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The Cooking Program Feature
This month’s activities should:
- Focus on the basics of preparing good meals.
- Develop the skills needed to become self-sufficient in cooking for oneself and others.
- Teach a variety of cooking methods.
- Prepare Scouts to utilize different heat sources when cooking.
- Emphasize the importance of good nutrition by introducing the USDA MyPlate guidelines.
- Highlight potential cooking hazards and how to prevent them.
- Teach Scouts how to plan menus, purchase food, and store perishables properly.
As a leadership team, you may want to discuss the following items when choosing cooking as your program feature during your planning meetings.
- Will the four meetings support a weekend dedicated to cooking or a one-day event to further skills and work on advancement?
- How can this month’s program teach cooking skills required for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks?
- How can this month’s program help Scouts earn the Cooking merit badge?
- Which of our youth leaders have the necessary cooking skills to lead instruction during the next four weeks?
- Who else could provide instruction?
- Where can we obtain stoves and other equipment the unit doesn’t have?
- What changes should we make to the sample meeting plans that would fit our needs better?
- As Scouts arrive, ask them what was the worst camp meal they have ever eaten. Ask why they didn’t like it and how it could have been made better. Make a list to use during the opening session.
- Test the Scouts’ handwashing skills as they arrive. Have early arrivers spread a teaspoon of washable paint over their hands (including between the fingers) and then wash their hands with their eyes closed or while blindfolded. This exercise will demonstrate how well or poorly they do at handwashing.
- Develop several recipes with obvious errors, such as missing food group items, mismatched cooking resources, or missing ingredients. Have Scouts review the recipes and see if they can identify the errors.
- As Scouts arrive, have an array of cookbooks available with both camping and home recipes. Preview several cooking websites to make sure the content is appropriate, and have computers or tablets set up to display those websites. Encourage the Scouts to browse and look for new recipes to try during the main event.
GROUP INSTRUCTION IDEAS
Introduction to Cooking
- Review the list from the preopening. Ask Scouts why those meals were so bad. (Were meals cooked improperly? Were the ingredients substandard?) Explain that this month’s meetings will help them learn to be better cooks and to be proud of their meals.
Health and Safety
Planning for Success
- Present the basics of menu planning. Review the principle of balancing food groups, matching the menu to planned activities and cooking resources.
- Explain that Scouts will rotate in 10-minute intervals to observe four different cooking methods at separate stations: 1) camp stoves, 2) foil packs, 3) backpacking stoves, and 4) Dutch ovens.
SKILLS INSTRUCTION IDEAS
Introduction to Cooking
- Explain that there are six essentials to cooking a good meal: time, ingredients, recipes, cookware, heat sources, and technique.
- Give each patrol a complete dinner menu. Then give them 25 minutes to plan what they need for the six essentials and who will take each role in the preparation.
- For the balance of the time, have a review board evaluate the groups’ plans and then help in reviewing them.
- Have these Scouts serve as the review board for the Essential activity. They do the same planning as the
Essential group but then serve as the review board
- This group prepares the dessert from the menu described above to be served during the last 10 minutes of the session.
Health and Safety
- Present the importance of safety while cooking.
- Discuss the risk of burns and how to minimize burn incidents. Also discuss other possible cooking injuries, primarily cuts, and how to prevent them.
- Explain proper treatment for burns, cuts, etc.
- Introduce proper food handling procedures to prevent foodborne illnesses.
- Emphasize the need to follow safe handling practices including cleanliness and proper food storage.
- Discuss the need to be aware of allergies and food intolerances among those who will eat the meal you are cooking.
- Present nutritional guidelines based on the USDA’s MyPlate model.
- Explain the balance needed from the food groups and how the proper mix may vary depending on activities and the age and size of those for whom you are cooking.
Planning for Success
- Form multiple groups, each including some Scouts who are more experienced than the others. Have the experienced Scouts teach by example how to develop a full menu plan for a weekend trip. Include two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. Focus on:
— Planning complete, tasty meals
— Developing a complete food list
— Making plans to prepare and cook the food
— Determining the costs and how the food items will be purchased
- Scouts will move by patrol in a round robin to get basic instruction on the four different styles of cooking, focusing on the benefits of each style and how to use them effectively. (If possible, real cooking demonstrations would be good, but instruction can be given without food.
- Scouts with some cooking experience should run the first two stations, demonstrating how to cook with camp stoves and foil cooking.
- Scouts with the most cooking experience should run the instruction for Dutch ovens and backpacking stoves.
BREAKOUT GROUP IDEAS
Getting Ready for the Main Event
- Plan a menu using camp stoves for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a campout.
- Plan a dinner menu incorporating the MyPlate nutritional basics.
- Plan a camp menu that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner and can be cooked without utensils. All meals must use a heat source, and at least one must use a technique other than foil cooking.
- Duty Roster Planning
- Equipment check
Preparation for the meeting’s game or challenge
GAME AND CHALLENGE IDEAS
- Flapjack-Flipping Relay
– Materials: For each team, a frying pan and a linoleum “flapjack” with a white X painted on one side
– Method: The teams line up in relay formation. Pans and flapjacks are placed along a line 20 feet in front of the teams. On signal, the first Scout from each team runs to the line and flips his flapjack. Then he runs back, tags the next Scout, and so on until all have run.
– Scoring: Award 2 points for each flapjack thrown into the air, turned over, and caught properly. Deduct 1 point if the flapjack hits the side of the pan, falls on the floor, or does not turn over. Give 5 points to the first team to finish with all flapjacks correctly flipped. The team with the most points wins.
– Variation: For an extra challenge, run a string horizontally about 4 feet above a table. Award bonus points for flipping flapjacks over the string.
- Cooking Kim’s Game
– Materials: 8 to 10 different cooking utensils: spatula, measuring cup, potato peeler, wire whisk, cheese grater, salt shaker, paring knife, slotted spoon, can opener, food tongs, etc.; a large towel; paper and a pencil for each Scout
– Method: Arrange the cooking utensils on a table and cover them with the towel. Have patrols huddle around the table. Give them 3 minutes to identify the cooking utensils, listing them on the paper provided. Patrols then go to their corners, combine their lists, and make notes on how each item is used. After they hand in their lists, uncover and identify the items. Explain the use for each one.
– Scoring: Score 2 points for each item correctly named, and deduct 1 point for each incorrectly named. Give a bonus of 1 point for each proper use identified. The team with the highest score wins.
- What’s Cooking
– Materials: Copies of the MyPlate guidelines (available on the USDA website); paper and pencil for each patrol
– Method: All patrols gather in separate areas. The game leader gives a short talk about using the MyPlate nutrition guidelines and hands out the MyPlate guidelines. Then each team plans a workable menu for an overnighter, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Menus must adhere to the MyPlate balance and include a food list and estimated food costs.
– Scoring: Have youth or adult leaders judge each menu by the following standards: cost of food, ease of preparation, and balanced diet. The team with the best menu wins.
– Note: The meeting continues as the menus are graded. Announce the winners during the closing.
- Potato Peel Relay
– Materials: A potato for each Scout, a potato peeler and bag or bucket for each patrol.
– Method: Place the equipment on a table at one end of the room and have teams line up relay-style at the other end. On command, the first Scout on each team runs to the table and completely removes the skin from a single potato. The player then returns and tags the next in line. The relay continues until all have participated.
– Scoring: Scoring is based on time and completeness (quality) of the peeled potatoes.
– Note: The potatoes should be cooked and eaten after the game.
- ‘Chopped’ Camp Style (Good Idea for a Cooking Main Event)
– Materials: Select a cooking style (e.g., camp stoves or Dutch ovens), including heat source. Provide a set of cooking utensils and a supply of assorted vegetables, spices, dairy items, and other basic ingredients. Choose four secret ingredients for a main dish and four secret ingredients for a dessert. (Ingredients for the main dish might be a can of Spam or a Cornish hen, a jar of orange marmalade or a jar of olives, a sweet potato or a package of ramen noodles, and a few carrots or an ear of corn; for the dessert, ingredients might be crescent rolls or a hamburger bun, bananas or peaches, a cup of yogurt or cream cheese, a chocolate bar or a jar of peanut butter.)
– Method: Patrols compete against each other to prepare a main dish and a dessert using the specified secret ingredients (as well as any staples they choose). Give them an equal but limited amount of time, such as 10 minutes for planning and 30-45 minutes for cooking. Play two rounds, specifying one set of secret ingredients for each round. A panel of two to four judges will evaluate each dish on taste, creativity, presentation, and use of the ingredients.
– Scoring: The first-place team in the first round gets 10 extra minutes for the second round. The prize could be a special kitchen gadget for the winning patrol’s patrol box.