Just started reading these message regarding the boy coming up for Eagle Scoutmaster's Conference. I'm surprised to hear of national's view on an number of these issues, particularly the narrow interpretation of "taking part in a scoutmaster's conference", interpretation of a boy's scout spirit, and the non- pass/fail nature of a scoutmaster conference.
I am a scoutmaster of a troop of 60 boys. I am facing a similar situation with 2 of my boys. I delayed the scoutmaster conference, with full and complete communication with both parents, for Life Rank with one of these boys for 6 months based on my view of his recurring behavioral issues as they relate to scout spirit. His attitude toward scouting principals and his oath did change is such a way that we did have his Life SMC.
I attempt to understand 2 things about a boy at an SMC. First, I expect that they are learning and retaining basic scout skills. Second, I have some discussion with them about how they live up to their oath, including the Law, within and outside of scouting.
On a few occasions, I have not signed a boy's book for Star rank or above, only, at the conference because of what I consider shortfalls in one of these two areas.
Getting back to boys and scoutmaster conferences, I take the issue of scout spirit very seriously. The second boy is coming up on Life Rank. He's "doing the work" for advancement, mainly because his dad (Outings Chair)tells him to, but through his behavior and general attitude, appears he has little real interest in the entire scouting program and does not care about applying or modeling the principals of the Oath and Law.
The way our troop seems to handle the Board of Review is to rubber stamp that the scoutmaster has signed off the boy for the Scoutmaster's Conference. According to what you are all saying about national, we are administering the SBC/Board processes backwards. Interesting.