Everyone loves a campfire – the challenge of lighting it, the crackle of the logs and the mesmerising flicker of the flames. Not to mention toasting marshmallows of course! But it seems there could be more benefits to sitting around a campfire than just a bit of fun whilst camping out for the night.
Richard Branson was quoted this week saying that if he wants to get his team together to come up with some new ideas, he doesn’t lock them in the boardroom but gets them out to Necker Island to all sit around the campfire. He claims that this is the perfect situation for swapping stories and letting our imaginations run wild, as our ancestors did hundreds of thousands of years ago. For them, it helped educate and inform the tribe and was the locus for new ideas. The campfire played a hugely important role in our evolution as it allowed people to get together, inspire and innovate. And it would appear that the same remains true today.
But it’s not just the ideas that a campfire can spark, the whole ritual of sitting in a circle around the fire has also been proven to promote pro-social behaviour. Simply put, when you’re all in a circle, everyone feels more equal and more comfortable taking turns to contribute to the conversation. Everyone is so entranced by the fire instead of focusing on one leader at the front, meaning that you feel less threatened and are more likely to put forward your point of view. This certainly seemed to be the case recently when we hosted a group of families with autistic children. One parent told us, emotionally, that she had never seen her son socialising as well as he did the night they spent around the campfire.
And it’s also been proven to be good for your health. A recent study by the University of Alabama suggests that sitting around a campfire can reduce your blood pressure and help you relax. Maybe it's the mesmerising impact of the flames which let's your brain switch off for a while. Perhaps it's just being outside in the fresh air and away from the usual day-to-day distractions. Or perhaps it's because it taps into our inner playful child and let's us feel just a little bit more uninhibited.
So, could this be the perfect formula for your next big idea? When you’re feeling inspired, sociable and relaxed who knows what you could come up with!