On the second day of class, we tried to make fire using a stick and a plank. To be honest, I was kind of late to class so I missed the professor’s explanation, the video she showed (at least that’s what I gathered from people talking afterwards), and the instructions. Naturally, I didn’t really know what was going on, but after a few minutes of watching what my group was doing, I caught on.

After we successfully gouged out a little dip in our plank, we started twisting the stick against it to create friction, sawdust and, hopefully, fire. Long story short: it didn’t work very well.

We did manage to create a bit of smoke a couple of times and smelled something, presumably the wood, burning. The first time it happened we all got really excited and stopped twisting the stick to look at what was happening. Obviously, though, the smoking went away once we stopped creating friction and heat, so we were disappointed. We learned our lesson and the next few times it happened we kept on going. Despite our efforts, however, we never actually got any fire. Our arms always got too tired before anything came out of the smoke.

We did try something that seemed to work kind of well though: teamwork. As soon as our hands slid down to the bottom of the stick, another teammate would take over. That way, we would all get time to recuperate and be less tired in the long run. The time it took to switch hands was also kind of shorter than the time it took to move your hands back up to the top, so that was another plus side to this method. We did get smoke more often with this method than just going until a person was tired, but, like I said before, we never actually got any fire.

Whenever I went camping, I always wanted to try being more attuned to nature by creating fire “the old-fashioned way,” instead of just using a match. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought (although it worked a lot better than rubbing chopsticks together with my brother). But despite the heat and the six hours of other classes I had that day, it was still really fun and I hope we can try this again—and hopefully, we’ll actually get some fire!

-Jane Kim