Cooking, Sustainability merit badges to become Eagle-required

Updated Nov. 1: Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about these changes.

Updated Dec. 18: Here are the new requirements for Cooking MB.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, this badge will get a silver border.

Moms and dads, prepare the needle and thread!

Sustainability and Cooking merit badges will join the list of Eagle-required merit badges over the next 14 months, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board announced today.

Sustainability, a new merit badge, will join Environmental Science as an Eagle Scout option after its debut at the 2013 jamboree.

Cooking, meanwhile, will become Eagle-required as of Jan. 1, 2014.

The total number of merit badges required for the Eagle Scout Award will remain at 21. In other words, instead of 12 Eagle-required badges and 9 elective badges, a Scout must earn 13 Eagle-required and 8 elective badges.

Why the change? The goal is to “reflect a better balance of the needs of youth and our nation today and in the future,” according to the BSA’s resolution. Personally, I like it. Keeping up with the ever-changing world means questioning the way things have always been done.

Sustainability becomes more important as our population increases while resources decrease. And a boy who reaches Eagle without skills in cooking and healthy eating habits hasn’t become fully “Prepared. For Life.” in my opinion. I think the BSA’s board got it right on here.

What do you think?

For the list of Eagle-required merit badges as it looks now — and as it will look in 2014 — follow the jump. 

Current list of Eagle-required merit badges

Earn a total of 21 merit badges, including the following:

  • First Aid
  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Citizenship in the World
  • Communication
  • Personal Fitness
  • Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving
  • Environmental Science
  • Personal Management
  • Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling
  • Camping
  • Family Life

List of Eagle-required merit badges, effective Jan. 1, 2014

Earn a total of 21 merit badges, including the following:

  • First Aid
  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Citizenship in the World
  • Communication
  • Personal Fitness
  • Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving
  • Environmental Science OR Sustainability
  • Personal Management
  • Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling
  • Camping
  • Family Life
  • Cooking

Lake Tahoe photo: Some rights reserved by CaDeltaFoto

258 thoughts on “Cooking, Sustainability merit badges to become Eagle-required

  1. It is not about “getting to the finish line” as far as earning the Eagle Badge. It is about learning about those things which will enrich the lives of the scout and others he comes in contact with. The cooking merit badge will teach lessons that will last a lifetime for the scout, and I have always thought that this should be a required badge for the Eagle Scout badge.

    • If that is true that cooking merit badge will teach lessons that will last a lifetime, then so will all the 136 other merit badges. We cant make them all eagle required. I feel there are other merit badges more important than cooking. We are taking away more and more electives away from the scout so pretty soon the scout will have no choices left. We need to stop mandating to the scout and let the scout decide for himself. Who knows maybe we might even get more boys to be interested in scouting.

  2. Greetings,
    I have a scout that is Star rank. We are wondering if the cooking mb is going to be required in Jan 2014, can it be used as an Eagle required MB now (before Jan) for rank advancement?


  3. They would not have to change if they still had skill awards. You got your skill award at first class. It is in the old scout book Sixth printing. As a Eagle I got both. Now I’m a stay at home dad and have a tiger. I’m raising him in the scouting way. These are needed life skill. No matter what you do in life. Your training will serve you well.

  4. There are too many redundant cooking requirements in the scouting program. And to be honest, this seems terribly misguided if nutrition and life skills are the goal. If you are going to make this required, it should be more focused around the home economics aspect, planning/budgeting/shopping for groceries, baking, canning, etc. Camp cooking skills are well covered elsewhere on the road to Eagle.

    In my experience, it is hard for boys to get camp cooking opportunities. Many times, the particulars of the campout doesn’t allow for all meals to be cooked. There’s competition by other scouts who need cooking requirements for rank advancement and Camping MB. Unless scouting is the only activity in the boy’s life, they can’t make every campout. In reality, there few opportunities throughout the year to earn rank, Cooking and Camping MB requirements. Even worse for the trail cooking requirements.

    I’m not against additional work for Eagle. I am disappointed that the scouting program is making it more boring, redundant and impractical to get to Eagle.

    Here are the OTHER cooking requirements that the scout already has to pass in the program to get to Eagle:

    Tenderfoot Rank Requirements
    On the campout, assist in preparing and cooking one of your patrol’s meals.

    Second Class Rank Requirements
    On one campout, plan and cook one hot breakfast or lunch, selecting foods from the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model. Explain the importance of good nutrition. Tell how to transport, store, and prepare the foods you selected.

    First Class Rank Requirements
    Help plan a patrol menu for one campout that includes at least one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner, and that requires cooking at least two of the meals. Tell how the menu includes the foods from the MyPlate food guide or the current USDA nutrition model and meets nutritional needs.
    On one campout, serve as your patrol’s cook. Supervise your assistant(s) in using a stove or building a cooking fire. Prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned in requirement 4a. Lead your patrol in saying grace at the meals and supervise cleanup.

    Camping MB
    4b. Help a Scout patrol or a Webelos Scout unit in your area prepare for an actual campout, including creating the duty roster, menu planning, equipment needs, general planning, and setting up camp.
    8c. Prepare a camp menu. Explain how the menu would differ from a menu for a backpacking or float trip. Give recipes and make a food list for your patrol. Plan two breakfasts, three lunches, and two suppers. Discuss how to protect your food against bad weather, animals, and contamination.
    8d. Cook at least one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner for your patrol from the meals you have planned for requirement 8c. At least one of those meals must be a trail meal requiring the use of a lightweight stove.

    Thanks for listening!


  5. I agree with Tim W…although this article doesn’t cover the “new” requirements that are going to accompany the cooking merit badge with the change in Jan. I don’t know what they are but we are being told in our troop that if the boys have received the cooking merit badge they will not be grandfathered in and will have to earn the new one because the requirements are different. Siting Tim’s thoughts I think that requiring them to earn a new badge is ridiculous. Any info on this from anyone?

    • Mike R.

      I work for a BSA Council in New Jersey. In one of our newsletters sent to us by the National office they mentioned the Cooking merit badge.

      First off, the Cooking badge will become a requirement for Eagles as of 1/1/2014. However, any Scout that gets the project in to their Council and approved prior to 1/1/2014 and only has the Eagle board of review left to do will not be required to earn his Cooking merit badge to make his Eagle rank.

      The requirements for the Cooking badge will be changing as of 1/1/2015. The Cooking merit badge book should be shipped to Scout shops in Decemeber. I don’t know anything about the new requirements. However, a Scout earning the Cooking merit badge before Jan. 1 2015 using the current requirements will keep the badge and will not need to fulfill the new requirements starting 1/1/2015.

      I have copied and pasted the information on earning the Cooking merit badge below. This came directly from our National office.

      Cooking Merit Badge Required for Eagle Beginning January 1, 2014

      There are two upcoming major revisions concerning Cooking Merit badge.

      1. Cooking will become Eagle-required beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Regardless of when a Scout earned the Life rank or began working on Eagle, unless he fulfills all the requirements-with the exception of his board of review—before Jan. 1, 2014, he must earn the Cooking merit badge to become an Eagle Scout. Just as an Eagle Scout board of review does not need to be held before the 18th birthday, it does not need to be held before Jan. 1 for a Scout to earn Eagle without the Cooking merit badge.

      2. A major overhaul to the Cooking merit badge requirements will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. Normally, when new requirements are released during the year, they go into effect the following Jan. 1. However, because the release of the revised requirements is anticipated in late 2013, the revisions will not be officially required until January 1, 2015. Until then, Scouts have a choice to begin work on the Cooking merit badge using the current requirements or the revised ones—and finish using the same requirements. See Guide to Advancement, topic, “What to Do When Requirements Change.”

      Note that these are two separate changes and should be thought of as such.

  6. Here’s the latest on the requirements changes to the Cooking Merit Badge effective January 1, 2014:

    In the Blog’s comments section, there was confusion as to whether the Cooking MB would still be required for Eagle effective January 1, 2014 in light of the merit badge pamphlet roll-out date.

    So, here is the information, in bullet points, as gleaned from Chris Hunt’s (national Advancement Team professional adviser and confirmed to me by him directly:

    * The merit badge will be a required for Eagle MB effective January 1, 2014.

    * Since the pamphlet for the merit badge may not be available until after January 1, 2014, a Scout may use the current requirements towards earning that merit badge and still have it count as an Eagle-required merit badge.

    * After the new merit badge pamphlet is released and available sometime in 2014, if the Scout has already started on the merit badge using the current requirements, the Scout will have the option of to complete the badge using the current requirements or switching to use the new requirements.

    * Now, here is a deviation from the 2013 GTA (which the national Advancement Team, and only the national Advancement Team can do), and only for the calendar year of 2014, if the Scout had not started the merit badge by the time the new merit badge pamphlet is released and available, the Scout STILL has the choice of using the current requirements or use the new requirements to complete the badge. Yes, two sets of requirements – current and new are acceptable during this transition period for *all* Scouts.

    * As of January 1, 2015, if the Scout has not already started the merit badge, he then *MUST* use the new merit badge requirements to earn it.

  7. What if you are already done with all badges and just need a project and have been in this for a long time? Who does this apply to?

  8. As a parent I am a little confused about the cooking merit badge. My son is a life scout and has presented his proposal to the eagle board. Does he still have to do the cooking merit badge?

    • Hi Liz –
      Your son will have to earn the Cooking Merit Badge unless he has completed all Eagle requirements (except for the Board of Review) before January 1st, 2014.


      • Kevin, I have all the requirements for eagle signed off (all before jan.1) in my book except the board of review. I have received all the eagle required merit badges and got that specific requirement (#3) signed off well before January 1st. Are you still saying that I do not need the cooking merit badge? Will council accept my application if the cooking merit badge isn’t on there under my list of merit badges earned? Thanks so much,

  9. Pingback: Greatest hits: Counting down my 13 most-read blog posts of 2013 « Bryan on Scouting

  10. Concerned about the “Sustainability” MB and would like to know the actual requirements. Without being too political here, I am concerned about global socialization (embodied in the UN’s Agenda 21push) that can only result in loss of freedom as we delegate sustainability to central governments (even world central governments). How do we teach scouts responsibility for their surroundings (a local responsibility) while at the same time keeping the governments from controlling us and thus removing freedoms. Is there a place to see the requirements for “Sustainability” to gain comfort that we are teaching our Eagle Scouts proper ideals?

  11. My son has finished and presented his Eagle Project, but he just needs to finish all the paper work – is Cooking MB still required for him?

    • Yes, if you have not finished your project as of Dec.31, 2013 you are required to now do the cooking merit badge. Your son did not have to do the cooking merit badge if: all requirements were fulfilled and your project was complete. The board of review did not yet have to take place but all requirements and project must have been completed.

  12. Pingback: Merit Badge team serves up some reminders about Cooking merit badge « Bryan on Scouting

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