Is Campfire the “Dessert” or the “Meal” of homeschooling?


The written version gives you an answer in less than 3 minutes and then continues on for more reading (optional); the audio version is a 25-minute listen… both are worth it.  Audio version is HERE.

Our curriculum has obviously evolved since the beginning, so new people have asked us a very important question:

Is Campfire Curriculums only the “awesome dessert” to the “meal”? [Homeschool curriculum analogy]

The answer is: NO. NO, NOPE, NO…. AND NO. Our earlier units and a couple of our holiday units could be classified as such, and this is why you might hear people explain the curriculum in this way. But what we really are is the full dining experience that offers you the meal, the sides, AND the awesome dessert that is like nothing you’ve ever had before. Can Campfire be used as an extracurricular? Yes. Can Campfire be used as core? Yes.  Can Campfire be used as only science or history? Yes. Can Campfire be used to cover all subjects except math? Yes. Has that been our goal or is that what we tell people to do? No. We don’t tell people to use it any way, except however they want. But if the shoe fits… please wear it. 🙂 Think about this… the pharmacist who ended up creating Coca Cola was actually creating a medicine. Just because that was his intention, does it take away from the fact that it also happens to be one of the most-loved sodas in American history? NOPE! The same analogy could be applied to our curriculum.

We HIGHLY encourage you to read the rest of this, especially so you’ll know how to explain it to others because we detail what Campfire IS and what Campfire IS NOT. In fact, you can copy/paste/share this if anyone ever asks!

First things:  We went through and compared the amount of teaching content in our units to that in modern textbooks (including high school). When we looked at the scope and sequence of what was included in each, Campfire matched that of the “rigorous textbooks.” However, Campfire often covered in 12 lessons what the textbook-styled curriculum covered in 12 weeks. AND we have written it in a way that it sparks passion, where you didn’t even realize how much you were learning.

Would you ever tell a chef he left something out because your child ate a full serving of carrots (but it was disguised in something else so they gobbled it up)? Absolutely not! In fact, you might praise the chef all the more because your children certainly wouldn’t have eaten the carrots straight.

We have had actual experts and university professors express that we are including college-level and professional-level content in our units. To do such while also sparking a joy of learning is nearly impossible, especially while teaching to all different age levels and incorporating everything else we do re: the Campfire Method (we try hard)! We also compared the depth of content taught within Campfire (which includes all subjects with our newer Core Connections) to many other well-known unit studies. In the comparisons, Campfire surpassed all other unit studies in amount of information taught, content, and depth covered in all subjects. Again, this was all done in 12 lessons vs. ~15 – 30 lessons of the other unit studies. But what we have done is made it fun and passion-filled and presented it in such a beautiful way that it doesn’t feel like anything else. So the question of if this can be used as your spine is answered clearly. Whether you want to or not is certainly up to you. Whatever you feel is the best fit for your family is how we want you to use it.

The curriculum is only two years old, and we have already grown and evolved SO much in that time. Customers kept coming back and asking for more. They loved the Campfire Method so much that they wanted the dessert, but also the meal. They wanted the meal, but also the healthy sides that their kids would finally eat.  Some wanted it all.  So what did we do? We gave everything that we had and continued only charging  for the dessert… while letting you eat whatever portion of it you wanted. Everything else we include as a courtesy—on us. Use it alongside your other favorite curricula, or use it as the foundation/spine of your schooling… it’s totally up to you.   What does Campfire NOT include?  Read to the end, and we detail it.

As we have continued to grow and implemented our separate core connections, our newer units with full Core Connections do cover all of your regular school subjects, and we cover them very well. We include them for free, and we let you use them if you want or skip them if you don’t want. Each family will be different and desire different approaches to homeschooling, so choose what is best for your family! Older units from the first year, obviously, will be updated in time to match the current and future flow. [A full pamphlet of what is included in each can be found on the bottom of our products page]


Here are the proper analogies and accurate explanations/comparisons of three different common kinds of curricula (ours included).

Typical, all-in-one styled curriculum (family-styled unit studies):

These are usually like a buffet. Grab a little of everything; nothing is too fantastic. They are often unhealthy with a few healthy items thrown in. The food might have flies on it (but can taste still yummy). Some of the serving stations in the buffet are way too high for your little kids to reach, leaving you with more plates to balance, yourself. Sometimes there’s even too much food and kids get sick because they overeat. They sample little bits of every kind of food and move on to the next. The requirements for cooks working here are not the same as in higher-end restaurants. But, it’s decent enough, and you didn’t have to cook it yourself. Each kid fed? CHECK!

* * *Analogy explained:* * * This is the kind of unit study curriculum often marketed as “core.” This type of curriculum often goes too long (too many lessons), and kids get “overstuffed.” Parents and children often want to quit half-way through and wonder if there is something wrong. This is kind of like the full plate of food that was left at on the table—uneaten—at the buffet. It looked good to their eyes, but wasn’t so great for their bellies. Many curricula in this kind of setup usually give “bits” and “overviews” of every school subject (seeing the analogy, here?). It’s not the best; it’s not in-depth. It usually uses Google or Britannica (etc) as its source. It skims the surface with a lot of copied and pasted information, and it often lacks good TEACHING. The requirements made or the resources used by the people putting this kind of curriculum together are usually not as high. But, it “checks the box.” You might have to juggle a few more plates as you take it upon yourself to cater the wording to a younger or an older child. You might even have to change things altogether because of inaccuracies. Now, your child might continue talking about “banana pudding” for a month and how much they loved it, but the rest of the “meal” on the plate… it may be long gone from their memory. In this setup, parents sometimes judge how nourished the child will be based on the amount of food placed in front of them, but not on the amount or kind of food they actually consumed. Personally, this is not our favorite, but other families do love their buffets (and we enjoy some, too)!  This is not representative of ALL unit studies out there, of course!  It is just a generalization.

Textbook-styled (classic approach where you read a textbook then fill out a worksheet).

This is like feeding your child with an abundance of healthy food. Green beans are for breakfast, sauerkraut for lunch, and carrot juice with their dinner. Most of the time this involves many foods they hate but sometimes enjoy. There is never creativity in the way the healthy food is presented, either. But, if the child can consume enough of it, it might do them well in the long run. Many of them learn to hate the flavor, so they put it in their mouths, chew it up, and spit it into their napkin when no one is watching. Food cannot be nourishment unless it is absorbed, and it won’t get that far unless it tastes good enough to find its way to their bellies. Parents know this, so they overflow the plates with more vegetables than necessary, because that’s the only way to ensure a few of them will make it down.

Disclaimer: we eat healthy foods (literally talking about food right now lol) in our home and are huge advocates of health. This is just a generalized analogy.

*****Analogy Explained:***** If the children complete the textbook, they might get something out of it. They frequently learn a lot upfront, but then “toss” the information in the garbage. They do the required worksheets, and then they move on. This kind of curriculum usually contains a lot of “stuff…” but not in a very approachable way. It’s the kind you will often find in public school or in the curricula that people call more “rigorous” (which is just smoke and mirrors, quite honestly). The joy of learning can often be lost, which also leads to worse education rather than better. The students do it because they must. The curriculum often gives WAY too much teaching that the child doesn’t need for college or a career, but it’s that approach of: “give too much so whatever they get, they get” type of concept. This is not our favorite style of learning either, and not one we would personally recommend… but there are certainly families who love this setup, as well!

Campfire Curriculums™

Campfire Curriculums, as we like to explain it within these “food” analogies, is like a full dining experience, where the meal and the dessert is made by an experienced chef, and food is sourced from the best local farms.  It is unlike any normal meal you’ve had before. When you take your first bite, you don’t really know what to do at first. The flavors take you on a journey previously unknown. The meal is beyond a full meal, but the portion of everything on the plate is just perfect. It allows the customer to savor every bite, and when it’s gone…. they can’t wait to come back for more. The customers are rarely overstuffed, but usually find themselves pleasantly full. There were incredibly healthy foods on the plate—sides of vegetables and vitamin-packed goodness that you didn’t even know you were eating. And, it left you with just enough room for dessert. The dessert is meant to be out of this world and certainly nothing at all like the ones from a buffet or fast food place. This dessert tastes good to your entire family (all ages), doesn’t leave anyone feeling sick to their stomach, and it’s an experience you will love and want more. You also didn’t have to juggle any plates on your own because at a fine dining restaurant, everything is handed to you.

We design our units so that they spark a passion and never leave you overstuffed, but always full. We focus on the Campfire Method so that your family actually understands and enjoys the content, plus they actually “absorb it” and retain it! Campfire even does this in a way that fathers can be involved and life skills and professions can be learned on top of it all! We seek out professionals for guidance before and after writing our units, so we can get a FULL understanding of everything before teaching it to you. Campfire teaches you in a way that will prepare you for your future and not leave you with the misconception that buffets were all the world had to offer.


Campfire Curriculums™ teaches you in a way that will prepare you for your future and not leave you with the misconception that buffets were all the world had to offer.


With Campfire, you can have a full dining meal, just eat the sides, or stop by for the dessert—or eat all of it. Order from the menu whatever you want. You will taste it and see it’s like nothing else out there. Whatever you want to order, the possibilities are endless. Our units have “variable ending points,” so Campfire can be to your family whatever you want it to be!

So to answer the question, officially: are we just the “dessert” to the meal? NO. Big no. Our older units could be classified as this (with no core connections or “older” core connections). However, just like EVERY curriculum out there adjusts as they progress from year to year, we have grown and evolved, as well.

Some parents need things Campfire doesn’t offer (such as a chronological history series that goes from the beginning of time to modernity). That’s not Campfire (though our history will cover the material; it’s just not laid out like that).  Some parents desire a specific “government” course or a “foreign language” course.  That’s not Campfire (probably never will be… sorry). Some parents feel they need tests for their children. That’s not Campfire (nor is it typical of most unit studies; although, we are coming out with a board game “test” for your family for every unit!).  Some people need math or a phonics program for their younger kiddos or a foreign language program or a keyboarding program. That’s not Campfire.  If you need a different setup for language arts that is not a Charlotte Mason approach, that’s okay, too!

There are many ways parents will want to go outside of Campfire for certain things (as they would regardless of what they used for their spine). Go for it! We don’t even mind to give you recommendations! We love hearing ALL the different ways customers use Campfire, and we also know there are MANY great curriculum companies out there!

Please help us to spread the word of what Campfire is!  Full meal + dessert + healthy sides that your kids will eat + high standards + great sourcing + extras of dad involvement/skills/profession + critical thinking + all school subjects included except math (or early learning phonics) + joyful learning + preparation for adulthood + family bonding + Jesus!


This post is intended to show you how much we put into our curriculum, how much we (and our customers) believe in it, and how much we truly brainstorm through every step of the journey during unit creations. Campfire Curriculums is something the homeschool community has never had before.

This post was also intended to answer all of the questions of new people who are wondering, as well. We strive so hard to ensure our customers are getting the best—as they deserve. This post is in no way intended to bring down any other specific company who works hard for their own product, nor any family who prefers other styles. There are MANY out there that are wonderful, and a thousand or more different family styles of teaching or expectations of what is enough for their family!

Please refrain from walking into the restaurant and telling other customers why you prefer fast food, or expressing why the restaurant’s tiramisu is not like the banana pudding you got from the buffet last week. In other words, please do not comment if your comment is to say why you don’t like these analogies or that your family prefers other styles of “eating.” We allow for sharing of all homeschool curriculum on our site and even encourage it, but this post is a specific post to show where Campfire shines, and how it is unique.

As was the case with Coca Cola, we never set out to create something that could be used as a core curriculum. In fact, that still isn’t our “goal.” Our goal is so much higher and more unique than that. But just like the pharmacist never set out to make a soda, that doesn’t mean Coca Cola isn’t a soda. On the contrary, it’s one of the most loved sodas in America. It’s just so much more than what the inventor originally saw it as. Likewise, our curriculum does cover all school subjects and can be used as core in spite of the fact that our goals are even so much higher than that (hence, meal AND dessert AND sides).  It really is like nothing else out there.

We believe in our product, and we want to share it with others. We want to be a blessing to your family more than anything. We truly believe it is worth it!

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