Ralph sees that the boys are missing the point about the fire. They are only young, some of them quite small, and the younger ones especially do not have the maturity of thinking to predict and to plan in abstract way for the future. All they know is 'now' - like in 'fun, now.' Children are excited by fire, but it is the flames that are dramatic, not the smoke. Immature minds also tend to think that with most things, the bigger the better. Not so for Ralph - he is thinking more like cowboys and indians where the braves 'make talk' by wafting the smoke with mats or branches as signals. he is right to think that putting something more cool and damp will subdue the fire and produce more smoke to get them seen from a distance.