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What are nights away?

A night away or ‘residential experience' is any event that takes young people way from home that involves them sleeping somewhere overnight. Whether it takes place in your regular meeting place, at a Scout Camp Site or in a farmer's field, a ell run event will be remembered by the young people in your Section for the rest of their lives.


Prior to every activity the Leader must ensure that:

  • it has been approved by your DC or Nights Away Adviser (using Form NAN)
  • an In-touch system is in place
  • the event is appropriate to the age and abilities of all participants
  • each participant has received appropriate support and if necessary training
  • each participant is suitably equipped (for all extremes or conditions anticipated)
  • an appropriate weather forecast has been obtained and acted upon in terms of selecting the area in which the activity will operate and that each participant suitably equipped to tackle predicted/possible extremes
  • all equipment is appropriate for the activity
  • any other requirements of The Scout Association, including safeguarding young people have been complied with
  • if necessary, any legal requirements for the activity have been complied with.

A leader or other adult leading a camp or residential experience involving young people under 18 years old must:

  • hold a valid Nights Away Permit

  • have the prior agreement of the young person’s section leader

  • either attend the event, or closely monitor and support it.

Nights Away Permits

Everyone who leads a nights away event for young people within scouting is required to hold a Nights Away Permit for the type of event they are running.

Although managed locally, the Nights Away Permit Scheme is a national scheme, so once gained, a permit will allow you to run a nights away event in any District or County.  To find out more about the Permit Scheme and how to apply click here

There are four categories of permit:

  1. Indoor -  for staying in a building that has toilets plumbed into a waste disposal system (i.e. a cess pit, storage tank or mains drains) and access to running drinking water;
  2. Camp Site -  for staying at a site that has toilets plumbed into a waste disposal system (eg. a cess pit, storage tank or mains drains) and access to running drinking water;
  3. Green Field  -  for staying at any site where any of the above facilities do not exist – for example, a summer camp on a farmer’s field;
  4. Lightweight Expedition -  for planning on staying at any site for not more than one night before moving on. The core activity is a form of expedition, not residential, and all the equipment is transported with the participants. eg. QSA/DofE hikes, expedition hikes, canoe expeditions:

Please remember that the your Nights Away Notification (NAN FORM) must be submitted at least 7 days before any camping or residential event takes place.

The notification must be given using the Nights Away Notification Form (FORM NAN) available in our toolkit.

Mixed Sex Camping

There is a common misconception in Scouting that introducing girls into the Movement changes everything. This is not the case. When we decided to take girls in we also made an agreement that we would not change anything, as the girls are joining for what it is and not to be made a special case.

In all cases, when running Scouting activities, reference should be made to the current edition of Policy, Organisation & Rules. (POR) The official Associations guidelines on mixed camping state that:

  • Separate sleeping accommodation SHOULD be provided for male and female Beaver Scouts, Cubs Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts.
  • Separate accommodation MUST be provided for young people and all adults.
  • Separate male and female washing / toilet facilities SHOULD be provided. Although a rota may be acceptable in normal circumstances this may not be acceptable in the case of an activity when several people needed to get washed immediately afterwards or when young people need to go to the toilet at short notice.
Adults on camp

POR does not mention that you MUST have a female leader on camp; it only recommends as best practice. However, if you do not you have a female on your team you could leave yourself wide open if one of the girls has an ‘accident’. Don’t make not having a female leader an excuse for young people to lose out on having nights away.

Technical Manual

An adults' guide to camping, holidays, expeditions and sleepovers

'Nights Away' is a print publication containing everything you need to know for enjoying the outdoors and taking young people away safely and with confidence. Aimed at all adults in Scouting, it provides advice on the best equipment to take, ways of preparing your staff and how to make the most of your time away.

Illustrated in full colour throughout, and with its own smart binder, Nights Away is the definitive guide to camping and the outdoors.

You can pick-up a copy from Scout Shops by  clicking here.