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camping - cooking question - is this OK?

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Most of our boys have completed the bulk of the camping merit badge requirements.


Number 8 is as follows:


Do the following:

Explain the safety procedures when using a:

Propane or butane/propane stove

Liquid fuel stove

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different types of lightweight cooking stoves.

Cook for your patrol a trail meal requiring the use of a lightweight stove.


The question we have is about the last thing listed--trail meal.


Now, obviously, each boy could just make stew or a one pot dish and serve from a single pot from the small stove. We have, at this point, two boys who own the backpack stoves and are willing to share.


But, we wondered if two boys could cook (each with an mini stove) for the meal. For example, one would fry meat and the other a veggie mix or one a stew type dish and the other rice. They could switch off the next meal or whatever needed. They're not looking to do less work--just trying to make sure that we're doing what Scouts had in mind on this one.


This is a small group (6 boys if all came). They would all learn to use the mini stove sharing the two stoves (and perhaps one more bought). If they need to break it down and one Scout do one meal, they can do that. But, it seemed like with the size of these stoves and pans to go on them and also for some variety to a meal that it could be shared as far as one working on one part of a meal and another on another part of the meal.


The boys were talking about splitting up foods and working together on meals, and I said I would double check to see if that was on track. Again, they all like to cook and are excited about learning more about trail foods and learning more about cooking on the small stoves. They and the adults helping (like buying the food) just wanted to make sure that we were on track here.


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Merit badges are designed for individual testing. The final decision is up to the merit badge counselor who is the sole authority on the approval of each requirement of a merit badge. As a cooking MB counselor I would not accept two scouts doing one meal, the requirement wants a scout to be able to do the meal himself.


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The requirement seems pretty clearly written. The boy who is getting the badge should be able to say that he cooked a trail meal for his patrol. It doesn't say "help cook" or "cook a part of a meal". So I'd think that if six boys get the badge, there should be six meals cooked.


I understand that people want to help their Scouts get the awards, but take a step back and think about whether stretching the requirements is really the way to go.


If you're the counselor, you can interpret the requirements yourself, naturally.


Oak Tree

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Cook for your patrol a trail meal requiring the use of a lightweight stove.

If we stop thinking about the merit badge class and start thinking about a balanced program things become a lot clearer.

Where would the best place be to cook a trail meal for the patrol?

On the trail!!

If hiking was the theme for a month incorporating requirements like this one and the different stoves are covered.

It's when we start chasing the mighty merit badge that things get out of whack.


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I find these comments troubling:


"I understand that people want to help their Scouts get the awards, but take a step back and think about whether stretching the requirements is really the way to go."




" . . . chasing the mighty merit badge."


The person working on the camping for any boys who want to do that is new. Since I help with any wanting to learning cooking stuff, he asked me on that after the boys asked him. I said I wasn't sure but thought some folks online would know what was the intention on that.


When the boys want to work on something and when we're all new at this, it seems reasonable to both have questions and to ask those questions.


I can't imagine that trying to get information so that the boys can do the work they picked and to cover the spirit of the requirement would suggest that some sort of gaming is going on or that we're merit badge churning or whatever that was or that we're looking at hiking rather than camping.


Three of six boys asked to work on camping. They want to trail cook next time. They asked if they needed to cook one meal on one stove by one both for three meals or split up dishes and do parts of meals for more variety. This came up when they were talking about food they wanted to eat on the trail.


The camping MB counselor didn't know the answer on that. He checked with the new SM who didn't know. They asked me, since I work with cooking. Since the little camp stove and mess kits seem designed for one rather than a troop and since groups usually share out duties, I thought that might be fine. But, I didn't want to say that if the idea was to cook for several at one time on a small stove. So, I said that I'd check and find out what was intended by the Scout program on that.


Thank you for the information. I am, however, troubled by the tone of replies here.


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I'm sorry that you are troubled.

While any Lad is free to come along and say "Hi Mr.Gardner, I want to work on my camping merit Badge".

If we the adults plan the meetings and the monthly activities around a theme many of the requirements will be met along the way.

For most Scouts the 20 night requirement is going to take about a year.

Almost any theme I can think of will at some point touch upon the camping merit badge: First Aid. Winter camping,map and compass,cooking,lightweight camping,hiking,bicycling,canoeing,climbing and rappelling.

A lot of the theory behind this can be done at the troop meeting.While the younger Lads are working toward First Class, the older Scouts are following the same theme but at a more advanced level.

You might want to look at Troop Program Features as a guide to how to plan Troop meetings.

While some merit badges are badges that an individual can work on and earn. The camping merit badge is dependent on the Scout working with the Patrol.

I'm troubled by the fact that the Camping Merit Badge Counselor didn't know the answer. If I found out that a counselor didn't know the answers I would be on the phone to the district advancement chairman.

Having six Lads that want to earn the badge is wonderful, but trying to rush through the requirements is not so great.

There is nothing wrong with telling these Lads that this is a merit badge that takes a lot of work and a long time to earn.

Sure this entails careful planning and good record keeping, but at the end of the day the Lad should be able to say it was hard but it was worth it.


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Three are working on the camping badge and have been for close a year (troop is just over a yr. old). The boys have already camped over 20 nights. They wanted to go camping in Aug. They wanted to do the small camp stove meal as listed in the badge phamplet. They asked if the meal cooking could be shared. I said I'd try to find the answer to that.


We had no merit badge counselors in place starting from scratch a yr ago. Some adults have been willing to build on areas of interest and expertise to be counselors. We have some really good people who work hard and teach a lot for those interested. I can't even imagine calling BS headquarters to complain that an expert in a field who is willing to help Scouts does not know all the Scout details especially when everyone is trying to help out and asking questions when needed.


I have read a lot on Scouting and the program and help only in the background. I've been asked to take a position on the district level. Sure. It would be better to have someone who "knows it all." But, a program can be learned. It does take an interest, willingness to learn and also support from within the organization. I have no concerns about the first two. I don't really know the leadership in this area, but the comments here suggest that I would not be comfortable in Scouting. When someone asks for clarification on one portion of one merit badge and the words are twisted (and some things flat made up) and unsolicited advice given concerning an entire program, then that certainly raises red flags. I can see why Scouting is having a hard time finding and keeping volunteers.



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Gardener- Welcome!


Getting answers here is pretty much like asking them at Roundtable or any other mixed group setting. Some take a very hard-line 'if you follwed the program right you would not have questions' stance, others take a 'whatever works for you' stance, and most take it somewhere in between.


A LOT of questions about requirments get posted from people who are... well, basically looking for shortcuts or easy answers OR people who are working in units that may be following their 'own version' of the BSA program.


In this case, for example, there is a contingent that feels that merit badges should not really be taught in regular meetings or primarily by unit leaders. (I happen to agree with this group.) Other people feel perfectly comfortable with making merit badges more accessible for the Scouts. It is all part of some of the on-going debates here!


Being a BSA volunteer CAN be kind of tough, and there is a lot of confliciting opinions running around out here/in here, but believe me when I say that for the most part, no one is trying to pick on a new guy or anything like that!




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Welcome to the forums! Sounds like you're working hard to help provide a good program for the boys.


Troops are not expected to provide their own merit badge counselors. Your local district should have a list of approved merit badge counselors. It is the responsibility of the district advancement committee chairman to make sure all counselors are well-qualified and registered, which would include the counselor that is working with the 3 boys in your troop. The chairman would appreciate comments from boys and troops about their experiences with counselors. It does seem strange that a registered and approved MB counselor would have questions about his MB. The advancement committee chair would be the one for him to ask.


Maybe this particular individual has not be approved as a Camping MB counselor? Only persons approved by the district advancement chair (or the MB dean he has appointed) can serve as a counselor and approve a boy's completion of MB requirements.

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While there are no age requirements on merit badges and we need to treat each and every Scout as an individual. There are as they say different courses for different horses. Some merit badges that a Lad can go for and earn with having just an interest in the subject.

I can't see any reason why a Lad who has an interest in dogs can't work on the requirements and earn the badge. I don't think most troops are going to use dog care as a theme for the month (They of course could.) However the camping merit badge touches on so many other aspects of the program that almost every outdoor activity scouts do is encompassed in the requirements.

While it might be OK for a Troop that is about a year old to use the night count toward the Camping Merit Badge, the requirements are a little more detailed and a step above the requirements needed for First Class rank.

Merit Badge Counselors can come from within the unit or from the District, but all must be passed by the District Advancement Committee. Nearly all the Troops in the District I serve have a "In-house Merit Badge Counselor" for the camping merit badge.

While I feel sure that there are Troops that download the worksheets from the net and then work their way through the requirements, which is "Legal". I think that they are missing a great opportunity to use the merit badge and the requirements to make their troop meetings more interesting and keep the older Scouts active.

When I see a Scout with the camping merit badge, I assume that he is a first rate camper, with a fair amount, if not a lot of camping experience. It would be a rare find to see a Lad who has only been in the Troop for a year with this experience, not impossible but rare.

If we play our cards right the Scouts will be with us for approx seven years, I don't think we need to rush things. I also have some concerns about little Lads maybe not really understanding or respecting how dangerous things like liquid fuel stoves can be. Again this depends on each individual Scout.


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I should have also said, welcome to the forums. We're glad you're here. I didn't mean to come across with a troubling tone. I was just trying to suggest a general rule for dealing with these situations, which is to read the words in the plain way they're written. There seem to be a lot of questions from people who try to find other interpretations. I now realize you are not one of those, so my apologies.


Oak Tree

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At our summer camp two weeks ago, one of our Scouts took the camping merit badge. To complete it at summer camp requires LOTS of prerequisites.


One boy bought a dehydrated meal to cook. He cooked it on a camp stove and shared it with the adult patrol. He was crushed (mom has put a lot of pressure on him to complete the badge, i.e. don't come home without it sort of thing!) when I, the Scoutmaster said it did not fulfill the requirement. One, he did not cook it for his patrol. Two, a trail meal to me is a meal eaten on the trail. So what we did was arrange for a hike later on in the week. He and a few of his patrol mates, along with two adults, went on a short (two mile) hike, stopped in the middle, cooked a meal and shared it with his patrol. I then signed off on a note for his MB counselor.



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OK gonna ruffle a few feathers here but what the hay I haven't been in trouble in awhile. I must eat very little on the trail it seams compared to most of the replies I see here(usually one pot meals hate the extra wt in the pack and the clean up for big stuff on my exponet stove and my MSR pots)! The requirement is to prepare a meal it doesn't say a full course meals just a meal so what if the lads each fixed a hot dog (works well with a stick over the flame of the exponet by the way)or soup, or made oatmeal for breakfast, or each fries up bacon for their own blt without the L or the T all are meals right.


I see it this way the three boys are on an outing so they make up a patrol. Johnny cooks oatmeal for breakfast, Jimmy cooks hot dogs for lunch. Timmy whips up some beef stew for dinner on Johnny's stove. The three boys each cooked a meal for their patrol on this outing as. I'm a MB counselor for camping and I take it the idea of this requirement is to learn how to properly use the stoves not the type of meal prepared. I don't see a problem as long as each has to start the stove from scratch to prepare the meal they are still learning how to properly use a stove. Besides isn't a Scout encouraged to have a buddy for merit badges? Just my 0.1 cents worth.

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Thank you KY.


The boys I was talking about were discussing a reasonable meal which in fact would be more educational and more clearly reflect the intended uses of the backback stove. They were tossing around something like rice (gotta get the timing down on that), meat with gravy using canned meat and flour and then another veggie prob dehydrated and rehydrated with water (given three stoves were available--only two owned by members of the group currently).


So, now given the feedback here and the huge deal this seems to be, they'll throw a one pot soup/stew or similiar in and heat. Really now, what else can you cook for a troop (6 or more with leaders) in a small pot over a small stove? And on a weekend trip?


We, too, thought the idea was to learn to use the stoves and to think about good trail food picks and explore possible recipes. The boys were excited about sharing out dishes for a complete meal given it was for "a troop."


They are learning and talking and seeing what they can do on the stoves. Taking the requirement at face value (cook a trail meal for the troop), in fact, limits the guys. But, they wanted to be sure they were doing what was required and expected.


The plan now is for each to do a meal as required. For example, they talked about breakfast of oatmeal with raisins. That makes sense as a trail meal to carry and then cook on the small stove. One boy can do that. Fine.


In the future, they will do individual meals on the small stove or split out the parts of the meal as initially planned. They do want to learn the skills.


As someone who does cook and who has worked with these boys on various skills related to cooking (no badges attached--just for the sake of eating good outdoors), I can't imagine why a requirement calls for doing something like one boy cooking for a troop on an individual stove. I've taught them about cooking, and they know it would make more sense to each cook trail meals individually or to split out the parts of the meal and group share.


The idea was never to do less or learn less. They'll do this as required (or the ones working on the badge and asking to do that part), but the guys who want to cook on the trail will know this is a silly way to do things and will make better cooking decisions when it's not Scout dictated.

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Gardner,m Your last post seems perfectly reasonable to me. I agre with you that the requirement itself goes against everything I ahve learned abiout trail cooking and small stove meals. The #I thing that a back pack stove is good for is boiling water. I would keep that in mind in meeting the requirement. Nowhere does it say that the stove cannot be used for that purpose. If I hav=d to do a meal for a 6 or 8 member patrol using a back pack stove I would select some fresh fruit, and a compliment of freeze-dried products and reconstitute them with them boiling water from the stove.


-Balanced meal

-prepared using the Stove

-appropriate for the trail

-patrol fed


*Requirement met.




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