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What’s your favorite campfire story to tell Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts?

One of my favorite memories from Boy Scout camp-outs was gathering around the fire and listening to the assistant Scoutmasters tell campfire stories.

I loved movies and books growing up, but there was something about those live stories that was more compelling than the printed word or images on a screen.

Some of the stories were funny, others scary, but they all held my interest like nothing else.

Campfire stories have been around as long as the BSA itself. The great Norman Rockwell immortalized “The Campfire Story” in his 1936 painting seen at left, and generations of Scouters have used the stories as campfire entertainment.

So they’re an important part of the BSA, we know that. The trouble is finding great stories to tell.

That’s where you come in, Scouters. Click the “Comment” button at the bottom of this post and share your favorite campfire story. Or post a link to a good resource for these tales.

Remember that the stories should be appropriate for Scouts, and the best ones are long enough to matter but not so long that they’ll lose a boy’s interest.

OK, the fire is lit, and the Scouts have gathered in a circle. The stage is yours.

23 Comments on What’s your favorite campfire story to tell Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts?

  1. The Boy Scouts of my troop love to hear the stories of the Black Forest and The Wolfen. (I guess you could say they are Troop 68 stories.) And they like the new boys to hear the story of the Purple Gorilla on one of their first overnights.

    • Good ones, Steve. Where could we find the full stories online?

      • The stories are not found online since they were created by the troop and myself. However, you can read about them on my blog.
        http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?s=wolfen

        • Great, thanks for the link.

    • Purple Gorilla is a favorite for us as well. We have one particularly theatrical scout that does a great job of reeling in the new scouts!

  2. I like Robert W. Service’s poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” It’s especially good on winter camp.

    • Tory, that’s one of my favorite poems!

      “There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold…”

      • Bryan Barnes // January 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm // Reply

        “The Cremation of Sam McGee” is awsome but a suggestion is that it is all in the delivery if you can get some one to memorize it and use it in a spontaneous situation it will blow the boys away. Happy trails!

        By the way you can find the poem at the following website: http://wordinfo.info/unit/2640?letter=C&spage=26

    • I used the The Cremation of Sam Magee for a podcast I did last October and added some wind sound effects to make it sound a colder. Great story.
      http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=1131

  3. These three are troop favorites:
    The Medicrin – http://boyscouttrail.com/content/story/the_medicrin-986.asp
    Purple Gorilla – http://boyscouttrail.com/content/story/purple_gorilla-1454.asp
    Some Special Pig – http://boyscouttrail.com/content/story/some_special_pig-954.asp

    It’s fun to hear, “Hey, Mr. SM, tell the one about …!”
    But, it’s even more fun to hear a scout stand up and start telling one of ‘mine’ and it then becomes the troop’s. :-)

    • When I was a Cubmaster, I told the Purple Gorilla one every year, and even the Webelos II’s were on the edge of their seats and jumped at the climax of the story! Fun!

    • As soon as I heard “I tell purple monkey every year” I knew it had to be the one I was thinking. BEST STORY EVER! In Pack 111 (Phila) we call it “Skunk Monkey.” If you don’t know it, read it, tell it, embellish on it – Great one!!!

  4. Coffin.
    Infinitely adaptable.

  5. Native American tales/legends are very popular up here in Maine. Among the tribes in Northern New England and Atlantic Canada, Glooscap (Kluskap, Gluskanoba, and a few other spellings) is the main hero in most of these tales and is considered the first human.

    Like others have said, you need to memorize the story and not read it from a book or print-out. Here are a a couple of online archives of Glooscap legends:

    From the Maliseet of Maine/New Brunswick:
    http://www.native-languages.org/maliseet-legends.htm

    From the Micmac of Maine/Atlantic Canada
    http://www.native-languages.org/mikmaq-legends.htm

    From the Abenaki of western New England/Quebec:
    http://www.abenakination.org/stories.html

    My favorite is from this second archive, it’s Gluskanoba and the Four Wishes:
    http://www.abenakination.org/gluskonba.html

  6. My favorite TRUE STORY to sell Scouts is about my own Scoutmaster back in the 1960’s. Like most Scouters, Mac like his coffee. The coffee pot from those Trail Chief cook kits was always on the fire with “hobo” coffee. That’s where you throw the ground coffee right in the pot with water and boil away. Mac also had his favorite coffee cup that was always with him on camping trips. It was a heavy porcelain US Navy cup that was made without a handle. Mac would tell us scouts that it did not have a handle for two reasons. The first is that it would only get broken off in the dishwasher on a ship, and the second reason is that it will warm your hands when you cup your palms around it on watch.
    Well, one particular evening, my patrol use the coffee pot in one of cook kits to boil hotdogs. That particular pot was still near the fire later that night when Mac thought he would like another cup of coffee to warm up. So he got his old Navy Cup, poured what he thought was coffee, warmed his hands for a few minutes, and then took a big gulp of WEINER JUICE COFFEE. This was long before Starbucks ever thought of flavored coffee. I think he spit that stuff all the way across the camp site and there were a few words about messing with the coffee.
    Mr “Mac” McManus was a lifelong Scout, Scouter and Eagle Scout. I am very grateful he was a part of my life.

  7. This isn’t necessarily a campfire story, but telling about snipe hunting and then taking the boys on a snipe hunt is always fun. I can remember as a boy ALMOST finding one. ;-)
    When I was a scout, our SM did something called the Royal Order of the Moon at campfires. He would get a stick from the fire and draw a moon in the air saying… “The moon is round. It has 1 eye, 2 eyes, a nose, and a mouth). And then the kids had to guess what the secret was. He would do it over and over again. Sometimes altering it slightly. You were allowed 1 guess per campfire. All of us were desperate to figure it out and become members of the Royal Order of the Moon.

    • Sounds really interesting. Is there an actual secret or is it just theatrics?

      • Yes! There was one thing that remained constant in the whole routine. If you got that then you became a member of the Order of the Moon. This was a good way to teach the young scouts about paying attention to detail.

  8. One of the best stories that I’ve used with my Webelos a couple times in the last year or two I heard from an Assistant Scoutmaster when I was a young Boy Scout myself. The story is actually a joke in disguise that can string boys along right up until the punchline. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, I guess it would be called “The Worst Thing I Ever Did.”

    You can read it on my blog:

    http://middletownscouter.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/campfire-stories/

  9. Campfire stories are some of the best teaching moments a scout leader can have with his scouts. I like to mix it up. Some stories are about true life adventures, historical figures, or just plain whimsy and humor. I’ll even read to from a good book. I avoid the scary stories; the time is too valuable.

    I start my whimsical stories with, “All my stories are true. Just some of them never happen.”

    One of my favorite is ‘Chief Falling Rocks.’ I like to weave in the local Native Amerian elements to make it sound authentic and realistic.

  10. I agree wholeheartedly to your advice re: length and propriety for Scout audience: “Remember that the stories should be appropriate for Scouts, and the best ones are long enough to matter but not so long that they’ll lose a boy’s interest.”

    There are classics like “The Hook” and “Tag” that I remember my older brother telling me in our youth. There are some great new and original stories here, some of which have a Scouting theme or feature Scouts as characters: scurrytails.wordpress.com.

    Some of the most entertaining ones, in my opinion, are those that our sons and their fellow Scouts make up for each other around the campfire — they are almost always funny to hear –even if unintentionally — and it’s special to see them flex their creative muscles in this manner!

  11. mark kuhn // May 11, 2012 at 3:20 am // Reply

    I have a original campfire story poster is it rare and is it expensive get back to me thanks.

  12. What is the original campfire story poster with? Please get back to me thanks

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