Scouting Forums

Camping merit badge requirement (20 overnights) and older G scouts (who joined over 16 yrs old)

Hello. I am one of the assistant scout masters in a newly formed, female only troop. We have one scout, currently Junior in high school, who is hoping to Eagle in February of 2021, although she is eligible to apply for the extension and Eagle when she becomes 20 years old in 2023.

One of the Eagle required merit badges is Camping, and one of the requirements of it is as follows.

(a) Camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities or events.[Note 3][Note 4] 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.

So far she had done two of the overnight camping trip, plus one four overnight, five days 33 miler, so in total she had done six overnight camping. In order for her to meet the requirements, she needs to do 14 overnights within the next year and a half. How as the troop are you supporting the situation like this, when older scouts who joined late needs to have this many overnight camping to fulfill the requirement in the limited time? Is your troop scheduling a monthly overnight camping event, to help such scouts meet their requirements, or are you encouraging the scouts to find other opportunities outside the troop to do overnight? I would like to find variety of options available, and I am wondering how other troops are doing in order to support the needs of the older scouts who joined late. Thank you in advance.

Your troop should be camping monthly - mine does rain or shine - it is a tenant of Scouting


Hi, @MikaWatanabe,

My first question is, has she contacted a merit badge counselor yet? The MBC can help with interpreting the number of nights and special events required.

I’m trying to make sure I’m following your math. Am I correctly understanding:

1 campout @ 2 nights = 2 nights
1 campout @ 4 nights = 4 nights
1 campout @ 5 nights = 5 nights

which comes to 11 nights of camping.

So far, if I’m understanding correctly, she has one long-term campout (5 nights), so that’s checked-off, and she only needs 9 more nights, all of which must come from short-term (< 5 nights) campouts.

ETA: Corrected formatting issues.

ETA2: So, the biggest issues that my counselees typically confront are satisfying the requirements in 9b. It looks like your scout has the “backpack at least 4 miles” option pounded into the ground. Did she by chance also hit the “climb at least 1000 feet” requirement on the same trip? That would cover 9b easily.

ETA3: Ah, I think I see the confusion. The requirement is 20 nights, not 20 overnight trips.

I agree that 9b might be the biggest obstacle. We usually do the backpack at least 4 miles and the rappel 30 feet ones because it is too flat in Texas to generally get a 1000 foot elevation change.


Hi Charley,

Thank you for your reply. if I count just the number of nights, she had so far done six nights, so she needs to have 14 more overnight camping trips.

1 campout@ 1 night = 1 night
1 campout @1 night (Camporee) = 1 night
4 night 5 days 33 miler = 4 nights

So it comes to 6 nights of camping. To fulfill camping requirement, she needs to do additional 14, one night two days camping events. Yes she already did a backpack of at least 4 miles, and also “climb at least 1000 feet” requirement. That was covered during their 33 miler.

I would like to know how other troops are doing. I appreciate it if others can share how they are supporting this particular 20 nights requirement section of the Camping merit badges for scouts who just started after February 2019. Thank you.

Thank you Donovan. We are pretty active troop, doing camping, outdoor activities, community service, etc.

Ah, that makes more sense.

We are actually an established boys’ troop, but I know that a lot of our local girls’ troops are camping like mad to hit these requirements. My troop as a youth used to have an event every weekend. Not everyone made every event, and about half of them were 2-night (Friday to Sunday) campouts.

During the summers, we had one “super-trip” (backpacking in the White Mountains, or Pecos Wilderness, or…) plus summer camp, in addition.

Our troop holds a campout every month. It is a Friday - Sunday trip usually so most of the time they are getting 2 nights each month.

To allow some of the girls to get enough camping in, you might want to consider having 2 night camping trips. At that she would only need 7 more trips instead of 14.

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It is NOT a troop obligation to ensure every scout can cram into Eagle. Having said that, if it were my scout I would see if there was a nearby troop the scout could tag along with to get more camping.

I would say that if your scout completes too fast, national attention/audit becomes likely. BSA has indicated they are taking active measures to prevent any short cuts.

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So, I dug into my son’s camping logs to see how quickly it’s reasonably feasible to complete the 20 nights requirement. He has one 6-night campout (summer camp), plus 14 more short-term nights between March of last year and May of this year, and he’s not the most active camper in our troop (i.e. doesn’t attend everything).

I would see what the scout wants to do. Where does she want to go camping to get her nights in? How often does she want to go? Our scouts started getting more invested in going camping when the PLC started asking more of them where they wanted to go, and when they realized that they could approach the PLC to drive where and when we went, rather than waiting for the PLC to tell them what was going to happen.


If your troop schedules at least one campout every month of two nights each, then she can reach 20 nights in about 10 months. Keep in mind that these nights of camping just need to be “at designated Scouting activities or events” - they do not necessarily have to be with her patrol or troop every single time.


Yep, if you arent camping monthy then your troop will flonder and collapse.


We did a similar thing for the planning meeting. We had the boys brainstorm where they wanted to go camping, the one of the ASMs took the list and figured out the distance from us so we would know about how long it would take to get there and also listed what activities were possible at the spot. We had many scouts who weren’t attending because they were going to the same spots they had been to year in and year out.

All in all, we came out of the planning meeting with mostly new spots to camp. There were a couple of old favorites that most wanted to go back to, but of the 11 months planned for, 9 were new spots for the troop.


Just a friendly reminder that she will have to decide on requesting the extension (if she hasn’t already) this year. The availability of the request is only through December 2019; she would have longer to complete the requirements, of course.

Watch out for this:

  1. Requests for extensions must be received no later than thirty (30) days after turning 18 years of age. Only the National Council may grant extensions. The actual extension will be based upon the individual’s registration date and age at the time of the request and will provide not more than twenty-four months from the date of initial registration to complete all requirements.

Temporary Transition Rules for Scouts BSA

I have some male scouts whose sister joined in February/March. She was 15 so she will not be eligible for the extension and is having to fast track her requirements to First Class. She needs to be there by December to give her enough time and cushion to get through Star, Life and Eagle. Not ideal, but it can be done if she is motivated and determined.

@MikaWatanabe I think you are misunderstanding the extension. It is 24 months from the date they joins Scouts BSA, NOT from the day they turn 18.

“Those who apply for the extension (details on the process below) will have just 24 months from the initial date of registration to complete all requirements for the Eagle Scout award.”


Re: Texas and other low altitude states, if you use Strava, Endomondo or other programs will track rise and fall. Add the elevation increases to total 1000 feet.

In Green Bay, we have done 16 nights camping since Feb 1. We missed July and will miss August. We spent 6 in cabins and 10 in tents. Next year we will do all 12 months. So, if a Scout attended every campout. Ad camp, they would have 28 nights. 6 at camp, 4 in cabins, and 2 in a cave. The PLC will have a planning cabin campout weekend for an extra 2. So, an active Scout can camp a lot.

For the person who said a troop isn’t obligated to “cram in Eagle”, I would say this. We had a Scout who was going to join, but went the lone Scout rote who was 15.5. I promised her that if she wanted to earn Eagle by 18, I and the troop would meet her every step of the way. If she needed more activities and service project time, the PLC would plan it IF she was willing. I would meet her every step of the way and not hold her back, but she would have to want to.

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I made that same promise last night. We have to step up and help these older girls. They got the short end of the stick since bsa wasnt open to them 4 years ago.

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