Google the title of this post and you’ll find some pretty elaborate plans and opinions for the Eagle Scoutmaster conference. Some of them leave me thinking I should don a wizard’s robes and start boiling up some eye of newt because I am about to do something magical and mysterious.
There’s nothing magical or mysterious about it – it’s another (if more momentous) Scoutmaster conference.
The Scout I will speak to tonight has completed all his requirements and is four days away from his eighteenth birthday. He called a moment ago to tell me he’s ready. It’s early July and we have pretty informal meetings at the local park (informal meaning that we get together and play ultimate Frisbee for an hour and a half).
He and I will sit at a picnic table, neither of us will be in uniform and I’ll sign things while we chat. No magic robes, or top hats or brass bands – just talking to one of my Scouts. Other Scoutmasters do this more formally and that’s fine by me. I have never really conducted lengthy, outlined Scoutmaster conferences. I suppose the longest ones I have are with Scouts reaching Life rank because we talk about the way to Eagle.
There’s not a whole lot I don’t already know about this young man or what he is up to for the past seven years since he joined our Troop. He’s been a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster for a year or so; a very capable, helpful one so there’s not a lot of mystery there – we work together every week. He’ll be in charge of my crew when we go canoeing in Canada next month, he was in my crew the last time we went to Canada, and he led our trip to Switzerland last summer.
Naturally I am pleased that he has finished up his stuff for Eagle, but I am far more proud of the man he has become. A caring, compassionate and decent person; someone who the world can count on. I will make sure he knows that and understands the respect I have for him. Our conference will probably be brief – maybe ten minutes or so – but it’s only a small part of a conversation that’s been going on for seven years and will keep going on.
James Howgate says
Couldn’t agree more. I spend time talking about leadership and how whether they like it or not they are viewed differently as an Eagle which can actually be a burden at times. I often let the Scout drive the conversation.
Frank Maynard says
This is how it should work. If the Scoutmaster has been keeping in touch with the Scout all through his time in the troop (especially if he’s been in key leadership roles), there isn’t much to talk about! Mainly to make sure the requirements are met, well-wishes and preparation for his board of review.
The Eagle board of review goes into the details of the Eagle project and reviews the Scout’s career, usually before at least one adult he hasn’t met before. While the Eagle board of review shouldn’t be made unnecessarily burdensome, it should still be thorough.
We are all after the same outcome: building strong adults by imparting the values of Scouting.
Larry Geiger says
10 minutes. Hee hee. I really don’t think that you really know how long you take sometimes 🙂 It’s hard to believe. I always sit around and chat with guys like that for at least 30 minutes. We talk about the good times, the hikes, the canoe trips, where he is headed next, etc.
As SM I usually haven’t spent much time with older guys since they were SPL. It’s always good to sit down with 16 and 17 year old Scouts and hear them talk about the Troop. There is so much business to go through at the Life SMC, trying to get them prepared for what is ahead, that sometimes I haven’t just chatted with them. I guess that Eagle SMC is where I sort of catch up again.
With older Eagle Scouts (16 – 17 yr olds) I usually know their family pretty well also, so there is plenty to talk about. So, we often chat for 45 minutes or an hour, sometimes a little shorter. It’s always fun.
There is a kind of satisfaction that a young man has when he gets to the Eagle SMC. He knows that he has his board ahead, but the project and basically all of the paper work is done. He knows the SM is happy about where he is. He was probably SPL at one time and we worked together pretty close then.
I know that the SMC this evening is probably a bigger deal for you than for the Scout. He won’t know that tonight, and he may never realize it. But maybe, someday, he will be sitting across from a 17 year old Scout and think back to tonight. He might then realize a little bit of what is going on inside you and how much it took to get him to this moment. Have fun.