We have done it both ways, usually at the end but not always. True-fully it’s very seldom a formal thing. The only thing I add to a conference other then a discussion with a scout about his work on rank requirements is are there any concerns he/she wants to bring up.
Recently our troop was lagging pretty hard in advancement. We scheduled all 15 scouts for an SM conference in the month of April, regardless of where we thought they were in completion of their rank requirements. Our SM and ASM did this as a team, and each scout got about It 20-30 minutes of good conversation about their advancement progress, goals, etc. It turned out to be a very productive exercise, as there were several scouts who had completed a hefty number of requirements but had not gotten them recorded. As a result in May we awarded two Tenderfoot, two Second Class, two First Class, and one Life badge at our court of honor. A week after the court, we held boards for two more scouts who recognized they were falling behind and finally got that “last” requirement done, so we’ve already got a Tenderfoot and a First Class teed up for the next court.
I think the key is asking what is the purpose of a SM conference. It’s a time for a SM to assess the progress of the scout and to offer assistance and advice for moving forward. But within that is the opportunity for a scout to seek out those needs because he is in need. If a scout is having a problem/difficulty in completing a rank, what good is it to wait until he fails before he would theoretically be qualified for a conference. A scout should be able to (within reason) have a SM conference when ever he needs one; and absent a lack of need from the scout he should still have one before the next rank so that the SM can offer guidance on the future. Every week I have a recurring 1 hour meeting with my boss whether I have nothing to update her on or if I need and hour and tell her I’m scheduling additional time because of complexities I need her assistance/advice on. If you make a SM conference required for the last thing done you are removing the point of it’s purpose - especially for older scouts. Imagine a 1st Class scout leaves his SM conference and 3 weeks later (working on Star) need some dedicated time with the SM to discuss concerns he has with something needed to complete his rank. A SM conference may be exactly what he needs. Does he need another one when he’s done with all of the other Star requirements? Why didn’t the other one accomplish the task? While a final SM conference at the end may be beneficial, it’s really no longer a requirement as the scout GOT WHAT HE NEEDED 3 weeks into the rank.
I believe this was your basic question at the end of the day.
“Is making everything be signed off on before granting an SM conference adding to the listed requirement?”
Of course the Scout can ask for their conference at any point during getting that rank. To your question though, no by the SM asking the Scout to see them after all other requirements are complete is not adding any new requirement. Like others have already shared it is a SM’s way of double checking the Scout has everything else completed prior to requesting their BOR. This is also a great time for the SM to get feedback from the Scout about how their experience was in the Troop obtaining the requirements.
Were I back in an Assistant Scoutmaster role, if a Scout wanted to sit down and talk with me, I would always find a way to make that happen. I would never want to discourage that interaction.
I don’t know any Scoutmasters/ASMs that would discourage it. But, I think there’s a little difference between “sitting down and talking informally with a scout” and “having a scoutmaster conference”.
Some of us don’t make the distinction. We have as many SMCs as the scout needs to make it to the next rank.