Learn how to safely make s'mores on the campfire during your next campout. Keep your Cub Scouts safe around the fire as they make these easy classic treats.
National S'mores Day is August 10th! An entire day devoted to those yummy campfire treats! But we need to remember that they are campfire treats, so let's talk about how to safely make s'mores.
Recently I ran across this song, and it made me laugh!
Campfire Napalm Song
I was sittin’ by the campfire with some real good friends of mine.
We were singin’ lots of silly songs and wastin’ lots of time.
We started getting hungry, but how were we to know
‘bout the flaming marshmallow?Sweet and yummy sticky danger!
Flicked upon a passing stranger!
He panicked and he stumbled and fell upon his knees
then crashed into a tree.
The faster that he did run, the faster the flames grew.
The whole forest was on fire before we even knew.
His buddies tried to put him out.
They tried without a doubt, but soon we all freaked out.
Sweet and yummy sticky trouble!
Better get out on the double!
The raccoons they were runnin’ as fast as they could go
from the Flaming Marshmallow.
We scrambled through the forest over hill and over Dale (poor Dale!).
We thought for sure we're goners, won’t live to tell the tale. (we’re dead!).
Then all at once, the Boy Scouts came with everything they know
To stop the Flaming Marshmallow (we’re saved!)
They carried in some water with the buckets they had made.
They put out all the fires and provided us first aid.
Don’t know how we‘d have made it out
Without those prepared Scouts.
They saved us! There’s no doubt!
Sweet and yummy safety error
Can result in hazards, pain and terror.
That’s how it ended, that’s all there is to know
‘bout the Flaming Marshmallow.
I think this would be fun to share with your Cub Scouts, but make sure they understand that the dangers are real.
The song also made me wonder how hot a toasted marshmallow is. I googled it, and according to the Thermoworks blog, the outside temperature of the marshmallow is about 180ºF, and the internal temperature is between 145ºF-160ºF.
No one wants to ban s'mores just because they could be dangerous, so here are some tips that will help keep your Cub Scouts safe as they toast their marshmallows.
Campfire Safety When Making S'mores
Talk to Scouts about campfire safety before you light the fire. You can use this fun activity to talk about how to build a fire and how to safely put it out. This would be a great thing to do at a den or pack meeting prior to your campout.
S'mores Supplies and Ingredients
You can also buy this s'mores kit.
Note: Bring more ingredients than you need! Nothing worse than a disappointed committee chair when she hears there's no more chocolate! Not that my pack would ever do that to me. 🙂
Let's talk about the roasting forks. Are they really necessary? Many folks just use sticks they find at the campground or metal coat hangers that have been bent.
Use your own judgment about what's best for your pack, but make sure you consider the following.
One of the cornerstones of the Boy Scouts of America is that we follow the Outdoor Code and the Leave No Trace principles. If we are truly leaving no trace, we can't cut branches from trees to use as roasting sticks. Do you think your campsite will have enough broken tree branches that are long enough and sturdy enough to use?
Will the limbs or branches seep wood or plant toxins into the marshmallows? This article in BSA's fall 2014 Health and Safety newsletter advises against using tree limbs for this reason.
Metal coat hangers come with their own set of potential issues. They may have some kind of coating that, when heated, could be absorbed by the marshmallow.
Personally, I think hangers are too flimsy for the weight of the marshmallow. I also worry about the metal getting too hot and a Cub Scout reacting by throwing the hanger and marshmallow. That could definitely cause a “campfire napalm” incident!
Roasting Forks and Roasting Skewers/Sticks for S'mores
Roasting skewers or roasting sticks are typically made of bamboo and are disposable. The great thing about bamboo skewers is that they're biodegradable, and you can add them to your campfire after you're done with them. These skewers are 3′ long which will help keep the kiddos from getting too close to the fire.
Roasting forks are typically made of stainless steel with a rubber handle that stays cool. Most of them extend out like a telescope which makes it easy to store them. These extend to a length of 42″.
Set Up for Making S'mores
A quick note–if you're having a backyard s'mores party, be sure to check out my friend Linda's beautiful post! She shares easy ways to decorate for your party.
Before you begin making your s'mores, you'll want to set up a table away from the campfire a bit. This is where you'll put your skewers or forks, marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. The kids start here to get their roasting fork and marshmallows. They'll return here after their marshmallow has been toasted.
“How to Safely Make S'mores” Training
Make sure your campfire has died down some before you begin. This is a great time to do your marshmallow roasting training.
Don't assume that everyone knows how to roast a marshmallow for s'mores. There will probably be some adults who have never done this, and there will definitely be some Scouts who haven't. You'll want to make sure they know how to safely roast their marshmallows.
When training the Scouts make sure that t hey know where the First Aid kit is. If you need a small first aid kit we have a guide how to make one.
Let the Scouts know how many of them can roast their marshmallow at once. These are the things that will impact that number:
- Number of skewers or roasting forks
- Size of campfire
- Number of adults who can supervise the Scouts
Demonstrate how far back to stand. This will depend on the length of your roasting instrument.
Demonstrate how to hold the marshmallow over the fire, but not in the fire.
If you're using roasting forks, show the Scouts how to hold them by the handle only and explain that the metal parts will be really hot. Remind them that the marshmallow will be hot too.
Explain and demonstrate what to do if marshmallow catches on fire. Tell them that swinging it around will launch that “campfire napalm” toward their friends.
Younger Scouts should point their roasting implement (with the attached flaming marshmallow) close to the ground and wait for it to burn out. Older Scouts may be able to carefully blow it out.
Remind the kids that their roasting stick or fork is sharp, so they should be careful that they don't poke themselves or someone else.
Roasting the S'mores Marshmallows Safely
If the Scouts will be taking turns roasting, only those with roasting sticks in hand should be allowed to stand by the fire. One possibility is to have one den at a time around the fire. You'll be better able to supervise when you know who is an active “roaster.”
Decide on the order you'll go in. I think it makes sense to start with the younger (often less patient) kids and work your way up to your Arrows of Light.
Younger siblings and younger Scouts should each have an adult assigned to them if at all possible. For the older Scouts, you may only need 1 adult for every 2 or 3 Scouts.
When their marshmallow is done, the Scouts should carefully walk back to the ingredients table. Have an adult there to help slide the marshmallow off of the stick onto the graham cracker.
Remind the Scout that the marshmallow is super hot and they need to give it time to cool off before they eat their s'more.
Alternative Ways to Make S'mores
My friend Mel from Adventures of Mel has an awesome recipe for banana boat s'mores! In the past, our Webelos made these at day camp, but we didn't put the teddy grahams in them. Adding those make them sound especially yummy!
Want a no-fire way to make s'mores outdoors? We made s'mores in pizza boxes! These are a great daytime option if it's too hot for an actual campfire.
While you're waiting on those marshmallows to heat up in the pizza box, play the Toasted or Roasted game! Grant and I played it, and we both thought it was a super fun game.
Hopefully, these tips will help your pack avoid having “campfire napalm!” What other rules do you have to make s'mores safely? Tell us in a comment.
Yours in Scouting,
P.S. You can get all your s'mores supplies on my Amazon page!