O is for “Only You”

  O is for Only You“Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”

O Smokey face

I’ll bet you have heard that before. And, I know, it is now “Only you can prevent wildfires” but this is how I learned it when I was little. It is a welcome, homecoming type of message for me. I grew up in Smokey Bear country and anything Smokey Bear makes me smile. I remember doing Smokey Bear coloring contests in elementary and marching the Smokey Bear Stampede parade during junior high and high school. We would visit the museum and play at the park. Now, we visit every few years to take the girls and keep them connected to that part of my childhood. You see, my dad use to work for the Forest Service and one of my favorite pictures is him dressed as Smokey holding me.

It is only natural that we do something related to Smokey Bear and fire safety every year. We haven’t done anything recently but this year (actually this Friday) is Smokey’s 70th birthday. Smokey was created as a cartoon to help promote fire safety in the forests. A few years later, a small black bear cub was burned during a forest fire in the Capitan Mountains of NM. After he was rescued and healed, he was adopted as a live symbol for forest fire safety and flown to Washington, D.C., where he lived in the National Zoo.

In honor of Smokey’s 70th birthday, I am sharing a few fun activities that you can do to help promote forest fire (and wildfire) safety.

O Smokey song


“With a ranger’s hat and shovel and a pair of dungarees, you can find him in the forest always sniffing at the breeze…”

A fun, cheerful song that we sing often here at our house, it is actually pretty easy to learn. If you search on YouTube, you will find a bundle of options for learning the song. Some of my favorite options for learning the song include:



The story of Smokey Bear is, of course, very familiar to me. In order for it to be something the girls know as well, we have copies of the comic book story titled “The True Story of Smokey Bear”. It stays on our non-fiction shelf and the girls pull it out every once in a while. You can download a copy of it from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.

Our library has an easy children’s book available titled The Smokey Bear Story, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I haven’t actually seen this one but we will check it out to see what it is like. Perhaps your library has one as well.

O promotional slogans

Educational Materials:

  • Smokey Bear has his own educational website. You can find it at http://www.smokeybear.com/. You will find all sorts of downloadable educational information and links to additional resources. There are two levels of materials for students: K-2 and 6-8. The materials are pretty adaptable, though, especially when paired with some of the other links. On SmokeyBear.com you will also find copies of all of the promotional materials from 1944 to present day. There are lots of neat things to look at there.
  • The West Virginia Division of Forestry has a lot of different links for activities, as well. This is the place where I had found the song and comic book easiest to access. (See the links above for those.)
  • The Special Collections of the USDA has a page with some images of Smokey, his campaigns, and real-life photos. These are interesting to see the different progressions of the promotions and to help reinforce with students that this was a real animal affected by a forest fire.
  • There are a number of links on the site for Smokey Bear Historical Park, including a link to the plaque on his grave site, Frequently Asked Questions, and fun pages (including one that has a pumpkin stencil).
  • My dad got each of the girls a series of 15 posters (8×10) that depict a number of the different creatures and plants that you can come across in the forest. They are terribly interesting and we will be using them a lot this coming year. They are Forest Service materials and it says on them that they are from Your State Foresters. Perhaps a visit to your local Forest Service may garner you some?

O posters

Planning a Visit:

There is a museum, a nature park, and a gift shop (which is the original museum building) at Smokey Bear Historical Park, in Capitan, NM. It is an interesting place to visit and will take you an hour or two to go through.

O Smokey Bear Historical Park

These pictures are from our 2007 visit to the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, NM.


O Smokey in truck

Smokey Bear in a parade in Capitan, NM. 2007

Smokey Bear Days occurs every year the first Friday and Saturday of May. So, it is a bit late to make a trip for this year but if you are planning for the future, this could be a good time to go.

The New Mexico Legends page (part of the Legends of America page) is another resource for some information on the Smokey Bear Historical Park.


Sign Smokey’s Birthday Card:

Head over to Facebook and sign the birthday card for Smokey. Join others in wishing him a happy birthday. And stick with them, who knows what else you may find out or learn by following Smokey on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy learning about Smokey as I enjoy telling about him. At Home.


Linking up with ABC Blogging at Ben and Me.

Ben and Me






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11 thoughts on “O is for “Only You”

  1. Kym Thorpe August 9, 2014 at 8:43 pm Reply

    I remember Smokey the Bear from when I was a kid too. I grew up near the Canadian Rockies so preventing/fighting forest fires was big news there too; and Smokey the Bear materials were used in schools and at the national parks etc. I didn’t know there was a song though!

    • 3gigglygirlsathome August 9, 2014 at 10:57 pm Reply

      Smokey Bear was a big campaign for a long time and I think he impacted lots of kids. I know my girls enjoy him and they have been singing the song since they were little. It is one of the early ones my mom taught our oldest daughter when she visited them at about age 3.

  2. agilitynut August 12, 2014 at 6:41 am Reply

    I never learned the smokey the bear song.. all I remember is the finger pointing and saying “ONLY YOU can provent forest fires”. 🙂 Good to learn more.

    Annette @ a Net in Time. (http://anetintimeschooling.weebly.com/a-net-in-time-blog)

    • 3gigglygirlsathome August 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm Reply

      I wonder if the song was fairly narrow in reach. The song has just always been a part of my life. And, yes, the finger point and slogan are the first things I think of, too.

  3. Tina Smith August 15, 2014 at 7:24 am Reply

    It has been SO long since I thought about Smokey the Bear! What fun. I remember the T.V. commercials with him, and I’m sure I’ve said the catch phrase at least a couple hundred times in my life. 😉

  4. RavenThreads August 15, 2014 at 8:14 am Reply

    Oh! I love this. I remember this part of my childhood. I’m going to have to share it with my kids before our next camping trip 🙂

  5. F is for … Finding New Mexico | At Home December 3, 2014 at 7:14 am Reply

    […] Smokey Bear – This is a must-stop place in my opinion. Of course, I grew up with Smokey so he is very closely associated with New Mexico for me. […]

  6. […] O is for “Only You” […]

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