How to Become a Great Campfire Storyteller

Who doesn’t love to gather around the campfire to relax after a long day of hiking and spending time in the outdoors. It’s where your family and friends sit and enjoy listening to great legendary tales and fun stories. But, as a campfire storyteller, you can bring a whole different kind of storytelling that will make your friends’ and family’s camping experience jump off the map! 

Becoming an amazing campfire storyteller will not only earn you points from your family and friends, but they will want you to tell them more because you made your stories fun and interactive.

But not everyone has that gift so we’ll show you some great hints on how to get your audience’s attention and keep them engaged!

How to Become a Great Campfire Storyteller - Always On Liberty

This post contains affiliate links to help run this site at no extra cost to you so we can keep providing FREE Outdoor, Camping, RV and Travel information, advice and tips. Full disclosure here.

How to Become a Great Campfire Storyteller

When we think of campfire stories, we often think of spooky or scary tales of the chainsaw bloody dude or ax men lurking in the woods waiting to come get you in the middle of the night.

However, the art of storytelling dates back even too before our Native Americans.

Native American Storyteller

NCPedia explains in their article American Indian Storytelling,

“In American Indian communities, people tell legends, folktales, and fables. They tell these stories for many reasons: to recount the history of the people, to tell where they came from, or to relate the exploits of a particular hero. Often stories are told to educate children about cultural morals and values.”

And Bright Hub Education also shares in their article, Preserving History: The Importance of Storytelling in Native American Culture:

“As Native Americans explored their land, storytelling became an important tool. It was used to pass down traditions, such as local customs, how to live off the land, and how to survive in the natural environment in which they lived. … They also use storytelling to pass myths down to future generations.”

Today, storytelling resonates pretty much the same but with a little more embellishment and artistic drama.

I remember back when I was in the fifth grade, my English teacher was an incredible storyteller. I recollect how she disguised her voice for each character in the book, Flight of the Doves.

She captured her young audience by inserting her own sound affects like walking over to slam the door or slowly creak the floor.

Because of her creative storytelling, our class was attentive and couldn’t wait for the next chapter.

In fact, we would beg for her to read another chapter. She literally would leave us sitting on the edge of our seats. Our teacher was good at storytelling because she made us feel like we were actual characters in the book.

But here’s the thing. You can be just as good at storytelling as Miss English was with a few short lessons that we’ll share here.

So, let’s see what those lessons are so you can be on your way to being your own great campfire storyteller!

Storytelling Around Campfire - Always On Liberty

The Campfire Storyteller

As a Campfire Storyteller, you’re just like a teacher in a classroom. It’s your job to know your audience and keep them listening and engaged.

To do that, there, are things you should know, prepare for and even practice. Because once you become a campfire storyteller, you’ll go from storytelling to stardom! Your audiences will love to listen to your stories, tales and fables because of how you tell the stories.

Building Campfire

Assign the Campfire Tender

While you can be the star of the show, campfire storytelling isn’t as effective without the…*drum roll*…the campfire.

So, you’ll want to assign an experienced fire tender. Pick them carefully; preferably an adult or older teen, to keep the campfire burning bright without smoking everyone out.

Your fire tender should have a bit of campfire building skills and know-how. They should be prepared with a good stack of kindling, split wood and logs.

For a good steady burn, your wood should be properly seasoned. You certainly don’t want wet or damp wood. Your fire tender should never let the campfire smolder or go out while you’re entertaining your audience.

But there may be times where you might not be able to have a wood campfire due to fire bans. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a wonderful evening of storytelling! You could simply opt for a non-woodburning campfire instead.

✰ READ MORETop 10 Portable Fire Pits for RVs and to Take Camping

Campfire Chairs

You’ll want them to start the fire at dusk so it is at it’s prime when your storytelling audience gathers around to listen to your gripping tales. 

Remember, the campfire not only provides an enjoyable atmosphere but also, it provides illumination so you can see your audience’s faces. And they of course, will see you and your facial expressions. 

When your campfire is ready for gathering, it’s time to call in the troops! 

✰ CAMPING PRO TIP  Do your part by following these important  Campfire Safety Tips to Help Prevent Forest Fires

The secret to becoming an amazing Campfire Storyteller

Having a Story to Tell

Share your personal experiences

For light-hearted tales, tell about a cool experience. While kids may roll their eyes at ‘when I was a little girl’, still continue the tradition of passing down great stories as our grandparents and parents passed onto us.

You’ll be surprised to learn years down the road when your children become adults, they will tell the same stories.

Dress the part!

Surprise your audience by making a grand entrance by wearing a costume that can set the scene and your character.

Great simple costume ideas like a Dracula or devil’s capewizard cape and hat, a Lone Ranger or Zorro mask or magician hat, gloves and wand will bring your stories and tales to life.

Dressing the part will bring out the character. Your audience will feel like they are actually in the story!

Bring participation props!

When telling a great theme story to kids, including props for your campers will bring out the best audience engagement. Kids will love being part of the story. And of course, the parents will love taking photos of this amazing campfire experience!

But remember, you’ll want to collect them all at the end so you can use them next time. Because they WILL want you to do more storytelling at the next camping trip or campfire!

So, fill your storyteller trunk of participation props such as super hero masks, magic hats and wands, and even cowboy hats and bandanas to fit your story.

Engage your audience!

Speaking of engaging your audience, making them part of the story will keep them literally, sitting on the edge of their seats.

If you’re telling a well-known fable or tale, assign your audience different characters beforehand.

Let them also get into character and give them the opportunity to help tell the story WITH you.

Maybe they offer a different ending? Or maybe they portray a character differently than what you see.

That’s perfectly okay because storytelling is about perspective, vision and bringing out the imagination of each story listener.

Disguise your voice!

When telling a great campfire tale, manipulate your voice to differentiate characters. You may want to prepare for this so you could tell a story just as if your listeners are right there.

If you’re impersonating a story character from the south, bring out your best southern drawl.

For those tales about things that happened in New England, you’ll definitely want to learn how to talk like a Mainer!

And, don’t forget those cool times where your stories may take your audience to where the upper midwest accents are very prominent.

Most of all, use your voice volume to effectively display whispering, laughing loudly, and use high pitched sentence endings. 

In other words, get into character when telling your campfire stories! Your audience will love it! And, they will love you, the storyteller!

Be Dramatic!

Storytelling can be super fun for those telling the story as well as your story listeners around your campfire.

When telling your tales, be dramatic. Put emotion into your words and gestures. And over-accentuate your facial expressions. They will be awesome in the campfire light.

So, raise those eyebrows! Widen and roll your eyes! Curl up that lip and grit your teeth! Look surprised! Put on that sad face!. And go ahead to yell, scream, cry, laugh and do what it takes to make your campfire stories be felt.

Use sound effects!

As I mentioned earlier about my 5th grade teacher reading what could have been a boring book to an average 5th grader. But she was incredible at keeping our attention by using sound affects.

I remember her using sound affects throughout reading the story. She was precise in stomping her feet, clapping her hands, purposely dropping something, panting, crying, etc., all the time keeping in character. 

I realize some of those can’t be done around the campfire or in a tent, but you could use your voice to make those sounds just as easily.

And if you really want to get creative, you could get one of those sound effect devices to use as one of your storytelling props.

But, let’s not forget that you could also play some background music to make your story more lively and fun!

Add lighting effects

Storytelling can be extra fun by adding in some lighting effects. While the campfire is the spotlight, there’s other ways to incorporate creative lighting effects to tell your story.

So, keep a bag of tricks in your pocket such as a small flashlightIt can act as a spotlight on either your audience or to light up an object. Use the red lens feature for an added effect; especially when telling scary stories.

Also, a small battery operated strobe light can be a hit when telling a spooky or scary story. And you can really dazzle your camper troops with a secret splash of magic dust in the campfire to make it turn different colors!

And speaking of magic, if you want to set a great scene, decorate your campsite or tent area with some cool fairy lights or fairy stars!

Keep your stories short!

Because your audience may be of all ages, attention spans may differ. So, keep your storytelling short.

Allow short intermissions for loading marshmallows on sticks, making s’mores or pudgy pies and taking latrine breaks. 

This also enables you to get into character(s) for your next story, tale or fable. And of course, to grab a snack or a much needed potty break.

But really, how long should you tell your campfire stories? While the sky may be your limit, do appreciate your audience’s interactions. If you find they’re not really engaging or are distracted, shorten the story and perhaps, move onto a different vibe.

The goal of a storyteller is to not ramble but to get out the short of it.

By adding in the special effects, voice volumes, regional accents and keeping that fire stoked, your audience will follow your lead.

Campfire Food is the Best!

Check out these amazing campfire recipes

How to Make Perfect S’mores

Pie Iron Recipes for Camping and BBQs

Quick & Easy Foil Packet Camping Recipes

15 Dutch Oven Camping Recipes

15 Cast Iron Skillet Recipes

10 Quick & Easy Fall Camping Recipes

Take a pause for the cause!

By taking short breaks between different campfire stories, it helps to prepare for your next characters in your tales.

But also, by pausing, your audience will want to come back because they’ll want to know what happens next!

Find some great campfire storytelling material to use at the campfire!

Campfire Storytelling Group - Always On Liberty

There are several sources out there to get some great storytelling tales and fables. Here are a few popular resources we’ve found that are great for campfire storytelling:

Ultimate Camp Resource – Campfire Stories for Kids

Icebreaker Ideas – 14 Best Campfire Stories

KOA –  17 Kid-Friendly Spooky Campfire Stories

RVC Outdoor Destinations – Campfire Stories for Kids

The Dyrt – 13 Scary Campfire Stories That Will Freak Out Your Friends

Campfire Marshmallows – Campfire Stories

Also, there’s a few great campfire stories to take on your camping trips to act out while reading to your audience:

MeatEater's Campfire StoriesTales from America's National Parks - Campfire StorytellerCampfire Stories for Kids
True Ghost StoriesYellowstone Bigfoot Campfire StoriesMeatEater's Campfire Stories

Final thoughts on how to become a great campfire storyteller

Campfire Storyteller - Family Gathering

That wraps up our how to become a great campfire storyteller article. While anyone can be a campfire storyteller, if you put a little forethought and work into it, you’ll become a GREAT storyteller!

Using these storytelling tips, your audience will enjoy gathering for your evening tales around the campfire.

“When storytelling, be conscious of your audience. Know how to read the room.”

When you’re gathered around the campfire with younger kids, you may want to skip the blood, guts and gory details of the boogie man who lives in the woods. You certainly don’t want to scare the littles into not ever wanting to camp again.

And, no matter what age the kids are, always end the night with a good hearted, funny or moral to the story type of campfire tale so they sleep better at night.

As you see, there are so many ways to tell a tale with excitement and intent. Whether your stories are fact or fiction, have a moral, scary or funny, tell them.

Your children will share those same stories with their children; eventually becoming amazing campfire storytellers themselves.

Other camping articles you’ll want to check out!

Campfire Storytelling - Always On Liberty

DISCLOSURE: This website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *