Homepage Forums Scouts BSA What Constitutes a "Campout"?

This topic contains 9 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Mike 4 years, 5 months ago.

  • Author
  • #34411 Reply


    For the sake of advancement, what constitutes as a “campout”?

    There are several requirements on the trail to First Class that reference doing things on a “campout.” But what exactly counts as a “campout.”

    Obviously spending the night sleeping in a tent you have helped pitch is camping. Sleeping out under the stars is camping. Summer camp in canvas wall tents is camping. My interpretation is the event has to be overnight (so day trips into the wilderness don’t count as a “campout”) and it has to have an outdoors element. But what about “cabin camping” or staying in dormitory-style housing, or staying in an RV, or any other indoor overnight Scouting activities.

    A few examples….

    First Class requirement 4e states: “On one campout, serve as your patrol’s cook.” Would serving as cook for your patrol on a winter ski cabin weekend count? It’s not technically camping in the traditional sense (you’re indoors with running water, electricity and heat); but you’re doing the cooking and planning which is the spirit of the requirement. What if you cook the meals outside (even though on the event you’re sleeping inside)? Does it count? Or does it not count because it’s not “on a campout.”

    Second Class requirement 3g states: “On one campout, plan and cook one hot breakfast or lunch.” What if you plan and cook a hot breakfast and/or lunch but it’s not on an overnight trip? You carry a portable backpacking-style stove and cook a hot meal on a day-hike; it’s not technically a campout but it’s the same meal you would have cooked otherwise (you just don’t go and sleep in a tent at the end of the day).

    Another example, Second Class requirement 3a states: “Since joining, have participated in five separate troop/patrol activities, two of which included camping overnight.” Does an overnighter in the church rec center count as “camping overnight”? Does staying in the bunks at a Naval base count? Does a cabin weekend count? Does a trip to Seabase and staying in their dorms count? Or does it have to be outdoor tent-and-sky camping overnighter. What’s the line between “campout” and just “Scouting overnight”? How rustic does a cabin have to be to be “camping” and how nice does a tent/shelter have to be before it’s just akin to staying at home?

    What’s the BSA’s definition of “campout” here?

  • #34596 Reply


    How about this? Have your PLs read each requirement and ask them if based on how it’s worded, would they sign their scouts off on the requirements.

    The trail to first class was designed to be managed by the boys, not us scouters.

    That said, I would encourage your boys to spend as many nights as possible under canvas (or less). It’s just that much more fun!

  • #34606 Reply


    I agree that the Scouts should be helping manage the trail to First Class… and it was the Scouts who brought this question to me.

    A Scout went to his PL saying he had served as patrol cook for an outing… the PL read the requirement said “sorry, but you weren’t cook on a campout, we were staying in a cabin when you cooked those meals” The Troop Guide said “cabin camping is still camping, the meals counts”… the SPL says “no it’s not…would staying in a hotel be considered a campout?” So now the youth have turned to me, the Scoutmaster… we want to know what the BSA’s intent is for specifying something be done on a “campout” to see if we’re meeting the spirit of the requirements when we sign something off (what’s the difference between “campout” and “overnight activity”… what the difference between “campout” and “outdoor activity”… when it says “campout” must it be on an outdoor overnight activity? Or do things on an indoor-overnight or an outdoor-day-outing count as “campouts” for the sake of these requirements?

  • #34610 Reply


    Truth be told, there are threads in lots of forums that go back-and-forth about these things. You may notice that the guide to advancement is particularly mum on these things. That’s because different scouters have different styles, and different groups of boys are in a position to implement the program a little differently.

    I really would put this back in the hands of the PLC (or even the troop, if you have a relatively orderly lot). Get them in a circle. Have them read the requirement. Have them think about what the purpose of the requirement is. Have them think about fairness. (E.g., what if your wilderness survival weekend and backpacking weekend got canceled, and the cabin weekend was the only one for a couple months?) Have them think about if the boy has demonstrated the skill to the degree that he could do the same thing just as well in a slightly different setting.

    It really is up to them to come to agreement as to what they think is best for the troop.

  • #34706 Reply


    The BSA is very specific about a lot of things (what counts as a ‘Leadership Position,’ what constitutes a ‘service project,’ what constitutes ‘long-term camping’, the ins-and-outs of Scoutmaster Conferences and Boards of Review, specific merit badge requirement standards, etc.). The advancement standards should be uniform across the program. It’s odd that they would use such a specific word but not give any guidance on their interpretations of it. Why didn’t they simply say “On a troop overnight” or “On a troop outing”…saying “campout” is more specific and they picked that word for a reason… but what was it? What was their intent?

  • #34717 Reply


    I once saw a cartoon in the 70s titled “Camping Then vs. Now”. Under “Now” there was the fella in his canvas tent, lantern, tackle box, fishing gear, folding chair, etc… Under “Then” there was a trapper with his fur hat huddled in a wool blanket with his oilcoat for a rain shield and his saddle-bag for a pillow.

    We could nag somebody official to spell it out for us. And that might work for a while, but then someone will bring up a scenario that doesn’t quite fit. Half of us will scoff, the other half will say “cool, yeah!” One half will try to bludgeon the other with the guideline just offered. Boys will shake their heads and go off into the woods with their real patrols without us. 🙁

    One of the flawed visions about uniformity is that fine lines can be drawn for everything everywhere at all times. They can’t and they shouldn’t. Sometimes, your boys need to build their own vision of what the troop should be.

    Do they see themselves only doing nights that count for camping merit badge?

    Or all they all about wilderness survival?

    Most boys want to mix it up. Including some dormitory style stuff that you mentioned. Now if your troop is in the “dormitory phase” for a couple of consecutive months, is holding to the above merit badge requirements fair to your second class scout who hasn’t missed a single trip that you offered … who only wants to have a rank that you all are pretty sure he otherwise has the skills for?

    Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe that cabin counts for the boy who goes out with the troop no matter what, but not for the boy who never goes out if it will involve a tent or less. Yes, scout spirit matters here, IMHO.

    And, frankly, your boys will get more benefit working through what matters to them than they will if some hair-splitter from national gives you his pat answer-of-the-day.

    That said, it would be nice to hear how other scouters have let this play out.

  • #35670 Reply

    Wieslaw Topolski

    I think that camp-out should be defined by BSA. Recently I saw an interpretation that a camp-out for rank advancement requires 2 overnight stays and the troop cooking its own meals. What is the basis for that? Why should one boy in troop A be EXPECTED to spend twice as much time camping than another boy in troop B? Some boys have other activities that they want to partiocipate in and may not be able to go to extended camp-outs.

  • #35678 Reply


    You just provided an example of “why” every troop should be different.

    Boys can get an attitude of preparing poorly if they know they can build camp that afternoon, cook, and leave the next day before breakfast. If this is your troop, and your SPL is frustrated with it, he might ask that the cooking requirement be on a “serious” outing where a real roster is needed with each boy taking a turn cooking, assisting the cook, clean-up, assisting the clean up, fire building, etc …

    One way to be sure that a patrol is serious about giving each boy a chance work this requirement is to start first thing in the morning (with everyone having arrived the night before) and running through breakfast (maybe the lunch) next day.

    Other SPL’s see their boys working as teams just fine, and figure the troop should be flexible with diverse schedules. So, if someone is only going to be able to stay for an evening, and they want to cook up a storm for the boys, he’ll have no problem with the PL signing off.

    My main rule is “Don’t ask someone to make you a rule. You will wind up regretting it!” In this case, if you ask for a rule from National, how are you so sure it wouldn’t be the “two night” rule? And how would that fit in with the goofy patrol who wants to hike under moonlight and have supper on the trail at 1AM then return to their quarters at dawn?

    My second rule is “Don’t judge other troops by their policies. Do judge them by the smiles on the boy’s faces.” If they’re cheerful boys of noble character and ample skill, that 1st Class journey will work out just fine.

  • #40268 Reply


    To Q,
    Nice responses.

  • #167482 Reply

    SPL Noah

    How about camping with another scout? Does that count as a campout? Our troop does not do many formal campouts due to a general lack of interest from troop members and thus a question has been brought up as to whether an overnight in a tent with multiple boy scouts but no scoutmaster counts as a scout campout. There was/will be an adult associated with the troop there, and there are multiple scouts, so all the rules of a buddy system were/will be in play. Scout rules were/will be followed. What is the protocol for situations like these? Do they count as “campouts” or not?

Reply To: What Constitutes a "Campout"?
Your information: