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 Boy Scout advancement? Read on to find out.

What do the Boy Scout rank requirements say?

For Tenderfoot requirement 1b, a Scout 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.

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