Summer Campfire

Gathering around a campfire is a traditional summertime experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and interests. There are few experiences more enjoyable than watching the flames of a campfire leap up from the logs, cooking s’mores with family and friends, singing some silly songs, then watching the embers glow and fade. Let us look at some ideas based on long experience to help make the campfire a safe, enjoyable, stress-free experience for all.

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One of the keys to helping make campfires – or any experience, for that matter – is for individuals with special needs to participate actively in the preparation. By helping with advance preparations for a campfire, your friend can enjoy anticipating the upcoming event while at the same time learning first hand about fire safety, a critical bit of knowledge.

So, for example, your friend with autism could collect sticks to use in the fire or gather rocks to make the fire ring. She could help clear leaves and debris from around the fire ring, and help bring out the lawn chairs or drag up logs for people to sit on outside the fire ring. She can help as she is able to fill the water bucket, stretch the water hose to the site, and put a shovel close to the fire.

Other advance preparations include inviting family and friends to participate, plan the snack menu, pick some fun campfire songs, and welcome people as they arrive.

TIP FOR THE DAY: The key ingredients to a successful campfire are these: (1) SAFETY FIRST, and (2) encouraging your friend with autism to be actively involved in all aspects of the preparation.

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism.

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