41st Annual Survival Skills Activity Weekend

Saturday 16th – Sunday 17th September 2017

The applications for Bivouac participants at all levels are now closed. Congratulations to the 106 young people who have been successful in gaining a place. All participants now have information about where and when they need to be, but please keen an eye on your emails for reminders.

We still welcome applications from Bivouac Leaders, via the tab below.


Bivouac (biv-oo-ak) – to live comfortably in camp, a Scout must know how to make a bivouac shelter for the night … a temporary camp without tents or cover … (Adapted from Scouting For Boys)

It’s getting dark and it’s starting to rain. You’ve been separated from your group and you’re hopelessly lost. It looks like you’re going to have to spend the night in the forest. With only the equipment in your rucksack and the countryside around you, would you know how to survive?

The Activity

Please note, applications are now closed for the Bivouac 2017.

Run annually for over 40 years, Bivouac is unique to Birmingham County Scouts. It is specifically tailored for Scouts and Explorer Scouts and is supported by a 50 strong adult team.

The four sequential awards (Training, Assessment, Junior Leader and Junior Staff) span a four-year period. Each award is designed to prepare participants for the next level, giving them the skills, knowledge and experience needed to survive a situation similar to the above example, the ultimate aim being the achievement of the Bivouac Assessment Award, Survival Skills Activity Badge and Emergency Aid Stage 3 Activity Badge. Additionally, they earn the right to wear the distinctive and prestigious Birmingham County BIVOUAC badge, appropriate to their level of the award. Participants have to successfully complete each award to progress onto the next.

All who apply must understand what is expected from them – you will need to build and sleep in a Bivouac made from natural materials – prepare, cook and eat your own selection of (non-processed) raw foods – carried in the rucksack you bring – cooked on the open fire you build – from wood you find – using the utensils you make – with the knife you bring – whatever the weather. There are no backup facilities; no electricity, no running water, no flushing toilets, no lights, no mobile phones, no google – just you, your knowledge, your survival tin, your knife, your sleeping bag and 1500 acres of forest.

The Awards

Unique to Birmingham County Scouts, this award not only gives participants the opportunity to learn the skills needed to “survive”, but equips them with much of the knowledge and experience needed to pass the Bivouac Assessment Award and Survival Skills Activity Badge. It is open to all Scouts over 12* years old who have gained the Outdoor Challenge Award and for Explorers Scouts over 14 and under 16* years old.

Training is given throughout the weekend in patrol-sized groups and plenty of time is given to practice the new-found skills. Topics include shelter building, fire lighting, direction finding, water collection and purification, collection of edible plants and different ways of cooking.

Participants MUST attend the briefing session held shortly prior to the event to give them an opportunity to meet the leaders, fellow participants and ask any questions they may have. Parents and guardians are encouraged to attend.

Further Reading

The Scout Association has produced a series of Survival Skills Activity Packs, which provide supporting information to the event. We have included the most relevant information on our Downloads Page, in addition to our own Information Sheets.

* at the date of the activity weekend

Unique to Birmingham County Scouts, this award has set the standard for over 40 years, providing a real challenge to those Scouts and Explorer Scouts who have taken part. It is open to those who have already completed the Bivouac Training Award. All who have been successful wear the distinctive badge with pride, and rightly so – this badge is earned and not given away.

The award consists of a preparation day, an assessment day (and briefing), prior to the activity weekend. All participants will have to pass a series of tests, gaining at least 70% at both assessment events to achieve the Bivouac Award.

Assessment Preparation Day

A hands-on, practical day, designed to refresh the skills and knowledge that participants learned during their Training Award and prepare them for their upcoming assessments. Topics include 7 first aid bases, food preparation & cooking on an open fire, knife safety & knife care, water filters, direction finders, distress signals, shelter building, gadgets, utensils and fire lighting.

Assessment Part One
Candidates survival knowledge and first aid skills will be tested. It is highly recommended that you download and revise the “Test Base Questions & Answers” revision document before your assessment as a 70% pass mark is needed to progress onto the activity weekend.
Assessment Part Two
Your training was in the past – it’s over to you to survive. Once off the coach and on sector, it is up to each candidate to fulfil the “Activity Weekend Assessment Criteria” available on our Downloads Page. Again, you need a 70% pass mark (70 points) to successfully complete the Assessment Award.
Further Reading

The Scout Association has produced a series of Survival Skills Activity Packs, which provide supporting information to the event. We have included the most relevant on our Downloads Page, in addition to our own Information Sheets.

Unique to Birmingham County Scouts, this award was specifically designed for those Scouts and Explorer Scouts who have a genuine interest in survival skills and wish to put those skills along with their own physical abilities to the test. It is only open to those who have already completed the Bivouac Assessment Award and Survival Skills Badge.

Participants earn their place on the activity weekend by successfully completing the briefing session held in early September. The activity weekend itself is shrouded in mystery and you will be hard pressed to find any former Junior Leader who will talk about their experience. The activity is both physically and mentally demanding, concentrating on developing leadership in a survival environment.

If you are under the age of 18 and have successfully completed all the Bivouac Awards available to you, the organising team are happy to extend an invite to you to help run the activity as a member of the Bivouac Junior Staff.

The survival, leadership and teamwork skills that you already possess will now be used help support the preparation and briefing days, planning meetings and help coordinate a sector on the Activity Weekend with other members of Adult Staff.

There are no written assessment criteria, but you are required to follow a Code of Conduct found on our Downloads Page. Remember, you are applying to be part of the Leadership Team; our expectations are that you are trustworthy, able to follow instructions and have a mature and responsible approach to fellow Scouts and Leaders. Should you meet these expectations, you will have earned the right to wear the Bivouac Leader Badge.


We need your help…

Applications are welcomed from appointed adult leaders and non-appointed helpers, predominantly but not exclusively from Birmingham County. All applicants must be over 18, have a valid up-to-date scouting DBS check and be recorded on a Group, District or County census.

It is requested all successful applicants attend at least one planning meeting and support the preparation day, briefings and assessments prior to the activity weekend. All dates and locations are included on the above Information Sheet.

Information Sheet Apply Here


Constructive feedback with practical suggestions for change or improvement is always welcomed. A huge amount of work goes into the planning and organisation of the activity and there is always room for development and enhancement.

We are keen to hear feedback on the new online application process for 2017, the quality of the information provided prior to the event, the timing, location and organisation of the planning meetings, briefing events and preparation days, the activity weekend transport, the cost of the activity and the overall general organisation.

In the first instance, please contact bivouac@birminghamscouts.org.uk.