Here’s some food for thought: Your Scouts don’t have to be together to cook together.

For a taste of what I mean, just check out the skillful Scouts from Troop 301 of Cross River, N.Y., part of the Westchester Putnam Council.

This month, while video chatting from their home kitchens in front of laptops, tablets and smartphones, the Scouts each prepared their own version of “Camp Stroganoff.” Instead of eating as patrols or sharing with the adults, the Scouts then served up their creations to their families.

“All the Scouts shared that the meal was delicious,” says Scoutmaster Crystal Kennedy. “And some brothers had second helpings.”

Each month, Troop 301 picks a theme. May’s theme, which the patrol leaders’ council selected way back in August, is cooking.

This month, the Troop 301 Scouts were supposed to be on a big camping trip at Sandsland Reservation, a Scout property owned by the Narragansett Council in Rhode Island. They had planned to practice camp cooking at troop meetings and then apply what they’d learned during the trip.

Then COVID-19 hit, and the trip was off.

But just like subbing in applesauce when you’re out of sugar, Troop 301 adapted and still came up with something sweet.

“While we can’t camp, we can practice camp recipes together,” Kennedy says. “It was lots of fun and good experience before cooking for their patrol at our next campout.”

Keep reading for more details — and the Camp Stroganoff recipe.

A Scout is adaptable

In April, once it became clear the Rhode Island trip wouldn’t be possible (at least not right now), the Scouts improvised.

The senior patrol leader split the troop into pairs of Scouts, asking each pair to find a simple recipe from a list of ingredients she provided. Then they voted for their favorite.

The Scouts decided they’d cook the winning recipe, Camp Stroganoff, at the troop’s next weekly meeting. They discussed what kinds of pots or pans they’d need, made sure the recipe met MyPlate nutrition guidelines, and had some serious (OK, maybe not so serious) debates like “corn vs. no corn.”

They also opted to adjust their meeting time. Troop 301 usually meets at 7:15 p.m. but moved the start time forward to 4 p.m.

“That way they could cook and serve their family right after cooking,” Kennedy says.

At the designated time, the Scouts and leaders opened Zoom and the Scouts began cooking. The result? A delicious Scout-cooked meal — with a life lesson on the side.

Camp Stroganoff recipe

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 ½ – 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 dry onion soup packet
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (condensed)
  • 1 12- to 16-ounce pack wide egg noodles


  1. In large frying pan, brown the ground beef until it is not pink. Drain off the grease.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles, al dente, following package instructions. Rinse noodles in cool water to stop cooking.
  3. Add to Fry pan with cooked beef, the remaining ingredients. Simmer gently until meat is tender.
  4. If necessary, thin the sauce with a little milk.
  5. Serve over the cooked noodles.

Recipe by Dunlin Stathis, Eagle Scout from Troop 154 of Goldens Bridge, N.Y.

Troop 301 in a photo taken before social distancing guidelines were put into place.

Cooking safety

Cooking is a fun life skill — when you do it right.

Be sure to keep your food safe and supervise young chefs. Consult the Cooking merit badge pamphlet (print or Kindle) for further guidance about safe cooking.

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