From the Boy Scout joining requirements to Eagle Palms, the Scoutmaster conference is a constant. A Scout must participate in such a conference when he joins a troop and at every step along the advancement trail. Some Scouters don’t understand the purpose of this meeting, viewing it as little more than a paperwork exercise or a dress rehearsal for the board of review. Savvy Scouters, however, grasp its value and importance.
WHAT IS A SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE? It’s simply a visit between the Scoutmaster and a Scout. (In a Varsity Scout team, the Coach conducts the conference.) During the conference, the two can discuss the Scout’s ambitions and life purpose, set goals for future achievement (both in Scouting and beyond), review the Scout’s participation in the troop and explore his understanding and practice of the ideals of Scouting. The conference also gives the Scoutmaster an opportunity to solicit feedback on the troop program and any challenges the Scout is facing.
HOW LONG SHOULD A SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE LAST? Conferences should last 10 to 15 minutes, although those for Eagle Scouts might last 30 minutes or more.
WHERE SHOULD THESE CONFERENCES TAKE PLACE? They can be conducted at troop meetings, during outdoor activities or in the Scout’s home (provided a parent is also present). Given the relaxed nature of many outings, a campsite can be a good setting. Each conference should be a private discussion between the Scoutmaster and a Scout, but it must be held in full view of other people in accordance with the BSA’s Youth Protection policy.
CAN A SCOUT FAIL A SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE? No, it is not a test. Note that a Scout must participate or take part in a conference, not pass it.
CAN THE SCOUTMASTER RETEST THE SCOUT ON REQUIREMENTS? No (nor may the board of review).
IF A SCOUT SETS A GOAL DURING A SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE, DOES HE HAVE TO ACHIEVE IT? No. However, it makes sense to follow up with him later and to provide encouragement. Some Scoutmasters take notes after each conference and review them before meeting with a Scout again.
DOES THE SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE HAVE TO BE THE LAST REQUIREMENT COMPLETED FOR A RANK? No. While it can make sense to hold a conference after other requirements for a rank have been met, the conference doesn’t have to be the last step before the board of review.
CAN I HOLD A SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE FOR A SCOUT WHO IS NOT ADVANCING? Yes. In fact, that would be a good way to find out if the Scout is having problems.
CAN I DELEGATE SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCES TO ANOTHER ADULT LEADER? Yes, under limited circumstances. For example, if the troop is so large that the Scoutmaster can’t handle them all, he or she might delegate some of them to an assistant Scoutmaster. Keep in mind, however, that if a Scout sees different leaders along his trail to Eagle, he won’t have the chance to develop a relationship with the Scoutmaster, and the conferences can’t build on what has been discussed previously.
CAN I DENY A SCOUT A SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCE IF I FEEL HE’S NOT READY? No. Since the conference is not a test the Scout can fail, there’s nothing he needs to be ready for.
WHO CONDUCTS SCOUTMASTER CONFERENCES FOR A VENTURER WORKING ON BOY SCOUT ADVANCEMENT? If a First Class Scout is continuing his Boy Scout advancement work in Venturing or Sea Scouting, his Advisor or Skipper conducts the conference. If the Scout maintains dual registration, the Scoutmaster and Advisor or Skipper should decide who will oversee his Boy Scout advancement.
FIND MORE FAQs ON SCOUTING ADVANCEMENT AND AWARDS AT SCOUTINGMAGAZINE.ORG/FAQS.