think that I now realize why the Israeli army is as successful as it is. It's because the future soldiers get so much practice in planning strategies from preparing their Lag B'Omer bonfires.
Over a decade of watching my children huddle with their friends during the weeks before Lag B'Omer have convinced me that they develop techniques of planning and executing manuvers which would make any fighting unit proud.
With all due respect to the Women's Movement, this holds much truer of boys than it does of girls.
Girls generally sit together several hours before the event, decide where they want to go (somewhere where wood is already plentiful), what everyone will bring, and whose parents will bring them and pick them up.
Boys start planning weeks before the event, with afternoon excursions to find wood blocks and planks. They call each other with phone chains to decide where and when to gather, and then spend several hours each evening hauling home the findings.
About a week before the bonfire, they confirm who the chevre will be...not too many, but not too few. Having boys whose mothers have differing cooking skills helps (Shlomo's mother can make the kebabs and Matan's mother makes good shipudim and Aryeh's mother makes good hamburgers). Vegetarians would have a lonely and hungry evening with these groups who look forward to a meat fest.
Then, a day or two before the actual bonfire, the boys start making lists. Why they need so many lists I have yet to understand, but it seems that they use a tremendous amount of paper trying to work out who will bring the ketchup, mustard, knives, spatulas, etc.
Hagai's group has collected enough wood to have their bonfire seen from Meron, as we try to see the Meron fire every year from our front porch, and the boys will be starting their fire about 8:30p.m., which, if all goes according to plan, will keep them busy and their stomach's full until tomorrow morning.
IDF, take note.