No glamping allowed — Here’s what does and doesn’t count

In Scouting’s early years, camping was pretty simple. You slept under the stars. Or the roof over your head was an Army surplus pup tent — or maybe a lean-to shelter you built. These days, Scouts spend the night in cabins, yurts and museums — or even on aircraft carriers.

So what kind of camping counts for Scouts BSA advancement? Read on to find out.

What do the Scouts BSA rank requirements say?

For Tenderfoot requirement 1b, a Scouts BSA member must spend at least one night on a patrol or troop campout in a tent he helped pitch. For Second Class requirement 1a, a Scout must have tallied five separate troop/patrol activities, at least two of which must include overnight camping. First Class requirement 1a calls for 10 separate troop/patrol activities since joining, at least three of which must include overnight camping. In all cases, the Scout must “spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect, such as a lean-to, snow cave or teepee.”

What do the camping merit badge requirements say?

For requirement 9a, a Scout must camp in a tent or under the stars at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities and events, which may include one long-term camp experience of up to six consecutive nights.

What about an overnight in the church basement?

For rank advancement, that could count as one of the troop/patrol activities but not as overnight camping. It wouldn’t count for the Camping merit badge.

What about cabin camping at our council camp?

Same answer as above.

What about camping with a family or school group?

That wouldn’t count. Both the rank and merit badge requirements specify that the camping must be part of a patrol or troop activity.

What about participation in a council high-adventure trek?

Both the trek (up to six nights) and any shakedown trips that involve camping would count toward the Camping merit badge. These trips wouldn’t count for rank advancement, which specifies troop and patrol activities.

Our summer camp sets up tents before we arrive. Is that OK?

For the Camping merit badge, yes. For rank advancement, no.

Am I missing any other details?

Be sure to look at the requirements that surround the camping requirements. For example, on one of the Second Class campouts, a Scout must explain how he practiced Leave No Trace (requirement 1b), and on a separate campout, he must choose his campsite (requirement 1c). For requirement 9b of the Camping merit badge, a Scout must do two specific activities on any of his campouts, such as hiking up a mountain or planning and carrying out a snow camping experience.

Can camping nights count for both rank and merit badge advancement?

Yes, since the requirements match up and have the same basic intent.


  1. Q: Our summer camp sets up tents before we arrive. Is that OK?
    A: For the Camping merit badge, yes. For rank advancement, no.

    For rank I believe you are only partially correct:

    Tenderfoot requirement 1b, a Scout must spend at least one night on a patrol or troop campout in a tent he helped pitch. (This should not count)

    For Second Class requirement 1a, a Scout must have tallied five separate troop/patrol activities, at least two of which must include overnight camping. First Class requirement 1a calls for 10 separate troop/patrol activities since joining, at least three of which must include overnight camping. In all cases, the Scout must “spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect, such as a lean-to, snow cave or teepee.” (This would most definitely count as a Patrol/Troop Activity, but would not count for overnight camping)

    • One of the summer camps we frequent, sets up wall tents prior to camp, but each of the scouts must attach their own taught lines, and twine to “stitch” up the corners. These are removed at the end of the week.

      • That’s pretty common. Those wall tents can’t be properly folded at the end of the summer with the corners still tied, and the wind blows them right open if you don’t do something about the corners. They’re all one solid piece at Philmont, last I was there, but I believe those cost extra and I don’t know how they fold them to store them.

      • That counts as “helping to setup”. So does adding a fourth wall to an Adirondack cabin (for privacy).

    • I can not believe what I am reading. The Boy Scout Handbook is printed in black ink on white paper. All anyone has to do is read exactly what the book says what is required and do not interpet what is printed period. As a Scoutmaster receiving new boys who transfer into my troop I have noticed two out of three scouts have been given thier ranks without hardly any work. When we as adults interpet the requirements in favor of a youth. You are actually teaching that Scout that it is alright to bend, break, egnor any rules or guidelines. This actually goes against the Scout Law. In my troop the boys will follow all requirements period no exception. When we teach these boys it’s alright to bend or break or what ever you call it that is what they will do for the rest of their life. So quite interpreting the requirements and do exactly as what is printed. I have seen examples of interpreting requirements like Star ranks through Eagle Scout who can not preform the basic skills a Boy Scout should be able to preform.

      • Amen to your comments. Most of the scouts I encounter today cannot do many of the basic things they are supposed to learn while earning merit badges. I blame this on the Scoutmasters and Adult Scout Leaders who are themselves too lazy, or ill trained to require the boys to really earn their badges.

      • Very important to have trained leaders to keep the quality of the program, our job.

      • Hi, I am a 73 year old scouter. I am also a teacher. I have read through about two thirds of this thread. I am appalled at so many otherwise adult leaders who are picking apart the language of official BSA documents, who themselves cannot write correct English grammar with good spelling. These leaders need to get the logs out of their own eyes before trying to pick the slivers out of everybody else.

      • It saddens me to think of how easily the value of the Eagle rank can be lowered by lazy leaders, not to mention the overall value of the program and the experience itself. Who is really being helped here in the end? I am an Eagle Scout myself and my son just crossed over, I saw kids earn their arrow of light without any camping at all, never mind indoor/outdoor/setup a tent. And yes, the pack does camp. I spoke to one of the kids who had just received the Arrow of Light and he said something to the effect of “..and the best part is I didn’t even have to do anything to earn the iron chef…” What are they teaching these kids? Luckily the Troop seems a lot better.

      • A grumbling comment: It’s not your troop. Yes, you are the Scoutmaster however, the troop elected the Senior Patrol Leader to lead it. It’s his troop. (Soon, this comment could read his or her troop.) Your task is to help guide the SPL to a successful troop during his tenure. You do this by selecting additional scouters to help assist the troop and the patrols. Scouter help is also provided by the Troop Committee who you are supposed to coordinate with.

    • In most cases, a scout could reset up the council tents. If they are on a platform that may be too a bridge too far.

  2. Am I missing any other details?

    I am not a hammock camper but for their sake, the BSA ought to spell out that hammock camping does count as “other structure that you help erect”.

      • As and 11 year old Scout Master, I would count that as a tent set up, if the scout set it up and slept in the hammock. Rain fly or no rain fly.

      • How about the cots that have a tent attached? Sorry I can’t remember what they are called. Our old troop had 2 leaders that had them…

    • Under the stars, sleep overnight in non-permement structure fit this description.
      for example, bivey tent,
      whether BSA intended require Scout to demostrate using “the tent”, that’s another question. Hammock is alternative tent for camper

      • I think the adults (and more often than not, the parents) try to become “Scout Lawyers” and argue their side more than the boys do. I go back to basics on the tent camping… what does it teach the Scout?
        1) they share tasks with another boy in pitching the tent
        2) they have to share a tent with another boy (not family member) so they have to learn to communicate and share
        3) they pitch a tent and sleep outside in the woods… on their own… not in their backyard, but “far” from home… no mom/dad. It’s helps a young boy develop independence & accomplishment and that’s a good thing.

        Our Troop has developed guidelines that the boys must earn the privilege of hammock camping. They must get to 1st Class and, they have to buy their own hammock and if there is a boy w/o a tent partner, someone has to sacrifice to partner up with them. This keeps the new Scout from having to buy a lot of expensive gear since the Troop owns nice quality BP tents. Also, no Scout is forced to carry their own tent or set it up by themselves and boys will be less likely to isolate one from the group.

        We’re having similar “discussions” about Cooking MB requirements. Ugh.

      • Yeah, don’t get me started on cooking MB. Our district advancement chair has advised to follow the requirements, no more, no less. So the requirements say for example (paraphrased) that a boy should plan some menus to be cooked on a hike (ingredients, weights, prices, tools needed, etc.) and cook some of those meals. But there is nothing in the requirements that explicitly state that they must be completed in order. So we have boys who do the cooking without the planning and then try to go back weeks or months later and reconstruct their meal plans, usually without perfect success. So even though they actually completed (in some cases very well) the cooking part, should they not get credit for that because the eventual plan they come up with (again, well executed) doesn’t conform completely to the meals they actually cooked? It would seem to me that the spirit of the requirements is that the planning should come before the cooking, but I am not allowed to enforce that.

      • To address the cooking merit badge, without having the exact wording in front of me, based upon your statement “that a boy should plan some menus to be cooked on a hike (ingredients, weights, prices, tools needed, etc.) and cook some of those meals”, it would seem pretty straight-forward that they need to cook the meals that they planned, hence they need to plan them first before they can actually cook them.

        Allowing them to “go back” and post plan a meal doesn’t meet the requirement. The whole point is…wait for it…Be Prepared

        This is a theme with many Scouts it seems and an underlying issue with society as a whole. We are teaching our children to be lazy.

      • Not really if the hammock has a bug screen and a tarp, I would found that as setting up a tent. If it’s just a plain hammock I would count it as sleeping under the stars.

  3. But the magazine also had the story about girls in cub scouts, and how many packs seemed to ignore rules and involve these girls (sisters) as well. So now girls are being allowed in. Isn’t this telling us we can interpret the rules any way we want to, and maybe the rules will change to match later?

    • Because in Cubs, it’s considered family camping… Family includes sisters. No rules were broken by allowing them to attend.

      • Thank you.

        Participation did not break any rules. If they had granted membership and rank to the girls, *that* would have broken rules. Cub Scouting has always been family-oriented.

    • I think involving girls (sisters of registered boys) in the past, was a matter of courtesy to the Scout’s family, not requiring the family to exclude a parent and sibling from the activity, simply because this is “Boy” Scouts. However, the girls that were involved that way did not receive rank awards. They might get an activity patch from a council event, but they weren’t earning ranks. Now, as official members, they will.

      • The diversity of opinions and scouting experience in these replies amazes me. I have to stop myself from judging others judgmental statements. I’m also envious of troops that put on serious high adventure treks regularly. It shows a huge sustained commitment by the adult leaders.

        I’d like to think there is a common theme, that several have touched on. We’re doing this for the scouts, and camping outdoors is good in any form.

        The article suggested some nights shouldn’t count for this or that, and if your committee agrees I think that’s the answer.

  4. Our scouts often participate in the set up day at camp, and indeed do set up the tents in several of the overnight areas. Would this count when they come back later in the summer?

    • This would not count toward rank. The experience of camping is setting up your tent for that event, that includes all of the activities and responsibilities of an overnight (or over weekend) trip. Setting up the tents for your Scout Reservation is a service day but is not associated with camping immediately after.

      Parents and Leaders: Please try to refrain from this nitpicking on requirements. We are trying to train young men to be responsible. If we allow ourselves to be observed “Gaming the System” all we do is reinforce a mindset that includes being rewarded for doing the absolute least we can get away with, when we should be demonstrating the importance of going the extra step.

      • Well said (comment to Parents and Leaders)!
        There are “action” words in every requirement – The action words are usually the points challenged!

      • I would say this email not only invites but demands nitpicking. The linguistic precision required is something only an attorney could love.

      • I think this should be looked at again by national. If a boy sets up a tent and later cones back and sleeps in that tent that should fill the requirement. It’s like building a snowcave and then coming back to use it later. Let’s not nit pick national. They set it up and they slept in it. Those are the reqirements and they are filled. How can slepping in the tent that night or 3 weeks later possibly degrade the experience? Helping set up for long term camps is also teaching service to others. Isn’t that another important character builder? It’s about the boy, and the lessons lerned. Revisit the aims of scouring. Revisit service. Revisit most of the points in the scout law and don’t fault a scout for voloentering to help and for also participating. After 34 years as an adult leader, I’ve seen what works as boys grow into men, baden powell was not a letter of the law, make it as hard to atain as possible, he was about teaching boys to be great men, perpared to make ethical decitions.

    • Those nights count for the merit badge.
      “If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.”

      • But only a maximum of 6 nights. you can’t count 6 nights from every year you go to summer camp.

  5. If the high adventure activity involves breaking camp, moving, and setting up a new,camp in a different location wvery day I would that this is not one long term camp, but rather that each day is seperate.

    • Generally speaking any Scout heading to a high adventure camp ought to have enough camping nights to qualify for camping merit badge before that trip. Just the shake downs should pick up 4 or 5 nights. You can only count one week of long term camp for camping merit badge.

      • Be a little cautious; my son (who is an Eagle scout) invited a friend to come to scouts. The boy was already 14 years old, a freshman in high school and therefore qualified to attend high adventure camp(s). Not every scout that heads to a high adventure camp “ought to have enough camping nights to qualify for camping merit badge before that trip”. Let’s not be narrow minded. FYI, that scout worked very hard and achieved his Eagle scout rank!! Thank you.

    • Several years ago our council Advancement Chair asked the very same question to the National Advancement team. The answer was that even in the case of a Trek, it counts as “long term camping” and you only get six nights towards the camping merit badges. One of the reasons given was that BSA wants to see scouts activily participating in their Troop and Patrol camping program instead of attending three summer weeks of camp plus one weekend and checking off the camping merit badge. As someone has already mentioned in this thread. Its not about “gaming the system”. Its about participation and learning to go beyond instead of squeaking by.

  6. The Appalachian Trail and Our local camp Mattatuck in Plymouth, CT has a couple lean to’s that we have used in winter months. The boys aren’t erecting the leanto. If you have ever slept in a leanto in sub freezing temps you would know this is anything but glamping. Do these nights not count?

    • I don’t think so, the requirement is that they erect some sort of shelter. However I think popping a tarp over the existing lean-to would count.

      • It would seem, that if they hang a tarp across the front of the lean to, or Atarondac, such that they are modifying it for their protection, they are intact assisting in its construction for that event, it would then count?

    • Having camped in some of the AT leantos, I would consider this the same as camping under the stars that would count for the Merit Badge, but not necessarily the ranks. If you improved the shelter, by adding a tarp or something to better protect you from the elements, then I would think that would count as helping to erect the shelter.

    • It says that you need to help erect the leanto so if they did not erect it then no they would not count for that requirement.

  7. How about Scouts that just joined the troop in November? They all earned their Scout Rank in December. There are no real ways for our 10.5 year old brand new scouts can camp outside in the winter, they need to be 11 to participate in winter trek. Here in VT this will mean they can’t get to Tenderfoot until May, this seems really unfair to my son He could be well on his way to 2nd class by then. The Tenderfoot requirement doesn’t spell out that the tent needs to be outside, so my son thinks we can move the furniture and and his patrol can set up the tent(s) in the livingroom and sleep there, then do the dinner and breakfast cooking outside on the porch. Being the literal guy he is, he’s not wrong. Much of his patrol has camped with the BoyScouts at many of their events in the REAL outdoors the past 2 years. BTW…as I write this it’s -3 degrees F and headed to -20 tonight.

    • Your son can work on tenderfoot, 2nd class and first class all at the same time. He doesn’t need to wait until he earns T to work on 2.

      Also remember, advancement isn’t an aim of scouting. That is to say, it’s not the purpose. The aims are character development, citizenship and personal fitness.

    • At 10.5 your son has plenty of time ahead to earn his ranks. He can work on Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, and 1st Class at the same time. Work on other requirements for now. Then in the nicer weather he will need to get in the camping nights. We always bridge in May or June and very rarely have a boy under 11 bridge (my son was 10 with an August Birtday and was considered a young Scout).

    • ScOUTING is mostly outing, sleep in tent indoor really missed the point of “fun”.
      It’s the process and experience Scout would remember(even the cold, wet night experience), not how fast he ranked tenderfoot.

    • “they need to be 11 to participate in winter trek.”
      This is a local requirement. National has no age limit. Have your own winter trek.

      And your son is right. Tenderfoot through First Class don’t require that all camping be done outdoors.

      • CAMPING is done outdoors. Setting up a tent in your living room and hosting a patrol sleepover could count as a patrol/troop activity, but it should not count toward the camping requirements for advancement.

    • Why does your committee require a scout to be 11 to participate in a winter campout? There is no requirement in the books to that effect and it’s not from the Guide to Safe Scouting. I fully understand the need for safety and for the time to train new scouts on the gear and skills they’ll need – but that’s true whether they join at 10.5 or at 15.

    • Since A) it is Scout camping and B) it part of his duties as a DC, yes i would. But MBC’s opinions vary.

      • Somebody said we shouldn’t try to game the system, to be able to check off the box so quickly. but then we also see comments that the “MBC’s opinions vary”. So while 90% agree something is fine, one adult can say no and not count it. It is very confusing, and best if we have a good idea of what should be allowed before being asked questions.

  8. At our council camp there is a sign as you leave the Program Center that says; “Think Like a Boy”. Seems with trying to over-interpret the specifics of the rules we are forgetting that Scouting is about learning to be better citizens utilizing an outdoor classroom. So would a Scout think using a prebuilt lean-to on an managed trail that doesn’t allow setting up tents is “camping”? Or would that Scout pull out the handbook and point to a specific word that discludes it? If you “master” your troop like a rules lawyer to deny advancement you aren’t really abiding by the spirit of Scouting, at least I don’t think so.

    • Wait… did you just infer that one sign in a council camp trumps what is in the handbook? Wow! I’m impressed with that deduction. And the reply thinks B-P had that in mind? Wow, again.

    • Since a lean-to isn’t fully enclosed, it’s sleeping under the sky. And if they (not you) enclose it with a tarp, then they have helped erect it. So I think it should count either way, and is in line with the intent of an outdoor experience where complete shelter isn’t provided.

      My 2c.

      PS I think people talking about setting up tents inside are honoring the letter but not the spirit of the requirements. It’s still valuable practice, but shouldn’t count. As others have noted, work on the rest of the requirements and camp when the weather is safe enough (and early and often)!

  9. We could play “yes, but… “ for days. It boils down to what is the “intent” of the requirement and would the “reasonable Scout” think the activity meets the criteria. Lean to camping out on the trail in general meets the criteria of camping. Sleeping in a bunk on an aircraft carrier does not, although it should count as an “activity.” Apply common sense. A Scout is trustworthy, ‘nuff said.

  10. Our ongoing debate revolves around how many nights extended camp outs (Jamboree, Summer Camp) can count for. I understand the first 6 nights can count, but not six more nights the next summer. But do subsequent summer camps count for any nights at all? 1? 2? 3?

    • It is separate designate Scouting event–troop event mostly, over 72 hours consider long-term camp, in my opinion, 2 nights can be counted in combined with 1 other long-term summer camp. But Scout should have prenty oppertunities of campouts between ranks. Not just suummer camps — which mostly camp provided activities.

      Again, if the requirement aims to encourage try different campouts instead of resident camp, then it won’t be count.

  11. This reawakens a question that arose in my mind a few years ago at summer camp. One of the most excited Scouts in camp was the 13-year-old Eagle Scout who told everyone that “this is my first-ever camping trip.”
    Question: How?

    • Who took away his precious “fun” prat of Scouting? parent? adult leader? advancement?
      Hope he was still playful youth to make up the missing experience before age out.

    • As adults I think we view camping out and camping trip as synonymous. Perhaps to this13 year old a camp out is what the troop does each month and summer camp or high adventure is a camping trip.

    • A 13 yo hasn’t had enough time in Scouting to even meet the time in rank requirements. There is no way he was an Eagle Scout.

      • So, it is “impossible” for a 13 year old to have enough time being a scout to earn his Eagle rank – but a scout who enters at 15 years old does have the time to become an Eagle scout?
        Hmm …. same amount of time spent in scouting by both young men!
        My son crossed over at 10 years old, had a desire to Eagle early (that’s just his make-up), worked extremely hard – attended every meeting, went on nearly every outing, went weekends to Merit badge workshops, worked with Scouters in the troop who were Eagle scouts, non scouts, and District Council members who were extremely cautious about his working so fast. They soon realized that he had a zeal for scouting and was deserving of every earned award and rank. The rank advancement panels were very detailed and spent time ensuring he was learning everything he needed to in order to get the best out of scouting.
        My son got his Eagle scout project approved when he was 13 years old and sat before a committee who questioned him just as they would any “older” young man. He was delayed by weather in completing his Eagle project and ended up going in for his final Eagle review board at 3 months past his 14th birthday. One of the committee personnel at the board that night commented on how he was more prepared and more mature than a large number of 16-17 year olds he had seen come through over the years. This scouter is an Eagle scout and a member of the District Council.
        I think it is wrong to have such a narrow view of what young men are capable of attaining if they have the drive and determination to do so. To put out a blanket statement about their ability is a sad commentary on not necessarily viewing these young men as individuals and allowing them to experience scouting in the manner that best suits their personality and desire.

  12. What are some examples of a Council High Adventure Trek? I’m not familiar with that term.

    When I think of Council events, I’m reminded that at the National Boy Scout Jamboree many of the Scouts did, indeed, erect their own tents. Also, they are organized into ad hoc / temporary troops and patrols. So, my common sense says that those nights would count for both advancement and Camping MB (albeit, only one event since they are consecutive nights on the same trip).

    Although, I do still think the best answer is to glean the intent and be less pedantic.

    Anyone familiar with the “allowable” exceptions in the case of Lone Scouts? Since Lone Scouts will likely never have the opportunity to participate in troop or patrol camping events…

    • If a scout is at Jamboree, that means they are already at least 1st class (requirement to attend Jambo) and don’t have any more camping advancement requirements – so that’s a moot point. Also, only up to six of those nights can be used for the merit badge unless they are already counting another long term camp.

  13. I want to go back to the High Adventure trek question. When we go to Philmont next summer we will spend 11 nights on the trail, setting up and breaking camp every day. I think all of these should count towards a scout’s camping night total.

    If the scout did a summer camp for a week previously, would that mean that none of the Philmont nights would count for camping merit badge

      • I would think most would acknowledge a big difference between a resident summer camp (or Jamboree) and a 12-day trek at Philmont. As someone mentioned, it’s really 11 different overnights with the scouts setting up and tearing down camp each night. I get the point that a scout would go to summer camp for 6 nights and then gets another 11 at Philmont (a pretty likely scenario for some), it would almost get them to the 20 nights needed for Camping Merit Badge. I think that’s OK. I also think all 11 nights at Philmont should count towards OA eligibility.

        It’s a reasonable debate, especially if district/council folks can comment. These decisions to count or not count nights happens at the unit level – maybe the merit badge counselor, advancement chair or someone keeping the spreadsheet or database of activities. Consistency is important, and rules are rules, but when you look at it and think, “They didn’t mean 12 nights at Philmont don’t count.” that seems like a judgement on what the intent was.


      • No,Philmont is not “11 different overnights”. The purpose of the requirement is not the mere practice of putting up and taking down a tent. The purpose of that requirement is to get scouts to try lots of different camping experiences – different locations, different weather conditions, different times of year, different activities, etc.

        Philmont is one (long, really great) camping experience. But Scouts need more than just that if we are to inspire a true life-long love of the outdoors.

    • Here’s the requirements:
      Camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities or events.* One long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights may be applied toward this requirement. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.

      Only six long term nights count toward the twenty nights total needed. Pretty black and white there.

      • Hi.. That is actually not correct. It reads very poorly, but it states “..which may include one long-term camp experience of up to six consecutive nights.” I spoke to a district execute (with Trapper Trails Council), and he told me that “one” does not mean “only one”, and you can count every single night at scout camp.

      • It’s not the word one that is the issue it’s that it is followed by up to six consecutive nights, the point is to get them out multiple times not just one or two long term camp outs. Read the statement as a whole and you can see the intent.

    • Philmont is one expedition, one trek, one event, not daily events. Any backpacking trip of multiple nights is one camping trip. It’s 20 nights for the MB! That’s 5 weekend campouts in 2 years with no long term camping. Are we minimizing the outing in scouting or just attempting to add numbers to the scout’s advancement resume.

    • We have a group going to Philmont this year. The camping nights of the Scouts going are 55, 62, 62, 63, 65, 78, 84, 123. The last one is a junior, the others are in 8th grade (3) or sophomores(4). All but one already have the camping MB. Anyone struggling to get 20 camping nights in does not belong at Philmont.

      • Those hours are impressive for a crew that includes 8th graders, but probably not unheard of. I would say ours are more in the 30-50 range. Each troop is different, but I’ll bet the scouts are pretty similar in their overall maturity. I won’t discount the excellent experience of more nights camping, but there isn’t a magic threshold for Philmont at 20 nights. I have a sophomore scout going that just joined the troop last summer. Will he make Eagle with all the Jr/Sr. year activity coming his way – we’ll see. He’ll get his camping merit badge, but maybe not before we head for Philmont.

  14. Eagerly waiting for an answer to your question, Bob. Very similar to the one I asked above. The multi-night disqualifier rule seems silly to me. I’d like to understand the reasoning behind it.

      • Exactly. The purpose of the Camping MB is to teach a scout how to camp and be comfortable in the outdoors, not just sleep in a tent away from home for 20 nights. Following a packing list, choosing appropriate equipment, setting up/tearing down camp, cleaning up your site, cleaning and putting away your gear – doing these things repeatedly is what trains a scout to be a better camper. My son has camped a lot, and still might forget a key item on campouts, but the number of items he forgets has gone way down and he can set up camp quickly enough to be able to help out the younger scouts now.

    • I think your question is a little vague. You’ll get some responses if you can identify what the challenge would be for a lone scout. Lone scouts have the same requirements as other scouts.

    • A reasonable reading of the general Scouting requirements in the Lone Scouting context is that the individual Lone Scout is a “Patrol” with ONE MEMBER and can self organize and participate in Patrol Activities.

      ‘Participate in a Troop or Patrol activity” is very open ended. A Patrol can decide to decide to go to a movie or bowling next Saturday afternoon as an “activity” and have it count, if organized and done in the name of the Patrol. A Patrol can decide to go to the Friday night school football game as a fun group activity, as long as they view it as a Patrol adventure, under Patrol leadership and keep together as a group. The key is identify the Scouting group as part of the organizing and the participation, Including having “an invisible Scouting neckerchief” on for the activity. It does not have to be related to _pure_ scoutcraft learning and practice. Most Troops have more than just scoutcraft activities (and count for participation credit — not to mention partipation credit for fund raising $$$ activities and events). Anything that could under a Merit Badge requirement, would qualify if done as a Patrol group activity, also.

      The Lone Scout might be advised to have a more scoutcraft (“in the Handbook”) focus, less everything be included for the the Patrol with one member.

    • One of the first requirements to attend NYLT, “Scout participant must be at least 13 years of age and a First Class Scout by the start of the course,” so the camping requirements for rank are irrelevant. NYLT is a prerequisite for NAYLE. If you want to apply the camping days toward Camping Merit Badge (assuming the Scout is spending the week in a tent he helped set up), it would be essentially the same as applying summer camp days or trek days. It’s still a long term encampment, so whichever you choose you can only take credit for six days.

  15. “What about participation in a council high-adventure trek?”

    “Both the trek (up to six nights) and any shakedown trips that involve camping would count toward the Camping merit badge. These trips wouldn’t count for rank advancement, which specifies troop and patrol activities.”

    This is not entirely correct, and isn’t even fair. Or common:

    Most scouts earning T or 2C are too young to be hi-adventuring, so for them, this doesn’t apply. For older boys with lesser rank, it could. And many of them ARE participating in a troop event: the troop collects scouts for HA, signs up, and goes: that’s troop activity, yes? Does it make it NOT a troop activity because council is sponsoring and planning it? Ah, but what about the lone scout who must be in a provisional troop? He’s with a different troop. Does it, or doesn’t it count? Why penalize the boy who wants to do HA but his troop doesn’t have the wherewithall to go? And, while on HA, while the group is called a “trek”, it is no different than being a patrol. There’s a leader, and there are scouts. Maybe there are adults, and maybe there’s more than the max recommended for a patrol, but I see a lot of hair splitting here: if an older boy goes to HA, he would unequivocally earn rank advancement in my troop. Reason: he has satisfied all of the technical requirements, and even the spirit of the requirements.

    On another note: Camping MB has more than just “20 nights”. There must be TWO activities conducted, choose 2: 4 mile hike, 5 mile boat, 15 mile bike, hike 1000 elevation, rappel 30′, and winter activity. Pick two, do them, and THEN your overnights count.

    I’d be interested in the arguments that council HA is not a troop activity, AND that treks couldn’t be patrols, AND how a single scout from a troop wants to go provisionally all cannot count for rank?

    • Actually, on HA trips your group is called a “crew” and the crew goes on a “trek.”

      I agree with everything you’re saying. My son spent his first summer camp as a provisional camper because he bridged over after our troop’s summer camp reservation was full. He was 11 years old and on his own with 20 other kids he’d never met, for a week. We definitely counted those as camping nights. The rest of his nights for the Camping MB were multiple 1, 2 and 3 nighters that got him over the 20 night mark. Any scout that is even moderately active in the troop will have no problem earning the merit badge in due time – it’s not a race.

  16. The point of the camping requirements is the total camping experience. Plan food, shelter, clothing, etc. Stay overnight and take everything you need to have a fun and comfortable stay. Get the scouts out of the modern world, connect with nature, get their heads out of the virtual real and into the real world.
    Would sleeping in a cabin out in the middle of the woods count towards that experience? In my book, as long as all of the other experiences were part of the campout, then I believe the intent of the requirement has been met. Splitting hairs over where the scout sleeps…come on man.

    • Recently I stayed in a cabin, one of 4, at a Boy Scout camp as part of a Wood Badge staff development. The cabin had carpeted floors, a TV with DVD player, couches and coffee table, micrwave, electric range, refrigerator, a coffee maker, ADA bathroom with flushie and shower, electricity, furnace and A/C and a screened in deck with table and chairs. It is available to troops to rent for weekend outings. Is this camping???

  17. What about the National Outdoor Award?

    We live in interior Alaska where is it often very cold. Our troop schedules camping trips during the winter, where temperatures -20F or colder are common. So they often sleep in cabins. Would these nights count toward the camping portion of the National Outdoor Award? There is no specific language about being in a tent (the exact wording is below)

    Complete 25 days and nights of camping – including six consecutive days (five nights) of camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America – including nights camped as part of requirements 1 through 3 above.

    A gold device may be earned for each additional 25 nights of camping. A silver device is earned for each additional 100 nights of camping. The Scout may wear any combination of devices totaling his current number of nights camping.

  18. Not sure if my son has the new book or an old one. It has listed for First Class requirement 1a. 10 separate troop activities, 6 of which have to be overnight camping. So, which is it 6 campouts or 3?
    As for the hammock question, if it has a rainfly it should be counted as a bivy.

  19. I would count a hammock with a rain fly as a tent for Camping MB. This camping structure would be the same as a military poncho, a double poncho with a buddy, a tarp, a sheet of poly, a cacoon style tarp hammock, or a wilderness survival shelter. Especially if it is used on a hike, canoeing trip, or rafting trip where weight or volume is a consideration with regards to gear choice. The point of the MB is to vary the type of camping that a unit can do through out the year.
    In my troop as a kid, we tent camped almost all year round. We had summer camp and the three district camp out events. In between these were patrol and troop camp outs. We usually had a week troop camp out outside of summer camp just after school got out to kick start the summer activities.
    The alternative role for patrol camp outs was for leadership development. This is the point were the boys can feed themselves so to speak. No set schedule or activities. The scouts could just relax and have fun. If a troop is running properly, there should not be any problem getting all the camping nights in 1 to 2 years depending when the scout joins in the year.

  20. Our Troop has counted Cave camping as a camping night, even though it’s arguably not “under the stars.” Our argument is that it still represents a natural setting and requires the same skills.

  21. Regarding whether you can count a high adventure trek towards camping nights — Query why a scout who hasn’t gotten his camping merit badge yet is doing on the trek. It’s not a requirement for a trek, but any scout going on such a trek should have had plenty of previous camping experience so whether you can now count the trek nights should be irrelevant.

    • Depends on the age the scout enters the troop. My son’s friend joined at 14 years old and a high school freshman. Let’s continue to “not split hairs” and not be biased as to what or what not the scout should or should not have already accomplished, ok? BTW he worked very hard and completed his Eagle scout rank. A true scouting mentality and concerted effort by the troop, scouters and scouts can accomplish great things together!!

  22. Is the intent to camp or is it a field trip? Does the Scout have to demonstrate planning, outdoor skills etc?
    If all else fails, we as leaders could exercise common sense and good judgement.

  23. This discussion all comes down to check marks. Are we just checking off requirements instead of letting the boys learn the skills intended in the requirement? This is also common in Scouts earning merit badges.

    Let the Scouts EARN their advancement. Too often, we short cut the program to get the boys to Eagle. By the way, nowhere in the BSA mission statement or vision is it mentioned “to create Eagle Scouts.” It is a great goal but not the real reason for the program.

    • Precisely right. Most of the questions on this thread are asked because “not counting” certain kinds of camping nights delays the “Sprint to Eagle” that most Adults are interested in so their sons can get out of Scouts at 15 and on to other more important activities.

      If you’re doing it right, a Scout will realize he already has enough actual nights in a tent by the time he picks up the Eagle-required Camping Merit Badge book.

    • Unless it has changed since I last looked, the camping requirement for OA is 10 nights of camping including only one long term camp within the past two years. The definition of long term camp is the same (over 72 hours – typically this means attending at least one week of summer camp, but it would also include HA such as Philmont, or a week long Troop or Patrol camping trip). In my troop we include “cabin camping” which constitutes a very small number of nights as 95% of our troop camping occurs in tents. And our troop uses the patrol method of cooking and camping even when using a cabin or adirondack. The intent of the requirement is for the scout or scouter to be actively camping with the troop.

      • Thanks Dale, easy enough to look up — I was just hoping that those requirements would be discussed here too so that all of the camping related requirements are in one place.

      • says
        The Order of the Arrow membership requirements are:

        – Be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America.
        – The youth must have experienced 15 nights of Boy Scout camping while registered with a troop or team within the two years immediately prior to the election. The 15 nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of at least five consecutive nights of overnight camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. Only five nights of the long-term camp may be credited toward the 15-night camping requirement. The balance of the camping (10 nights) must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps of, at most, three nights each.
        – Youth must be under the age of 21, hold the BSA First Class rank or higher, and following approval by the Scoutmaster or Varsity team Coach, be elected by the youth members of their troop or team.

  24. Our troop runs HA programs on its own, both canoeing on the Allagash and backpacking the AT. These trips often run 8-12 days. I’ve been told that since they are not run under the “auspices” of the BSA, they do not count as a long term camp. But as hey are more than 72 hours, they don’t count as a short-term camp, or at the least, only three nights can be counted. These trips have the scouts planning the entire thing and are not supported by a camp staff. In my mind, in terms of teamwork, leadership, and other scout goals, they are often more valuable in some ways than a “canned” adventure at Philmont where your menus and gear and activities are provided. Yet at best the scout is awarded three nights? This seems counter-productive to me. It’s even worse for a scout who wants to qualify for OA, where they only have two years of trips and thus they have to attend a BSA-run camp to get their long-term camp in.

    • Of course those trips are “under the auspices of the BSA.” Your Troop is the BSA. All of our troops are the BSA. If a troop has a charter, it is the BSA. If my troop holds an event, it is a BSA event. If the troop goes camping, that is under the auspices of the BSA.
      If my wife and I take the kids camping to Yosemite for the weekend, that is not under the auspices of the BSA.

    • Craig, are you referring to the National Outdoor Award for Camping? Requirement #4 says:

      “Complete 25 days and nights of camping—including six consecutive days (five nights) of camping (Sea Scouts may be on a boat), approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America—including nights camped as part of requirements 1 through 3 above. Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts must complete six consecutive days (five nights) of the 25 nights at a BSA accredited resident camp.”

      I agree with Chris Riebe. Yes, your troop’s high adventure program would be considered “under the auspices” of the BSA. But no, it would not meet the requirement of a “BSA accredited resident camp”. Boy Scouts would need to get those “six consecutive days (five nights) of the 25 nights” somewhere else.

    • If you are doing your camping as a troop or patrol it is under the auspices of the BSA. Auspices of the BSA means not family camping or camping with another organization. There is nothing that says a troop can’t have it’s on long term camp.

    • Each of those HA programs counts as one “troop/patrol” activity toward the 10/6/3 of 2017 First Class requirement 1a.

      I would argue that the longer ones don’t count at all toward the Camping merit badge, since they are neither “short-term camping”, “A camping experience consisting of one to four days and at least one night outdoors”, see , nor a “long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights.”

      Perhaps the Camping requirement would be better worded “Up to six days from one long-term camping experience may be applied…”

    • Your troop HA programs would certainly qualify as a long term camp since they are scouting activities (sponsored by National BSA, Council, District, Troop or Patrol) that is more than 72 hours long (Longer than a typical 3-day weekend camp out). If your troop is registered/chartered with your local council all activities at the troop and patrol level are scouting activities and are thus “under the auspices of the BSA”. What would not qualify as a BSA event (as an example) would be a week long camping trip with a church youth group because the church youth group is not registered and being run as a BSA Troop or Patrol.

  25. First Class requirements say six overnight campouts are required, not three that the article mentioned. Five of the six must be spent in a structure the scout erected. This is more than it used to be making it more difficult for some to accomplish.

    • As of August 2017, 10 Activities, six of which must be outdoor activities, and three must involve overnight camping.

      • I have an interesting experience (actually 2)that some of you will be trying to fit into the current camping allowance situation. Decades ago for 5 summers in the late 1950s I was the summer scoutmaster for our Troop 32 at the local Scout camp Seven Mountains. I always took them for the 2-week stay (13 nights)and 98% of the kids then stayed for the 2-week period. During this period of time to give the kids a better camping experience than the traditional summer camp I took them on 3 individual campouts. Each was a few miles hike away from camp where we cooked supper, found good sleep spots, cooked breakfast in the morning and hiked back to Seven Mountains. We didn’t necessarily erect a tent if the stars were out. Each year we did this the Scouts had 10 nights in a long term camp and 3 nights “camping”. Under today’s rules they would have gotten 10 nights in a long term camp and I am not sure if the 3 nights would count if they didn’t erect a tent or hammock, but I would have no hesitancy to have them count as “camping nights” under any of the rank or MB requirements. The scouts had sleeping bags and selected an appropriate site to be comfortable and had a great time in the woods. I just don’t remember if we took tents if the sky was clear.

        Then there was the time as an Explorer Post advisor I had a group of 6 Explorers on a winter campout of 5 days just after Christmas. During this time we never entered a humanly created structure. It was in northern Pennsylvania on the Loyalsock Trail. We planned to take no tents nor overhead tarps figuring it would be too cold for rain. We did have a 7 foot wide dining tarp. The first night it was 13 degrees F.
        The second night it was 35 degrees and… you guessed it, raining. So the 7 of us were literally sardines under our dining tarp. We survived. If you want to know when that camp was, look up the date when the Russians sent up the first Sputnik. The star-filled nights we had on that trip also had the Sputnik. Now did all the Explorers have 5 camping nights? I would have signed them.

  26. I have been a scoutmaster for over 30 years and I have never had a boy not have enough camping experience by the time he reaches a rank that requires it. It is obvious that parents are pushing the rank advancement and instant gratification that is so common today or the troop is not offering enough camping experiences. If so, get with it adults and get the PLC to plan trips with camping. The boys are the leaders. Our favorite trip of the year is our Survivor Weekend in Feb. The scouts build a shelter out of sticks, leaves etc and sleep in it overnight without a fire in or near the shelter. Yes, they build it in the snow, when it snows (which is often) and many times is around 0 degrees. Snow and cold can be safe and fun, but you really need to watch out for 35 degree weather and rain. the scouts must be taught how to stay dry. Boys want a challenge in scouting not a wuss experience.

  27. A. What about 5 nights at NYLT?
    B. Would “excursion” nights at 2nd or subsequent Summer Camps be eligible? For instance, at Emerald Bay, there is a “War Canoe” excursion to a beach elsewhere on Catalina Island. At Camp Whitsett, there is a trek out to a meadow during mid-week. I understand the nights in BSA tents not being counted more than once, but those solo events are really their own thing. So, in theory, a Scout who attends summer camp at ages 13, 14, 15, 16 & 17 may have been out for 25 nights (in my son’s case, 30 nights, as our troop is Orthodox Jewish and we spend an additional night for 6 nights for each Summer Camp because we cannot depart on Saturdays, our Sabbath). It would be nice if the excursion nights during subsequent Summer Camps could count.
    C. What aboutthe Wilderness Survival MB night during a second or subsequent Summer Camp? It would seem that that night is more in the spirit of the night requirement than most.

  28. “… nights on a patrol or troop campout in a tent he helped pitch”

    My son is attending “Shooting Sports Day”, a Council sponsored event, but with another Troop because his Troop is not participating, and has nothing planned for that weekend.

    He WILL spend two nights in a tent he helped pitch, with a Troop, just not his Troop.

    Does it count for rank advancement?

  29. Perhaps someone already mentioned this solution- but if tents are already set up at your camp either have them take them down and set them back up with permission or an even simpler solution- have those boys who need to fulfill that requirement bring their own tent to stay in.

  30. Really interesting discussion here. But are we forgetting why camping is required for Scouting, and what our ultimate goal is with the program? The objective is to teach our scouts how to independently survive, and be comfortable, in temporary structures, away from their home environment, and work as a team to solve problems, be comfortable, and become independent adults who improvise, adapt and overcome. Speaking personally, I’ll interpret the requirements as I see fit, if my scouts achieve those goals. The requirements to me are guidelines to guide us toward what Lord Baden Powell sought to achieve when he started this Scouting adventure, and we are the custodians of his legacy, and must pass the desire and passion to achieve those goals onto our Scouts, and not cut corners to hand out badges, nor be too rule obsessed that we alienate some by not recognizing valid achievements.
    YIS – Mike Pack 92, GNFC
    Eagle Class of 1993

  31. Sometimes reading these comments makes me wonder what some troops do during the year. If a scout in my troop goes on every trip they will get about 30 nights in a year. This includes our monthly campout, summer camp and a trek during spring break. Over the year they will get at least one backpacking trip, one kayak trip and one bike trip. We also do at least one if not both camporees. The scouts plan their own menu and prepare their own food on every trip. Our tents are rarely used. The scouts prefer hammocks even in heavy rain and cold weather. They can get a hammock condo up and covered in a few minutes. They are comfortable whether it is hot and humid or cold and wet.
    Most of our Scouts have the Camping Merit Badge before 1st class. After that it is net nights for awards.
    It takes our new Scout patrol about 3 trips to figure out a rotation so everyone can meet the requirements for advancement and the merit badge.

  32. > Yes, since the requirements match up and have the same basic intent.

    Typo. I think you mean, “… have the same basic in tent.”

    Did you know you cannot run through a campground? You can only ran through a campground. Because it’s past tents.

  33. School outdoor and camping activites are not necessarily disqualified.
    If there are individual Scouts in the school group, who are also part of a Scout Patrol (or Troop), with a little effort and planning, the larger school activity could be organized and participated in as a SCOUT ACTIVITY.
    This can be A Little Tricky when essentially scouting and School authorities are not talking to each other …, BUT it is not necessary that it be a joint activity or even mutual recognition. At a minimum, it would be better if the Scouts could keep in contact during the activity (not necessarily publicly saying that they are Scouts or being more than “friends” in the eyes of school authorities and other students), and the Scouts having some pre and post group discussion about how the outdoor school activity related to Scouting. Ideally, the Scouts as a group would report at the next Troop Meeting about the school outdoor event, what they learned and how it related back to Scouting.
    – This should be especially be considered for intercity and fund strapped units where opportunities for travel, outdoor, and camping expiences are limited. The perfect is not the enemy of the good. –

    • Seems a stretch. Will the participating Scout unit meet the two-deep leadership requirements for a Scout outing? Will the requirements of the Guide to Safe Scouting be followed? If not, then I don’t think this is a BSA activity.

  34. How about “A Scout is…Obedient…”? While I see it is ok to ask questions, The Boy Scout Council exists to provide the rules, guidelines and governance. Its ok to ask questions, but why are so many of you trying to find loopholes and ways around what is layed out for a Scout to advance and earn MB’s? Do what is laid out as it is laid out and if the council sees fit to change it, they will, but you should not take it on your own to decide what is right to advance your Boy Scout.

  35. Do cub scout campouts in tents pitched by the cub count toward the 20 nights required by camping merit badge? 20 nights is an awful lot if summer camp only counts for 6 and cub camping is excluded.

    • Nights camped as a Cub Scout do not count towards the camping merit badge. 20 nights is not that much for a scout if they are active and don’t expect to earn the merit badge in year one.

    • “All merit badge requirements must be met while a registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout, or a qualified Venturer or Sea Scout. Accomplishments before joining, or while a Cub Scout, do not apply.” (Guide to Advancement, page 43)

  36. Our troop does a campout to a US battleship and sleeps on the barracks but we cook and eat breakfast outside at a picnic area outside the next day. I wonder how this should be counted.

  37. The theme of this story seems to be centered around the absolute minimum requirements of camping for different aspects of Scouting. Adults participating in such discussion is disturbing, we should be encouraging camping with tents and structures outdoors as much as possible at all activities, and leaving it to the SM/ASM/Merit Badge counselors in determining advancement/badges. Boys are smarter than you think, they are reading these posts and the legalistic angling therein. We are raising Boys into Men and our future community leaders. Looking around at some male community leaders now, its all starting to make sense.

  38. This article uses the “glamping” in the title but doesn’t define it.

    According to Wikipedia “Glamping is a portmanteau of glamour and camping and describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping.”

    Glamping would seem to defeat the purpose of scouting.

  39. My take is this, there are a lot of leaders trying to make the program work for their boys. That is what we want. We are focusing on “camping” and what camping is. It is living in a temporary temporary environment, with or without a shelter. Ideally, they will have a shelter that they set up or build. I have had several choose not to sleep in a shelter. That should not void the the night of camping experience. The requirements are just that, requirements, not guidelines, but there is also the intent of the requirements. “Sleeping under the stars” is what we all do, and when we get into most shelters, we can not see the stars, because of the shelter, be it canvas, nylon, sticks and leaves, logs, caves, or snow. But they need to have the experience to get out in the wild and look up at the night sky and see the universe expand before them. Let them wonder about there place in the grand scheme of things. Let them close their eyes in a temporary but, safe environment that is different from their “norm”. This will help open their eyes to the bigger world around them and how they fit within it.

    It has been mention here several times, “to get the boys experience camping, in different places or situations”. Now, each of you live in areas that afford unique environments, some in the country, some in cities, some in the mountains, some in the desert, some in the north, some in south. What about camping in an urban environment, shouldn’t that count. Yes, it should, just as much as camping in the mountains. The latter may be preferred, But the former may help them to see what much of humanity is being challenged with. Each has its benefits, we should help the boys to find the way to see the world around them with a new perspective. This will help them to be a contributor to humanity and the world around them. They need to learn to work with others in small groups as part of a larger organization and see how it benefits all. To work with others boys and leaders as often as possible, learning new skills, and communicating their thoughts and observations back and forth, to create new and greater thoughts and dreams. They, the scouts will then have a learning experience in a temporary shelter, in a temporary environment, that they will remember, and will be a permanent marker in their life. We do it for them.

    • I have always found that a good program includes backpacking, car camping, and what I like to call road trips. The road trips generally went light on equipment and we usually found some place to stay in for free and often didn’t do any cooking. We were going on these trips to experience what the world had available to us like museums, caves, science centers, Architecture, Universities. We wanted to expand their horizons so they can see and do things they may never have thought or maybe didn’t think they would want to do. What is said by Mr. Hall is so very true. Merit Badges can do the same thing, but we should look at our communities and show our scouts that there is a lot of other things they can do and experience.

  40. I got my Eagle in 1953 under the “old” requirements (the same or essentially the same as my dad and his brother in 1929). TH LAST merit that I needed was CAMPING. It required FIFTY nights.. (I joined when you had to be at least TWELVE – it went to 11 the year AFTER I joined) So I had 4+
    years behind me and MOST of my night were at Scout Camp in tents or a lean-to. In northern Ct in winter our troop had a “camping” trip at our Council camp. All slept in a large heated ‘staff’ cabin EXCEPT ME. I slept outside, under the stars Next to a large downed tree in my KAPOK sleeping bag. Oh for a modern bag I got a ‘nice’ cold but it the badge and like my dad & uncle became an Eagle ⚜️😋

  41. It has never made much sense to me that you get no camping nights credit towards the 20 required for the camping merit badge for any more than one “long-term” camping outing.
    While I agree you should’t get the total number of nights for more than one “long-term” camping shouldn’t you get at least one or two nights? A scout that has gone on one 6 night campout and three 2-night campouts has 12 nights of camping (provided he pitched the tent, etc…) while a scout who has gone on three 6-night campouts and one – 2 night campout gets only 8.

  42. I want to get some clarity here. If I elect to sleep literally under the stars, just me and my sleeping pad, is that camping or is it not. I can understand the Tenderfoot through First class requirements wanting to “pitch” a tent. We are training our scouts on various camping skills, but after that it would seem that they should be able make a choice on how they want to use those skills. I came from a backpacking troop and we preferred to go light on weight. Unless we had a reason to expect inclement weather we would just curl up in our bags under the stars. I am also a minimalist and don’t carry things I don’t need. I can agree with a Cabin as not camping, but a tent is not a necessity for camping especially for purists.

  43. In my opinion, staying in a cabin, no matter how rustic, is not camping. Staying in a yurt, unless you brought it with you and set it up, is not camping.

    Using a tent, tepee, tarp, snow cave, shelter made from branches and leaves, hammock or under the stars IS camping. Staying in a cave or Adirondack shelter can be camping but does not qualify for advancement if the requirement states that it be set up by the Scout. Adding a tarp to an existing Adak is not helping to construct the shelter.

    Sleeping in a tent, at summer camp that was set up prior to your arrival, is camping but does not qualify as setting up the tent.

    I am all for exposing Scouts to new experiences but staying on ships or at museums and aquariums is not camping, no matter how meals are provided.

    One last thing, as far as minimum time for a boy to reach Eagle, if you go by the minimum time requirement of each rank, it takes 19 months. That is assuming all the other requirements for each rank and the associated and required merit badges are done with the time frame. Possible? Yes Probable…you decide.

    I my time, I have seen many boys Eagle at 14, a couple even as young as 13. In almost every case, they did not have a quality experience. This is not a blanket statement, it is my observation. Your Scout may be the exception.

    Remember, advancement is an important part, one of the eight methods of Scouting, but not our ultimate goal. That goal is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

    • My scout continued in the troop after his Eagle award, camping, guiding other scouts, continuing in leadership up to Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. He had a great moral and ethical approach to his scouting experience! He was voted into the offices he held by his peers, he was chosen over older scouts to be ASPL for two terms prior to his being voted SPL due to his leadership skills. Maybe he was the exception – all I know is that it was important for others to read that he did not just grab a rank and title without getting all the benefits that any other scout receives through a dedicated involvement. Thank you.

    • “Camping” on a cruise ship is not camping, I agree.

      Camping on a small boat, though… That’s camping. If you take a 30-footer from California to Hawaii on a Sea-Scout long voyage, I’d count it as days and nights of camping.

      Camping on a battleship counts as camping in my book:

      That being said, I don’t understand what the big distinction is that some people draw. When I go camping in a tent in the woods, I’m absolutely comfy and cozy. If I sleep tied into a tree, I sleep warm and comfortably. Most of the time. I mean, no camping involves camping while in water (unless something leaks. No camping involves lying on sharp rocks — you find a flat spot or pad the voids or whatever.

      When I go camping in the woods, I don’t eat such plebeian fare as hotdogs and oatmeal. I have blueberry pancakes, and tinfoil dinners with cobbler. I’ve cooked fry bread, french fries, all sorts of delicious food, and I pack everything in on my back and pack everything back out on my back. I look forward to going camping.

      Even if you try to define camping as “if you cooked that day”, well in a patrol you don’t cook every day. You rotate the job.

      That being said, I think the current rules make sense for most youth. Up to first class, boys should concentrate on “regular” camping and then afterward they can branch out a little, with a few more rules for the camping merit badge, then after that any night not spent at home is basically camping.

  44. What is when arriving at Summer Camp, you took down the tents of the boys who need the rank advancement and let them put them back up?

    • Doc. No problem here for the re-erecting the tent to count. 🏕
      {Some might object that re-erecting takes slightly less planning and skill than pitching a tent entirely from the start.}

  45. So when is the new “improved” national program called Scoutbook going to make sub groups in the camping logs for each type?

  46. I respectfully take issue with your comments which you state with authority that a Scout can use one completed task to satisfy two different requirements. Please be so kind as to direct me to that “interpretation” in either the Boy Scout Handbook or the Scoutmaster’s Handbook. Out Troop NEVER counts one task for several different requirements in the manner in which you claim is the “official interpretation” of the requirements. e.g. we would never count cooking a single qualifying meal for the First Class Requirement, Camping Merit Badge, and Cooking Merit Badge. I appreciate that your comments give Scoutmasters further information, but I agree with teh Scoutmasters who have written in that the Official BSA Handbook is teh final authority, and if it is left to the Scoutmaster to interpret–so be it! (and we probably interpret the less strict requirements more strictly than most!)

    There appears to near universal agreement that there can not be CAMPING on a ship aircraftcarrier.
    Agreed that overnighting in crew quarters in _not_ camping within BSA advancement and merit badge terms.

    But what about pitching a tent on the flight deck (no lower semi-enclosed hanger)?
    Or a sleeping bag in a AA open gun space and pitching tent/tarp canvas above, under the open sky and stars?
    On the open deck of a Sea Scout ship on a Longg Cruse.?
    Not a comfortable surface, but could it count as camping.
    [presuming permission from the “admiral” or who ever is in charge of the space for spending the night outside.]

    • I wonder if exceptions could be made for a special experience like sleeping in the barracks on a ship or even a base. We might be discouraging these special experiences. What to Sea Scouts do? I wonder even if being in a cabin should really be discounted. I can understand the basic ranks needing to teach a skill, but after that we want to encourage monthly outings. These outings should really be allowed to be varied to give scouts a more worldly experience. I wonder if we do scouting a disservice by not allowing them to not be prepared for any experience. Scouting’s missions is not about being the best tent campers. Its about citizenship and character. Its about being better prepared for the real world. The slogan is Scouting is outing not Scouting is camping. If I go on an outing on a ship to see what that life is like and to experience that avocation is that not part of building good citizen ship to understand others that may love the seas or waters around us. Is it not building character to be prepared for going places and doing things that involve water and the activities on water. Seems to me we should look again at what is camping and how it relates to Scouting. The best units I have seen all have one thing in common. They include activities that are not camping to have a more varied, interesting and exciting program.

      • Our troop has other activities also, but we don’t call it camping. Sleeping on a ship doesn’t prepare you for anything related to camping any more than a sleep over at a buddy’s house would. If you want to bring up a slogan about “Scouting is Outing,” well that’s about scouting in general. For the purposes of the camping merit badge or rank advancement, no other outings are acceptable. You said it, being on a ship is a way to learn other avocations, but that has nothing to do with the camping requirements.

  48. Scouting with Special Needs. Some youth are not able to complete certain parts of rank advancement and or Eagle required merit badges. In those cases you can file with your Councils Advancement Committee to modify rank advancement and or apply for alternate merit badge to replace an Eagle required. The option that you submit for must be determined to be of equal effort for the youth. See Section 10 in the Guide to Advancement for all the options available. Connect with your Councils disAbility/Scouting with Special Needs Committee and if you do not have one reach out to the National Scouting with Special Needs Committee.

  49. Just to clarify; short term camping is up to 72 hours. Long term camping is over 72 hours. Correct? So, 3 nights of camping in a tent are acceptable to apply to camping merit badge?

    • You can’t count 3 nights of a longer camping experience.

      If you were camping three nights then you had at least two full days and two partial days and it probably adds up to a long-term camping experience, or close enough that we shouldn’t split hairs but just say long-term. But if you want to run a stopwatch, you certainly can! 🙂

      So off the cuff, purely as an unofficial answer, I’d say that two nights of camping (then go home) is fine, but 3+ nights is long-term.

      • Guess I should have asked if the 3 nights would count towards the camping merit badge for a BSA camp that runs from Wednesday evening to Saturday afternoon where boys pitch their tents and sleep 3 nights in their tents. I noticed an earlier comment in the string above that 1, 2, and 3 nights of camping in a tent did count and wanted to make sure.

      • It seems like you might be just a few hours short of 72 hours, so keep track of time and leave before it hits 72 hours 🙂

      • The definition of short-term versus long-term is based on “nights”, not hours; three nights is short-term, four or more is long-term. (My son’s troop is planning at least one such 3-night, 4-day campout this summer, perhaps 65 to 70 hours “in the wilderness”, 80 hours counting road-time, specifically because all boys have been to a long-term camp already and still need nights for Camper.)

      • I agree with Dave. For camping nights (MB, OA, etc) it’s all about the nights. 72 hours can be an important milestone that will trigger the need for Part C of the Annual Health and Medical form.

  50. I relate to so many of these articles. My sons Webelow’s experience was negative. Our den leader pencil-whipped all the kids through their requirements. My son returned from an awards Pack meeting crying, when I inquired, he recounted how much baseball he missed to complete the requirements and the other boys were just gifted the award. Thankfully the troop has more integrity than that dad did, and now the 2 out of five boys that did the work are leaving the pencil-whipped boys behind because they never learned basic skills.

    So my message is this leaders and scouts….. you can cheat in scouts but it will catch up to you, leaders you are doing a dis-service to your kids and choosing to compromise your integrity, kids it will catch up to you. Leaders don’t water down the ranks of scouts by cheating those who did it right !

  51. The way I understand what I have read in the Guide to Advancement and Camping MB book the boy must have started the Camping MB before any campout dates count toward the 20 day requirement. I have a boy who just finished his 3 year as a boy scout. He did not ask to begin the Camping MB until this year during summer camp. We just returned from camp last weekend. The way I read things he only has 6 nights spent at camp to count toward his Camping MB although he has 43 night total toward his Camping Outdoor Badge Tab. Does anyone see documentation to prove otherwise?

    • A boy “starts” a badge by starting work on any of the requirements. Some requirements of some badges identify an explicit prerequisite (pass the swim check for water badges, earn Swimming before Lifesaving), and a few of those are “discuss with your counselor” (Personal Management has one), but in general a boy could start work on any requirement for a Merit Badge the first week after he registers, after his 11th birthday, and meet with a counselor to get it passed off the week before his 18th birthday.

      Per the Guide to Advancement, section, “Even though Scouts may benefit from reviewing requirements with a counselor before pursuing them, a boy may begin working on a merit badge at any time after he is registered. It is the counselor’s decision whether to accept work or activities completed prior to the issuing of the signed blue card. Common sense should prevail, however. For example, nights already camped as a Boy Scout, or coins or stamps already collected, would count toward their respective badges.”

      When I was a Boy Scout (1991 to 1995), I seem to remember there was a 1-year time limit on “partials” from camp, but I’m not sure whether that was a hard expiration date for approvals on the blue card or something else, maybe just a council requirement on the alternate form they were using. In any case, all nights counted as a scout probably still counted toward the counselor’s approval of that requirement on the Camping badge.

      In the 1948 Boy Scout Handbook, by default most Merit Badges had a prerequisite of earning First Class. There was a list of about 25 or 30 of the badges (Art and Basketry among them; not Camping) that a boy could start work on as soon as he had Second Class. The First Class camping requirement was only a single night, however, and the Camping requirement was longer – 50 days? But long-term camps (Summer Camp) counted without limit.

  52. I don’t see anything in the Guide to Advancement or the Camping merit badge requirements that say that a youth must have started the Camping merit badge before starting to count the camping days/nights.

  53. What about participation in a council high-adventure trek? The question of what makes up a patrol is key. If a patrol is formed and the temporary patrol follows the patrol method, the camping trip should count. The key is to teach boys to work together to enjoy the outdoors. I think it is an even better learning experience to work with a temporary patrol on a camping trip. That will prepare the boy for life in more than just camping. We need to be leaders to help these boys grow and develop and not stand in their way of achieving their goals.

  54. I am teaching Wilderness Survival MB to a Troop this coming weekend, and as they are a Troop with young men and women one of the gals from the Troop would like to attend the course as well. The female Scoutmaster needs to stay with her Troop in camp so thinking for the sleeping in a shelter that they construct portion: 1) It be done on the periphery of the parade ground in open eye shot of the Troop and others; 2) Have separate shelters for each Scout; 3) I will also create my own shelter and be in close proximity in order to monitor the arrangement.
    As a father of four (2 grown men and 2 grown women), past Scoutmaster for two Troops in two states, past and current Mentor for Eagle Scouts, Camp Host / Campmaster for 4 and growing camps in 3 states, etc… I don’t wish to see any youth not given equal opportunity to Scouting opportunities. Does this sound like an acceptable solution? It was when I taught WS MB to only one Scout in that past.
    I appreciate in advance any feedback, guidance, or thoughts.
    YIS, MNTechDad

  55. “troop with young men and women” maybe a bit ahead of where the Scouting program is officially.
    With boys and girls, the Troop/crew/Post/Ship should have already worked out this camping-thing, along with male and female leadership. Ask them, how THEY do it. [if they have not developed a set of rules and practices, then the problem is much deeper than which sleeping bag goes next to which sleeping bag. Back to basics, two deep leadership, etc.]

    Not to quibble over words. “Teach” is only part Merit Badge Counselor. 😀

  56. They have one female leader who will be spending the night near the other female Scouts.

    I think the proposed solution is a good one.

  57. Hi everyone, I have a patrol that is going camping with he two leaders, the parents would like to attend the campout but know that they need to stay at a separate campsite, would this be ok and count as camping nights?

  58. You probably want to add to this article to explain Order of the Arrow camping requirements, because it’s now getting a bit grey, where Sea Scouts can qualify with shipboard nights, but not Ventures or Scouts BSA?

  59. Just to stir the pot 😉 – Does camping have to be outside? Only the 2nd and 1st Class requirements specify that camping has to be outside. The Camping MB says “Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched.” One can argue that if you pitch the tent inside, that counts. (BTW, I don’t argue that but some sea-lawyers might.)

    Perhaps the BSA editors might want to specifically include the requirement that all camping nights for all BSA purposes are outside, in a tent, not in an Adirondack, not in a church basement, not on a museum ship. Sea Scouts might need some clarification about how to count Ship activity nights against the Camping MB.

  60. What if a scout goes to a long term camp for two weeks ; and on one of those nights leaves the campsite and creates a wilderness survival shelter.

    I could make an argument that she gets credit for 7 nights for camping merit badge : 6 for long term camp, and 1 for sleeping under the stars in a trip away from camp during camp…


  61. During pandemic, BSA allowed scouts to have camp in their backyard. Is there any updated regulation on backyard camping? If a patrol decides to have patrol camp out in one of scout’s backyard, does that considered as a camp night for Camping MB? Or rank?

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