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Question about Cooking Merit Badge - Trail Cooking Requirement 6d

My younger scout is about to do his trail cooking requirement for the Cooking Merit Badge. His current MBC is new to the Cooking Merit Badge and he pointed out there is a conflict between Requirement 6d (see below) and the worksheet which mentioned a heat source for meal #1 &Meal #2. The issue here is should the scout follows the requirement instruction or the worksheet with reference to the heat source for both meals? For me - who is also a cooking MBC, it’s clear from the requirement that only one meal is required to be cooked. The fact that the worksheet has a heat source line for both meal #1 and #2 just allows for the option that in the event both meals are cooked, list the heat source.

I would like some opinion on this matter. My son will be on a trail hike with some time constraint and having to cook one meals over a fire/trail stove instead of 2 goes a long way in saving time. I have a older scout who did this same cooking requirement last year and his cooking MBC did not require a 2nd meal to be cooked over fire/trail stove. Can someone provide me with your interpretation of this requirement? I want to reply to the current MBC by stating that he should follow the requirement, not the worksheet with a line for heat source which could simply be marked as N/A.

From Cooking Merit Badge - source Scoutbook.com:

6d) 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).

First and foremost the various worksheets, while sometimes helpful, are not BSA documents and the BSA specifically states that counselors may not require scouts to use them. That is explicitly stated in the Guide to Advancement. As a merit badge counselor for, among other things, Cooking MB, I tell my scouts that they can use worksheets if they think the worksheets are helpful, but that they need to meet the requirements as stated in the BSA documents.

The reference for the requirements is the 2020 Scouts BSA Requirements Book. I don’t have the latest one on hand, but I only recall there being a requirement for one meal to be prepared either using a trail stove or over a low-impact fire, as you noted from the Scoutbook requirements. Note that there is also an exemption permitting the counselor to make an adjustment where local laws or regulations prohibit the use of a fire. Most of the scouts I’m currently counseling started Cooking MB prior to 2020, so I’m not as familiar with the most recent revisions as I probably should be. However, I’d like to think I would have noticed a change to the number of cooked meals required.


Here is a copy from the actual pamphlet and note the 6D has some ** to be aware of:

I’m a Cooking MBC and you are correct that only one of the meals in 6d needs to be cooked over fire or trail stove.

The bigger problem I run into is where they forget to use the “My Plate” menu.

Avoid those worksheets whenever possible. The pamphlet is always your go to source,

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I just did a quick check as usscouts.org. The changes to the 2020 Cooking MB are pretty trivial, and do not affect the camp cooking (req 5) or trail cooking (req 6) sections of the merit badge requirements.

I created my own templates that I hand out to my scouts, as I don’t like the ones in the worksheet either. I think many Cooking MBs do this. Not only do they forget myplate, they sometimes also forget to document how they cleaned up, followed LNT principles, etc. Lack of documentation is a killer for some scouts to try to complete this, so having them up front and teaching them how to use them helps a ton.

Lastly, to your original question the answer is correct - only one needs to be cooked. And no, I don’t consider heating water for Mountain Home cooking either.

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The official BSA merit badge requirements are posted at the following link or in the latest Scouts BSA Requirements Book, which is updated annually.


If there is a conflict between the official BSA merit badge requirements and learning aids such as worksheets, then the official BSA requirements would prevail.

Here is the reference to the BSA Guide to Advancement that @CharleyHamilton was referring to: Unofficial Worksheets and Learning Aids

Worksheets and other materials that may be of assistance in earning merit badges are available from a variety of places including unofficial sources on the internet and even troop libraries. Use of these aids is permissible as long as the materials can be correlated with the current requirements that Scouts must fulfill. Completing “worksheets” may suffice where a requirement calls for something in writing, but this would not work for a requirement where the Scout must discuss, tell, show, or demonstrate, etc. Note that Scouts shall not be required to use these learning aids in order to complete a merit badge.


Let me simplify: worksheets are the devil

I tell my Scouts that they are free to use a worksheet as a place to collect information to help them remember the things that they are learning, but:
a) I do not want to collect them
b) I do not want to touch them
c) I really do not want to see them
d) The requirements and USEFUL information are in the pamphlet, not in a worksheet.

Nothing is more frustrating to me than having a “discuss” requirement answer read to me off of a worksheet. With younger Scouts, I’m a bit more tolerant of it and try to help them learn how to discuss a topic without the additional help of a worksheet.


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