National Campfire Day

History of National Campfire Day


In January 2000 my physics class at Cannon Falls High School had only six students in it.  We decided one cold day to build a fire outside to cook our lunch.  Actually the students sort of dared me to take them outside to build a fire in the middle of winter.  Still being a young, inexperienced teacher, I said okay.  So the first campfire day lasted for one class period and one lunch half hour.  We made a fire (mostly out of left over Christmas trees), cooked some hot dogs and weren’t even late for our next class.  As best as I can remember those were all boys, Bjorn Peterson, Balazs Orley, Tom Mercier, Jason Pederson, Ben Elias, and maybe one more, I can’t remember.


Campfire Day Founders, Meyers, Thompson, and Sundheim

The next school year in the fall of 2000, two chemistry students, Melissa Meyers and Danette Sundheim were hanging out in my classroom.  They had heard about the physics campfire the year before.  They asked when I was going to have the fire this year and could we do it for all my classes.  I said no way, but after a only a few minutes of badgering I gave in and we sat down and planned the first official “National Campfire Day”.  We decided on these rules:


  1. It will be the last Friday of January.
  2. The fire will last all day.
  3. All learning for the day is centered on campfires.
  4. You have to call the fire department to warn them.

The first six years headquarters for National Campfire Day (or NCD as it is referred to in the press) was Cannon Falls High School, but in 2005 I moved to ARTech Charter School in Northfield, Minnesota.  I decided to move NCD’s base of operations to ARTech.  I think this will be good for NCD as I have many more Internet resources to keep people around the country (and the world) informed about events.  In 2004 we had to add one more rule due to extreme weather conditions.

  1. If the temperature is so extreme as to be dangerous NCD can be postponed at any given location.  This is at the discretion of your local Campfire Czar (of course that was me in Cannon Falls when we had to postpone).  Also note: postponed, not cancelled.
  2. Oops, another rule.  Each location must have a Czar, to make such decisions and to make sure the fire is safe.

January 26, 2007 marks the 8th Annual celebration of National Campfire Day!  We will be celebrating at ARTech School in Northfield, MN.  Put it on your calendar now!  Also we believe it is being celebrated at schools all over this great nation.

Bring some hot dogs, marshmallows, or a great story and join us at the campfire.  Don’t forget to dress warm!


Todd Thompson


PS: If any former students want to add to (or correct) this history of NCD page just email me at