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The Nights Away Permit Scheme

The Nights Away Permit Scheme promotes quality residential and camping experiences. It shows that all those leading nights away events for young people within Scouting have the skills, experience and personal suitability to take young people away safely.

It is designed so that it can be tailored to be as flexible as possible, while at the same time providing a robust checking process for leaders of nights away events. The permit should be seen as an enabling device to show a person’s

competence and provide reassurance to parents of the young people, while at the same time encouraging adults to acquire and improve the skills required to provide residential experiences.

What Is the permit scheme?

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.

Applying for a permit

To get a permit you should apply directly to your District Nights Away Adviser.  You can find an application form on these nights away pages  you can either print it off and fill it in or can be filled in using MS Word to enable you to email it.  Although there is no requirement to get approval from anyone in applying for a permit, it is good practice to let your Group Scout Leader know of your intentions beforehand as they can often provide valuable guidance and support.

There are four categories of permit:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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

Those holding a Green Field Permit may lead residential events in the other three categories.   

Those holding a Camp Site Permit may also run indoor residential events.

Those holding a Hill Walking Activity Permit that includes lightweight camping in remote areas may also run Lightweight Expedition events.

Nights Away Permits are not section specific but we suggest that if you are proposing to work outside your usual Section you  obtain guidance from our District Nights Away Adviser before the event takes place.

Once you have been assessed by the Nights Away Adviser, they will fill in a recommendation for the level of permit they believe your skills and experience are capable of fulfilling. When your permit is granted you will be given a permit card and your permit will be recorded on the nation Membership Services database.

All permits last for a maximum of five years, so when your permit expires you will no longer be able to lead nights away events for young people within Scouting. To renew your permit you will need to apply for a renewal however, if you have ongoing experience there is less likely to be the need for a full practical assessment.

Using Your Permit

Once you have gained your permit you can use it to run the activity up to the level permitted by any restrictions placed on it. Please remember that although there is no requirement to hold a first aid qualification to gain a nights away permit, and that your permit will remain valid whether you hold a first aid qualification or not, you are required to have a first aid holder present at every nights away event.

Having a permit does not override the need for all activities to have the (usually informal) approval of the responsible Commissioner, and in the case of nights away events this is done through the Nights Away Notification Form (NAN).

Before any nights away event takes place you need to send all the details that can be found on Form NAN to your DC you can do this online or hard copy. In addition when you visit other Districts for a nights away event you need to send this information to the host DC unless you are staying at a scout owned site.


You can find full details of the Nights Away Permit Scheme and details of how to get your permit click here.