Requirements for the Eagle-required Cooking merit badge have been revised for 2016, with better organization, fewer redundancies and a more-focused approach.
This is part of the BSA’s continuing effort to improve its crop of 136 existing merit badges.
The Cooking merit badge now has seven requirements, down from eight, and each requirement now bears a headline that helps Scouts know what it’s all about. Here are the seven requirement subjects:
- Health and safety
- Cooking basics
- Cooking at home
- Camp cooking
- Trail and backpacking meals
- Food-related careers
Eagle-eyed Scouters know this is the second time the Cooking merit badge has been updated in the past two years — a “really unusual circumstance,” says Scott Berger, chairman of the BSA’s Merit Badge Maintenance Task Force.
That means there could be three versions of requirements in use right now: one prior to the 2014 changes, one with the changes that began in 2015 and a third with the changes that began in 2016. Once a Scout begins working on a merit badge with one set of requirements, he generally may finish with that set of requirements. Or, if he likes, he may switch to the new requirements.
The latest Guide to Advancement explains this quite well:
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.
If a Boy Scout hasn’t yet started work toward the Cooking MB, he’ll need to use the new set of requirements, as confirmed by section 188.8.131.52 of the Guide to Advancement: “Once new or revised merit badge requirements appear in [the Boy Scout Requirements book], which is released each January, any Scout just beginning work on a merit badge must use the requirements as stated there.”
So in other words, a Scout beginning work on Cooking MB on or after Jan. 1, 2016, should use the 2016 requirements.
What has changed?
Here are a few of the noteworthy changes:
- A sub-requirement that asked Scouts to explain nine different food-related illnesses has been rolled into another requirement.
- The previous requirement 3 (How to read a food label) has been rolled into requirements 1 and 2.
- Sections on cooking at home, at camp and on the trail have been revised and improved to give Scouts a better experience.
Note to Cooking merit badge counselors
This comes from Berger’s team:
Cooking is a life skills merit badge. It is expected that the completion of this merit badge may take a longer period of time than some of the other merit badges. The counselor should keep the following in mind:
The meals for this badge may be planned, prepared, and cooked at different times. The goal is for the Scout to understand each phase of meal planning by working on one part of the process at a time. The meals planned and cooked for this badge may not count for any other merit badge or rank advancement.
These requirements and the content of the Cooking merit badge pamphlet were developed for the Boy Scouts of America for use within the United States of America. Adjustments should be made if traveling internationally. Scouts working on this badge in summer camp should plan around food they can get at the camp commissary.
The first aid–related information found in this pamphlet is a condensed version of that found in other BSA publications. The counselor should be familiar with the additional information on cooking and safety relevant to cooking found in the Boy Scout Handbook, Guide to Safe Scouting, First Aid merit badge pamphlet, and BSA Fieldbook.
This pamphlet reflects a second revision of requirements since 2014. A Scout may continue to use older Cooking merit badge requirements and the old pamphlet if he has already started working with them.
Otherwise, he may switch to — or begin work — using the new requirements as stated in the 2016 Boy Scout Requirements book. If a Scout chooses to use prior merit badge requirements, he may continue using them until he has completed the badge. Likewise, he should use the Cooking merit badge pamphlet that reflects the requirements he is following. See Guide to Advancement topic 184.108.40.206.