By Christina Dotson
“So this is Pathfinders, huh?” Jaimi gazed around the school lunchroom, eyebrows raised. Though she seemed a little disappointed by the size of our club, I was thrilled. With Jaimi here, our four-member club had grown to five.
“That’s a 25% increase,” my brother Tony pointed out. “Not bad.”
“So what do we do here?” Jaimi asked, taking a seat next to Rachel.
“Today we’re going to learn to build a campfire,” Andy said.
Jaimi raised her eyebrows. “Aren’t you guys a Pathfinder club?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“And don’t Pathfinders clubs usually do a lot of camping?”
“And doesn’t camping usually involve making campfires?”
“Are you going somewhere with this?”
“I think she’s wondering how anyone who’s been in Pathfinders as long as we have doesn’t already know how to start a campfire,” said Tony. “A logical question, which I’ll let the rest of you answer. You’re the ones who actually enjoy sleeping outside in the dirt.”
“I think,” said Rachel, “she’s about to find out the answer for herself.”
Ten minutes later, we were out in the field behind the school, armed with matches and dry kindling. Andy and Rachel’s older brother had stopped by to help, and was moving between our two groups offering advice.
I was in a group with Tony and Jaimi. Tony refused to kneel on the ground, and since Jaimi was new to Pathfinders, I took it upon myself to be in charge.
“So . . .” I said, awkwardly holding a book of matches in one hand and a wad of newspaper in the other. “I guess the first thing we do is light a match.”
“You have to set up the kindling, first,” Tony reminded me. Apparently my brother’s dislike of all things camping-related did not stop him from offering advice while standing several feet away.
“The other group is setting theirs up like a pyramid,” said Jaimi. She picked up a piece of wood.
“Here, I’ll do that,” I offered. I took the wood from Jaimi and stacked it so that it met at a point in the middle.
“Now roll up the newspaper and put it inside the kindling,” Tony instructed.
Jaimi started to roll the newspaper.
“I think it should go like this,” I said. I crumpled the paper into a ball and tried sliding it into the spaces between the pieces of kindling.
Our pyramid collapsed.
“That’s not supposed to happen,” said Tony.
“You think?” I snapped.
“Don’t get mad at me. I’m just trying to help.”
“Yeah? Why don’t you yell your advice from way over by those trees? That’ll be really helpful!”
“Guys, guys!” Jaimi exclaimed. “Just let me try.”
“OK,” I said, “but I think you’ll find it’s harder than it looks. I’ve been trying this for years and I’m still not very good at it. Everything has to be set up just right, and you don’t want to waste matches because when you’re camping for real it can be dangerous to run out of—”
“I got it.” Jaimi sat back. I watched in amazement as a tiny flame grew until it engulfed the newspaper, which then caught the kindling on fire. Within minutes we had a campfire going—a real campfire!
“Wow,” I said.
“Impressive,” said Tony.
Jaimi smiled. “That was fun. I like Pathfinders.”
So far, I did too.
The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, March 7!
Read the main story, “Anything Can Happen,” each week in Guide!