Senior Adventure Camper Badge Activity
Make a Buddy Burner
Learn how to make a camp stove with easy-to-find supplies!
Time needed: 45–60 minutes
- 1 shallow 4–6 oz. can (tuna, pet food, or pineapple cans are perfect)
- Plain corrugated cardboard (like a shipping box)
- Candle wax or paraffin
- 4 metal cans (8 oz. size, empty)
- Small frying pan
- Leather or heat-resistant gloves
- Microwave or stovetop (to melt the wax)
Setup: When you plan an adventure like kayaking, mountain biking, or rock climbing, you can combine it with overnight camping to make the most of your outdoor experience. Adventure camping requires minimal equipment/gear because you’ll be active during the day and possibly moving campsites. Some adventure campers bring nothing but a sleeping bag, lightweight stove, some food, and a backpack. Whatever spells adventure for you, start by listing the things you want to do—then make your camping trip happen!
In this activity, you’ll be using simple supplies to build a small but mighty camp stove called a buddy burner.
Activity: Every outdoor adventurer has to also be a good planner. Before your trip you should study a trail map, plan your meals, and learn some first aid. Plus, you’ll need to think about the supplies that are most important (perhaps a sleeping bag, portable stove, and warm clothes).
A successful trekker tries to predict what unexpected things might occur and make a plan for how she would adapt to the circumstances. For example, what happens if you can’t find wood for a campfire—for the fuel is too wet to burn? Use the instructions below and the video to practice making a portable stove that fits easily into any backpack and can be used to make pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches, boil water, and much more.
1. Remove the paper or plastic covering from the outside of all of your cans.
2. Cut the cardboard into long strips so that the holes show on the edges. Each strip should be the height of the tuna can and 3–5 inches long (probably about an inch wide).
3. Roll the strips into a tight spiral. Continue until the rolled spiral fills the tuna can.
4. Place your wax into one of the metal cans. Fill your saucepan up halfway with water. Place the wax-filled can into the saucepan; don’t let water into the can. You’re making a double boiler in which the heat from the boiling water will gently melt the wax inside the can. (Pro tip: wax is very hard to remove, so don’t use your family’s best pans!)
5. Ask an adult to help you use a stove to bring the water to a simmer. Watch carefully while the wax melts.
6. The wax-filled can will be HOT. Ask an adult to carefully pour the melted wax over your cardboard-filled tuna can.
7. Put your burner on a heat-resistant surface (rock, driveway, etc.) and surround it with the three remaining cans.
8. With an adult, light the wax-covered cardboard so it’s a low, slow flame.
9. Put your saucepan (or a small frying pan) on top of the cans and heat some water for tea, or make a few pancakes or even a grilled cheese sandwich!
- How did your buddy burner construction go? What could you do differently next time?
- What other primitive camping techniques would you like to know more about? First aid? Knot tying? How to use a compass?
Troop Leaders: The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in your Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit.
Girl Scouts at Home activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming and optimized for use at home during a period of social distancing.