The best seat at the campfire

Sit-upons, bum buckets or camp chairs: The great debate

One of the central parts of a camping trip is the campfire. It’s where we cook and eat, where we bond and strengthen our sisterhood, and where we sing and create memories that can last a lifetime.

But sometimes, the worst thing about a campfire can be an uncomfortable or ill-suited seat! There are so many options for you to choose from, and for new (and sometimes old!) Guiders, it can be hard to choose which to put on the kit list. Sit-upons, bum buckets and camp chairs are the most common seating around a campfire. But which one should you choose?

The first step in deciding is to know your campsite and to know your girls. If your campsite comes with benches, you may decide that you don’t need to bring seating of any kind. If this is the case, sit-upons are a great option. They can be packed up small, and they can be added to the bench for cushioning and insulation against the cold. They are also a great backup in case your benches aren’t where they are supposed to be!

Sit-upons are easy to make for Sparks and Brownies and can be a wonderful accessory for cold meeting halls, hiking trips or camping. (For the uninitiated, they’re a homemade insulated and waterproof pad – often made from duct tape and newspaper – that keep you from getting cold and damp while ‘sitting upon’ the cold ground.) The downside of sit-upons is that for older/taller girls, it really only provides protection for your bottom and not your legs.

If your campsite doesn’t have benches, the next option is a bum bucket. Contrary to some first impressions, this is not for going to the bathroom, but rather a bucket for you to sit on. Bum buckets are great – they can be used to store rain gear, sunscreen, extra shoes, etc. Years ago I knew many Pathfinders who had bum buckets made from old drywall buckets. They were bulky, but the perfect size for teenagers.

In our Guiding community, girls make bum buckets in Brownies. They use gallon ice cream containers a local business saves for us during the summer and donates. Guiders drill a hole in either side and the girls attach a bungee cord as a handle. They then decorate and personalize their bucket. These buckets last well into Guides.

The last option for sitting is camp chairs. As a girl I remember a ban on chairs for girls – we had sit-upons or benches at the campsite. I think our Guiders made the rule for two reasons: 1) because at the time camp chairs were an expensive investment and it brought visible attention to differences in income and 2) girls or parents would bring lawn chairs which were bulky and added too much weight to girls’ gear. Now, camp chairs are lighter and  more affordable.

We allow our Guides to bring either camp chairs or bum buckets. Our girls generally do around a 10-minute walk into camp – they are allowed one bag, one bedroll and a bum bucket. For many, they prefer a bum bucket to a chair because it allows them to fit more in their bag!

Sit-upon, bum bucket, or camp chair, there is no wrong choice! Whichever you choose, factor in your campsite/activity, the age of the girls and their experience, and include them in the choice! Most importantly, have fun, and don’t forget the marshmallows!

Guest post by Jane Taft, a Unit Guider with Sparks and Guides and Community Guider in Southern Ontario who is addicted to camping and collecting crests.

Have you come up with a great camping solution? Share your story! Email us: ggcblog(at)

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