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Nights Away

Running nights away experiences for young people

Nights away or residential events help young people to become resilient. Whether it’s camping, hosteling, sleepovers or bivouacking, a Nights Away experience forms an integral part of Scouting, and are something that every young person should have the opportunity to take part in.

Planning a nights away experience? Don’t forget to submit your nights away notification (NAN) form, at least 7 days before the event takes place.

Submit notification >

Frequently asked questions

Who’s approval do I need?

All Nights Away Notifications for Nights Away activities will be approved by the District Commissioner, via the Assistant District Commissioner for Activities. Notifications can be submitted via https://gdscouts.org.uk/services/nights-away/notification to ensure all the information provided on the form complies to the requirements for Nights Away.

Who can run Nights Away experiences?

To run a Nights Away experience a nights away permit is required. There are different levels of permit that allow you to take young people on different types of residential experiences.

What’s the difference between Indoor, Campsite and Greenfield?

There are four categories of permit POR 9.57:

  • 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. Those holding a Camp Site Permit may also run indoor residential events.
  • 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. Those holding a Green Field Permit may lead residential events in the other three categories.
  • 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.

What’s a Nights Away Passport?

Nights Away Event Passports exist to enable young people in the Scout and Explorer Scout sections, who are deemed suitably skilled, to undertake a nights away activity as a peer group. Examples of this include patrol camps and expeditions.

Nights Away Event Passports can only be issued by those with a Nights Away Permit and can only be issued to the same level as the permit held, for example someone with a campsite nights away permit can not issue a passport for activities in greenfield areas.

Nights Away Event Passports are only available within the Scout and Explorer Scout Sections, and are only for use with peer led activities. This means that they can not be used for Explorer Scout Young Leaders leading activities for the sections they volunteer with, or for activities where adults will be present with the group. The young person or young people issued with the passport must display appropriate skills to the permit holder in order to demonstrate their ability to safely undertake the proposed activity.

Event passports are only for Scout and Explorer Scout members to participate in peer led activities they cannot be issued to adults.

What is InTouch?

InTouch is the system that helps you to communicate at all Scout activities and events. It’s flexible and lets Units, Groups and Sections work out the best way to keep in touch during these activities.

At any Scouting activity, you will need to make sure that you have an InTouch system in place (POR 9.3). This is to make sure that:

  • everyone involved knows how Leaders, participants and people not at the event will communicate
  • you have all of the details of who is at the event just in case something goes wrong, and you have a system in place in case of an emergency.

This system is likely to be different depending on what activity or event you are running, and the needs of who will be there. An InTouch system is important so that everyone knows of the process for every Scouting event.

How can I gain a permit?

The nights away permit scheme is an internal assessment scheme designed to ensure that all those leading nights away events for young people within Scouting have the skills, experience and personal suitability to do so.

To gain a permit you will need to complete an assessment with a nights away advisor.

The permit scheme

You can find full details of the nights away permit scheme in the factsheets below. These include factsheets for specific roles such as commissioner and applicant. 

There is also an assessment checklist that the nights away adviser uses to assess any applicants for nights away permits.

There are some FAQ’s available to support nights away.

Does my permit need renewing?

Yes. All Activity and Nights Away permits periodically need renewing. The maximum a permit can be granted for by a commissioner 5 years. Please ensure you check

To renew a nights away permit you will need to complete the following form.

Do I need a risk assessment?

Yes all Scout Activities including nights away and adventurous activities require a written risk assessment POR 9.4

For more support on writing a risk assessment check out the Scouts website.

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