Nights Away Permit Types

Indoor permits must be in a building that has built in lighting and cooking facilities, toilets plumbed into a waste disposal system and running drinking water. Therefore, a barn might not be an indoor accommodation because of the toilet or light facilities.

An indoor permit allows you to stay indoors only.

Campsite permits allow you to camp at any public, private or Scout Campsites and must have access to plumbed in toilets and running drinking water.

If you are using Chemical toilets even on a 'Campsite' - you are not covered by a Campsite permit and will need all Greenfield permit.

(If you are only ever going to be using them for your section overnight for convenience, talk to your Nights Away Advisor, if the leader has been assessed as capable of handling human waste, there is absolutely no reason they can't issue you a Greenfield permit with the following restriction: Greenfield Permit 'restricted to Campsite environments but allowing the use of chemical or elsan type toilets".

A Campsite Permit allows for staying on Campsites and also covers all the requirements for Indoor.

Greenfield Permits allow you to camp anywhere you have permission, or in the case of Scotland, anywhere that allows the right of access. (Google this for info)

Greenfield also covers the requirement for Campsite and Indoors.

You don't need a Lightweight Expedition permit to run overnight expeditions. - if you have a campsite permit you can run an expedition as long as you end up at a campsite for the sleepover part.

A Lightweight Expedition permit should be seen as a 'Greenfield Lite' permit. It allows overnight stops as part of an expedition at any greenfield site or area BUT IS RESTRICTED. You can go on to another site. You can go full circle and come back to the same site. But you must fully strike camp and move on completely.

Each subsequent permit covers the requirements of the previous permit. The assessment process means you are assessed progressively - indoor being the baseline, then adding to it for Campsite and then again being assessed for waste disposal and water cleanliness for Greenfield.

Permits can also be restricted for certain elements such as 'No liquid fuels until further training has been given', but what they cannot do is be extended to include elements from the next category.

A permit automatically covers the previous category and also excludes the next.

Event Passports can be issued by any permit holder up to the level of permit they hold.

Scouts or Explorers wishing to stay at a Youth Hostel on a Passport as part of their expedition challenge only need to be signed off by a Leader holding an Indoor Permit.

Some Nights Away Facts

If you are holding a Nights Away experience for your section you must have a Nights Away Permit holder on site overnight. (Unless it is Scouts or Explorers and you are having zero adults on site and the NAP holder has issued an 'Event Passport'). This includes PGL etc.


Event Passports are for Young People ONLY (Under 18's) They CANNOT be issued to adults.


The NAP holder is responsible for the camp. It is their camp, they make the decisions and as long as they are safe, within the rules laid down in POR and the NAP scheme, nobody else should be interfering. They have been assessed as competent, they should be allowed to get on with it. If you see something that you are unsure about - talk to them.


A minimum of 7 days for a NAN means that 7 days is ok. If you would like to send it sooner, do so.


The NA rules relating to trips abroad are different. The timing of notifications are different and the forms are different. If you are going abroad with Scouts you should know this. |Although noit a rule, from experience, realistically you are talking of 18-24 months ahead of the trip is when the initial thought process should happen amongst the potential leadership team. Fairly soon thereafter a conversation with the DC should take place to iron out any issues.


If a DC/NAA wants to have local rules for Nights Away - Don't! Whether you like it or not, The Scout Association actually does know better than you. It likes the scheme the way it is because it does work.


Leaders do NOT need to have woodbeads before being allowed a Nights Away Permit. Holding a NAP validates modules required to gain their woodbeads.


There is no requirement to have run a set number of camps before being allowed a permit. There is an assessment to work to. If the Leader can show they are capable, the Permit should be granted.


There is a difference between MUST, SHOULD & CAN.


Ratios are important, but please understand safeguarding allows 1 adult to be in charge of multiple kids as long as they have other adults on the event. This means you are allowed to split into smaller groups and have a single leader with each – but be aware of the guidance on the yellow card.

Normal outdoors and Nights Away stuff is:

Beavers - 6:1 +1 (leader in charge)

Cubs - 8:1 +1 (leader in charge)

Scouts 12:1 (but minimum of 2 adults)

Explorers anything other than 1:1 (but min of 2 or zero overnight)

Ratio Calculator - click here to work out the leader/youth ratio


Risk Assessments are everything, the risks are different on a Beaver camp than they are on an Explorer camp. Let leaders know it is their responsibility to think about this!. Don't try and take away their responsibility, that's not the way it works


NAP holders have been assessed as competent to plan and run a camp, they do not need to be micromanaged. If you think they do, should they have their permit?


Beaver Nights Away can be for as long as they want. Their choice (and the Leaders!)


You don't need a written risk assessment. You do need a risk assessment. Risk assess which is best.


You don't need written permission to take photographs and in a lot of cases, you could get yourself into a world of grief if you asked for it and were refused! Check your wordings carefully if you are making policy on photography - it is complicated and unlikely you will be able to enforce, restrict or control it in certain circumstances.


You do not need to be wearing Scout uniform to go to or be insured on a Scouting camp, or indeed any activity. You can wear it however :)


Food - Generally, Beavers eat a different amount, and type, of food to Explorers & adults. Making up a menu and calculating the quantity required is difficult as it differs every camp, even with the same people. The venue affects it, the weather and a whole variety of other factors. Here is a calculator that may HELP guide you but you still need to know the principals. Menu Calculator

Some Nights Away Questions

1. Can a husband and wife share a tent on camp?

Yes. There is absolutely no reason why you wouldn't share a tent on a Scout camp. It is perfectly acceptable and needs no further explanation.

2. I am a 19 year old Scout Leader, my partner is an Occasional Helper, we are running a camp with the troop but have been told we can't share a tent. Are we allowed?

You are both adults. Part of being an adult involves being able to make your own personal choices, including whether it is appropriate to share a tent with your partner whilst on camp.

There is nothing in the rules to prevent you from sharing and as long as you are respectful of those around you it isn't an issue. You are expected to abide by the yellow card at all times whilst taking part in Scouting activities and require a Scouting PVG.

3. Can we put boys and girls in the same tent?

Probably the most asked question in Scouting. Yes you can. Doesn’t mean you have to though.

The Nights Away Permit holder has the responsibility for the event so it will ultimately be their decision. This decision must take into consideration the views of the young people and the views of the parents.

When you plan the event, you will need to consider the accommodation you have available to you and how best to separate the young people you have.

Some modern tents have bedroom compartments, these lend themselves perfectly to mixed Scout patrols or Cub sixes. If you use traditional 'Scout' tents that have a single sleeping area you can still mix the young people but you must have changing areas that allow full privacy.

There will be venues such as The Sea Life Centres and even places such as hillside Bothies where there is only one room available and all members must share it. It will be down to the Leader in Charge to Risk Assess and determine the best way to accommodate every one.

There may also be times where it is not practical or possible to seek the parents’ permission beforehand, such as a tent collapse in the middle of the night. It is expected that you will do what it takes to keep the young people safe, this may include putting them all in one tent until it is reasonable to make alternative arrangements.

4. We have Beavers linking with Cubs and need to know if they can share a tent during this time?

All non-adult members of the Scout Association (with the exception of Young Leaders), or perspective youth members under the age of 18, can share accommodation whether they are linking or not. It is down to the NAP holder and the other leaders to ensure that it is appropriate.

When mixing sections on an overnight event, it is allowable but at all times we need to be mindful of the different levels of maturity and the conversations that may happen. You must carry out a Risk Assessment to ensure it is acceptable.

Young Leaders should not, under normal circumstances, share accommodation with the members of the section they help with.

5. We do a night hike that ends up back at our hut where we sleep. We usually put all the Scouts in the main hall with leaders in the den, is this allowed?

Another perfectly acceptable scenario. This allows the leaders to have separate accommodation to the Young People and therefore this complies with the yellow card.

Sleeping arrangements on Nights Away events

When organising a Night Away experience within Scouting, the onus is on the Nights Away Permit holder and the Leader in Charge of the camp to ensure the camp is both safe and is within the Scout Association rules. Please be aware that the Nights Away Permit holder is responsible for the event and all that happens on it.


One of the elements that we must ensure is good communication with the parents about the arrangements, specifically the sleeping arrangements.


The Scout Association requires the Adult Leaders to be separated from both the Young Leaders and the Young People of the section.


It also requires the Young Leaders to be separate from the Young People of the section they work with.


The Scout Association have no other rules regarding the mixing of gender/sex other than the parents and Young People MUST be aware of the sleeping situation beforehand (the exception being in emergency situations when the Leader in Charge will be expected to do whatever it takes to ensure the Young People are both safe and comfortable) and all parties involved must be given the opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have.


All Nights Away events must be subject to a comprehensive Risk Assessment and this will dictate whether it is wise to share accommodation or not.


With Beavers there is usually very little to worry about, most parents will not even give it a thought. However, with Explorer Scouts there may be a lot more to consider when arranging the accommodation.


Whatever you decide to do, you must make the parents aware. This can be as simple as a statement on the Nights Away letter home that states:

"During the course of this sleepover all Cubs will be sleeping in the large hall together. There will be facilities for them to change in private."


"This is a survival camp, all Explorers will be sleeping under the same tarpaulin".


"On camp the Scouts work together as a mixed patrol during the day, during the night they will be sharing the same tent. The tents have bedroom pods to separate boys and girls, they do share communal space."

... If any parent has concerns or would like to discuss this further, please contact your child’s Section Leader.

Please be aware that although it is not a requirement to have written permission, it can be a big reassurance if you add a tick box on your camp forms stating parents are aware of the sleeping arrangements.

You can also use a simple statement on the joining pack issued to parents when their child joins the section especially if it is a common occurrence on your events.

Nights Away Permit Renewal

A renewal has no formal structure, but if the leader is regularly running events they can be asked for evidence of the camps.

A list of all camps they have had a role in, for the plans, menu and finances from the last camp they ran would be likely.

A run through of the changes of the last 5 years to ensure they have kept up to date, confirmed by an email for reference (see below), not trying to trip anyone up but for proof.

Then it's a sit down/telphone chat to see if there are any issues or difficulties and then make a recommendation from that. A letter/email something like:

“Please read the following as it covers the changes since you last renewed your permit:

Can I just bring the following to your attention please:

In the last 5 years since your previous permit was taken out, there have been a number of changes around Nights Away. You are probably aware of these and please do not be offended if you are, I am merely ensuring the young people in our care are safe and the adults understand the updates.

In-Touch has replaced the "home contact" system. In reality, it just means you just have further options and greater flexibility should you want to use an alternative, if you are happy using a contact at home, you are more than welcome to continue using this method, please do check your options on the Scout Association website should you need to.

The rules surrounding taking Beavers away changed in 2015. There are now no more restrictions for Beavers than there are for any other section. They are allowed to camp under canvas for as long as their leader wants. The camp should be fully risk assessed, as you would any other Scouting event. The previous restrictions were based on rule 9.60 of POR which stated any Beaver sleepover had to be run in accordance with factsheet FS155053. It was this factsheet that mandated the single night only events. In January 2015, this factsheet was made obsolete and rule 9.60 made blank.

There is now no longer a mandated requirement to have alternative accommodation for Cubs and Beavers on an overnight event, as long as you are satisfied that the Young People in your care can be kept safe should there be excessive inclement weather conditions. Your risk assessment will ultimately dictate the need for alternative shelter etc.

Network nights away do not need a permit holder on their events although it still needs to be covered by a Nights Away Notification.

Event Passports can only be issued to Scout or Explorer sections and the passport can only be for a single section. This ensures the Explorers are not made responsible for any Scouts that may be taking part. Each section should have a responsible person issued with the passport. The Nights Away Permit holder remains responsible for any event run on this scheme. (This does not affect you or your permit, but it is good to have all the information)

Please can I ask that if you are in any doubt about anything, have any questions regarding Nights Away or would like a clarification on something, would you be so kind as to ask one of the District Nights Away Advisors. This ensures you will receive the current, correct information.

The Granting of a Nights Away Permit – The DCs role

It is the role of the District Commissioner to issue Nights Away Permits. No other role; NAA, Assistant Commissioner, can grant a permit, although they can all provide support to you.

It is not possible for the DC to grant or renew a permit without a recommendation from a NAA.

It is not possible for the DC to grant a Permit to a higher level than that recommended by the Nights Away Adviser.

The Nights Away Permit Scheme is a national scheme, so any permit granted can be used with young people from other parts of the country, and anyone with a permit from elsewhere in the country can use it with young people from Gordon District.

If someone wishes the DC to grant a Permit, they should follow the procedure adopted in Gordon District. Following assessment of the applicant, the NAA should go to the DC with a recommendation. When this happens, there are a number of steps the DC needs to take:

1 Check the NAAs Recommendation. This will be based on the applicant’s technical competence and experience. This recommendation will go to the DC on the recommendation form from the Assessment Checklist or via Compass. The DC may not grant a permit that is less restrictive than this recommendation. Always check who the NAA is. If it not someone you know as being an NAA then you should contact them or their District to check that they are in a position to be able to carry out assessments. Recommendations made through Compass will only come from a NAAs.

2 Check Knowledge Of The Scout Association Rules The DC will need to check that the applicant is aware of the general and nights away specific Scout Association Rules and how these affect them. It might be that you use a specialist to check this such as the Nights Away Adviser.

3 Check Child Protection Issues The DC must check that the applicant has undertaken appropriate criminal records checks. In addition, they must have completed the relevant safeguarding training either as part of their Woodbadge or prior to appointment review.

4 Check Applicants Personal Suitability This is a check on the applicant’s attitude to run the activity for young people. It is not the same as their personal suitability to hold an appointment as they will be in a different environment with different responsibilities. If the DC does not know the applicant well it can be useful to consult with people who do know them well such as their Group Scout Leader (GSL).

5 Grant The Permit The DC cannot issue a Permit at a level higher than the recommendation received from the NAA. It can be tailored to the skills, experience and requirements of the individual as much as is deemed appropriate, but the DC should be prepared to explain the reasons for any restrictions, and how they could gain a less restrictive permit in the future. You will also need to state an expiry date for the permit, up to a maximum of five years from the issue date. Again, if you decide there are reasons to issue a shorter term permit the DC should be prepared to explain the reasons for this to the applicant. When an applicant’s permit expires they will need to apply for a new one following the same process, so it might be useful to remind permit holders a few months before their permits expire.

6 Issue the Permit Permits are issued by the DC, or RC and are done so on Compass. Plastic cards are no longer issued.

7 Record The Permit On Compass The permit isn't valid until the details are recorded on Compass. This also allows Districts etc to see what permit holders there are in their area, and allows Headquarters to easily contact them with updates etc should the need arise.

Permits are not section specific and Districts and Regions must not operate a policy of issuing only section specific permits, unless requested. It is recognised that for some individuals a restriction to this effect may be appropriate. However, consideration must be made on how this will affect the use of Young Leaders or other young people on the residential experience.


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 the permit holder should send you all the details that can be found on Form NAN. There are occasions when residential opportunities present themselves at short notice. Commissioners should understand the ad hoc nature of the opportunity and be flexible about the notice given.

As Commissioner it is you that gives approval for events to take place, not campsite wardens or managers.

All adult groups, whilst not requiring to have a Permit, are still required to inform you when they undertake a residential experience. However, it is not required that a NAN form be used in this instance.

Review or Cancellation of a Permit

A permit can be reviewed at any time if the issuing Commissioner has concerns about the holders suitability to continue to run residential experiences. Outcomes of a review can be continuance, restriction, non-renewal or cancellation.

The Commissioner should inform the permit holder, and their line manager (if different from the Commissioner), as soon as is practically possible that they are reviewing their permit. They should also inform the Permit holder the areas of concern and the processes by which they are going to review the permit i.e. re assessment by a NAA, interview etc. and the time line of the review (any review of a Permit should be completed as quickly as possible and commissioners should aim at no longer than 3 months).

A commissioner may restrict a permit for the duration of the review. This may include a restriction on the permit holder that they cannot lead residential experiences until the review is concluded. The Permit holder and their line manager must be informed of any restrictions.

The Permit holder and line manager should then be informed of the outcome of the review, the rationale of the conclusions and any actions required (i.e. additional training)

Any amendments of a permit's status is only valid if the record on Compass is updated as appropriate. If the permit is revoked, this can be done on Compass using the revoke permit function, giving the Commissioner the ability to record the reasons for the permit being revoked and to communicate this to the permit holder through the system.

If the Permit holder is dissatisfied with the outcome they may appeal using either of the two options below.


If an applicant has cause to dispute the level of Permit granted, or if no permit is granted, they should be allowed to appeal.

If the dispute lies with the assessment by the NAA then the applicant could ask to be re assessed. In this instance it is advisable to use an independent NAA, usually from another District, who is unknown to the applicant and the original NAA so as to enable an impartial assessment.

If the cause for concern lies with the issuing Commissioners' decision then a complaint can be raised using the Scout Associations Adult Disputes procedure.


Formal inspections are not part of the Nights Away Permit Scheme, however everyone likes a visit from their DC, ADC or NAA from time to time, these visits are encouraged. They act as support to Permits Holders that they are doing a good job and as opportunities to increase skills and knowledge.

Event Leaders & Permit Holders

During the course of a residential experience the Permit holder has overall responsibility. However some activities during the course of the residential event will require an event leader. i.e. a climbing instructor on a campsite, a horse riding instructor, an assistant who is responsible for that part of the programme. In these instances the event leader should have a more thorough knowledge of the activity and consequently are best placed to ensure that it is safe and fun for all. The Permit holder is still responsible and must ensure that the event leader is competent to lead that part of the programme and the appropriate risk assessments have been completed satisfactorily. If the Permit holder has any concerns during the course of the activity then they should take the appropriate action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all concerned.

Family Camps

The Permit holder has responsibility for the overall camp and can't 'ignore' any rules because parents are present. Within this context the parents can be responsible for their children.