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Scouts working on merit badges together

I have a question about merit badges. Can scouts work requirements as a group or must they be done individually. For instance, cooking requires the boys to plan various meals. Can a few boys work together to plan the meal or must they each do that individually. Similarly with preparation. The requirement states you must cook a meal you planned. Can scouts work together to cook the meal or must it be done individually?

for Cooking when I do it - it is individual - Merit badges are about individual work not team work

It depends on the merit badge. Some of the requirements are perfectly OK to do together, and some are not. I’m an MBC for Communication, and there’s a requirement to

I don’t think I’d accept the scouts working together one one event to satisfy this requirement.

Similarly with your Cooking MB requirement, I don’t think I’d accept a group splitting up those requirements. It doesn’t make sense to have 5 scouts work on one meal together (imagine five 12 year olds in one camp kitchen… or splitting the shopping list up into 5 sections and finding out someone forgot something important…); the other alternative is to have each scout do one meal, and then OOPS! none of the scouts are meeting the requirement at all…

With that said, there are plenty of MB requirements that do lend themselves to working together. Cooking requirements 1, 2, 3, and 7 are probably easy to do in a classroom/troop meeting environment, though it’s important if you’re doing those in that environment that you’re making sure all of the scouts involved are active in the “discuss” and “describe” requirements…

I suggest reviewing section of the Guide to Advancement, which gives some guidance for counseling scouts in groups on merit badges. Information is also in the Guide to Merit Badge Counseling.

Personally, I understand the plan/budget/cook requirements to require the individual to do the work.

Here’s how we let the scouts “work together” when our troop was small: each scout who was working on Cooking MB would take responsibility for cooking a meal … either on a camp out or before a troop meeting. His buddies could certainly help. And, he could ask for ideas/suggestions for what to cook at the next meeting. The scout was responsible for, planning the budget, procuring the ingredients, making sure the meal was served and everything cleaned in a timely fashion.

This had the benefit of the boys learning from each other and “upping their game,” and the adults got fed pretty well too!

Now that our troop’s larger, I would encourage the boys to do the same thing, but maybe at a patrol level.

In the end its as @CharleyHamilton says - look at the requirements. If they must work on every requirement individually, then we’d never have merit badge classes. :wink:

Cooking is one where they can get a partial on some items like food handling safety, but cooking a meal it’s very specific it’s something they have to plan and do on their own.

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I think that was actually @SteveCagigas, but I’m always willing to get credit for saying something useful. :wink:

I want to clear up my comment based on what Paul noted:

In our troop. The scout earning the badge would also read the directions and guide other scouts if they were helping him prepare the meal. The scout could not sit idly by while others were preparing a meal that he was doing for the badge.
That’s one reason that I like this badge. It is conducive to leadership development.

Bottom line if 5 scouts are taking this concurrently:

  • 5 meal plans each = 25 meal plans
  • 2 camp meals cooked per scout = 10 camp meals
  • 2 trail meals per scout = 10 trail mails

To some, that sounds overwhelming. To me that sounds like an awful lot of good eating (and camping and hiking)!

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That’s a fair point about “overwhelming”. It’s just how MBs are. The hiking MB for instance requires 70 miles of hiking in addition to all the hike plans, etc. That’s easily 40 hours of time to get that MB. In contrast the swimming MB is usually done in what, something like 4-5 hours at summer camp.

I’m watching both with my son & daughter now working on their Cooking MB. In truth it’s been a breeze for my 14 year old daughter, but taking some effort from my 12 year old son. It’s just the nature I think of MBs that some are “easy” and some are “hard”, and easy/hard may be also be relative on the particular scout.

I agree we should be pushing a positive note to the scouts in all this work - look for the upside of what you get, not the effort you have to put in to get it.

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