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Nights Away Answers

There are no specific restrictions on younger sections (Squirrel Scouts and Beaver Scouts) taking part in residential activities, except for the section ratios. As with any nights away activity, consideration should be made to the suitability of the opportunity for the young people.

The prohibited camping areas are out-of-bounds regardless of the fact that you hold a nights away permit.

The information required is conveniently listed on the Nights Away Notification form (NAN). This information can be passed to the commissioner in whatever way they are happy with, not necessarily through filling in and sending off the form.

The assessment process is standard throughout the United Kingdom and permits, once gained, can be used anywhere.

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).

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

The assessment for a nights away permit is on an individual's technical and personal abilities to run quality nights away experiences. It's 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.

The approval for nights away events (as with all activities) lies with the home District Commissioner, not the campsite warden. It isn't possible to make campsite wardens responsible for this approval, as they've 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.

You should be aware of the following information:

1. A Nights Away Permit holder has responsibility for any night’s away activities where under 18s are present (POR 9.2).

2. Where adults are present at the event the permit holder must be onsite. Therefore meaning, in a joint Explorer Scout and Scout Network event a night’s away permit holder must be onsite and you cannot operate under Event Passports.

3. A minimum of two Scout Network members must have a full adult role (in order to meet the Explorer Scout ratios outlined in POR rule 4.4) and appropriate vetting checks (as per POR chapter 16) and one must have the relevant level of Nights Away Permit.

4. Although Scout Network members are youth members, where they could be considered to be in a leadership position or during overnight activities where no leaders are present, they would be considered to be adults. Therefore subject to the appointment requirements as explained in point 3.

5. A Scout Network member cannot hold a Nights Away Permit without a full adult role, this could be a Skills Instructor or an Active Support Member, both of which can hold a permit unlike an Occasional Helper.

6. The Nights Away Permit must be relevant to the type of accommodation used and the Nights Away Adviser can make recommendations for restrictions to suit the experience and competence of the individual.

7. The issuing Commissioner must be satisfied the Scout Network member understands their responsibility as the permit holder (and adult). The permit only needs to be held by one of the two over 18s. Outside the two with adult roles, the other over 18’s can attend within their Scout Network roles. 

8. A young person who turns 18 during an event or residential activity (of no more than one month’s duration) shall be treated as under 18, and be subject to all rules applicable to under 18 year olds, for the duration of that event (POR rule 4.3.1).

9. The adults are therefore responsible for ensuring the policies and rules of The Scout Association are followed, including adherence with the Yellow Card, Green Card etc.

Therefore (as an example):
An expedition team made up of both Explorer Scouts and Scout Network members, where an overnight stay is part of the activity, will require a nights away permit holder to be present. A minimum of two Scout Network members must have a full adult role (in order to meet the Explorer Scout ratios outlined in POR rule 4.4) and appropriate vetting checks (as per POR chapter 16) and one must have the relevant level of nights away permit. Any additional Scout Network members do not require an adult role and may attend in their capacity as a member of the Scout Network.

No. Event passports can only be used where an adult is not present overnight, Scout Network members are adults and therefore a Nights Away Permit holder is required to be present during the overnight element of the event.

Any other adults with appropriate roles can fulfill the requirement to have adults present, including the requirement for nights away permits. Where the young people are on an expedition which requires them to be independent the nights away permit holder and leaders can be separate from the group whilst still on the same site overnight. The leaders would have the responsibility for the group and event passports would not be suitable (as Scout Network members are present).

A young person who turns 18 during an event or residential activity (of no more than one month’s duration) shall be treated as under 18, and be subject to all rules applicable to under 18 year-olds, for the duration of that event (POR rule 4.3.1).

Anyone wishing to use chemical or other portable toilets must be assessed against the Greenfield Permit requirements. This is because the assessment for the handling and therefore disposal of human waste is in the Greenfield Permit category. A restricted Greenfield Permit can be held that would allow you to use chemical or portable toilets at a campsite.

Yes, in this situation an external source will be taking care of the disposal and handling of the human waste so operating under your Campsite Nights Away Permit is absolutely fine.

Yes they can. This is subject to the Risk Assessment of the Nights Away Permit (NAP) holder. The Nights Away Permit holder has the ultimate responsibility for the event so it will be their decision. However, this decision must take into consideration the views of the young people and the views of the parents, and give the parents the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have.

The NAP holder and/or Leader in Charge must also consider that different age groups may present different issues and this must be taken into account when accommodation is being arranged.

The permit holder remains responsible for the event at all times and as a minimum, attends the event during the time that provision is made for young people to be sleeping overnight.

What should be undertaken is a brief chat with the District Commissioner on what action they want you to take in the event of this happening. If it was to happen during the day, you should try and get hold of a replacement permit holder for that night or finish the camp early at the end of the day. If at night, then it needs to be considered what the safest, realistic option is. As there will be no permit holder present to make this decision, then the home District Commissioner will need to be asked for advice on what should be done as they are ultimately responsible.

Obviously there are many factors involved, length of camp, distance from home, time, weather etc. When planning your camp, you need to take into consideration as part of your planning and risk assessments, what actions you are going to take in the case of emergencies, part of that is if you only have one Nights Away Permit holder available, what will you do if they unavoidably have to leave. This plan needs to be clearly documented, so the other leaders on the camp know what action to take.

If this isn't done, then in the unfortunate event of the Nights Away Permit holder having to leave, then the District Commissioner will need to be contacted to agree a plan of action, this could possibly involve a call to be made at an unsociable hour.

A Lightweight Expedition is 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. For example King’s Scout Award or Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards hikes, expedition hikes, canoe expeditions.

For this event the nights away permit holder either needs to hold: 

  • a lightweight expedition permit,
  • the appropriate nights away permit for the venue they are staying at (eg indoor, campsite or greenfield permit), or
  • a hillwalking permit with remote camping

If the event is wild camping in terrain 1 or 2 then a hillwalking permit with remote camping is required.