Skip to main content

Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Family Camps

(FS120083) Published January 2018

Please note: Family Camps are residential events that are held for the purpose of inviting families to take part in Scouting activities. Residential events where parents and carers are invited to be a part of the leadership team are different and should be planned and managed according to the general Nights Away guidance.


Family camps are events arranged by a Group or District for youth members accompanied by their parents/carers and siblings. The purpose of the family camp is to help to strengthen the bonds within individual families, while introducing parents, and siblings to the Methods of Scouting. Family camps also serve to strengthen the links between the different Sections of the Group.

District and County/Area family camps may have advantages as the scale can make them more exciting and you can provide a wider range of programme opportunities. However the scale of District and County family camps means that you can lose out in the creation of a Group family, so careful planning is required. Sectional Family camps can be held, but they are limited in their potential to build links between the sections


If you're planning a family camp, it's important that every effort is made to extend the invitation to attend to all Members of the Scout Group, their parents and any brothers or sisters who may wish to join the family. If the family camp is to foster the links between the Sections it's important that all Sections are represented.

Criminal Records Checks

All adults must have completed the appropriate criminal records checks before attending a Family Camp. Criminal Records checks should be submitted at least 3 months before the proposed date of the family camp in order to allow for sufficient time for processing. Consider planning for this sooner if possible.

Explorer Scouts could also attend the family camp, especially if it is a District or County camp, however some thought is needed into whether they are attending with their families, or part of the camp team. This is also the case for members of the Scout Network or Scout Active Support Units. They could provide a positive input into the camp organisation, like running programme activities or supporting the leadership team. Remember that as adults they will need to have the appropriate appointments and criminal records check in place.


Members of the Movement are covered by The Scout Association’s general insurance policies. These policies include Personal Accident Insurance and Legal Liability Insurance. Non-members, such as occasional helpers, supporters, parents and carers, are not provided with the same automatic Personal Accident Insurance cover.

Whilst there is no requirement to provide such insurance for parents and carers, you may wish to consider doing so and a number of Insurance Brokers will offer suitable facilities, for example, Unity Insurance Services. Whatever decision you make with regard to the provision of such cover, it would be good practice to inform parents and carers of the facts.


As with any other Scout activity that takes young people away from home it is important that an InTouch system is put in place. (Policy, Organisation and Rules, Chapter 9, Rule 9.1) as there is always the possibility that relatives or other family members may have to be contacted.


Family camps, by their very nature, must cater for a wide range of Members and their parents/carers. Before inviting families to take part it is essential that the appropriate Commissioner (District for Group and District Family Camps and County/Area for County/Area Family Camps) is aware of the intention to hold a family camp and has approved the event.

Having obtained the approval of the appropriate Commissioner, now is the time to canvass the support of parents/carers and Group Members. Remember many families have busy schedules so give as much notice as possible. If the camp proves popular, you could make it an annual event on a specific weekend each year. Remember to keep parents informed of developments. A notice of intent followed up regularly is much better than an original note followed by nothing until a week before the event.

Select and confirm the key members of the leadership team as soon as outline approval has been given by the District Commissioner. At the very least the following would be required:

  • A Nights Away Permit holder;
  • A first aider;
  • A caterer;
  • A programme coordinator;
  • An equipment coordinator.

These should be responsible for recruiting their own teams based on the numbers and programme of the camp. Regular contact to monitor progress will be essential. Members of the team should visit the site to familiarise themselves and ensure that all facilities meet the requirements of the event.

Health and hygiene

For some of the parents/carers and possibly their children it will be the first time that they have been involved in a camp, so try to make it an enjoyable experience by using a site with good quality facilities which won’t be too different from what the families are used to, it might be advisable to avoid back to basics camps for these events. Remember that the impressions that are left with the parents/carers are those that will stay with them for many years. If the facilities are not adequate it is less likely that they will offer their support in future.

It's essential that there is a first aider present. If at all possible they should have no other duties and be made known to all participants in the camp. Small incidents are always possible in a camp situation and competent, sympathetic first aid will reassure families. A well-equipped first aid kit should be available. The name, address and telephone numbers of a local doctor and the nearest A&E Department should be known by both the first aider and Camp Leader. If a permanent campsite is being used, the Camp Warden will be able to provide this information.


A good caterer can make a family camp,  a bad caterer can spoil the experience. The caterer will need to know a week or so in advance the numbers attending and any special diets (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, religious, and so on).

Caterers should be selected for their previous knowledge and experience. Their word is law in the kitchen area.  A decision will need to be made at an early stage as to whether a fixed kitchen in a building or a camp kitchen is used. Remember that different skills are needed in each case.

Food storage requirements will be different in camp or in a building. Gas refrigeration for the camp based kitchen should be considered. Food hygiene must be understood by all and the kitchen area should be out of bounds to all but the catering staff.

Depending on the weather and the programme, a regular supply of drinks, hot or cold may be required by the campers.

A barbecue is a good way of allowing parents and children to get involved and may also help to mix up the campers in a social manner. A campfire can be used in a similar way. Programme

There are benefits in giving advance notification of the proposed programme to all families. This is so that they can be aware of the type of activities that will be on offer and prepare accordingly, eg information on suitable clothing might be an important consideration. A programme of fun, energetic items and skillful activities should be balanced by periods of quiet relaxation. A programme needs to be developed to build on the particular opportunities of the site and should be suitable for a wide range of participants from the youngest to the oldest.

As mentioned earlier, a barbecue followed by a campfire would make an enjoyable evening’s entertainment. At some point there could be a ‘Scouts Own’ giving all participants the opportunity to reflect upon their experience at camp.


At an early stage it will be necessary to decide whether the camp is going to use tents or be based in an indoor/residential centre. Where possible, individual tents or rooms should be provided for each family. It's not appropriate at a family camp to segregate the participants into age groups. The working unit is the family and families should live and work together at all times. Organisers should be sympathetic to the needs of the family, offering support for those with little experience of this type of activity.

Safety and Safeguarding

Any activity should be carried out in accordance with the rules of the Association, (Policy, Organisation and Rules, Chapter 9). Remember that a high proportion of accidents occur to adults playing games and carrying out activities for which their bodies are not accustomed. Any programme activity must be equally suitable for all ages to enjoy.

Always remember to plan your activity following the guidance in the yellow card. Making the parents aware of this will help your event to run smoothly, this could be done through a pre camp briefing meeting or document.


After the camp it is important to organise a systematic review. By looking closely at what you did this time, you may well be able to make improvements to the planning and Programme next time.

It's important that everyone should be involved in the review process.

  • Group Leaders’ meeting agrees to hold a family camp
  • Make sure that all adults attending have completed the appropriate criminal records check in advance of the camp (start planning this as soon as possible).
  • Visit possible sites
  •  Set date and venue
  • Notify all parents
  • Confirm personnel for leadership team – Nights Away Permit holder, first aider, caterer and so on
  • Plan programme with wet weather alternatives
  • Caterer sets menu around programme
  • Notify parents of outline programme and costs
  • Submit Nights Away Notification to your DC
  • Arrange suitable additional insurance (if required)
  • Check and prepare equipment
  • Finalise programme and catering needs
  • Carry out a pre-camp briefing event for parents and young people – to set expectations for all
  • Collect and bank all camp fees
  • Put in place a suitable InTouch system
  • Carry out Family Camp
  • Settle all accounts
  • Initial review with parents
  • Produce income and expenditure account
  • Detailed Leadership review
  • Thank all those involved for their efforts and contributions

Associated reading

POR Chapter 9: Activities