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Monday, July 15, 2024
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Fiesta Island Opening and Closing Campfires

What would a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Summer Camp be without a campfire?A good campfire is the Segway into the contextual approach to folklore. In the days of old people used to sit around the campfire after a long days travels across the country A time to relax and fill the evening with song, dance, story telling and legends. It was a time to unwind from the days arduous journey. The same is true for a Boy Scout campfire at the end of a day of toil in whatever the tasks were during the day. There is learning in the lighting of the campfire. A patrol gathers wood and sets the stage for the lighting of the fire. The campfire is usually somewhere away from the placement of tenting areas to minimize the risk and is usually ablaze when the scouts gather, having been lit prior to the start of campfire festivities. Sometimes campfires can be used for cooking, but generally they are separate events. Campfires at Fiesta IslandNowadays, unless skills being taught demand a more rustic approach, the fires may be lit using modern conveniences such as a lighter. Ernest Thompson Seton,  the Chief Scout for the BSA from 1910 to 1915 and founder of the Woodcraft Indians, always inclined to the more rustic native Indian ways of using a bow and drill to start the campfire. If you have ever tried that method, you know it is not a quick nor easy way to start a fire. I kind of prefer the chemical way such as a battery and steel wool, but that is another story.

There were two campfires at Camp Fiesta Island. The opening one was hosted by the camp staff and the closing one featured skits by all the troops competing for Honor Troop.

The camp staff presented their own skits and talked about the week to come. It was entertaining and set the casual mood of the camp for the week. Not that there wasn’t any formality during the ceremonies and professionalism in caring out the days scheduled tasks, but it was all about having a good time at camp and not a “boot” camp.Opening Campfire Fiesta Island

The campfire ended on a solemn note as an old battered flag was retired from service in the traditional way of burning. 

Flags are almost as old as civilization itself, it seems.The bible even mentions “banners and standards.” Many of the colonists had their own flags as the struggle to form our new nation was happening. They finally united on a single flag to represent our new nation during the struggle for independence. The first flag borne by the Army as a representative of the 13 colonies was the Grand Union flag. It was raised over the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 2 January 1776. That flag had the familiar 13 stripes (red and white) of the present flag, but the blue square contained the Crosses of St. George and St. Andrew from the British flag. The Stars and Stripes, as we know it, was born on 14 June 1777. On that date, Congress resolved that the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white, and that the union of stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation, albeit with only 13 stars at that time.

When a flag has served its nation well and long and has deteriorated to a condition in which it should no longer be used to represent the nation, it will receive the “Ceremony of Final Tribute and Ceremonial Burning.” The flag is lowered and is then ceremonially burned to ashes in the campfire. The closing campfire at Fiesta Island does this at every summer camp week, using flags that are brought to them by the local military organizations.Flag retirement ceremony

Once the solemn ceremony was over the camp staff wished us a farewell and safe journey home.

The next morning was devoted to striking camp and loading up for the journey home. A continental breakfast was served and we loaded up and headed for home.






As Always, Be Prepared!

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