Here are the three big changes in the BSA that happened on Jan. 1, 2014

Before you watch Times Square’s big countdown tonight, take a look at three big changes coming to the Boy Scouts of America at the stroke of midnight.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, you’ve got a new list of Eagle-required merit badges, a new membership policy for youth, and new membership fees for Scouts and Scouters.

Let’s take a look at each one of these changes: 

1. Cooking merit badge required to earn Eagle Scout rank

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

The total number of merit badges needed for Eagle remains at 21, but now 13 of those are required and eight are elective, instead of 12 required and nine elective. In other words, an Eagle Scout must 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

Other important notes about this change:

  • If a Scout has already earned Cooking merit badge, he does not need to re-earn it now that it’s Eagle-required. He’s all set. That said, he may purchase or be presented with the silver-bordered Cooking merit badge emblem if he chooses. He shouldn’t wear both the silver- and green-bordered version, though.

    During the 2014 transition period a Scout may use either the old or new requirements. Either way, the merit badge is required for Eagle beginning Jan. 1, 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. I suggest you communicate this news to your older Life Scouts ASAP so they aren’t disappointed to learn they don’t have all the merit badges they need.
  • The requirements for Cooking merit badge are changing, but 2014 is a transition year during which a Scout may use either the old or the new requirements. Read the new requirements here 
2. New membership policy for youth takes effect

After an extensive discussion within the organization, the BSA’s approximately 1,400 volunteer voting members in May voted to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.

That membership policy change becomes official tomorrow: Jan. 1, 2014.

As immediate past BSA president Rex Tillerson said in May, “we’ve made the decision. We’re going to change. Now what?”

Now we unite and focus on “The Main Thing,” which is to serve more youth in Scouting. That hasn’t changed, Tillerson said. Watch his speech below, and find related training resources at this link (thanks, Bill Nelson).

3. Membership fees increased to $24

The BSA will increase its annual membership fee for youth and adults to $24 from $15, beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

The move was announced in August by Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock.

“First, I want to make clear that the Boy Scouts of America maintains a strong financial position,” he wrote. “In order to continue to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program, it is occasionally necessary to increase membership fees so that we can offset rising administrative costs.”

The big story is the increased fees, but in September I explored what your $24 pays for and how that cost compares to the fees you’ll pay for other youth activities. Short answer: $2 a month is a bargain for such a high-quality activity for your son or daughter.

Coming later in 2014

2014 photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by danielmoyle

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.