Happy Campfires

Colin Monner

My wife and I took two years to conduct “Market Research” on whether we wanted to develop A Stones Throw RV Campground. It was not a decision that we took lightly. During that time we met the nicest people visiting every campground south of Red Deer and North of Lethbridge. Camp hosts and owners alike where so kind and willing to share their learning lessons with us. One could say we did not learn what to do, rather what NOT to do and we are happy to lean from other peoples bumps in the road. What problems arose and how did they deal with them?

Campfires are in our opinion a staple of a good time camping. Sitting around the fire feeds a basic need in all of us to de-stress from the day, gather with those close to us, where you can find yourself lost in thought just watching those coals flicker and dance. Last year we reached out to our Regional Fire Chief about creating 180 fire pits for 180 campsites, how could we create a safe environment? Understanding our concerns we developed a list of proactive measures and started to check them off the list.
1. Our roads are all 30 feet wide making a fire berm – Check
2. 9 Parks each with different trees and bushes,  not just poplar and caragana – Check
3. On-Site Potable Water Truck – Check
4. On-site Bush Buggy – Check
5. Placement of fire pits can not be closer than 5 feet from any vegetation – Check
6. Restrict Bonfires and the burning of pallets – by design Smaller Fires = Happy Campers – Check
At A Stones Throw RV Campground every site has a home-made fire-pit, it sounds easy saying lets make 180 fire pits. It was not without effort I will say that much!!!
It is funny looking back at social media posts when we were starting out, here is an early post to our Instagram page #astonesthrowrv
First we sourced pipe that was 2 feet wide and 3/8th thick, these are not meant to be moved and certainly made to last! Thanks to the ingenuity of HD Universal out of Brooks, they cut the pipe into 21” long lengths. After getting the cut pipe trucked back onto the farm our next task was to cut vent holes in the sides of the pits for air. How did we do this? Well we created a jig that would evenly space out holes around the fire pit. We had the opportunity to cut 1,020 holes and by the time we got to one thousand… we felt like we were catching on.
We learned how to use a plasma gun! After much research we settled on 2” vent holes, six in total equally spaced around the fire pit. The jig pictured above took a few revisions but when we got it working it worked out great.

Pictured is the jig that took several revisions but when we got it working boy did it work well! We learned that by using galvanized steel we were able to keep the flux from building up on the edges of the jog making it very difficult to make a smooth pass with the plasma gun. Earth magnets were used to help hold the jig firmly onto the steel.

We took a lot of measurements of different vent holes and sizes, learned about air flow and what a good campfire needs to keep breathing, but not too much! Based on our calculations if we cut 2” holes, six times around the 2 foot wide pipe, it would give ample air flow without too much opportunity for sparks!
We ended up cutting 1,080 metal circles… when cutting they would fall straight down into the fire pit with a “Ding” and it was satisfying to hear as it meant it was a clean cut.
The next step was to make our fire pits as child and pet friendly as possible, and that means no sharp edges. When compressed air and electricity cut through steel there is a lot of soot, smoke, and the edges left behind can be as sharp as a razor. We ground and ground all plasma cut edges to a near bevel. We tried several different grinding stones and wheels and found some real gems! When used correctly they lasted quite a while and really got down to business. A big thank you to dad and my father-in-law Brian for all of the help.
We started off hauling half of the fire pits into the garage to start working on them. The weight of these pits cracked the concrete floor of the garage! After that we just hauled in a quarter of the pits at a time… Brian, my dad and I spent hours leaning into grinders to smooth edges, it was a lot of work but we got it done! On this day, February 27th in 2021 we finished making the fire pits for our 167 guests 🙂
Visit our Instagram page at #AStonesThrowRV for a fun video where we show the process of cutting and grinding our fire pits.
Grinding A Stones Throw RV Campground's Fire pits
Here is Brian grinding and grinding some more! The 6 vent holes and top edge definitely took some time but was well worth the smooth finish.

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