Scouting Forums

Scoutmaster conference question

I recently had a discussion with someone on this topic and wanted to get other’s opinions.

Should the Scoutmaster giver her own girls a Scoutmaster Conference? The ASM’s have signed off on all their requirements for the rank and the only thing the Scoutmaster is completing for rank is the Scoutmaster Conference. According to BSA, it seems that the Scoutmaster can, but the question is whether the Scoutmaster should. Thoughts?

There is no issue with giving your own Scout a SMC - Just like a SM can attend their own Scouts EBOR as that is the SMs Role.

What Donovan said. Our SM generally has someone else give his boys at least one SMC at each rank, in case there are things they might want to share about the program that they’d rather not tell him directly. The scouts also have an opportunity for feedback at the BoR, via the committee.

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That is good to hear. I was berated this weekend at an IOLS training because it came up that I did Scoutmaster conferences for my own girls even though SM Conferences are NOT pass/fail and the ASM’s tested them on their rank requirements and signed off on them. He said it was an ethical problem and that this will bite me in the butt later on because others will feel like my girls had an advantage over other girls. How in the world could that be an advantage when the SM Conference is not pass/fail? I politely disagreed and was yelled at for it. Worst IOLS training ever.

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LOL - most SM kids have it worse than the other scouts not better - they deserve a medal


sigh Gotta love folks who think their way is the only way, then try to impose it on everyone else. I could see an argument that, if you were reviewing her advancement, there might be some sort of advantage… assuming you aren’t as prone as many SM/ASMs to making your daughter work harder for the sign-off than the other scouts.

As @DonovanMcNeil pointed out, our SM/ASMs’ kids would be thrilled to be “just a regular scout” and not be the guinea pig for every harebrained scheme we come up with. My son would happily trade off being the ASM’s kid for an extra bag of rocks to carry in his backpack. He also had the misfortune of becoming Navigation instructor several election cycles back, which also made me his advisor. I’m sure that’s been a thrill ride for him. “Hey, Josh I had this thought about how you guys could incorporate more map-and-compass skills on your hikes…” :laughing:


I ask an ASM to do the SM Conference for my daughter, not because I can’t, but because I want her to be comfortable speaking to other adults. I view the SM Conference as good practice for job interviews in the future.


That is what I think the Board of Review if for.


There is no ethical issue as it is supposed to just be a conversation between the scout and scoutmaster. You cannot fail the conference, and you really shouldn’t be using it to test the scout on skills, unless that was leading to some larger point in the discussion. Many people do find it hard to coach their own child. The scout might get a little more out of the conversation if a different leader held the conference. The parent-leader can always follow up at home, giving the scout the best of both worlds.

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The only “advantage” I can see is that your daughters would have more opportunities (time) in which they could have a SM conference, because they live with you. If this is a concern, then there is an easy solution: you could decide to only hold SM conferences at Scouting activities / events. Then your daughters would have the same amount of time opportunities with you as the other Scouts in the troop. Personally, I don’t see it as a big deal, though, because the only requirement is to participate in a SM conference. Like you said, they are not pass / fail.

I hear a lot about the BoR being like a job interview – even in my own unit – but, to be honest, no job interview I ever had was anything like my various Boards of Review. The only similarity was that, for my Eagle BoR, I was talking to a bunch of folks I’d never met before. Otherwise, I was talking to various members of the troop committee, and I knew most of them from various interactions in the troop context. They were pretty genial, and weren’t trying to figure out whether or not I was worth the investment of hundreds of hours of training. :wink:

Most job interviews I’ve had weren’t really like an SMC, either. Our SMCs when I was a youth were far more conversational, and might have been more like a performance review (e.g. “What are your goals for the next quarter?”) than an interview.

I have far more informal conversations with the junior engineers in my office than formal ones. I think that becoming comfortable with having an informal conversation with senior people (whether older, or just with more experience in the field) where you’re sharing your concerns, asking for/offering advice, or suggesting alternatives/improvements is a really important skill. I try to make it clear that the scouts (or our junior engineers, as the case may be) can always come to me with a concern, even if it’s a concern about something I did, because that’s part of the way that we improve as a team. That is very much the way I see (and try to implement) the scoutmaster conferences that I provide.

I will only hold SM Conferences at scouting events and only in uniform.

Then I see no advantage / disadvantage to the Scout being your own daughter. Some Scoutmasters prefer to have someone else do the SM conference for their own son / daughter, but this is because the Scout might be more open and willing to have a discussion with someone other than their own parent. But this is a preference, not an ethical issue.

You think the SM/ASM kids have it tough? Pity the Popcorn Kernel’s kids…

All kids want to spend 8 hours every weekend filling in the open storefront shifts, and counting, recounting, and RECOUNTING the popcorn…


Whether we like it or not, most kids will consider advice from an adult that they respect that is not their parent more carefully than they will advice from their parents. Should anything negative on the towards Scout need to be discussed it won’t just be a parent harping on them again if it is another adult. So while it isn’t wrong to do a SM conference for your own child, I feel it is best not to.

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The Guide to Advancement states “Unit leaders and assistants shall not serve on a board of
review for a Scout in their own unit.”

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This is true, but Guide to Advancement section Conducting the Board of Review also says that unit leaders may attend and observe boards of review. However, parents, relatives, or guardians should not be in attendance (even if they are also the Scout’s unit leader).

Correct. So if the SM is the parent, he/she cannot attend the BoR.

That is what I consider the Board of Review for.

I guess I missed that in GTA when I had to look it up a few years ago