Hello! Is it acceptable for a scout to earn the Cooking MB when none of the requirements were done on an actual camping trip or backpacking trip? Our troop doesn’t go camping much – not because we are a poor, inner-city troop (most of our families are pretty well-off), but because of poor organization and little interest in camping. They worked on the Cooking MB this summer and fall, doing the requirements at the counselor’s house during our regular meeting time. For the backpacking portion, they met at a boy’s house, put on backpacks, walked through the park for 1/2 hour, then cooked Kraft mac & cheese. I don’t believe that either of those fulfill the requirement. Friends in other troops say that this MB should be the most difficult to earn but when I talked with our scoutmaster, he said that the counselor approved it, so what she says, go. I’d like your opinion before I complain to the council. If you feel the requirements were met, I won’t say anything. Thanks!
4 - Cooking at home is pretty straight forward
5 - Camp cooking actually says - " In the outdoors, using your menu plans for this requirement, cook two of the five meals you planned using either a lightweight stove or a low-impact fire. Use a different cooking method from requirement 3 for each meal. You must also cook a third meal using either a Dutch oven OR a foil pack OR kabobs. Serve all of these meals to your patrol or a group of youth." - It does not say on a campout
6. Trail cooking actually says - “While on a trail hike or backpacking trip, prepare and serve two meals and a snack from the menu planned for this requirement. At least one of those meals must be cooked over a fire, or an approved trail stove (with proper supervision).” So a Hike can cover it
Few Notes: 4-6 are to be done individually not as a group.
If a unit is not camping might want to encourage more or look around at other troops.
Something else to consider: these particular requirements do not necessarily have to be done with the Scout’s patrol / troop, although most troop’s programs usually offer lots of opportunities to cook. They can be done with the Scout’s family or otherwise as long as the requirements are met (group of up to 8 youth, etc.).
I would check with the MBC before assuming that a non-Scouting event would qualify under the Cooking requirements for backpacking/trail cooking. Not all counselors will accept that without a debate, since there is often a presumption (not started in the requirements explicitly) that the backpacking/trail cooking event must occur on a scout outing.
Checking with the merit badge counselor is definitely a good idea, because they are the approver. Some MBCs will accept some things while others might not. However, unlike some other merit badges, the Cooking merit badge does not specify that the cooking must be done at designated Scouting activities or events (compare with Camping MB #9).
I agree with you Jennifer. We have two scouts who did the cooking part of the Cooking Merit Badge while camping with their family this summer. They brought pictures and discussed the entire process with me both before and after as I was the MBC for them. It worked great. They were able to do all the camp cooking and trail cooking during this time with their family.
I am a MB counselor for cooking, as well as a professional culinary arts instructor, CEC, and CDM. Your group is fulfilling the requirements, and although I understand some points and frustrations expressed, we as leaders (I am also SM) and MB counselors agree we will not add or take away, so it is perfectly acceptable to do grilled cheese, Kraft mac n cheese, etc. Who are we to tell the Scouts what they want to cook/eat. If your son is happy where he is, and meeting requirements that’s a win. I’ve known Scouts to leave Troops that are too hard core the other way, backpacking in to all camps, no flashlights allowed, no board games, cards, etc. Its a balancing act, but if the Scouts are calling the shots, and happy, and fulfilling requirements. So be it, advancement is only one of the 8 methods of Scouting. I like to see a balance of outdoor activities with advancement opportunities as well as fun. Be careful what you wish for, you may get a Troop/leader that has their own agenda, ones that hold up advancement because they dont think a Scout should be first class or eagle until a certain age. Best of luck, and dont forget to ask your Scout this simple question…are you enjoying the joyrney?
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