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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Backwoods biscuits

Learn how to make a fire for backwoods cooking by creating a ‘star fire’ on top of a biscuit.

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You’ll need

  • Tinder (for example, cotton balls and petroleum jelly)
  • Kindling (for example, small sticks)
  • Firewood
  • Buckets
  • Access to water
  • Bowls
  • Spoons
  • Kitchen scales
  • Ingredients (see recipe)
  • Rocks or bricks
Recipe card (Backwoods biscuits)
PDF – 201.0KB

To watch in full screen, double click the video

Learn to build a star fire 

The person leading the activity should show everyone how to build a star fire. They should get people to help them with each of the steps. Scout Adventures have created a handy video that covers the basics of fire lighting; from preparation and collecting appropriate fuel, setting up the fire ready to light, to lighting and building a fire.

  1. Fill the water bucket.

As you won’t be lighting this fire, it’s OK to just pretend to do this as you talk about it. Make sure everyone knows that if they were lighting a fire, they must have a full water bucket nearby.

  1. Gather the materials. The person leading the activity should explain what the different materials are for.
  2. Find a clear, flat space, away from any trees or bushes.
  3. Put the rocks or bricks in a circle around where the fire will go.

Explain that if the fire were lit, everyone should stay outside this circle.

  1. Arrange the five logs in a star shape that meets in the centre.
  2. Put the tinder in the middle of the star, where the logs meet.
  3. Put the kindling over the tinder in a ‘V’ shape.
  4. Use sticks to build a tripod over the centre of the logs. Add more twigs and sticks around the tripod to make a cone shape – leave a gap for lighting the tinder.
  5. Show everyone how they’d light the tinder through the gap. The burning tinder should enable the kindling to catch fire.

Build a star fire

  1. The person leading the activity should ask everyone if they know the three elements needed to start a fire. Everyone should think about how they’ll build their fire so there’s enough of each element.

The three elements are fuel, heat, and oxygen. For example, it’s important not to pack the sticks too closely together, so oxygen can still flow through and reach the fire.

  1. Split into teams of between four and six people.
  2. Each team should work together to build their own star fire (without lighting it).
  3. Once their fire is finished (and it’s been admired) everyone should dismantle their fire and move everything to the side of the space.

Prepare your backwoods biscuit fires

  1. Everyone should wash their hands.
  2. Everyone should split into teams.
  3. Each team should follow the recipe card to prepare all the parts of their backwoods biscuit fire. They should prepare buttercream, biscuit tinder, Flake logs, and pretzel sticks.

Make your backwoods biscuit fires

  1. Everyone should follow the recipe card to put their biscuit fires together. They should think about how each part of their biscuit fire matches a part of the real fire they made earlier.
  2. Once everyone has finished their backwoods biscuit fires, they should eat them.


This activity helped you to value the outdoors. Did you enjoy making your fire (and your biscuit fire)? How can we make sure our fires don’t damage or harm the outdoors? What should you do once you’ve finished with a fire? Does sitting around a fire help you feel connected to the natural environment?

This activity also helped you to develop skills. Do you think you could make and light your own fire now? Why is the structure of the fire so important? When else might you need to make a fire?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast, and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.


Remember to check for allergies, eating problems, fasting or dietary requirements and adjust the recipe as needed. Make sure you’ve suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods. Take a look at our guidance on food safety and hygiene.

Fires and stoves

Make sure anyone using fires and stoves is doing so safely. Check that the equipment and area are suitable and have plenty of ventilation. Follow the gas safety guidance. Have a safe way to extinguish the fire in an emergency.

  • Try building a different type of fire such as a ground fire with a tower or a wigwam fire.
  • Get outside to try lighting the star fire and cooking something on it.

Make sure you have ingredients for anyone with dietary requirements, for example, dairy free butter and chocolate, gluten free biscuits, or sweets without gelatine in.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Young people should help with the demonstration – anyone more experienced could help lead it.