Archive for the ‘scoutmaster conference’ Category

It is not a secret. Some Boy Scouts get nervous when it is time to do a scoutmaster conference for a rank. As a scoutmaster I do my best to put the Scout at ease and we usually get through it without a problem. Although there was the time when I held my first Eagle Scout conference back in the late 1980’s. That young man was so nervous that he could not recite the Scout Oath, even though he had repeated it at troop meetings for over six years. Ah, the memories.

One of the Boy Scouts recently came to the house for his Star Rank scoutmaster conference. He was accompanied by his mother. It did not take long to realize that he was nervous, and that having his mother sitting across the room from him was not helping matters. In fact, I think it was making it worse.

Let me set the stage for you. My front door opens into my living room. To the right, in front of the picture window, is the sofa. Across the room are two rocking recliners. At one end of the room is a gliding rocker chair. At the other end is the television and bookcases. When the Boy Scout arrived he sat down on the left end of the sofa, near the door. His mother sat in one of the recliners. I grabbed the troop record book and sat down on the sofa to the Scout’s right.

Like I said, it did not take long to realize this Scout was a little nervous. I also noticed that he kept looking at his mother as he answered several of the questions, instead of answering to me. I moved to the other recliner across the room. This helped in that he now had an easier time looking toward me but he still looked toward his mother, as if looking for approval of his answers and comments. His mother was also commenting on some of the subjects we were discussing.

I thought it might be better to make a few changes. I asked the Boy Scout if he was a bit nervous. He replied that he was. I asked him if having his mother sitting across the room was adding to his nervous. He said yes so I offered a new seating arrangement. I asked his mother to sit in the gliding rocker at the end of the room. I had the Scout sit in the recliner his mother had been using. This put the Scout between me and his mother, thus putting his mother out of his line of sight. I also asked his mother not to respond to any questions unless they were directed to her. She understood and pulled out her smartphone to play with.

The seating arrangement did help. Once his mother was “out of the picture” the Scout was more relaxed and had an easier time talking to me. He may have still been a little nervous but the discussion moved along much better. He passed his Star Rank scoutmaster conference and his now ready for his board of review.

Have you had any interesting experiences during a scoutmaster conference? Leave a response and tell us about it.

Scoutmaster Steve and Buttons, the radical Boy Scout, return for this month’s episode of the Around The Scouting Campfire podcast. This episode is dedicated to all Eagle Scouts. Steve and Buttons talk about a recent Eagle court of honor held in Melrose, and play some audio snippets from the ceremony. Steve talks about the scoutmaster conference for the Eagle Rank. Buttons reads a ceremony he would like to include in his Eagle court of honor someday.

Steve and Buttons thank PTC Media ( for allowing this program to be a part of the family of Scouting related podcasts. We also thank the Boy Scout Store ( for sponsoring this show. Be sure to take a moment to check out their website. Finally, we would like to thank you, our listeners, for downloading Around The Scouting Campfire.

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Mike called to schedule his scoutmaster conference for the rank of Eagle Scout. I had been looking forward to this call. He had finished his Eagle Project a week earlier, and his merit badges had been completed last May.

It got me thinking about this blog and the article I posted last September about scoutmaster conferences. There are a few additional points that I like to cover during an Eagle conference so I thought I would take the time to share them with you.

One of the first things we do is the uniform inspection. Troop 68 does not require a Scout to be in uniform from hat to socks, but we do require the belt, neck wear, and the shirt with all the patches in their proper place. Just as a person is expected to dress sharply for a job interview I like to see the Scout correctly dressed for his Eagle board of review and court of honor.

The Scout and I will spend several minutes talking about the merit badges he has earned on his way to the Eagle Rank. Which ones were the easiest to earn? The hardest? The most fun? Which ones did he enjoy the most? Which ones taught him the most? Why?

Holding a position of responsibility is a requirement that I like to talk to the Scout about. I not only like him to talk about the position he used for the Eagle Rank, but also discuss the other positions he has held during his tenure as a Scout. Which ones did he enjoy, or maybe not enjoy so much? What has he learned about leadership. Is it easy being a leader?

Of course, we also talk about his Eagle project. Projects seldom go as originally planned. It is interesting to hear about what did not go according to plan, and how the Scout was able to solve the problems that arose. Did he accomplish all his goals? I know the board of reviews will be covering this subject heavily so I try to prepare him during the conference.

My favorite portion of the conference is when the Scout looks back on his years in Scouting. I ask him what have been his favorite activities since joining the troop. What activities did he dislike? What are some of his best memories about Scouting? Who were the people who helped him the most during his years as a Scout? Is there anything he wished he would have done differently?

A scoutmaster needs to ask questions that are open ended, questions that require more then a simple “yes” or “no” answer. The goal is for the Scout to do most of the talking, not the scoutmaster.

As the conference comes to an end we take time to review his Eagle Project Workbook and get all the dates and information correct on his Eagle Application.

I enjoy the Eagle scoutmaster conference. It gives the Scout and myself a chance to really talk about what Scouting has meant to him. For the seventeen year old Scout it is probably the last time we will get to sit and chat about his last six years in Scouting. I just hope it will not be the last time we get to visit and chat. After all, he will soon be going off to college and begin a life on his own.

The Scoutmaster Conference. There seems to be a lot of conversation, in some circles, about what this should actual be about, and what it should include. The BSA books seem to be a little vague about it and only give a few general thoughts on the subject. Some new Scout leaders seem to be confused when it comes time to have a conference with a boy.

I have been doing them for 25 years. I would like to share what I do during a conference. As you read this you may agree with some things, and you may disagree with others. The way I do it works for me, and it has worked for the Scouts who have done a conference with me. It helps them to think about some things, and helps to prepare them for their board of reviews. My assistant scoutmaster usually does the Tenderfoot through First Class Scouts, while I take care of the Star, Life, and Eagle candidates.

Okay, before I begin, here is a couple points I want you to keep in mind. A Scoutmaster Conference can be held at any time a Boy Scout needs one, not only when he is finishing a rank. The points I list here are my points for the conference requirement for the ranks. Another requirement for any rank is “Show Scout Spirit”. I take time during the scoutmaster conference to cover this requirement also.

When I do a conference with a Boy Scout it usually goes for more then the 15 “recommended” minutes. I try to get the Scout to discuss ten points (which I am about to discuss). And sometimes, actually many times, he will have something to say. It is our job as scoutmasters to encourage that dialog and try to keep our mouths shut while he is talking. Listen to him, and then guide him. It is not uncommon for a conference to last an hour or more when I am with a Scout for his Eagle Rank scoutmaster conference. The boys are okay with this, they know what to expect. (So don’t write me about holding such a long conference.)

That being said, here we go…

A) The first two points of my conference are actually five things. The Scout should know the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, Slogan, and Outdoor Code. He should be able to recite them. He need to know what they mean, and be able to explain to me what they mean. I will ask him what two parts of the Scout Law he finds difficult to follow, and which ones he finds the easiest to do. What did he do for a good turn that day? What should he “Be Prepared” for?

B) We will look at his attendance at meetings and his participation on troop outings. Our troop recommends that a Scout attends two thirds of troop meetings and at least half of the outings. If he has a great attendance record I compliment him on doing well. If he is lacking, then we discuss why he has not been attending, and what he will do about it. Each rank has a participation requirement after all.

C) A Scout is thrifty. Are his dues paid up to date? Has he participated in troop fundraisers? Does he do his duty to the troop by doing his best when the troop has a fundraiser, or does he sit back and let the other guys do the work? Raising money for the troop is the whole troop’s responsibility, not the job of just a few.

D) Attitude, and setting a good example, is another point that we cover. Does he like being in Scouts? If not, then why is he a member? Does he set a good example for other boys in the troop? Or is he a Scout who needs to work on that area? Older Scouts can set good examples for younger Scouts, but younger Scouts can also do the same for the older boys.

E) Is his uniform up to date? I often have the uniform checklist and conduct a quick inspection. I ask him to correct the incorrect things on his uniform before he attends his board of review. Our troop does not expect a boy to be full uniform from head to toe. However, we do expect him to pass the inspection with a score of 75 (out of a 100) or higher.

F) Service to others is an important part of the Boy Scout program. Has he participated in troop service and community projects? What has he done outside of Scouting to help the community? Did he just do his hours of service as required by the rank, or did he continue serving in other ways?

G) We will check his advancement progress. How long has it been since he finished his last ranked? If it has been quite awhile, we will discuss the reasons for it. Has he taken advantage of advancement opportunities when he has had the chance? We also review the requirements for his next rank and check how far along he is along that trail.

H) Leadership is a very important requirement of the last three Boy Scout ranks. We will look back and see how his leadership has been. I ask him how he thinks he has done. How can he improve? What did he do in his last troop office? Does he think he completed the tasks of that office? Did he do them well? What other leadership responsibilities does he have in the troop?

I) The final point is setting goals. When does he plan to attain his next rank? What smaller goals are needed to meet the larger goal. Were his previous goals met on time? If not, then why weren’t they? Does he have any goals outside of Scouting? Can Scouting help him achieve those goals?

Of course, like many conversations, we get sidetracked a lot during a scoutmaster conference. I don’t see a problem with that. It gives the Scout and Scoutmaster a chance to get to know each other a little better. Maybe share some points of interest. After a few minutes I try to guide the conversation back to the things we need to discuss.

Well, that pretty much sums it up. I hope this gives you some ideas as you conduct your own Scoutmaster Conferences.