True. Aaron brought raw chicken for lunch.



Center Montessori School students (9 – 12 year olds) put their books and work away and head outside. We are a nature-loving, outdoor group of learners, so if it's not raining or too cold, we eat outdoors.

One day I showed the students how to build small campfires.
Small groups of 2 or 3 work together. They spread out, though are close enough that we’re all in the front yard area. We put our lunches down and head out to collect fire-building twigs.

One person collects a fist-size wad of dry tinder. Pine tree needles and dry grasses are available behind the school. It takes longer to find several one-inch thick sticks of fuel wood to put on top of the kindling. Vance was especially skilled at finding and building a small log cabin on top of the found tinder.

They light their fires with long box matches.

Mesmerized, we sit watching the flames cackle and settle. I tell them a story about author Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway liked to gaze at a fire. Sometimes he'd watch for a long time. He’d flick orange peels into the flames and watched the peel zest light and give off blue flames. It helped him relax before he began writing.” I tell the kids that I'll bring an orange tomorrow so we can see for ourselves.

Some have food to roast. 

Aaron says to Larry, "I brought chicken." I watch as he skewers raw chicken and beef kebabs.

Others poke red pepper, zucchini, or tomato pieces onto thin sticks. Apples and bananas are roasted. There’s not enough time for Jennifer’s potato to get soft. She says, "This tastes disgusting." Shrimp pinks quickly.

Once in a while, we roast marshmallows and make S’mores.

One day a fire truck pulled up with its siren blaring. The firefighter, wearing boots and, a helmet, and ready to use full gear, says sternly to all of us, “Make fires in a fire pit or on the grill.” 

I promise. The children add their promises. 

I walk with the firefighter as he heads back to the truck. Out of hearing range from the kids, he says, “I’d like to go to this school.”

Later we look up city ordinances and fire safety.

I read aloud after lunch. I read books like Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and Roald Dahl's books. Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys Camp Fire Stories are good selections when we build campfires.

(About 1986. Center Montessori School, Bradenton, Florida)