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Charcoal creations

Use campfire charcoal to sketch the world around you.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Charcoal
  • Clothes pegs

Before you begin

  • It’s up to you whether you save charred sticks from a previous campfire or use artists’ charcoal (available from art shops, or online). If you use sticks from a campfire, make sure they’re not still burning or too warm.
  • To count towards the My Adventure Challenge Award, this activity needs to be done outdoors. It’s perfect for camp.
  • You could clip paper to clipboards so everyone has something to rest on, or you could use a book or picnic table

Get drawing

  1. The person leading the activity should give everyone some scrap paper. Everyone should practise drawing with their charcoal. They could experiment with how they want to hold it, how it makes marks on the paper, and how the marks smudge. People can use their fingers to smudge lines on purpose and soften them, but they should be careful not to accidentally rub lines out with their hand (or their sleeve!) 
  2. Everyone should sit quietly, looking at and listening to the world around them, before choosing what to draw. People may want to draw others around them or the scenery, for example.
  3. Everyone should get some new paper and start to draw. They should enjoy listening to the sounds of the outdoors as they draw. 
  4. The person leading the activity may decide to set the pictures with hairspray. Hairspray is highly flammable, so they should use and store it safely away from any campfire.

Show the drawings

  1. Once everyone’s finished their drawing, they should take it in turns to show it to everyone else, explain what they decided to draw, and why they chose to draw it. 
  2. The person leading the game may hang a piece of string between two trees so everyone can use clothes pegs to peg their pictures on it.

Reflection

This activity was a chance for everyone to value the outdoors. What did people notice when they sat quietly and looked and listened? Did anyone hear anything they hadn’t noticed before, like the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze, or traffic rumbling in the distance? Did anyone hear any animals? Sometimes it’s calming to sit quietly and enjoy an activity outdoors.
This activity was also a chance to try new things. We can see things in a different way when we take time to focus on them. Did anyone notice anything new as they were drawing? Charcoal may have been a new art material for some people, too: had anyone used charcoal to draw before? What was it like using something more unusual to draw? It may have felt strange at first, but hopefully it got easier as everyone got used to it!

Safety

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.

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.

Flammable items

Always take care when using flammable items (especially if you’re near fire). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.