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Every SM has their own style giving SM Conferences just like giving SM minutes. Its OK to be different. A SM should know the scout well enough to feel the Scout ready for a BOR, but not so well that the scout has everything signed off. The BORs responsibility is make sure the scout has completed all the rank requirements. The SMs responsibility is to make sure the scout knows the skills. First thing I do is check the scout book and make sure it's filled out correctly. If not, we talk a little about that then I have a nice chat about are mutual interest in scouting. If the book is fine, then I'm like Stosh, I try to guide the scout himself to figure out if he is ready for his BOR. His book will get signed whether he feels ready or not. But I also understand many adults can't do that style.


I would not use the method the OP is talking about, but we can see just from this discussion that there are a lot of opinions about this. And every adult has there own way of relating to a scout. I think what we need to understand is what the main object of a SM conference compared to a BOR. Remember the BOR is a check on the SM's program.


I do feel that if scouts are intimidated by the SM conference or BOR, then that is not the right style.



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A couple of points on my approach to Scoutmaster Conferenc (SMC).


The SMC is not a retest of skills (as stated my many here).


The SMC is not a prep for the Board of Review.


The SMC is not a lecture by the SM. I try to use it bring out the scout and have them do nearly all of the talking. This is more difficult with younger, shy scouts, but that is the point.


The SMC is about finding out more about your scout. Sure we (should) all know our scouts pretty well, but this can be an opportunity to go into a depth not normally covered in day-to-day conversations or on campouts. If you do have the opportunity to know your scouts better outside of a SMC, then it becomes an opportunity to follow up on what you know, meaning you can ask more specific personal questions of your scout. Either is fine.


I pretty much know where my scouts stand on skill levels. I pay attention at meetings and on campouts. I debrief with the SPL regularly and with PLs less frequently on how each of the scouts are doing. So by the time of the SMC, I know where a scout stands, and where they are weak. Because of this, I like to focus much of the SMC on Scout Spirit.


We have a growing troop. I like to conduct SMCs for Tenderfoot, First Class (sometimes Star)and Eagle, while I will frequently defer the others to different ASMs. I make sure I mention certain concerns or issues with the ASM before and after the SMC.


For Star, I (along with the ASMs) discuss goal setting. In fact, at the conclusion of the Star SMC, I ask the scout to come up with 3 specific goals in his scouting and personal life he can work on before life. A week after the SMC, I follow up with the scout and write down his goals. I this on to whomever does the Life SMC, where they are brought up and progress "checked." I use the goal setting as perparing a scout to work toward Eagle.


BSA has a document which lists some appropriate things to discuss at SMCs. I sometimes review this before the SMC, but I do not view it as a checklist to cover at the SMC.


Hope that adds some perspective for the whole.

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Eagle1973 wrote: "This Scout may have to come back and "finish" his SM Conference."


That just creeps me out. Taking an appropriate BOR response to an incomplete advancement requirement and applying it at a SMC to hold up the scout. SMCs happen. No pass fail. Once it happened, the scout has had his SMC and the SM is to help the scout get his BOR. There's no re-convene two weeks later after you've refreshed your skills.


But it's your troop and you can pretty much do as you want.


The only way I've seen scouts held up at SMC is when the SM reserves the "scout spirit" requirement for the SMC. But that's a whole different discussion. And even then, you sign off on the SMC because the scout had his SMC.




Eagledad wrote: "I do feel that if scouts are intimidated by the SM conference or BOR, then that is not the right style."


Great insight. Fully agree.




Buffalo Skipper wrote: "The SMC is not a retest of skills (as stated by many here).


The SMC is not a prep for the Board of Review.


The SMC is not a lecture by the SM."


So correct.


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I agree with you on most of the points you made, but the thread was focusing in on the SMC for rank advancement. Then I would think it would be good for BOR preparation as the focus.


Yes, there are a ton of other SMC's one does as a SM in a variety of different settings as you have indicated. Some make take but 5 minutes and others up to an hour.


I see SMC as anytime the SM (adult) has interaction with a scout (youth). I have had some of the most effective SMC's sitting at a campfire or in the river where my canoe partner and I have dumped. :)


I may define it a bit different than others but to me the word conference indicates an interaction between two people rather than me (SM) telling the scout what to do or say. That's not a conference. If every time I address a scout the word conference is in the back of my mind, I approach it differently than I would if the word instruction is there. Then I would be tempted to keep the conversation only one way. I make it a habit to start every conference with a question so as to involve the other person right from the git-go. :) Even if the question is "What in hell were you thinking?!!" I try to use that one very sparingly.


A SMC is an opportunity to inspire, encourage, suggest, and support the boys. A SMC for rank is to fire him up for the BOR which may in fact intimidate him. When I was SM I even had a BOR for the Scout rank so the boys could go through a BOR as practice, introduce himself to some of the adults, and not have it count as anything other than experience. It wasn't required, but along with a SMC for rank, I also had a SMC with the boys to review how the BOR went and if they were please with how it went.



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So if we know what the BSA says about the SMC and rank quizzing, why is it so hard for some folks not to get with the program? Does it really matter what our opinions are? The question should be "do you follow it, and if you don't follow it, what will it take to get you back on the path to true north?"



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The question should be "do you follow it, and if you don't follow it, what will it take to get you back on the path to true north?"




The notion of one-size-fits-all, paint-by-the-numbers youth programming is just rubbish. Followin' program guides written by committees of folks in far off states isn't goin' to get anybody to "True North", if by True North we mean what works best for the kids that they are working with.


True North comes from knowing your CO's goals and your unit's vision, knowing your families and boys, knowing your adult leaders and the BSA materials and then fittin' those pieces together in the best way you can for your circumstances. What works for big troops doesn't work for small; what works for young troops doesn't work for old; what works for families lookin' for one sort of thing doesn't work for families lookin' for something different. What works for one scouter doesn't work for another.


Lots of times in a lot of units, it is the Scoutmaster who knows and understands the scout skills, and the Board of Review members don't. The BOR gets made up of some committee folks rather than outdoors folks. If that's the troop's setup, then quite naturally it's goin' to be the Scoutmaster and not the Board that takes on a role of checkin' on skills development. It works just fine and dandy. Shouldn't creep anybody out at all. Certainly better than filling out quiz sheets and paperwork.


And havin' a conversation with a lad about needin' to work a bit more on his skills as part of a Scoutmaster conference? I would be surprised if a Scoutmaster who was aware of such a need did not have that conversation. I'd expect it's what any good scouter would do.




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