How the Cooking merit badge can save your family time and heartache

When Avery Moore isn’t volunteering as Scoutmaster of Troop 11 in Rocky Mount, N.C., you can find him helping out at a local pediatric burn survivor aftercare program. It was during a virtual meeting for the latter that he discovered a need that could be met by the former.

“Since COVID-19 has impacted the globe the way it has,” Moore says, “the burn units have been bombarded with pediatric burn patients, all of them with a similar story: They were trying to cook when no one was around, and something went horribly wrong.”

Then, a debate arose with an answer that would be obvious for anyone involved in Scouting.

“Very simply, they just wanted to know if there were any youth-serving organizations that teach life skills to youth like cooking, first aid, safety, fire prevention … and the list could go on,” Moore says.

Well, duh

The answer, obviously, is Scouts BSA (or really, any program offered by the Boy Scouts of America).

“I laughed as I replied that this was exactly what Scouts did,” Moore says. “Of course, I was met with the typical, ‘I thought you just went camping!’ ”

Avery’s anecdote got us thinking: Just how valuable are the skills from, say, the Eagle-required Cooking merit badge to today’s youth? Especially those who might be home for summer vacation or doing schoolwork? With parents who may be busy also working from home or away at an office? The answer: Pretty darn valuable. Let’s take a closer look.

Cooking safely

It’s right there in Requirement 1a:

Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in cooking activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.

And again, in 1b:

Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur while preparing meals and eating, including burns and scalds, cuts, choking, and allergic reactions.

When you think about it, the scenario of a young person alone in the kitchen trying to cook up a hot meal and then suddenly realizing they’re in over their heads is not far-fetched at all. Even if a parent is in a virtual meeting in the very next room, we all know how quickly things can escalate over a hot stove.

Eating healthy

It’s right there in Requirement 2a:

Using the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model, give five examples for each of the following food groups, the recommended number of daily servings, and the recommended serving size: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy.

And again, in 2c:

Determine your daily level of activity and your caloric need based on your activity level. Then, based on the MyPlate food guide, discuss with your counselor an appropriate meal plan for yourself for one day.

So right off the bat, we’ve got safety and nutrition covered. What else could you ask for?

Bonus!

How about Requirement 4?

Using the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model, plan menus for three full days of meals (three breakfasts, three lunches, and three dinners) plus one dessert.

And there you have it. Three days of safe, healthy eating for your kids, which helps free you up to take care of your business during the day.

Moore has even more great ideas for more merit badges that could come in handy.

Emergency Preparedness, First Aid and Safety have all three prepared our Scouts to assist their families in dealing with day-to-day life right now,” he says. “More and more hospitals are seeing people chose to simply deal with minor issues on their own rather than take a trip to urgent care for something minor.

Citizenship in the Community has given them the insight to understand some of the local politics and the decisions that are having to be made locally right now.

Citizenship in the Nation has given the Scouts the framework to understand and discuss the decisions made at the federal level that are having direct impact on their day-to-day lives.”

And, if parents really get desperate this summer …

“Too much longer and they will all wish they had Gardening and Home Repairs.”

About Aaron Derr 17 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Boys' Life and Scouting magazines, a former Cubmaster and current Scouts BSA volunteer.