FAQs about Cooking and Sustainability merit badges

When I announced that Cooking merit badge and the new Sustainability merit badge would join the Eagle-required list in 2013 and 2014, a lot of you had questions.

You asked about rollout plans, what happens with Scouts nearing the end of the Eagle trail, and an explanation of what will be covered under Sustainability merit badge. At the time, I was silent.

But today, courtesy of Advancement Team Leader Christopher Hunt, I’ve got some answers. Here they are:

Cooking merit badge FAQs

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the Cooking merit badge will be required in order to obtain the Eagle Scout rank.

  • What about Scouts who started working on Eagle before 2014?
    • Regardless of when a Scout earned the Life rank or began working on Eagle, unless he fulfills all the requirements—with the exception of his board of review—before Jan. 1, 2014, he must earn the Cooking merit badge to become an Eagle Scout.
  • Will the Cooking merit badge requirements change?
    •  Yes. During 2013 the Cooking merit badge will undergo a major revision. The process for implementing changes to merit badges is covered in the Guide to Advancement, topic, “What to Do When Requirements Change.” The changes to Cooking will first appear in a revised merit badge pamphlet that will be released during 2013.
  • Once the revised requirements are released, which version will count?
    • cooking-mb-old-and-newThe new requirements become effective Jan. 1, 2015. The BSA allows the following options for the period of time between the release of the revised pamphlet and the Jan. 1, 2015, effective date:
      • If Scouts have already started on the merit badge, they may switch to the new requirements or continue with the old ones until the badge is completed.
      • If Scouts have not already started on the merit badge, they may opt to use the new requirements and the new pamphlet or the old requirements and old pamphlet.
      • If work on the merit badge begins before Jan. 1, 2015, they may use the old requirements and old pamphlet until the badge is completed.
      • In other words, consider 2014 a transition year during which a Scout may use either requirements book.
    • The Guide to Advancement, under the same topic, goes on to say, “There is no time limit between starting and completing a badge, although a counselor may determine so much time has passed since any effort took place that the new requirements must be used.” This will apply to Cooking as well.
  • Let’s say a Scout has already earned Cooking. Will he have to re-earn it with the revised requirements to earn Eagle?
    • No. Scouts completing the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank after Jan. 1, 2014, must earn the Cooking merit badge under either the existing requirements or under the requirements as revised during 2013. Scouts are not required to earn the badge under the new requirement in order to qualify for Eagle.

Sustainability merit badge FAQs

Upon its release during the summer of 2013, Sustainability becomes available as an option with Environmental Science as an Eagle-required merit badge. At that time Scouts may choose to earn Sustainability in place of the currently required Environmental Science.

  • If a Scout earns Sustainability and Environmental Science, do both count toward Eagle?
    • Scouts who have already earned Environmental Science may also earn Sustainability, but only one of the two merit badges would count as “Eagle-required.” The other, however, may count as one of the electives necessary to reach the total of 21 required merit badges.
  • Can you give me a general description of what Sustainability MB will cover?
    • The Sustainability merit badge, in essence, takes conservation and environmental science to another level. The protection, preservation, and management of wildlife and natural resources involved in conservation provide a foundation for what we call environmental science. The latter integrates physical and biological sciences such as ecology, biology, soil science, atmospheric science, and others in order to generate solutions to environmental issues. Sustainability takes off from there by taking responsibility for balancing long-term environmental, social, health, and economic needs with progress and development. It further suggests that development, while meeting the needs of the present, cannot compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
  • What subject areas will Scouts be studying?
    • Ecology
    • Air pollution
    • Water pollution
    • Land pollution
    • Endangered species
    • Pollution prevention, resource recovery, and conservation
    • Ecosystem—living and nonliving
    • Environmental impact
  • What are the requirements for the merit badge?
    • The requirements for Sustainability have not yet been finalized, but initial discussions include the following topics:
      • What is sustainability?
      • Examining our current needs and our choices in meeting them, with attention to extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal
      • Impact on our natural resources
      • Problems we must address, including plastic, electronic, and medical waste; species extinction, and climate change
      • New habits to adopt, including green chemistry, recycling, zero waste, and sustainability-conscious citizens
      • Careers related to sustainability

Other questions?

Leave ’em in the comments below and I’ll see what I can find out.

Photos from flickr. Cooking: Some rights reserved by secondtree.


  1. Will any of the requirements for Environmental Science merit badge be updated or changed once Sustainability is also a merit badge?

    • Over the last year the national Advancement Committee’s Merit Badge Maintenance Task Force has been been reviewing the entire merit badge library. The project will be completed in mid 2013. Environmental Science may get some tweaking as a part of this effort, and the task force may consider other adjustments after Sustainability is released. No major revision, however, is planned. Anyone with ideas on any merit badge requirements or content, should send them to merit.badge@scouting.org or to advancement.team@scouting.org.

  2. Did I read that correctly? Cooking is required for Eagle beginning Jan 01, 2014, regardless of when the scout began working on the rank? That strikes me as very different than how changes in requirements have worked before. I always thought that when someone began working on a merit badge or rank, they could finish. Is this because people take 3 or more years to work on Eagle, they don’t want people finishing with the old requirements in 2017 or even later?

    • From the national Advancement Team: The Guide to Advancement indicates that once a Scout begins work on a rank he may continue with the original requirements unless OTHERWISE STATED. In this case it will be otherwise stated in the next edition of the Boy Scout Requirement Book that Scouts have until Jan. 1, 2014 to complete the Eagle rank without Cooking. After that date Cooking must be earned. This is the same approached used when Family Life was added as Eagle-required back in the 90s.

      • Still a bad policy to force earning this cooking MB for a Life Scout and bad dea to add Cooking. Don’t we want boys to stay involved and continue on to finishing Eagle. Just another rule that is going to discourage Scouts that never had Cooking in their plans. BSA should have current Life scouts should be able to continue to Eagle rank with the original requirements.

        • 14 months of notice would seem to be ample time if someone wants to complete Eagle prior to the change kicking in.

  3. What will happen with the total count of required merit badges by adding Cooking? I understand that Sustainability will be an either/or situation with Environmental Science. Will Cooking replace one or add to the total?

    • From the National Advancement Team: the number of Eagle-required merit badges will increase to 13. We’d be interested, however, on your thoughts about that. Good idea? Bad idea? Why or why not?

      • Still need a total of 21? Or is this pumping it up to 22? I think it would not be that much harder to reach Eagle. Most scouts have plenty of extra MBs on their sash when they finally reach that step.

      • Bad idea. I like the idea of requiring cooking, but I really don’t like the idea of increasing the share of merit badges that are required. If scouting is really a boy-led program, let the boys have more flexibility in choosing which merit badges they earn rather than further constraining their choices.

  4. Can you comment more about what, within the Cooking Merit Badge, is actually changing? I have a food allergic son who is now in the Troop. I became a Leader specifically because I felt that the BSA was not prepared enough in their training and literature to address what to do when a child who is food allergic joins a unit. Will any changes include adding food allergies to the merit badge beyond the standard, “make sure there aren’t any members allergic to the foods you are preparing”? It would be helpful to all units if there was a section withing the Cooking Merit Badge addressing how to manage food allergies.

    • I have a severe food allergy and I never once had a problem while earning cooking merit badge. My mother made sure I always had Benedryl for camp outs. I never had to use it and neither of my parents were leaders. Don’t sell scouting or your son short.

  5. The current cooking merit badge requirements seem redundant in some respect to rank advancement activities. In revising the MB requirements it might be beneficial to broaden the scope of the learning as the other merit badges have done to non-camping settings. For example more exploration into cooking/food science and chemistry, ingredient combinations for complete proteins and different cooking settings and scenarios. Additionally, cooking for 1 person, small groups and large groups and use of grill, stove, oven, microwave, solar, pot, pan, skillet, roaster, etc.

    • Would very much like to see Cooking teach life-relevant cooking skills, and leave camping, hiking & backpacking to Trail-to-First-Class and outdoors merit badges. What scouts really need from Cooking is to learn to cook for their families and to be prepared for independent living in the future. Current — and, from ongoing discussion, revised — Cooking requirements mostly sound like rehash of TTFC & Camping requirements, with a near impossible number of backpacking trips required if these are to be completed as a troop. My scout will be Life rank working on Eagle by end of 2013 but, with this heaped on, is likely to become discouraged as he’ll have to head back to TTFC and other requirements he thought completed before he can focus on requirements for the more advanced rank he has earned.

  6. It is important for Scouts to learn about conserving the environment and being good stewards of nature. However, why is it that BSA feels it is necessary to cater to the left-wing environmentalists and their flavor of the month cause? These liberals that preach “climate change” or “global warming” are the same progressives that sue BSA. I am disappointed that BSA is joining the teachers unions in shoveling this garbage down our children’s throats.

  7. Sustainability is not a left or right issue. Sustainability in its truest sense has little to no impact in the grand scheme of the global warming alarmist approach. I look at sustainability in a similar vein as conservation, but with a more wholistic approach. Being a responsible steward of our planet is in line with mainstream scouting values. I have not heard that sustainability MB will preach man-made global warming. With all due respect, not everything is political.

    • What are the requirements of this merit badge?
      ” •Problems we must address, including plastic, electronic, and medical waste; species extinction, and CLIMATE CHANGE”

      While I appreciate you pointing out that sustainability is not left or right wing issue, I believe you missed the point. I made all the same points you did about conservation and stewardship, my issue is with the Climate Change education. It is absolutely a left wing agenda and it is a new name for a Global Warming. If you had read all the information about the merit badge you would seen that “Climate Change” is included. Much of the environmentalist movement is political when you consider how much of the industry is subsidized by the federal government. i.e. ethanol, solar energy, etc. Will the book mention how bad the batteries of hybrid cars are for the environment once expended or only the virtues of the car? I seriously doubt it. I just find that the old Conservation merit badge was better than whatever Social Justice agenda that Sustanability merit badge has to offer. Bottom line, if you want to talk about Social Justice issues save it for the Scoutmaster’s Minute rather than forcing it on every scout through a required merit badge.

      • If anything, climate change is a right wing issue because they seem to be the only ones debating it. The scientist who study climate reached overwhelming consensus years ago that humans are the primary driving force of climate change at this point in our history and are focusing on the details of the problem (Oreskes, 2004). It is my hope that the pamphlet will be guided by the science and not the social debates of the scientific facts. I do think that there needs to be consideration of the possible problems caused by some solutions – Brad is right that the benefits of hybrid cars must be balanced with the problem of dealing with expended hybrid batteries. Of course, our “dialog” here also shows that there is also a social science aspect to Sustainability that is important to explore.

        • “If anything, climate change is a right wing issue because they seem to be the only ones debating it.” You’re right, we should discourage people from questioning anything or anyone. I’d like to see statistics on the “overwhelming” amount of scientists. There have been thousands of emails leaked from climate scientists talking about burying evidence contrary to the climate change and marginalizing dissenters. That’s why it looks like it’s overwhelming. Considering how quickly science can change I am surprised you would use such an outdated source. I have not seen enough evidence to prove inconclusively “climate change” exists. You can teach scouts to be good stewards and responsible custodians of the earth without getting into global cooling, global warming, climate change or whatever the reknowned scientist, Al Gore, is calling it nowadays. The earth has been warming and cooling for millions of years. The industrial revolution started over 200 years ago. I don’t see how man could do in 200 years what volcanoes, forest fires, meteors and other naturally occurring destruction failed to do over millions of years. It’s bad enough that teachers have been attempting to indoctrinate our children, now I have to worry about BSA. As an Eagle Scout I am seriously thinking about pulling my three sons out of scouting if BSA insists on pushing this political agenda. Outside of spring, summer, fall and winter let’s keep “climate change” out of the merit badge book.

        • Brad, there is overwhelming consensus within the climate science community on this issue, in other words by the PhD level scientists who are experts on this issue. The dissenting scientific opinion have all come from other disciplines, e.g. physics, geology, etc. If your cardiologist told you that you needed a heart transplant, would you instead go with the opinion of your podiatrist when he tells you otherwise?

        • Rich, if there is overwhelming evidence that man-made climate change is legitimate then why would it be necessary to silence any dissention? I know that when I believe that I am 100% correct I welcome any challenge when I have the facts to support my argument. But since you decided to bring up the “facts,” I’ll humor you.

          Glad to see you don’t think of other professionals in disciplines like Geology or Physics as “real” scientists. I just don’t know how Physicists or Geologists that have worked hard to earn their PhD would feel about your obviously uninformed statement. I decided to take the time to look up some information for you since you’re too busy lecturing me and can’t be bothered with things like research.

          Careers in Geology that require a Master’s or PhD:

          Paleoclimatology/Paleooceanography–the study and modeling of past oceans and climates

          Oceanography–the study of coastal erosion, sediment transport, construction of harbors, and other aspects of the modern oceans

          Hydrology–the study of surface water flow

          Hydrogeology–the study of groundwater, its flow, and its pollution and remediation

          Paleontology–the study of ancient life and ecosystems

          I attempted to get you a list for Physics, but I don’t think I have the education to interpretate any of the legitimate Physics sites. However, the two disciplines mentioned the most regarding Climate Change were Geology and Physics. Feel free to look into Geothermal Energy, Quantum Physics, etc. There were a lot Physics/Climate Change sites out there and there was not a complete consensus within the Physics community.

          I know, it was mind blowing for me too. The difference is that I already knew this before I attempted to make my point. The problem with Sustainbility is not the idea of it, but the agenda behind it. Green is the new Red in America. Perhaps a few tweaks to Conservation MB was needed, but a politically charged topic like Climate Change has no place amongst our youth.

        • I too am disgusted with this “Sustainability” MB. I live in Oregon where the Leftist Environmentalists used the “endangered” Spotted owl to wipe out the logging industry and decimate the economy of parts of our state. After 15 years of study they determined that the more aggressive Bard Owl is the reason for the decline in Spotted owl numbers. So, do you think the Environmentalists are going to allow more logging. If so, you are delusional. Have you ever asked yourself why people that believe in
          Evolution are pushing things like the Endangered Species ACT?
          Did you know that our State Meteorologist was fired by the Governor because he was not on the ‘Global Warming” bandwagon?
          Did you see the newest reports that there has been NO GLOBAL WARMING for the last 15 yrs.- man made or not? That’s why it is now called “Climate Change”.
          “Sustainability” is the new darling of the Political Left. Environmental,
          Social, and Economic are the 3 legs of this new agenda.

      • James Tucker, you guys nearly logged your own state to death. There are vast stretches that are totally devastated for no reason other than the almighty dollar. Frankly you should have had stewardship taken away. If the spotted owl helped do that then I am OK with it.

    • When I first saw this MB’s slot at the local scout shop it sent a chill up my spine. They could have just added to other MB’S , but they felt bold enough to make this its own badge.

      • I am sort of happy it was a separate merit badge and wasn’t hidden in another where people wouldn’t notice right away. Hopefully with many people upset about this merit badge, the BSA will reconsider it. If not, I will reconsider having my boys in the BSA, nor will we donate each year. This is a big deal to me.

  8. Will the new requirements of Cooking merit badge and the requirements of Sustainability be easily accommodatable and thus achievable within a typical summer camp program without major pre-requisite requirements needed outside of the camp environment?

    • Oh, just like Citizenship in the Community/Nation/World can easily be achieved without major pre-requisite requirements needed outside a summer camp environment? Summer camps that offer the new Cooking merit badge will roll with it and either announce a prereq for it or the Scout will go home with a partial instead of a completed merit badge. Don’t worry about it. The Cooking merit badge should be the “best” it can be and there shouldn’t be too much focus placed on whether or not it’s easily achieved within a 5-hour block at summer camp.

  9. First off I do not like the fact changes can be applied to boys trying to achieve rank. As an advancement chair cooking should be allowed to be counted as an Eagle required today then if a boy has not earned the rank of star. Like wise in six months (Jily1)the rank of life. Both Ranks have time requirements that will not allow a boy to achieve the rank of eagle before the implementaioin date. The merit badge is either is Eagle required or it is not.

    As a professional engineer that has worked in the environmental field, there seems to be too many inaccurate information in the envornmental science and other science /nature books that need to be removed. There is too much bad science and political correctness in many of the merit badge books. Why is no reference given to who started the EPA and the benifits of what has been regulated? Instead there is a reference to a book that has none of the hypothesis ever been validated (Silent Spring). One can not be trustworhy when you can not state the truth.

  10. Just want to clarify….As of 1/1/14 Cooking will be an eagle required merit badge. However, there will still be a total of 21 merit badges required for eagle and the number of required merit badges up to life will remain the same. So, that means the eagle rank will now require 6 eagle merit badges and 4 elective badges. Is this correct?

  11. For Eagle there will be 13 required merit badges as of 1/1/14, at least seven of which will have been earned for Star and Life. The total will remain at 21; the remaining eight badges are the Scout’s choice. Only Star or Life ranks earned on or after 1/1/14 will be able to count Cooking as one of the required merit badges.

    • I would like to see the Cooking merit badge count toward Star or Life eagle-required merit badges before 1/1/14 if the new requirements are used to earn it.

  12. My son earned Cooking a year ago. I don’t think he is going to finish his work toward Eagle before 1/1/2014. Will he have to earn Cooking again?

  13. I am strongly opposed to this “sustainability” merit badge. As I’ve researched Agenda 21–which is anti-human, and celebrates the earth and all that is on it as being more important than us–these key words are almost always associated with Agenda 21’s objectives. A complete halt needs to be put on this merit badge book until those who are educated on Agenda 21 can review it and see if it’s acceptable material for the young minds of our youth.

    • I am an environmental engineer, and having some experience with the concept of sustainability, I oppose inclusion of sustainability as a required merit badge. It is not that I oppose sustainability (I think life-cycle analysis makes good economic sense). However, as a scout (and Eagle Scout) who earned most of the nature merit badges and worked as a summer camp counselor for nature-related merit badges, I would rather see scouts continue to have to understand outdoor conservation, plant/animal identification, and ecosystems as a requirement for Eagle Scout. Sustainability, while important, would take the ‘outing’ from the environmental requirement. In addition, I can see having either/or required badges to account for diabilities, but it makes no sense for an alternate badge where there are no strenuous physical requirements. Add a sustainability requirements into the EVS merit badge, but a whole additional badge seems unnecessary.

  14. Cooking Merit badge for Eagle – They will now need to go on more campouts in order to do the preparation and serving requirement? My son has done 20+ campouts under his belt. He has planned and served many well rounded meals. Trust me, now there will be fights on who gets to cook to earn merit badge requirements on future campouts! My son is starting his Eagle. Now he has to go on two more camping weekends just for this? The only campouts he does now are snow campouts and survival campouts. 2 fresh vegetables, a dessert? Last year they skinned and cooked a rabbit while camping in the snow! He has hiked the Grand Canyon. He is not going to anymore summer camps. He is going to start a job. Unless I am misreading it this requirement will foster competition between the scouts on these campouts, they will all be clamoring to be the ones to cook to get their merit badges signed off. That is not what scout campouts are about. Please give them an option so that they aren’t forced into more camping weekends. I really would like to see him earn Eagle. Does this mean he has to finish Eagle before 2014 just to avoid this??? This may break it. Please tell me I am misreading this.

    • Cheryl;

      I, for one, am thrilled to see Cooking added to the required list. I am sorry that you don’t see the benefit. I m embarrassed to find Scouts (and former Scouts) that can’t seem to cook anything more complicated than a burger, a hotdog, or ramen. I am also sorry that at “20+” campouts, your son appears to be mostly finished with camping. If he does complete his Eagle, between his Eagle Board and his Court of Honor, he should hear quite a but about an expectation to give back to the program. I my opinion, the giving back starts when earning Star – that is when the Scout shifts from “receiving Scouting” to helping to “deliver Scouting.” I hope that there were older boys on your son’s early campouts that helped him to learn the ropes. Of course as jobs and high school activities increase, Scouts aren’t going to go on every campout, but I like to think they continue to go on some – not only to have fun but to help teach the younger Scouts.

      That said, I also think you are assuming more of an obstacle than really exists. Making assumptions on your son’s age and experience, based on your comments, a year (now 10 months) to finish is likely do-able and the Cooking requirement may be just enough incentive to make it happen before the end of the year.

      If he does need to complete Cooking, don’t read more into the requirements than what is really there. The Scout only has to meet the requirements as written – nothing more nothing less.
      1) He only has to prepare meals for himself and two others – not an entire patrol (it doesn’t even specify that the others be Scouts). If there are multiple scouts needing the requirement, the patrol can be divided for these meals.
      2) Nowhere does the requirement say the cooking has to happen on a weekend trip, just that it needs to be done on the proper fire, stove, etc. and with the appropriate utensils and food handling practices.

      Of course, it is beneficial for the cooking to happen on actual campouts and I suspect this will be fairly easy for the younger Scouts, as long as they know about it early and start chipping away at the requirements like they do with Camping nights.

      For your son, with a little planning, he can knock out the trail meals on one of his survival/hiking/snow/high adventure-type weekends, join the Troop for a weekend and show some younger Scouts how to eat like kings, and then finish up cooking the camping menu items during an afternoon/evening at the lake with a few friends. (Think of how he could wow a girlfriend with that!)


  15. I’ll add my concerns about the Sustainability merit badge and the inclusion of “climate change”. Too politically charged of a topic and a highly questionable scientific foundation. In my opinion, the BSA already does an adequate job in teaching and living conservation principles. I already have to deal with the “climate change” indoctrination of my children in our school district – now I have to combat it as a Scoutmaster. I’ll be sticking with environmental science for my own sons (for sure) and encourage my troop that direction, also. I’m disappointed to see the BSA cave to this political correctness and head this direction. What’s next? Changes to Family Life?

  16. Debate on the new Cooking MB and new 1/1/2014 Eagle requirement raged this weekend at our University of Scouting, and it appears we might need a little clarification having to do with the “unless otherwise stated” clause and its application in this case. So here I go, and let me know if this is right or wrong. For the Eagle rank: on 1/1/2014, if the Scout hasn’t yet completed all the previous Eagle rank requirements up through the unit leader conference, he’ll have to also complete Cooking MB. For Cooking MB: if the Scout HAS STARTED the MB under the old requirements BEFORE 1/1/2014, he can still complete it under the old requirements AFTER 1/1/2014. Some of our Scouters were thinking that the “unless otherwise stated” thing applied to the rank AND Cooking MB in this case. Can you clarify this for me? Thanks.

    • If the old Cooking MB is started before 1/1/14 it may be finished under the old requirements and still count for Eagle. The requirement for Eagle does not distinguish between the current Cooking MB or the new one to come. Scouts starting Cooking on or after 1/1/14 must use the new Cooking requirements.

  17. If you are Scouting near the Denver area there is a college called EcoTech Institute. It is the only college in America that is totally about sustainable/ renewable energy. They love to have groups visit for tours and are very excited about the new Merit Badge and eager to help. Contact Zhanna Stavina at 720-213-2602. For more information

  18. As a long time Camp Staffer and Ecology-Conservation Director as well as Conservation Chairman, I am excited and have been preaching for years that soil and water and EVS should both be Eagle or something similar because there isn’t enough STEM in the Eagle required platter of badges. My question is, will they be considering summer camps for this merit badge as well when they created EVS, Its obvious that EVS was built to be tasking while still completable at Summer camp. I looked at Search and Rescue for summer camp as well and it seems nearly impossible to complete at camp.

  19. Sustainability is an AGENDA21 UNITED NATIONS backed horrible thing and it does NOT belong in The Boy Scouts of America platform. We need to speak up to our leaders and let them know this is not going to be accepted. This is a matter for our children and our country’s freedom and we DO NOT need to allow the UNITED NATIONS to influence our children.

  20. Is the Sustainability Merit Badge going to include energy. A lot can be done to help the environment by using sustainable energy sources for transportation, space heating, water heating, and electricity production.

  21. I’ve seen the question above, but don’t think I’ve seen an answer: Will earning Cooking MB in 2013 satisfy the “eagle required” category for rank advancement on Star and Life ranks, earned in 2013?

    • The answer appears in one of the posts above. Cooking merit badge is not Eagle-required until 1/1/14. Thus, it does not meet the Star or Life requirement for Eagle-required MBs until on or after that date.

  22. 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?

    • Cooking can be counted as an Eagle-required. “Scouts are not required to earn the badge under the new requirement in order to qualify for Eagle.”
      I think he may be able to, but don’t quote me.

  23. Very excited about the Sustainability Merit badge and the message it will bring to Scouting. I’m curious, as others, about the energy component plus the positive impacts that sustainable practices have on the built environment. Being a long-time professional in the field, I see growth in the design and building professions because these notions, concepts and practices are helping professionals build a better product – and this is a market-driven phenomena. This is not a “flash in the pan” trend — the organization that I work with has for the last 35 years educated building science professionals and we have seen interest in sustainable practices expanding. It saddens me that political activists, supporting a conspiracy theory, are bringing their misinformed rhetoric to this forum. There is so much to be gained by learning about sustainability and the professional possibilities — this is perfect for Scouting.

    • You’re right. It is a market driven industry. Is that why it has to be propped up by government subsidies and they each, like Solyndra, continue to go bankrupt. No one thinks that Conservation is a conspiracy. However, sustainability is a progressive term used to push a “social justice” agenda. Please continue to refer to those that use sound reason to debate the issues, rather than inflated statistics, as conspiracy theorists. Your pollsters are showing that fewer Americans believe in “Climate Change” than those that believe it’s a hoax. It might help your perspective to travel off the west coast and see that most Smericans could care less if there are recycling bins and solar powered hand dryers.

      • Brad, history shows that science seldom is influenced by pollsters unless the polling alerts us to evolving facts. Indisputable is the fact that man influences his environment. We are simply debating the degree of influence that has no bearing of how far we live from the West Coast. Squandering of natural resources is totally contrary to Scouting’s basic principles.

        • Unfortunately mathew, the reason that science is seldom influenced by pollsters in history, is because in the past, the government has not had the “conservation”and “global warming” agenda that it has today, thus influencing the polls

  24. Sorry to disappoint you Brad. I’m Deep South and the Sustainability movement is happening here whether you like it or not – learn about it – that’s what we want the Scout to do.

    • By “we” you mean progressives. Conservation MB was just fine, if there is nothing political about it, why did they choose such a politically correct name like “sustainability?” I would venture to say that the people I associate with have done more to conserve land and wildlife than the granola eaters you associate with. It is unfortunate that the BSA have buckled to the fascist environmentalists in this country.

  25. Offering Sustainability as an alternate to Env Sci makes sense. What does not is adding Cooking as an additional required merit badge when it is being added because too many kids are fat. When I was in Scouting, Cooking was really about Cooking in the outdoors and not another badge filled with paperwork and a few to do’s. Eagle is at the tipping point of becoming a training regimen for bureaucratic apparatchiks. While I can’t fault the BSA for the desire to make improvements in this area (fighting obesity), this could easily and more appropriately be handled as a revamping of Personal Fitness merit badge. And while I am on a rant, the fact that 4 citizenships are required now is too much (note: Family Life is the old Citizenship in the Home which was not required in the old days and prior to 1972, Cit in the World was not required either). That could be rectified by pairwise merging into Family and Community (Family Life and Citizenship in the Community) and Citizenship (Nation and World). Having 13 out of 21 be required is too much and too many of them are paperwork instead of doing.

    • I am trying to determine if the requirements for World Conservation Award and several other awards will recognize Sustainability MB instead of only Envir. Science? If those awards will not recognize Sustainability then it should not be an alternative to E SCi for Eagle. I agree with Kip on the Citz. issue merge at least Family Life and Cit. in the Community.

  26. If the Cooking MB is completed this summer, does it count towards Star or Life ranks for Eagle required merit badges?

  27. This form of implementation flies in the face of very long standing policy in the Advancement Guide. See the Guide to Advancement (pub 33088), Section

    Advancement requirements change from time to time.
    For Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting, check the latest
    annual edition of Boy Scout Requirements, No. 34765.
    Changes usually appear first in a revised handbook,
    and then become effective the next January 1 and are
    published in the requirements book. Unless otherwise
    stated there, or in the member handbook, the following
    options are allowed.

    • I f members have already started on a rank, Eagle
    Palm, or Venturing award when a revision is
    introduced, they may switch to the new requirements
    or continue with the old ones until it is completed.
    • If members have not already started on a rank, they
    may use the new requirements; or, if work begins
    before the end of the current year, they may use the
    old requirements to complete the badge.

    There will be many surprised Eagle Candidates who may well be lost by the “new twist” on Advancement… I do think more thought and tolerance should befit in to this and stay with the published policy in the Guide to Advancement.

    • Joyce,

      You partially correct for Cooking. This should not apply to any Life Scouts as of Dec 31, 2013 according to the Guide to Advancement 2011, except they have a weasel phrase in Section .

      “… Unless otherwise stated there [annual edition of the Boy Scout Requirements], or in the member handbook, the following options are allowed. If members have already started on a rank, Eagle Palm, or Venturing award when a revision is introduced, they may switch to the new requirements or continue with the old ones until it is completed. If members have not already started on a rank, they may use the new requirements; or, if work begins before the end of the current year, they may use the old requirements to complete the badge.”

      I think we all have to make some noise to get the BSA to follow its usual policy.

      On Sustainability, it is moot because the Scout will have an option between the existing Env Sci required badge and Sustainability. That is just as well. Sustainability sounds like another boring paperwork badge instead of a do something badge.

      • Kip, it IS our usual policy when adding a new merit badge to the Eagle-required list to set a date by when all Scouts must earn it in order to achieve the rank. The last time we did this was back in the 90s with Family Life, and we used the same approach then. It is for precisely this sort of scenario that our “weasel phrase,” at which I got a nice chuckle, was carefully and purposefully written in to the new Guide to Advancement. As you know, it takes some Life Scouts many years to finally get around to completing everything for Eagle. A lengthy multi-year phase-in of such an important change would be difficult for advancement coordinators and committees at all levels to administer, but more importantly, the National Executive Board had good reason to add Cooking to the required list, and it wants to see Scouts benefitting from learning basic cooking skills and knowledge of nutrition sooner, rather than later.

        • Well my time frame for “usual” goes back to the 1972 Eagle requirements change where we were given the choice of finishing under the old system or changing to the new and because I lived it, I remember it well. It is just disappointing to see another required badge added to go over the Federal food guidelines “Choose My Plate” (formerly Food Pyramid) yet again. They do that three times in Cub Scouts and already do it again in Boy Scouts for First Class and Personal Fitness. It is a drag on the program which is becoming less and less fun. The basic reaction is “Oh! Do we have to do that again?”

          Lastly, citing the National Executive Board at this time does not help your argument. The polite way to put it is they are out of touch with those actually running the program and the boys in it.

        • I know that back in the late 70’s, when I was working on Eagle, the policy requiring prior approval of Eagle projects was implemented. There was a deadline for completing the write-up, after which the Scout would have to start over with new process. Just another example of how the current change is consistent with past practices.

          I know the change is no big deal in our Troop. When I announced it at our Court of Honor in December it received a positive response from Scouts and Parents. For a handful of our older Life Scouts, this is providing the inspiration to get on the ball and finish up before the end of the year. The rest were excited about earning the Merit Badge (17 are now “in process.”)

          Yes, they find the MyPlate stuff and the menu planning boring, but repetition is still a valuable instructional method, especially this type of material. I notice that new scouts work to plan proper menus, but then start to get lazy with their menu planning. I welcome another opportunity to help them get a fresh look at planning enjoyable, quality menus. Cooking Merit Badge gives them a great opportunity to try some new stuff and get the valuable reinforcement from their Patrol and their family on the great meals.

          Provided Scouts have Leaders who do their jobs, stay current, and communicate, this change should not be a hardship for a Scout worthy of Eagle. If leaders maintain a positive and productive attitude, it will be reflected in the Scouts. Let’s not sour their experience with our attitudes.

  28. Joyce, these changes were made in full cooperation of the National Advancement Team and done in accordance with the Guide to Advancement. You’ll note in topic in the first paragraph you quoted, the statement, “unless otherwise stated there…” “There” refers back to the Boy Scout Requirement book, which is mentioned earlier in the paragraph as the place to check for requirement changes. On the inside of the front cover of the 2013 BSRB, it states how these changes will be otherwise implemented.

    There has been quite a lot of debate on the wisdom of these changes and their timing. It makes for some interesting reading. Most of the posts and other feedback we’ve received indicate that the timing will work–that Scouts still have time to wrap up Eagle requirements and not earn the Cooking merit badge. And that if they think they will need to earn it–if they will not complete Eagle before 1/1/14–then it is not a particularly difficult badge, and it developes valuable life skills.

    • Specifically Chris, can a Boy who will receive his Life rank in September, use the Cooking MB earned this summer at summer camp as one of the 7 required for Life of Eagle required MBs? Our Council has been unable to provide an answer on this.

  29. Hi Kip, would you mind sending a message to advancement.team@scouting.org, and explain in a little more detail your concerns with the repetitions you mention? Mike Dunn is suggesting the repetition is positive, but perhaps we could look at some minor adjustments that might put some different spins on the requirements and provide more interest. If you would be willing to do this I’ll forward your message to the member of the National Advancement Committee who specializes in Boy Scouting. I will also pass your views on to the task force that is working on the revision to Cooking MB. They’re an open minded group of people who will want to hear what you have to say. Anyone else reading this post is encouraged to do the same. And remember, too, that once the new version is released we’ll be listening to reactions and will consider them when it comes time to revise and reprint the pamphlet.

    Regarding your view on the executive board, it’s the body that makes the decisions, and the members think for themselves, but in this case they acted on the advise of a national task force made up of around 50 volunteers at all levels from across the country who picked up on the debates of other task forces that have been discussing adding Cooking over the last 10 years. You are certainly not alone with your view, but from the beginnings of the debate those many years ago up through the vote last year, a clear majority of Scouters have favored the change.

  30. Just learned about the Cooking mb requirement last night at a troop committee meeting. I’m wondering what the changes to the requirements are going to look like. I’m interested to know if there is an alternative for my son, for whom the act of completing this badge will be a complete waste of his time. In the current merit badge requirements, although there is a discussion of food-related illnesses, there is no discussion of food allergies, food sensitivities, gluten intolerance, Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, all of which require special diets and keep many people out of the mainstream when it comes to food. My family has gone to great lengths to protect my son from situations that could put him into life threatening situations, and the food handling that is done on the trail to first class has been a challenge for us, to say the least. But we figured it out because the trail to first class is done while the boy is still young and has more supervision than the older boys. In it’s current form, the Cooking mb requires kids to share the food they’ve made. BSA is asking these boys to make food choices for others, possibly not knowing the detrimental outcome of these actions. In making this merit badge a requirement, the BSA is, in effect, threatening to undo the food education that my son has received, and pointing out to him how different he is, yet again. How is this merit badge any different from the cooking required on TTFC with safe food handling practices employed? Any thoughts?

    • With my with developing Celiac 3 years ago I hear you. Both of us are now Paleo/Primal and attempting to move the kids over as well (not easy). The reliance on the Food Pyramid (or whatever they call it this month) is unconscionable.

      My reading of the requirements also show that these meals are individual requirements not group. So a new scout patrol of 8 that starts the badge will have a very difficult time completing this within a year of starting, at least in our troop. Each of the 8 scouts will be responsible for cooking on 8 separate camping trips. If we break up the patrols into two separate groups it will help a little, but that is not exactly the patrol method. Outside of summer camp that is all the camping our troop does in an entire year. That does not count the 8 separate backpacking trips this will require. I can see this badge taking at least 2 years to complete if the requirements are not drastically changed.

  31. Cooking Merit Badge – My question is on implementing requirements 5 & 6. Specifically, does the scout need to cook and serve the meals while on a “trail” outing whether that be a backpacking or biking event? Could the scout do the planning as required by 5A, but prepare and serve it at the base camp or on a regular campout? The requirement 6 does not specifically say it has to be done while on the trail. For reference, the abbreviated requirements for 5A and 6A are below.

    Requirement 5A says “Plan a menu for one day (three meals) or for four meals over a two-day period of trail hiking or backpacking. Include the following:
    A breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a trail or backpacking trip where light weight is important. You should be able to store all foods used for several days without refrigeration. When preparing your menu, follow the nutritional guidelines set by the food pyramid….”

    Requirement 6A says “Using the menu planned for requirement 5, do the following:
    Prepare and serve for yourself and two others the trail breakfast and dinner. Time your cooking so that each course will be ready to serve at the proper time.*….”

    • As MBCs, we need to insure that the requirements are met as written, no more and no less. The requirement does not specify that the meal must be prepared on the trail. The requirements only specify the type of heat source, how many to serve, packing trash out, etc.

    • Hey Matthew,

      Cooking will not replace an Eagle required already on the list — it will be the thirteenth Eagle Required merit badge. So, currently, a Scout must have 21 merit badges with twelve specifically delineated ones. As of 1/1/14, said Scout will still need 21 merit badges, but will need 13 specific ones to qualify.

      Hope that helps!

  32. Question on the Cooking MB with respect to Star and Life requirements *prior* to 1/1/2014:

    If a Scout earns the Cooking MB TODAY, can it count as one of the 4 Eagle-Required MBs for Star or 3 for Life, to complete those ranks prior to 1/1/2014? Obviously, by the time he completes his Eagle, it will be Eagle-required. But is it considered Eagle-required for the Star/Life ranks earned before 1/1/2014? I have several Scouts who are planning to do this, and I can’t unequivocally tell them it is legit.

      • I question this, because since July 1, 2013 it has become impossible for a Star Scout to become Eagle without the cooking merit badge. Wouldn’t that mean that at this point it is a required merit badge?

        • As I understand it — If a boy earns the merit badge right now under the older MB requirements he can meet the Eagle requirement after the rollover to the new Eagle requirements – which can be advantageous since the newer MB requirements are more rigorous.

        • No. It does not become a required merit badge until Jan 1, 2014. For a Scout working on Star of Life it would count as an elective merit badge until then. On Jan 1, 2014 it would count as Eagle-required.

  33. Let me ask this another way. Can a Scout that is Star rank today advance to Eagle without the cooking merit badge?

    • With all due respect, Mr. Trujillo, and with gratitude for what you do with the Boy Scouts of America, the Cooking merit badge is not an Eagle-required merit badge until Jan. 1. Until then, there are 16 merit badges (including Sustainability) on the required list from which a Star Scout may choose in order to achieve his Life rank. Then on Jan. 1 Cooking joins the list so there will be 17. Since on the average it takes more than a year to make it from Life to Eagle he will have plenty of time to work on Cooking.

  34. An intresting discussion. Here is another question. If a boy earns the old Cooking Merit badge before 1 Jan 2014, but does not earn his Eagle before 1 Jan 1014, it is pretty clear that he will need to earn the new Cooking Merit Badge in order to earn his Eagle. Will the boy be allowed to display and COUNT both merit badges: The old as an elective and the new as a required? They were both earned properly. Will the council maintained computer records of scouts’ accomplishments be able to differentiate between the two merit badges?

    • If a boy has already earned the Cooking merit badge, he isn’t going to have to earn the new Cooking merit badge in order to earn his Eagle. If he hasn’t earned the badge already by Jan. 1, 2014, he will have to complete the badge in order to earn his Eagle. There isn’t going to be a pre-2014 Cooking merit badge and a post-2014 Cooking merit badge in the system.

  35. Does anyone know when the new Cooking merit badge requirements will be available? I’ve got some scouts starting the merit badge next month, and would like to see the new requirements.

  36. Tim, my understanding is that the new reqs for the Cooking MB will be rolled out sometime in 2014 and the revisions won’t take effect until Jan 1, 2015. I found info on a diff post on this website. Here is what they said about the 2014 revisions on the Cooking MB reqs: “They have been moved to 2015 because the new requirements and the new pamphlet are coming out so close to the end of the year.” Look at: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2013/10/24/more-details-on-the-jan-1-update-to-cooking-merit-badge/ It looked like a more recent article…

  37. Just Inquiring:
    My young man trying to earn his Eagle Rank got approved to start the Eagle Project 12/12/13. At the time this Cooking Eagle Badge was not required, (at least to our knowledge), he had met all but two merit badges. His focus, with obstacles, was on his approved Eagle Project completion. He has accomplished this, finished his required two badges. His next round table with Eagle Advancement Chairman is on 3/13/14. He will age out one day before they could meet again (4/10/14) I would think he should be granted a waiver to be grandfathered in since his approval to start was with the understanding (from Eagle Advancement Chairman) he only needed the two other badges was before this went into effect on 1/1/14, (this is what they informed him of at this meeting) I would think the Eagle Advancement Chairman should of made him aware of this change at that time, looking and themselves only seeing two required badges left to do, to which they did inform him of these two, that he also knew of these two and has earned them. I would think that he, under these circumstances should be granted a “Waiver” and grandfathered in, from this Newly Implemented Eagle Cooking Merit Badge due to the fact that His age is a major factor, that if they inform him of two, they should have been knowledgable enough in their position, to also have informed him of this and any changes for an Eagle Rank. Thus giving him the knowledge to accomplish this. The Boy Scouts of America should want to see sucess from these young men if they have so dilegently made it this far.
    The paperwork (adding this badge) were very vage and unclear as to the dates to meet and finish all Eagle steps as well as handing in of the paper work before this other came into effect.
    I feel as if he has slipped through the cracks while the Boy Scouts of America were changing the guidelines to meet Eagle Scout. I need some positive feed back on this issue. We have very little time left to get him to what he has worked hard for and earned. Money was generously donated for his Eagle Project not to mention man hours.
    This is to say the least, very disheartening.
    Cindy Loveless

    • I feel the same way. We were first told no, he is not required to earn cooking, then yes, then no, then finally, yes. My son was in the middle of raising $$ for his planned Eagle project when this change was made. Since he had to raise several thousand dollars, it took quite awhile. He finished his project in February and is now trying to complete the Cooking MB. He has been on several camping trips, but there seems to always be something missing or incorrect in the details (like a meal written in the wrong place on the paper, or a food eaten at the camp, but not written in the meal plan). He is down to 1 1/2 weeks until his18th birthday and on his 5th attempt to complete the camp cooking…will be devastated to have been a part of scouting since he was 10, only to miss Eagle by 1 sign off on the Cooking MB.

  38. Cindy Loveless on February 24, 2014 at 11:15 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Just Inquiring:
    My young man trying to earn his Eagle Rank got approved to start the Eagle Project 12/12/13. At the time this Cooking Eagle Badge was not required, (at least to our knowledge), he had met all but two merit badges. His focus, with obstacles, was on his approved Eagle Project completion. He has accomplished this, finished his required two badges. His next round table with Eagle Advancement Chairman is on 3/13/14. He will age out one day before they could meet again (4/10/14) I would think he should be granted a waiver to be grandfathered in since his approval to start was with the understanding (from Eagle Advancement Chairman) he only needed the two other badges was before this went into effect on 1/1/14, (this is what they informed him of at this meeting) I would think the Eagle Advancement Chairman should of made him aware of this change at that time, looking and themselves only seeing two required badges left to do, to which they did inform him of these two, that he also knew of these two and has earned them. I would think that he, under these circumstances should be granted a “Waiver” and grandfathered in, from this Newly Implemented Eagle Cooking Merit Badge due to the fact that His age is a major factor, that if they inform him of two, they should have been knowledgable enough in their position, to also have informed him of this and any changes for an Eagle Rank. Thus giving him the knowledge to accomplish this. The Boy Scouts of America should want to see sucess from these young men if they have so dilegently made it this far.
    The paperwork (adding this badge) were very vage and unclear as to the dates to meet and finish all Eagle steps as well as handing in of the paper work before this other came into effect.
    I feel as if he has slipped through the cracks while the Boy Scouts of America were changing the guidelines to meet Eagle Scout. I need some positive feed back on this issue. We have very little time left to get him to what he has worked hard for and earned. Money was generously donated for his Eagle Project not to mention man hours.
    This is to say the least, very disheartening.
    Cindy Loveless

  39. This sounds very similar to my Scouts experience. Why change this rank, was told it was in taken out put back in. Why was it ever taken out in the first place then. These boys so close to Eagle should be grandfathered in. These rules for Eagle should not change period. Sounds like they are now trying to jump back on board with the healthy Ms Obama plan (her husband smokes, really?) put it in or leave it out but do not change it. Leave a loop hole for those about to Eagle or age out as this is a huge complicated badge to earn.
    Just my opinion which I am sure means nothing, years of investments here.

  40. Scouts in situations like this, who believe that through no fault of their own, should be allowed more time beyond the 18th birthday to wrap up Cooking merit badge, may apply for an extension of time to earn the Eagle Scout rank. The instructions for filing an extension can be found in the Guide to Advancement, topics and The Guide can be accessed at http://www.scouting.org/advancement. Extensions are not often granted, so there is no guarantee, but they are considered on a case by case basis based on the circumstances. There is a form in the appendix of the Guide that must be completely filled out, signed by the Scout executive, and submitted to advancement.team@scouting.org.

    Note that an extension is not a waiver of requirements. That Cooking was to be required was made public in 2012, and unless all the Eagle requirements except for the board of review were fulfilled before the end of 2013 Cooking must be earned to qualify for the Eagle Scout rank.

  41. It is unfortunate that Scouts and all their associated adults remained oblivious to the requirement change that was communicated well in advance through numerous channels.

    While I understand that this is all a hassle, it is not insurmountable (especially for an Eagle Scout). Scouts starting Cooking MB have the choice of working under the 2007 – 2014 requirements or the 2014+ requirements. Note, the 2007 requirements DO NOT SPECIFY that the cooking must be done on actual camping trips, just that the proper stove/fire, equipment, sanitation techniques, etc. are used. This MB can be accomplished in a few weekends and setting up your camp kitchen in your backyard or the park. (Remind the counselor, that the requirements are only what is written, not what is assumed/traditional/etc.)

    (The 2014 requirements don’t require the cooking for #6 be on a campout, only in the outdoors for a patrol of group of youth. Requirement #7 MUST be cooked “on the trail” – either a hike [could be a day hike] or backpacking trip.)

    One thing I do have a problem with, would be arbitrary limits on opportunities to meet with appropriate adults – monthly roundtables, etc. I would hope that the adults will go out of their way to be available when the time gets tight.

  42. Question- The cooking merit badge has requirements about planning meals for camping or hiking trips. Separate requirements require preparing those meals that were planned- without mentioning that they need to be accomplished on a camping or hiking trip. Some merit badge counselors think that the meals need to be prepared on an actual camp out and others believe the preparation can be accomplished at home, with the cooking gear that would have been available on an actual camp out. What are your thoughts on this?

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Today’s Links November 2, 2012 | New York OA Trader
  2. Cooking, Sustainability merit badges to become Eagle-required « Bryan on Scouting
  3. Ask the Expert: Rapid-fire FAQs, round 3 « Bryan on Scouting

Join the conversation