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Sauna/Bonfire

Distance from Laie:N/A
Gear Needed:   Wood, Tarp (See Details)

One of our favorite activites while on a campout or all-nighter is making an Indian sweat or Steam Sauna on the beach. The heat and steam help the body to sweat out oil, dirt and impurities. If done on the beach there's usually an ocean to swim and cool off in.
Things you will need:
Shovel
Tarp - around 15 X 20 feet
Four Stakes or poles about 5 feet long
4 to 8 dense lava rocks (10 - 20 pounds)
2 to 3 Gallons of Clean Fresh water
At least 3 pallets worth of wood for burning
Glow Stick or Waterproof light
Axe, Hammer, or tool to pound stakes (optional)
Leather or Heat resistant gloves (optional)
2 sleeping bags (optional)

Heating the Rocks
Build a fire and put the rocks in it. The fire should be big enough and hot enough to engulf the rocks. Put a few layers of wood on top the rocks so they are covered. (Warning Most rocks on the island have been saturated with water. The first time you heat rocks they can explode as the moisture expands.) Lava Rocks usually don't explode, but keep the rocks covered with wood as much as you can and keep people away from the fire while the rocks are heating up.

Building the Sauna room
The tarp can be a little smaller or bigger than 15 x 20 feet, but it must be big enough to build a small room out of, but not too big (the bigger the room is - the more heat it takes and less effective it is). Place your stakes at the four corners of the room you will build. If you have a small group (3-6 people) they need only be about 4 feet in width by 6 feet in length apart (Rectangle shape rooms seem to work best). Increase the size for larger groups. If you have a pounding tool then you can pound the stakes into the ground or use the shovel to dig a pit and bury the stakes. They don't need to be too deep, but sturdy enough to support the tarp. The stakes should extend no more or less then 3 to 4 feet from the ground. If you have some stakes or beams long enough then connect and tape or tie them to the pole tops to help support the roof of the room. Stretch and center the tarp over the top of the setup then pull the ends down and bury them and the sides into the sand so the room is sealed off (except for one corner which will be the entrance/exit). The ceiling should be just barely above your head when sitting down inside. If you have sleeping bags then place them over the tarp to help insulate it. If the tarp droops in the middle of the ceiling then take another pole or stick and place it in the center of the room to help keep the ceiling up. Dig a wide hole in the corner near the opening and if possible line it with small rocks or large metal bucket or container. The heated rocks will go in it. Pull the sand a way as much as possible to prevent it from falling in the hole and burrying the rocks.

Heating & Experiencing the Sauna
When the wood has burned down to coals and the rocks are visible and obtainable have all the participants enter the sauna and get comfortable. Put the gallons of fresh water in close to the hole where the hot rocks will be placed. Each person should have some drinking water as well. Activate the glow stick or flashlight inside the sauna.
Last Step: If available put the gloves on and a long sleeve shirt, then, Using the shovel pull the rocks out of the fire pit. Make sure to remove any coals and ash from the rocks or the sauna will fill with smoke. Rolling the stones around in the sand is an easy way to clean off any debris from the fire. As quickly and safely as you can place each heated rock in the hole in your sauna. If the rocks have cracked or split in the fire then just dig out the biggest chunks that you can. When finished climb into the sauna and seal the opening the best you can. Poor the fresh water on the heated rocks in small increments to heat and steam the sauna up. Be careful as you poor the water on as the steam coming off the rocks will burn if your hand is over or to close. Enjoy.

CAUTIONS Again, be careful when you heat the rocks as they explode easily in the fire. They usually never explode while getting wet in the sauna, but it's still a good idea to have them placed in a hole below the ground level.
If any of the participants feel too dizzy or uncomfortable encourage them to leave or step out for a bit. The heat slows down the heart rate and blood pressure as the temperature goes up. For this reason avoid running or moving fast after being in the sauna. Make sure to buddy up when getting out and cooling off in the ocean. Most people experience some dizzinous from the extreme temperature changes. On one occasion an individual in our party blacked out (after about an hours time in an extremely hot sauna). Be cautious of one another and avoid adding more water to the heat unless everyone is comfortable with it.



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