The Scoutmaster conference allows the Scoutmaster to review:
- a Scout’s growth in his understanding of Scouting’s ideals
- how the Scout applies these ideals in his daily life and in the troop
- the requirements of the Scout’s next rank so that he can be properly encouraged
In a boy-lead troop, the Scoutmaster does not assert his authority, but guides and counsels every Scout so that the troop can function well and serve the purposes of Boy Scouting. The Scoutmaster conference is one of the primary ways the Scoutmaster does this.
188.8.131.52 Unit Leader (Scoutmaster) Conference
The unit leader (Scoutmaster) conference, regardless of the rank or program, is conducted according to the guidelines in the Troop Leader Guidebook, No. 33009 (volume 1). Note that a Scout must participate or take part in one; it is not a “test.” Requirements do not say he must “pass” a conference. While it makes sense to hold one after other requirements for a rank are met, it is not required that it be the last step before the board of review. This is an important consideration for Scouts on a tight schedule to meet requirements before age 18. Last-minute work can sometimes make it impossible to fit the conference in before then, so scheduling it earlier can avoid unnecessary extension requests.
The conference is not a retest of the requirements upon which a Scout has been signed off. It is a forum for discussing topics such as ambitions, life purpose, and goals for future achievement, for counseling, and also for obtaining feedback on the unit’s program. In some cases, work left to be completed—and perhaps why it has not been completed—may be discussed just as easily as that which is finished. Ultimately, conference timing is up to the unit. Some leaders hold more than one along the way, and the Scout must be allowed to count any of them toward the requirement.
Scoutmaster conferences are meant to be face-to-face, personal experiences. They relate not only to the Scouting method of advancement, but also to that of “association with adults” (see topic 184.108.40.206, “The Methods of Scouting“). Scoutmaster conferences should be held with a level of privacy acceptable under the BSA’s rules regarding Youth Protection. Parents and other Scouts within hearing range of the conversation may influence the Scout’s participation. For this reason, the conferences should not be held in an online setting.
Unit leaders do not have the authority to deny a Scout a conference that is necessary for him to meet the requirements for his rank. If a unit leader conference is denied, a Scout—if he believes he has fulfilled all the remaining requirements—may still request a board of review. See “Boards of Review Must Be Granted When Requirements Are Met,” 220.127.116.11. If an Eagle Scout candidate is denied a conference, it may become grounds for a board of review under disputed circumstances. See “Initiating Eagle Scout Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances,” 18.104.22.168.