5 Things That Campfires Teach Us

Just spent the week camping in Yellowstone Park with the family. Great big Wyoming skies, musky forest trails, spectacular Rocky mountain vistas, thunderclap-filled rain storms and, of course, campfires.

Fire Light

There’s a real science to campfires. Whether you prefer tipi, lean to, log cabin, Swedish fire torch or Finnish style, master campfire makers require only a single match to light one up. But science aside, what is it about campfires that make them so memorable?

  • The ember afterglow from a Yellowstone campfire
    The ember afterglow from a Yellowstone campfire

    Time slows down

    Build the fire, cook the meal, brew the coffee, smell the sagebrush and study the stars. In all of this, you realize that time isn’t passing as fast as you think. In fact, it may actually be on your side.

The ultimate non-electronic experience

Who is not mesmerized by the leaping orange-blue flames or the pulsing glow of embers? Easily as hypnotic as video games, but far more soulful.

Campfires are soothsayers 

Whether native American lore or urban legend, stories told around fires are the best anywhere and quite memorable to boot. This includes creepypastas. Flashlight effects optional.

Firelight is unifying 

It’s snapping flames provide warmth and a gorgeous glow. Campfires create a safe space, free from bugs and critters. The kumbaya snuggling effect spares no one, young or old. Guitars optional.

Burning wood brings us back

You may not accept that your ancestors built fires to stay alive, but they did. Evidence from burnt antelope antlers suggests that homo erecti were making fires 1.5 million years ago. Campfires are a sublime way to reconnect to your distant past.

Light My Fire

And don’t forget the afterglow. You must admit, it’s unique compared to all others you’ve experienced. Never imitated, never duplicated, always pleasurable. So, make a point to stop for a campfire or two as you journey to distant places this summer.

Cross-posted from turekonmenshealth.com

Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor

View posts by Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor
Dr. Paul Turek is an internationally known thought leader in men’s reproductive and sexual health care and research. A fellowship trained, board-certified physician by the American Board of Urology (ABU), he has received numerous honors and awards for his work and is an active member in professional associations worldwide. His recent lectures, publications and book titles can be found in his curriculum vitae.


  1. Zak HinesJuly 17, 2015

    Interesting piece! I’ve always loved the atmosphere surround a campfire. Friends, family all sitting together around the warmth just for the sake of enjoying each other’s company. When I was growing up, we had a fire pit at our house and during the summers, we would have “fire parties” where we’d grill out. the kids would play, and we’d end the night with smores around the campfire. One of the best memories of my childhood! Really enjoyed the piece!

  2. TyrusJuly 21, 2015

    Being outdoors and gathering around the campfire. It is during this time that people retreat from the stress of life and just relax. Just reading this article soothed my soul. More people should take the time to gather around a campfire, turn off their devices and enjoy people’s company. Thanks for sharing!

  3. SophiaJuly 22, 2015

    Thank you for the reminder of how wonderful campfires are! Like Zak, campfires were a big part of my childhood. It was my favorite part of summer camp, and fires on the beach were (and still are) one of my favorite parts of family vacations. The soulful, relaxing quality of campfires can definitely help a lot of people de-stress, connect with nature and family and friends, preventing all types of stress-related illness.

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