Going on Nights Away, and particularly camping, is one of the main reasons why young people join Scouting, and if they don't get it, then they tend to leave. When adults look back on their time in Scouting, it's the Nights Away that they remember.
It's really important then, that all our young people get the opportunity for at least one Night Away every year. Here are some targets to aim for:
Beavers - offer two Sleepovers each year, one in your headquarters, and one somewhere different, for example in a campsite building or somewhere even more unusual.
Cubs - two weekend camps each year.
Scouts - at least two weekend camps and one week long camp. They should also have the opportunity for an international trip at some point in their time in Scouts.
Explorer Scouts - at least two weekend camps and one week long camp. In addition, they should have the opportunity for at least one international trip during their time in Explorers, and the opportunity to train for and take part in lightweight expeditions for their Awards.
The Nights Away Permit Scheme
To make sure that our young people are kept safe while on a residential experience, The Scout Association operates a permit scheme. This ensures that Leaders aren't taking on more than they are capable of, and putting young people at risk. There are four different types of Permit, starting at Indoor, progressing to Campsite, then Greenfield, and finally Lightweight Expedition, subsequent levels requiring different skills.
There must be an appropriate Nights Away Permit holder at every residential experience. (the exception is an Event Passport - more on that later).
For ALL residential experiences a FORM NAN must be completed and submitted to the District Commissioner at least seven nights before the event.
To obtain your Nights Away Permit:
- If you already hold a Nights Away Permit which is about to expire - complete the application form. You should show that you have been leading Nights Away regularly so you have been putting the skills in place. The Nights Away Adviser may wish to reassess you, but will probably just chat to you and your line manager about your recent experiences, and then forward the form to the District Commissioner with the recommendation to issue a new permit.
- If you feel you have plenty of skills and experience - complete the application form. The Nights Away Adviser will come out to see you in action (you should still have a Permit Holder with you) and to assess your knowledge and skills in this area. If they are happy, they will complete their part of the form and forward it to the District Commissioner with the recommendation to issue a permit.
- If you aren't sure that you have the skills and experience - get on as many residential experiences as you can, preferably of different types. If possible, attend a Module 38 course, which covers all the skills covered by the assessment for the permit. As you gain experience, get involved with planning the different aspects of the Residential Experience. Once you are confident that you have the skills and experience, skip to the bullet point above.
For more information:
There are a whole raft of resources about the Nights Away Permit Scheme:
Nights Away Passport
Explorer Scouts, and older Scouts, may be experienced and capable enough to camp without supervision in a small group. This is particularly relevant when they are undertaking lightweight expeditions for their awards. In this situation, a Nights Away Permit holder can issue one of the group with a single-use Event Passport. The Permit holder is still responsible for the group, but feel confident enough with these young people to do so remotely.
Organising your Night Away
These are the things that you should consider when organising a Night Away, they are the items that will be assessed when you apply for your Nights Away Permit.
- the event team
- equipment and fires
- health, happiness and safety
- the venue
To find out more about all these areas, you can either attend a training course which includes Module 38 Skills for Residential Experiences (see the training pages to find out more), and read "Nights Away" a really useful book from Scout Shops or the Scout Information Centre.