for the inspection (shirt, shorts/pants, socks, belt)

3. Read the History of Firecrafter

This is a long document, and could be reviewed prior to camp. The history can be found on this site at (www.firecrafter.org/history) or will be included in the candidate manual at camp. The Scout will be responsible for knowing when, where, and by whom Firecrafter was founded.

4. Complete leadership by helping a Scout advance for at least an hour.

Camp provides several opportunities for a Scout to complete this requirement.  A candidate can help Scouts by teaching Camper and Woodsman Requirements to either Scouts in his troop or other Scouts at camp.  A candidate may also help with rank advancement.  This can be with Scouts in his troop, or at the Camp's Eagle Quest or first year camper area.  The hour does not have to be completed in one sitting and could be broken up.

5. Build Fire-by-Friction

Creating Fire-by-Friction takes a few key components and with proper guidance and initiative any Scout can complete this requirement.  Many people have the misconception that the key component is strength and being able to bow quickly. Although this can get you fire, it is often only a tiring effort that more and more find less successful. The more vital components to creating fire-by-friction include pressure and consistency. If the Scout can provide the proper pressure, speed is not a factor. Many Firecrafters believe that every candidate can get a spark by doing the exact same process that they did as a candidate, however this is usually not the case. Each physical build and ability can be different and require different techniques to achieve fire. A shorter or smaller Scout cannot use the same techniques as a larger or taller Scout. 

It is strongly advised that this requirement be done with the guidance of a well experienced Firecrafter.  There are many factors to be considered in achieving the skill.  If there is difficulty with pressure, then a taller spindle or using the leg as support utilizing body weight can be helpful.  If there is too much side friction in the hole, narrowing the end of the spindle can be helpful.  If dust is not collecting properly, carving the underside of the floorboard might be useful.  These are all examples of situational circumstances that could be different for each candidate.

Some good woods to use to build a set include: Red Elm, Red Cedar, Cottonwood, Aspen, Poplar, and Basswood. Typically at Ransburg the candidate will use Red Elm. It is wise to make the spindle and floorboard out of the same wood. If they are made out of different woods, the spindle should be a harder wood.  A good judge of height for the spindle is about from foot to knee.  The floorboard should be flat and about an inch thick.  The spindle should also be straight and about the thickness of a quarter. The spindle can be rounded or eight-sided. The octagon method can help with the string not slipping. A good bow is about the length from the floor to the Scouts waist, have a slight curve and is very strong. A good strength test is to lean on the bow and see if it holds the body weight.  The best method of stringing the bow is drilling a hole on one end and three holes on the other end.  This makes it easy to loosen or tighten the bow. Since this may not be easy to do at camp, tying a clove hitch, taut line, or bowline can be suitable. The thunderhead or top bearing should be made out of a hard wood like an Oak, Hickory, Beech, Ironwood, or Walnut. It should also fit the candidate's hand.

It is wise to practice fire-by-friction before going to camp, however you must make a set at camp to complete the requirement.

6. Overnight and Paperwork

This is not a difficult requirement, but does take a little time to answer the seven questions on the back of the card.  Most of the information can be found in the Scout Handbook and can be researched ahead of time.  The overnighter portion is typically completed on Thursday night.

• Checklist of personal and patrol gear needed for a typical overnight campout. (CHAPTER 9)
• A backpacking menu including two breakfast, three lunches, and two dinners. (CHAPTER 9)

• How to construct a latrine for yourself. (CHAPTER 7)
• How to properly pack a backpack. (CHAPTER 9)
• How to protect your camp, including food and gear, from animals, insects, and wet or bad weather. (CHAPTER 9)
• How to protect yourself against any type of weather if caught on a trail with only a pocketknife. (THIS IS NO LONGER IN THE SCOUT HANDBOOK, BUT THINK ABOUT HOW A KNIFE CAN BE USED TO CREATE SHELTER, FIRE, AND FIND FOOD. A FEW SUGGESTIONS IN CHAPTER 12)
• The proper way to dispose of garbage and rubbish in the wilderness. (CHAPTER 7)

7. Make a useful camp gadget using square, diagonal, and sheer lashing.

It would be wise to learn and/or practice these lashing prior to coming to camp.  If the Scout knows the lashings it should not take much time to complete a gadget using the three.

8. Demonstrate ONE of the following (eye splice, back splice, or short splice)

Again, this would be a good requirement to practice prior to coming to camp. Note that only one of the splices have to be tied.

9. Swimming - Swim 100 yards, Explain Safe Swim, Demonstrate a reach and throw rescue.

If the Scout takes the swim test at camp, that will count as the 100 yards.  If Scout does not, then he will need to find a time to go to the aquatics area and do the requirement.  A struggling swimmer should note that the Scout does NOT have to complete the BSA swimmer's test to complete this requirement.  The Scout must just swim 100 yards.  This could be a backstroke or even a dog paddle for 100 yards. The key is that the Scout should do his best and know that the requirement has already been achieved once by completing 1st Class.

10. Identify by sight or sign 10 wild animals, 10 trees, and 10 plants.

This can best be done at the Nature area of camp, but can be done with any Firecrafter with knowledge in this area.

11. Plan, prepare, and conduct a campfire program or suitable substitute approved by the fire that demonstrates leadership ability.

This is by far one of the most difficult requirements for many candidates, but it does not have to be.  BE PREPARED! That is the best advice. A Scout is equipped with all of the tools to succeed in this requirement, and if preparation is done and the Scout does his best, he can succeed.

It should also be noted that if it is absolutely impossible to lead a campfire, a suitable substitute can be considered like a chapel service or campwide game.

It is important to keep in mind that if a Scout does not pass the first campfire, it is not the end.  As long as the Scout does his best and follows the suggested improvements, he will succeed.

To prepare for the campfire, the Scout should come up with a theme (sports, food, super heroes, day at sea, animals, etc.) The options are endless, but a solid theme must be established the skits and songs revolve around.  There are thousands of songs and skits out in the world to pull from. A good resource is http://www.macscouter.com/skits This site has over 400 skits, and MacScouter also has tons of songs.  A Scout should review before coming to camp.

The campfire is critiqued on a NEW RUBRIC.  The Scout has to score a 53 out of 70 to pass his fire.

Click Here for New Rubric

Fire - Have you built a neatly constructed fire, that is notched and staked? Did the fire light quickly and easily? Was the audience in a safe viewing area? Were there fire buckets with water? Was the area around the fire cleared? Did you use all natural materials? Did your skits and songs happen in a safe distance away from the fire?

Program - Did you have proper organization? Did you have a theme that the skits and songs relate to? Did you give a copy of your program to the graders? Was your theme appropriate? Was your theme followed? Did you start on time? Did the program rise and fall with the fire? Was the campfire program at least 20 minutes long and not exceed 45 minutes?

Informative and Entertaining - Was your campfire enjoyable? Did the audience enjoy the fire? Was your campfire a learning experience? (fun facts, run-ons about the topic) 

Ingenuity - New skits and songs, don't use the same old ones you see all of the time. Use creative and original ideas. Take an old skit or song and change the words to fit your theme.

Opening and Closing - Did you have a strong, loud opening? Did you have an appropriate closing for the theme? Was the program started on a high note? Was everyone's time well spent? Did both the opening and closing express the theme? Was the audience left with a meaningful afterthought? 

Leadership - Did you show confidence? Did you teach songs or cheers? Did you use your Scout sign to control the audience? Did you use a strong loud voice? Did you improvise when needed? Did the program run smoothly? Did YOU lead both skits and songs? (you should be in about 75% of the fire. Be both the leader and participant in the fire) Did you involve the audience? (Get them to stand up, clap their hands, whatever it takes) Did you exhibit appropriate enthusiasm? Did you lead the fire, NOT JUST AS AN MC? Use transitions, don't just get up and introduce the next skits and songs.  Make it run smoothly.

To have a solid 20-30 minute campfire, a Scout should have a combination of about nine skits and songs, with an additional opening, closing, Scoutmaster's minute, and some in-between fun facts, cheers, or run-ons.

12. Do three hours of service

This is just something the Scout must plan out. He should not wait until the last minute.  The Scout should see what service opportunities are available at camp and leave time to get the service accomplished.

Overall, the best advice that can be provided is for the Scout to DO HIS BEST and plan. The Scout has all of the resources at his hands prior to camp to be prepared.  He should be organized and think through the week as to how it will all get accomplished.  He should do as much practice as he can. The council camps have Firecrafter areas with experienced members who can help guide the youth to be successful.  This summer at Ransburg, the Firecrafter area will have extended hours both in the off hour after lunch and in the evening.  This is a very rewarding program and upon completion the candidate will see what all he has accomplished and wear the emblem with pride.

(INFORMATION PUT TOGETHER BY JUSTIN "SOX" SCOTT)

Firecrafter is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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