The purpose of Boy Scouting is to develop in a young man the ability to do things for himself and for others, to train him in outdoor skills, and to teach him patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues. We use the methods of Scouting –including advancement, the outdoors, and adult association—to accomplish these goals. The Scoutmaster conference allows the Scoutmaster to review:
The Scout’s growth in his understanding of Scouting ideas
How the Scout applies these ideas in his daily life and in the troop
The requirements of the Scout’s next rank
Why does the Scoutmaster engage in this one-on-one review? The Scoutmaster conference is a way of encouraging the individual Scout. It is the most personal method in Scouting to assess the needs and desires of a Scout, to encourage and support him, to learn of his fears and hopes, to help him to see himself in the greater context of Scouting, and to encourage his personal growth, both in skills and in living up to the ideals of Scouting.
The relationship between a Scout and his Scoutmaster is important for the troop’s health and for the Scout’s success. The Scoutmaster must watch the troop’s dynamics to see who is showing leadership, who is holding back, who is shy, who is working with the younger boys, who is skilled in outdoor activities, etc. Further, the Scoutmaster must watch the individual Scout to determine whether he is advancing, whether he is having fun, and whether he seems eager or uneasy.
The Scoutmaster Conference is neither an interrogation nor a retesting of a Scout’s competence, but rather a time to reflect on the skills learned and how the Scout has absorbed the ideals of Scouting. It should be an informal conversation between Scout and Scoutmaster either toward a certain goal or as a requirement for advancement. The intent is for the Scoutmaster to impart some of their personal character to that scout, and this is the Scout’s chance to see the Scoutmaster’s application of the scouting ideals and to emulate their application through his own personal application.
In the advancement conference, the Scoutmaster will assess the Scout’s readiness for his Board of Review and his progress since his last Scoutmaster conference. This should not be a time of retesting his competence in Scouting skills; someone has already attested to that by signing off on requirements or merit badges. The Scout must have completed all his requirements for rank before the conference can take place. However, it is appropriate to review the Scout’s achievements and discuss them without retesting. Of course, this may be the time for the Scoutmaster to check the Scout’s advancement records for the appropriate signatures. Therefore, a Scout should always present himself for a Scoutmaster Conference in Class A Uniform and with properly signed handbook and/or Troopmaster records.
Sample topics for a Scoutmaster Conference may include:
· Tell me about the best time you’ve had so far in our Troop
· What could we do better
· Tell me about something that you wished that you could do better (in or out of Scouting)
· Tell me about something that made you think about the Scout Law, or the Oath
· Tell me something about yourself that has nothing to do with Scouting
· Tell me about your favorite Scouting experience
Star and Life Scoutmaster Conference will be a bit longer than previous ones. Leadership skills should be reviewed as they are exhibited, not held over to a Scoutmaster conference. However leadership achieves/goals for the next rank will be one of the significant topics to be discussed. Each of these ranks involves a service project, and you should be ask about these projects.
Eagle Scoutmaster Conference is an occasion to review the Scout’s Eagle service project with him so that he will feel comfortable explaining it to his Eagle Board of Review. We can also discuss whether Scout believes he is prepared for his Board of Review. Of course, Scout spirit is a part of his discussion. The Eagle candidate’s spirit should be such that he is an example to other Scouts. The Scoutmaster should listen carefully to what the Scout says. It is an opportunity to have a give-and-take discussion with the very best in Scouting.
Eagle Scouts are encouraged to remain visibly connected to the troop. Leader should not be discouraged if a high school student is less able to devote his spare time to Scouting alone. We may notice that the Scout’s activity with the troop is less that the leaders would desire, but we should be able to tell if a Scout is living up to the ideals of scouting outside the troop as well as inside.
Sources: www.scouting.org, and National Council