There's an excellent book called "The Forest". Stewart Edward White, an honorary Boy Scout, wrote it in 1903. It's worth the free download.
Watching our scouts and adults build great campfires at White Memorial last weekend and on the AT in November reminded me of White's advice on how to build a fire, and the lessons earned from making a great camp. This is long. If you want, skip ahead to the last paragraph. At least read that; it's worth it. He writes:
"A roll of birch bark first. Then some of the small, dry, resinous branches that stick out from the trunks of medium-sized pines, living or dead. Finally, the wood itself. Pile your fuel--a complete supply, all you are going to need--by the side of yoru already improvised fireplace. But, as you value your peace of mind, do not fool with matches.
"The civilized method is to build a fire and then to touch a match to the completed structure. the only sure way is as follows: Hold a piece of birch bark in your hand. Shelter your match all you know how. When the bark has caught, lay it in your fireplace, assist it with more bark, and gradually build up, twig by twig, stick by stick, from the first pin-point of flame, all the fire you are going to need. it will not be much. The little hot blaze rising between the parallel logs directly against the aluminum of your utensils will do the business in very short order. In fifteen minutes at most your meal is ready. And you have been able to attain hot food quickly because you were prepared.
"In the woods, as nowhere else, you will earn your leisure only by forethought. Make no move until you know it follows the line of greatest economy. To putter is to wallow in endless desolation. If you cannot move directly and swiftly and certainly along the line of least resistance in everything you do, take a guide with you; you are not of the woods people. You will never enjoy doing this for yourself, for your days will be crammed with unending labour."
Let's be people of the woods. Not too many things better than earning our leisure.