Cooking, Sustainability merit badges to become Eagle-required

Updated Nov. 1: Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about these changes.

Updated Dec. 18: Here are the new requirements for Cooking MB.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, this badge will get a silver border.

Moms and dads, prepare the needle and thread!

Sustainability and Cooking merit badges will join the list of Eagle-required merit badges over the next 14 months, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board announced today.

Sustainability, a new merit badge, will join Environmental Science as an Eagle Scout option after its debut at the 2013 jamboree.

Cooking, meanwhile, will become Eagle-required as of Jan. 1, 2014.

The total number of merit badges required for the Eagle Scout Award will remain at 21. In other words, instead of 12 Eagle-required badges and 9 elective badges, a Scout must earn 13 Eagle-required and 8 elective badges.

Why the change? The goal is to “reflect a better balance of the needs of youth and our nation today and in the future,” according to the BSA’s resolution. Personally, I like it. Keeping up with the ever-changing world means questioning the way things have always been done.

Sustainability becomes more important as our population increases while resources decrease. And a boy who reaches Eagle without skills in cooking and healthy eating habits hasn’t become fully “Prepared. For Life.” in my opinion. I think the BSA’s board got it right on here.

What do you think?

For the list of Eagle-required merit badges as it looks now — and as it will look in 2014 — follow the jump. 

Current list of Eagle-required merit badges

Earn a total of 21 merit badges, including the following:

  • First Aid
  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Citizenship in the World
  • Communication
  • Personal Fitness
  • Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving
  • Environmental Science
  • Personal Management
  • Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling
  • Camping
  • Family Life

List of Eagle-required merit badges, effective Jan. 1, 2014

Earn a total of 21 merit badges, including the following:

  • First Aid
  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Citizenship in the World
  • Communication
  • Personal Fitness
  • Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving
  • Environmental Science OR Sustainability
  • Personal Management
  • Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling
  • Camping
  • Family Life
  • Cooking

Lake Tahoe photo: Some rights reserved by CaDeltaFoto

257 thoughts on “Cooking, Sustainability merit badges to become Eagle-required

  1. This is Bogus! There is enough required badges already.. Declining enrollment is already a challenge.. this will just make it worse.. Keep it as an elective!!

  2. About camps. Ours offers a program for the younger boys, but it is all week long. They have virtually no opportunity to earn any badges. And our camp offers badges that they would not be able to get any other time (for many boys anyway – especially inner city ones) – like motorboating, waterskiing, jet ski, canoeing, kayaking, mile swim, etc. We also have a climbing tower so that badge is offered.

    And, by the time our crossovers go to camp – they have already earned at least Tenderfoot if not 2nd or 1st class. To make them go through the beginner stuff at camp would cause them not to return the following year.

    In Missouri we have many camps. Camp Hohn is the one above. We have ‘retention’ program called Sons of Daniel Boone for those boys who might quit coming because they already have all the badges they want or need. It’s fantastic – you can actually earn 6 different ranks while there – but you have a lt of requirements and you can only earn one rank a year and you can’t join until you 3rd year at camp – so conceivably you are coming to camp well after you turn 18, lol! And they have adult ranks as well.

    The max badges you can get is 4 (M-T mornings; W-T mornings; M-T afternoons; and W-Th afternoons; Fridays are free days to make up missed requirements or ones unable to complete – happens a lot with the shooting badge).

    Another camp you can earn a lot more but that’s because meals are provided – when you have to cook (as at Hohn) you are given 2 hours for lunch. I hate to cook, I want to go to the other one next year, and be SERVED lunch, lol!

    In all fairness, each camp has their own pros and cons. It’s all in what you want to do. If your troop is old hat at cooking then going to the one that doesn’t cook would be fun. If you have boys that need a lot of help and practice in cooking – then Hohn is a better choice. It’s all about choices.

    BTW: Summer 2013 will be my SIXTH year at camp as a leader….3 of those as scoutmaster.

  3. I, too, am an Eagle Scout from the Class of 1975. I had to earn 24 merit badges (later changed back to 21). Having continued to work with the program since then I have always bemoaned the dropping of Cooking from the required Eagle list. It’s about time it came back in. I believe it was all related to the then move away from the outdoor program. Camping with out Cooking is like salt without pepper. So, good! I would’ve agreed,anyway, to 22 total if they had put Cooking back in. Let’s get back to what it should be and get away from merit badge mills. I hate the fact that the program tries to push the boys through before they turn 15 and discover the two fumes (gasoline and perfume): most really don’t “get it” until they are older anyway….punching a punch list for the sake of a punch list is not productive. Oh, by the way: my Eagle Board of Review was comprehensive – I was responsible for demonstrating skills and knowledge from Tenderfoot to my last merit badge as a Life Scout. National has put that off limits, which is a real shame. I expect an Eagle to be compentent in everything in the Handbook, cover to cover – period.

  4. I’m an Eagle Scout from 2007; I didn’t earn the Cooking merit badge. I personally think the Cooking MB needed to be restructured or split; there should be an Indoor one and an Outdoor one.

    I think that if the BSA wanted to add requirements, they should add one or more of the following:
    1) A choice of a “brainy” merit badge, like Scholarship, Reading, or Public Speaking. Reading boils down to volunteering at a library for ; and Public Speaking is just give a speech, give a PowerPoint presentation, and give a short off-the-cuff talk; I have no idea why boys never earn those
    2) A choice of a vocational-type merit badge, like Law or Journalism or Auto Mechanics; something that makes you think about a career.

  5. I love the adding of Cooking as a requirement as it is a needed lifeskill. I don’t love the Sustainability merit badge idea. Whoever created it is obviously unaware of the U.N.’s Agenda 21. This badge goes right along with it.

  6. I’m an Eagle class of 1983, and a current Scoutmaster. I generally agree with both of these choices, but will reserve further opinion until I see the requirements. I like the recent changes BSA has been making, and our new national leadership.

  7. I think Cooking should be a required MB. It is an important part of Scouting and life.
    I do not think Environmental Science should be an either or MB. It too is an important part of Scouting and life. If Sustainability is to be a merit badge start it out as an elective and see how popular it becomes. I do not believe it is important enough to be an either or with Environmental Science. That will be a big mistake.

  8. Pingback: Greatest hits: My 12 most-read blog posts of 2012 « Bryan on Scouting

    • That is a good question. It reads like if they aren’t done by January 1, 2014 they have another merit badge to do.
      Seems like some “grandfather” rule would apply, same as when they changed the Scout handbook a few years ago.

    • It could probably be said that if a Eagle applicant has not had his Board of Review by Mid December, he should probably be trying to get the cooking merit badge, if he doesn’t already have it. As I understand it, the badge becomes required on Jan.1, 2014, but the new requirements for the cooking MB, become effective at Jamboree. So by August 2013, boys earning the cooking MB will be using the new requirements.

  9. If a scout earns cooking as an elective will he be able to count it as an Eagle required bade, or will it still count as an elective. Furthermore, will he be able to display the new badge with the silver ring?

  10. Pingback: A new recipe: What to expect from the Cooking merit badge redesign « Bryan on Scouting

  11. Pingback: A new recipe: What to expect from the Cooking merit badge redesign - Troop 738 Richmond, VA

  12. Love the addition of Cooking. Regardless of whether or not you like to do it, it is an important life skill and I am glad to see it back with the silver ring again!

  13. As a newly minted Eagle Scout myself, I don’t think this is a bad idea. We’re required to learn how to camp, swim, manage money, and become productive members of our communities, but there is no requirement to learn how to cook. One of the biggest reasons obesity has become such a problem in the United States is because everything either comes from a package or the Golden Arches. Very few people cook balanced meals containing fresh vegetables, meats, and non-processed starches. Hamburger Helper is nice if you’re tired and in a hurry, but nothing replaces a nice beef and veggie stew from a crockpot (or a Dutch oven if you’re camping).

  14. Having a large Troop I see this as a problem. As it is now it’s hard enough for the Scouts to get the requirements done for Second and First Class. I like the Idea of splitting cooking into 2 badges. One for outdoor and one for indoor cooking. As an Eagle Scout of 30 plus years I think it’s unfair to ask the newer generation to do more than we did Scouts to earn the Eagle Badge. Already in school kids are asked to do way more than most in my generation had to do. Let’s face it some people love to cook and some hate it.

  15. Just great. Now the BSA has bought into the junk science about global warming, despite the fact that there’s been no warming in 15 years. Climategate anyone? And the green energy scam. Whatever.

      • Webster’s defines “Sustainability” as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” Which sounds a lot like “conservation” to me. Something I learned about as a Scout 40 years ago.

      • When it comes to scientific evidence either humans are causing climate change or they are not. Scientists’ beliefs are not evidence. Since some of the evidence being cited by the experts was manipulated to prove human induced climate change, the credibility of those scientists has been weakened. I agree that cooking is a good badge to make Eagle required, but I am afraid that scouting’s choice to add the Sustainability merit badge to the Eagle required list smacks of political correctness rather than contributing to a scout’s knowledge and skills.

        • I’m just saying it’s part of the discussion that should at least be passed along to Scouts. Let them make up their own minds. Either way, sustainable living means more than a debate over climate change.

      • I just found out about this “Sustainability” merit badge. I think it is outrageous!
        Once again the Communists/Socialists and those they’ve fooled, have changed the meaning of good things to suit their agenda. In FAQ about the new sustainability merit badge, Bryan talks about …environmental, social, health, and economics… If you want to see the true meaning of the “Sustainability” agenda, google Special Report, “Sustainability” by Fox News. It is shocking.

    • You’re right….The Larson Ice shelf broke away and melted because the climate is staying the same. Keep your head in the sand, its more comfortable that way…..

  16. TomM put it well. There has not been a fair discourse on the topic. There has been a lot of beliefs. Academicians like to tout it because they can get funding for it. The left wing agenda that coined the term in 1988 at the UN included the “redistribution of wealth” as part of it’s recommendation for us to become sustainable. It only takes a little research to discover where some of this influence is coming from.

    • If you tell us to read something, please include a link. Some of us feel strongly enough that we don’t want to waste the time searching through 10 million responses to a search unless it has a chance of changing our minds. BUT IF YOU INCLUDE A LINK, I for one, will at least read and consider it.

  17. I think it’s great, just wondering how it factors for those who have already earned it. I hear a lot of people stating that the requirements are already too much…. I’m sorry but I disagree. An Eagle Scout is an honor and should be regarded as someone with integrity, loyalty & diligence….. 21 badges is a breeze….. My son is 13 & already has close to 50. The badges are a wealth of information & when properly earned make for an incredibly well rounded educated individual. I think it’s currently too easy to earn an Eagle……. I think they should add a lot more…. Mainly mandatory community service hours. Sorry to be the flip side here…….

    • If your son is 13 and has 50 merit badges, then I question the program that your son is involved in. Sounds like a merit badge mill… I prefer a troop that focuses on high adventure and outdoors, one that is active with camping and service, rather than one that sits around doing merit badges week after week…BORING

      • I would love to be able to do high adventure, etc. But I’m sorry, but you sound a bit condescending. Not all of us can afford to attend Jamboree, Philmont, Sea Base, etc. We will NEVER be able to afford that. So badges it is. I’m not the one you responded to, but it hit a nerve. Scouting has become something for the wealthy or those huge troops who have the ability to do huge fundraisers. We are not.

        Please don’t diss those of us who cannot FOCUS on those high adventure things. Im’ jealous that you can….but you are no better than the rest of us who cannot.

  18. The Cooking merit badge has been in need of revision so I am glad it is being looked into. However, I would recommend that it should have been or maybe still could be divided into two different merit badges that concentrate on different aspects of cooking: OUTDOOR COOKING and include cooking over fires, campstoves, dutch ovens and the like; with another COOKING FOR LIFE geared more towards those skills needed for everyday life and/or special occasion (parties, holidays ect,) with an emphasis on using a stove, microwave and indoor cooking skills.

  19. Cooking should never have been dropped as a required MB. Many of you must think scouts of today are pathetic so we have to dumb it down. Outdoor? Indoor… cooking is a heat source, ingredients and a container. It does not matter if it is an electric stove, propane stove or a fire. Yes scouts will need to experiment and practice to master…what is wrong with that? My scouts camp 35-40 nights a year. They cook most of their meals. They use propane stoves, backpacking stoves Dutch ovens etc. Earning the Cooking MB is a by-product in a troop that is actively camping.

  20. I’m not sure where to begin. As an Eagle Scout w/Bronze Palm from 1963 that hasn’t really been following all of the hoopla, there are a few things that have jumped out at me:
    #1: When was the Camp Cooking MB dropped as a requirement for Eagle? Whoever did that was stupid. The Boy Scouts used to be about how to survive outdoors. If they now have to teach a kid how to cook in an apartment, it just shows how far the family has fallen down.
    Just for S & G (Old Navy term), I’ve included a camp recipe from around 1960:


    This basic recipe is one of the staple meals that I’ve searched for, & that we used to use on camp-outs when my brother & I were in the Boy Scouts. Think of it as a cheaper (at least it used to be) form of “Hamburger Helper” (w/o the additional preservatives, etc.), suitable for 10-12 year olds to prepare over a campfire in (1) or (2) pots. It’s simple but filling, & to me, nostalgic.

    As I recall, this was something done at the main camp, where we had coolers, so we could keep the meat cold.

    For hiking/camping, we used canned goods for overnight hikes, but they were heavy to pack into wherever we were going (sometimes, when we could get them, we would take surplus armed forces ration packs). For day hikes we made & took along Baloney /Ham/Spam sandwiches, along w/candy bars (no such thing as “Trail Mix” back then). No water bottles back then, everyone had his own canteen. When you ran low, you stopped, boiled some water from a stream or spring, or rain water, added an iodine tablet, filled up & kept on going.


    (1) Lb 85% Hamburger
    (1) Cup Large Elbow Macaroni
    (1) small (8) oz. Can Tomato Sauce
    (1) 14.5 oz. Can Stewed, Diced, or Whole Tomatoes (Dealers choice, but nothing fancy, or flavored)
    (1/2) Cup Chopped Onion
    (1/4) Tsp Salt & Pepper
    (1/4) Tsp Sage
    (1/4) Tsp Parsley
    (1/4) Tsp Rosemary

    (1) 4 oz. can Diced Green Ortega Chiles (Optional). This was considered getting exotic back then & not everyone would eat it that way).

    Ingredients to update or to enhance the recipe:

    Fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (we didn’t know from Adam about this stuff)
    Garlic or Cheese Bread, or Texas Toast (most of us didn’t like a lot of Garlic & Cheese was just something extra to carry along, & Texas Toast didn’t exist).
    Substitute Rotels Tomatoes, or a flavored version of canned Tomatoes for the original plain can.


    Brown the Hamburger in a large skillet, or heavy dutch oven, w/the Onions. Drain & return to the skillet or pot.

    Boil the macaroni per package instructions (nobody in our scout troop spoke Italian, so there was no concept of “al dente”). Drain. & set aside.

    Add the Tomato Sauce, Stewed Tomatoes, Salt, Pepper, & spices (& the peppers – Optional) to the Hamburger, cover & simmer on med-low (Ha-Ha, try doing THAT over a campfire!!!), stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes for the flavors to incorporate.

    Add the Macaroni, stir well & serve immediately, into whatever plates/field kits/pie pans, etc., each person has.

    At this time, if you’re up to date, have transported it & planned for it, now’s the time for the Parmesan/Romano Cheese & the Garlic or Texas Bread.

    Rots of ruck, if you’re on a campout w/a bunch of 10-12 year olds.

    #2: Why is it so easy to accumulate ridiculous numbers of merit badges in so short of a span of time? We used to have to WORK for those badges, they weren’t handed out wholesale, just by attending some sort of “camp”.
    #3: The new Jamboree Camp touts a “3 Mile” hike. What kind of nonsense is that? That was standard for getting to a campsite. The folks that were unable to get to where we were going, either didn’t go, or we helped them get there. A “hike” was considered to be (5), (10), (20) or (50) miles.


  21. Pingback: Calendar of New Merit Badges | Troop 139 Ortonville, MI.

  22. Pingback: Cooking now a required Eagle Scout Merit Badge | Troop 9

  23. Regarding the Sustainability Mb, I do not see it as the same inportance as the others. It is a fallacy of the left that resources are limited. In human history they never have been limited, because it is not about the resources themselves, but also the technology used. We can all see technology increasing at an exponential rate so the human race will be fine. (wealth=technolgyXresources) So I think they need to reconsider the validity of the statement: “Sustainability becomes more important as our population increases while resources decrease”. The correct statement should be “Technology becomes more important as our population increases while current known resources decrease”. Who knows what will be considered a resource in the future?

  24. Cooking is a survival skill! Scouts cannot live on beef jerky and Pop Tarts alone!…or shouldn’t try to anyway. Our son, a rising Eagle, learned about cooking and kitchen chemistry years ago and he is looking forward to completing the cooking badgel Kudos to all the Scouts and parents and volunteers who put so much time, energy and resources into developing wonderful well-rounded young men!…(from a Scout Mom and former Girl Scout leader)

  25. Although as most of us realize, the truth of global warming has not yet been determined. Sustainability is a valuable skill for young men to learn. Not only does it save money (frugal, thrifty…), less waste means a cleaner planet. To me there is no down side to that.

  26. I am an ASM, and my oldest son is completing his last two merit badges for his Eagle rank. He will have requirements 1-4 signed off long before December 31, 2013. However, he will not have completed his Eagle project. Now he has to add a new merit badge to his plan after requirement 3 was already completed. I am excited about the cooking merit badge. When my son crossed over, I actually thought it was Eagle required, and I am glad that it will be part of my younger son’s Eagle plan. However, I think that the timing is off. Scouts who have finished the merit badge requirement for Eagle rank prior to January 1 should not be made to go back and complete a new merit badge.

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