Policy Organisation & Rules

9.55. Nights Away Permit Scheme

  1. All camping and residential experiences within the United Kingdom are subject to Rules 9.55 – 9.63.
  2. This includes all events where it is intended that young people will sleep overnight and arrangements are put in place for this purpose, such as sleepovers, camps, Pack Holidays and expeditions.
  3. Nights away abroad are subject to Rule 9.64.

9.56. Nights Away Responsibilities

  1. 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;
    • have parental consent (method to be determined by the leader) in which parents are informed of key information about the event including which leaders are present;
    • as a minimum, attend the event during the time that provision is made for young people to be sleeping overnight. They remain responsible for the event at all times;
    • ensure the relevant notification is made, as per Rule 9.57l.
  2. The District Commissioner is responsible for:
    • the issue of Nights Away Permits in accordance with the application, assessment and approval process and content of the appropriate factsheet; The Commissioner can only approve the issue of a Permit following the recommendation of a Nights Away Adviser and cannot increase the level of the permit beyond that recommended without a further assessment by an NAA.
    • suspension or withdrawal of Nights Away Permits as per Rule 9.58;
    • the standards of all camping and residential experiences taking place in the District and may cancel an event, if judged necessary;
    • appointing one, or more, Nights Away Advisers in accordance with the process and content of the appropriate factsheet.
    • County Commissioners have these responsibilities for events and permits issued by the County.
  3. For large scale events there needs to be a permit holder responsible for each residential group. There is no limit to the number of groups that a permit holder can be responsible for, but they remain responsible for the standard of the event for each group. In addition the permit holder must ensure the home Commissioner is notified (Rule 9.57m) and inform them of the total number of groups they are responsible for during the event.
  4. All groups undertaking a nights away event must have immediate access to someone who has a current First Aid qualification, minimum First Response. The level of First Aid competence required for each event will be determined by the event risk assessment. However a full first aid certificate as defined in FS120052 is required for those operating in remote environments, where travelling time is 3 hours or more (in the method of travel being used) to a point of refuge, including;
    • a road which carries a normal road-going ambulance;
    • a building which is occupied (such as a farm or harbour);
    • or another means of calling help (such as a telephone box).
    • The permit holder is not required to hold a first aid qualification.
  5. The requirement to have completed a First Response course is waived for holders of a valid First Aid qualification, where the syllabus equals or exceeds that of a First Response course, including hypothermia and hyperthermia training.
  6. NOTE: Rule 9.56d is now for implementation by Counties by 31 December 2020. During this time, where the revised processes have not yet been implemented locally, reference should be made to Rule 9.56d October 2018 version of POR.

9.57. Nights Away Permits

  1. There are four categories of permit:
    • indoor – for staying in a building that has built in lighting and cooking facilities, toilets plumbed into a waste disposal system (i.e. a cess pit, storage tank or mains drains) and running drinking water;
    • campsite – 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 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:
  2. Those holding a Green Field Permit may lead residential events in the other three categories.
  3. Those holding a Camp Site Permit may also run indoor residential events.
  4. Those holding a Hillwalking Permit that includes lightweight camping in remote areas may also run Lightweight Expedition events.
  5. Nights Away Permits are not Section specific and Districts and Counties must not operate a policy of issuing only Section specific permits.
  6. A permit holder may operate with Members from another District or County (subject to the normal approval of the District/County Commissioner of the Members concerned).
  7. Permit holders proposing to work outside their usual Section should obtain guidance from the Nights Away Adviser before the event takes place.
  8. Permits can only be held by Members or Associate Members of The Scout Association.
  9. There is no maximum age limit to gaining a nights Away Permit.
  10. Permits must be renewed at intervals of not more than five years.
  11. Permits will expire automatically if they are not renewed.
  12. Assessment:
    1. An applicant will be assessed by a Nights Away Adviser appointed by the District or County Commissioner, who will recommend a level of permit to be granted;
    2. Assessments will be carried out in accordance with the process and content of the appropriate factsheet.
  13. Notification:
    1. The relevant home Commissioner (or their nominee) must be notified before any nights away event takes place. It is best practice for at least seven days’ notice to be given;
    2. The notification must include all the information required in the Nights Away Notification Form (NAN)
    3. It is the responsibility of the Permit holder to ensure that appropriate notification is made for each group they are responsible for.
    4. Adult groups are required to notify their relevant Commissioner of nights away events.

9.58. Renewal, Restriction, Suspension or Withdrawal of Nights Away Permits

  1. Any Leader who is alleged to have broken these activity rules must have their permit(s) suspended immediately.
  2. The relevant Commissioner will promptly enquire into the allegation and determine whether the permit(s) are to be reinstated, modified or cancelled.
  3. The relevant Commissioner may at any time impose restrictions, suspend, withdraw or not renew a permit provided they have reasonable grounds to do so. Any amendment of a permit's status is only valid if the record on Compass is updated as appropriate.
  4. A Permit automatically expires if a member leaves the Scout Association

9.61. Nights Away Passports

  1. A Scout or Explorer Scout who wishes to lead a camping or residential event can do so when issued with an Event Passport, this is only valid for use with members of their own section.
  2. Each Event Passport is issued for one event only by a permit holder experienced in the category of camp or residential experience proposed.
  3. Event Passports cannot be given to anyone aged over 18 and cannot be used for joint explorer Scout/Scout Network events.
  4. The permit holder has responsibility for notification (see Rule 9.57l).
  5. The permit holder must provide support during both the preparation and the event itself and be satisfied that the young person has the required abilities, but is not required to attend the event.
  6. Event Passports and guidance are available from the Scout Information Centre or can be downloaded from the print centre.
  7. Those responsible for running Scout campsites or activity centres who hold a permit may issue site specific Event Passports for an extended period (up to a maximum of 12 months) covering multiple service events for those under 18 years working on projects on their site.
  8. The home Commissioner must be informed of those under 18 years working on service team projects at Scout campsites and activity centres, but a separate NAN form for each occasion need not be completed if a range of dates is specified.
  9. When leading a Scout Network residential event a passport or permit is not required, but notification (Rule 9.57l) is, and the event Leader must have first hand experience of camping or residential events and be familiar with the Association’s appropriate resource material.
  10. As part of the planning process parents must be informed of no leaders being present and of the supervision arrangements for a residential event using an event Passport and be satisfied with them prior to consenting to their child taking part.
  11. For adult / Scout ratios on Nights Away activities, see Rule 3.9

9.62. Family Nights Away

  1. The permit holder is responsible for the overall camp and must ensure that all Scout Association rules are followed regardless of the presence of parents, carers or other adults.
  2. Further information about Family Nights Away can be found in FS120083 Family Nights Away. Other guidance is given in the publication Nights Away.

9.64. Visits Abroad

A Visit Abroad is defined as: ‘Any visit outside the United Kingdom, the Channel islands and the Isle of Man on a recognised and approved Scouting activity or travelling in the name of Scouting. This applies to youth and adult Members, Associate Members and non-Members’.

‘Youth and adult members, Associate Members and non-Members located within the British Scouting Overseas area and Northern Ireland are expected to follow the Visits Abroad Process when leaving the country where their group is registered. However, exceptionally, specific alternative arrangements may be approved and documented by a relevant Commissioner’.

NOTE: For NI Scouts travelling to the Republic of Ireland it is no longer a requirement to take out additional travel insurance, providing the trip is for no longer than 48 hours. If you feel that you require cover for emergency medical expenses, personal possession or cancellation then it is strongly advised that you should buy travel insurance. All members should carry a valid EHIC card for travelling within many European Countries including the Republic of Ireland. EHIC cards are obtainable from the NHS website.

  1. A camp or residential experience abroad which includes Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts, or Explorer Scouts, must be led by an adult holding a relevant Nights Away Permit. For Scout Network visits abroad see Rule 9.61e.
  2. All visits abroad must follow the VA Process and be approved at planning stage by the relevant Commissioner to the designation of the trip:
    • England and Northern Ireland: District or County Commissioner and Assistant County Commissioner for International.
    • Scotland: District or Regional Commissioner and Regional International Adviser.
    • Wales: District or Area Commissioner and Assistant Area Commissioner for International.
    • BSO: District Commissioner and Assistant Area Commissioner for International.
    • Countries/UK/HQ: UK International Commissioner, Scottish HQ Commissioner (International), Deputy Commissioner Wales – Programme (International).
    • The trip must then gain final approval and sign off by the relevant Commissioner before the visit leaves the UK. A VA Form must be submitted to the Assistant County Commissioner (International) or International Adviser who supports such events on behalf of United Kingdom headquarters. As part of this process, the Assistant County Commissioner for International (or equivalent) must complete the online VA notification form, notifying UK Headquarters of the trip.
    • The VA Form and guidance on the process can be found on www.scouts.org.uk/international or through notifying your Assistant County Commissioner (International) or County International Adviser (or equivalent) of your planned visit.
  3. The UK Leader in Charge of a visit abroad must ensure that adequate travel insurance has been arranged for all members of the party, and that suitable InTouch arrangements are in place (Rule 9.3)
  4. The UK Leader in Charge of any adventurous activities abroad must apply the appropriate rules and hold the appropriate adventurous activity permits, classifying the hills/mountains or waters as defined in Rules 9.28, 9.29, 9.30 and 9.44, although the altitude criteria for hills/mountains may not apply in some areas. In case of doubt, the Assistant County Commissioner (Activities) or Adviser should be consulted.
  5. When overseas, UK members may take part in activities being run by members of the host Scout organisation following the host organisation’s guidance and rules. In this context, Kandersteg International Scout Centre is deemed an independent Scout organisation. There must be a Leader from the UK present who is able to halt the activity if they have safety concerns at any point. Activities forbidden by UK Scouting remain forbidden even when overseas. If using external providers overseas please see POR Rule 9.9b for further guidance.
  6. UK Members including Members of the British Scouting Overseas under the age of 18 may only take part in group based hosted hospitality experiences (i.e. using group accommodation not private homes), they must not participate in home based hospitality experiences.