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Nights Away FAQs

If I have a nights away permit does this allow me to camp in prohibited camping areas?

No. The prohibited camping areas, as defined at scouts.org.uk/prohibited, are out-of-bounds regardless of the fact that you hold a nights away permit.

What information do I need to notify the District Commissioner of?

The information required is conveniently listed on the nights away notification form (NAN) available from District Admin.

Is a permit required to lead overnight events for scout network members?

No. A permit is not required provided that all of the members participating in the event are over 18 years old. However, notification, conveying the information listed on form NAN, needs to be given to the district commissioner (or nominee).

If I am taking my scouts camping outside my district, do I need to inform the ‘host’ District Commissioner?

No. There is no need to notify a host DC unless your risk assessment deems necessary

How do I find out the contact details of the ‘host’ District Commissioner?

You can telephone the Scout Information Centre on 0208 433 7100. The venue postcode would be useful here.

If I am taking explorer scouts out on a night hike and sleeping in our scout headquarters, do I require a permit?

Yes. You require a permit if it is intended that young people will sleep overnight and arrangements are put in place for this purpose. You should also make the appropriate notification (supplying all the information listed on form NAN) to your district commissioner.

If I hold a campsite-category permit, can I issue a young person with a greenfield-category event passport?

No. You must hold a permit of an equivalent or higher category than the event passport you are issuing. In this instance you would require a greenfield-category permit.

If I hold a greenfield-category permit, do I automatically qualify to lead events in the other three categories?

Yes. The greenfield-category permit allows you to lead any category of residential event. If you hold a campsite-category permit, you will only be able to lead campsite or indoor-category events. If you hold a lightweight expedition or indoor-category permit you can only lead residential events within that category.

Do I need a permit to take my young people abroad?

Yes, for events for those under 18 years. You will require a permit suitable for the type of residential or camping event you are leading in addition to the normal procedures for travelling abroad.

How long does my permit last?

The length of a permit’s validity is determined by the District Commissioner when issued. The maximum validity of a permit is five years.

Can a nights away adviser be shared between districts?

Certainly. This may be a sensible approach to appointing nights away advisers in some districts. It would be particularly useful to have a scout campsite manager or skilled service team member as a nights away adviser.

What is the maximum age for the issue of a nights away permit?

There is no maximum age for the issue of a permit, provided the applicant can meet the requirements of the assessment.

What is the minimum age for the issue of a nights away permit?

The minimum age to get a nights away permit is 18. Members under this age who wish to lead nights away events for their peers can do so using event passports.

Does the permit holder need to remain on site overnight?

Yes. The permit holder remains responsible for the event at all times, and although they might leave the site at times during the day (shopping, off-site activities etc), they need to be there to be in charge of all nights away elements of the event.

If I have a hillwalking permit that includes remote camping, do I still need a lightweight expedition nights away permit?

If your hillwalking permit includes remote camping then you do not need a lightweight expedition permit. However this only covers lightweight expeditions, so does not automatically cover indoor, campsite or greenfield permits. If your hillwalking permit does not include remote camping then you will need a lightweight expedition nights away permit, or will need to get a hillwalking permit that includes remote camping.

Why can’t event passports be given to adults?

Nights away passports were designed to ensure that young person-led residential experiences continue to take place. If an adult has the skills to run a nights away event they should get themselves a nights away permit. If they don’t have the skills to get a nights away permit then they shouldn’t be running a nights away event.

Why do nights away advisers need to hold a permit themselves?

All nights away advisers need to have the technical skills and knowledge to be able to carry out their role. Holding a nights away permit shows that they have these skills.

Can you expand on why the permit holder does not need to have a valid first aid qualification at the time of assessment?

The actual need is to have accessible first aid cover for the activity, rather than attaching that requirement to the permit holder. So in the same way you would not expect the event leader to do all of the cooking, putting up tents, running the programme, emptying the toilets etc, it does not have to be the permit holder with the first aid qualification, as long as it is provided somewhere within the leadership team.

Why aren’t nights away permits section-specific?

The assessment for a nights away permit is on an individual’s technical and personal abilities to run quality nights away experiences. It is then easy for them to include leaders of any section, especially if they don’t have much experience with that section personally, to ensure the programme is relevant for the young people involved. So in the same way you would not expect to see someone with a climbing permit only being allowed to take cubs climbing, you would also not expect to see someone with a nights away permit only being allowed to take cubs camping.

Why do campsite wardens or managers not check my nights away permit card?

The approval for nights away events (as with all activities) lies with the home district commissioner, not the campsite warden. It is not possible to make campsite wardens responsible for this approval as they have no line management responsibility for the people concerned, and when people stayed at non-scout centres, or greenfield sites such as farmers’ fields, there would be no-one to give approval for the event to take place.

Are there any restrictions on Beaver Scouts taking part in Nights Away activities?

There are no longer any specific restrictions to Beaver Scouts taking part in residential activities, except for the normal section ratio’s. As with any nights away activity consideration should be made to the suitability of the opportunity for the young people.