Q: I have a question about Unit Elections. For the camping requirement of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping does the camping have to be at a BSA owned and operated camp, or can it be a unit long term campout allowed by the council?
A: There has been some confusion over what camping qualifies in meeting the membership requirement for camping. Three factors apply:
- Camping must be under the auspices of an approved BSA program.
- The decision on what specific camping meets the spirit and intent of the camping requirement rests with the unit leader of the unit in which the youth is being considered for election.
- It is preferred that camping requirements be met as part of the unit in which the youth is being considered for election (i.e., troop, crew or ship); however, extenuating circumstances may exist (e.g., in cases where a youth did not have an opportunity to meet the requirement with the unit), that make it appropriate for unit leaders to consider other BSA camping experiences (e.g., a Venturer counting camping nights completed with a troop or camping nights completed while serving as a staff member at a council camp or national high adventure base). In each case, the unit leader must satisfy themselves the spirit and intent of the requirement was met (i.e., it was indeed qualifying outdoor camping).
- The term "ship nights" refers to nights during with the individual slept overnight on their ship. The ship need not be underway during that period for the nights to qualify.
This does not say that the resident camp must be at a BSA owned or operated facility. If the national Order of the Arrow committee had wanted to say that, they would have. The language used was very carefully composed. If a unit runs their own long-term resident camp, "under the auspices and standards" of the BSA, it qualifies. The BSA does have very explicit standards for a resident Scout camp, requiring much more than just a week long campout. Your local council camping committee can provide more information on what the current standards are.
Some of the confusion may be caused by an error in a recent printing of the Boy Scout Handbook, which stated the camping had to be at "a local or national council facility", but that is incorrect.