Friday, August 26, 2011

Scoutmaster Conference Ideas

The Scoutmaster Conference is a vital component of advancement and adult association. Through these informal interviews, a boy is able to talk candidly about things that he might not otherwise talk to anyone about. One of the keys is to avoid asking yes/no questions, and instead use open-ended questions that foster thoughtful responses. In addition to questions that assess his mastery of advancement requirements, using questions such as those listed below can help a Scoutmaster get to know his Scouts better:

  • What's your favorite book? Why do you like it?
  • What position do you play in (sport)? Why did you choose that? Why was it chosen for you?
  • Who is your favorite athlete, performer, musician, etc. and why?
  • How has Scouting benefited you and your family?
  • What do you (or don't you) like about school? about Church? about _________?
  • Why are you in Scouting? What do you hope to accomplish?
  • What are you doing to accomplish that?
  • What have you enjoyed most about Scouts? Least?
  • What would you do to make it better? How would you carry that out?
  • Let's set some goals for the next 3, 6 months, or whatever period of time.
  • Tell me about a time you were Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful...

The answers to these questions, or others like them, will naturally lead to more questions.  Be prepared to be surprised at what he has to say.  Most importantly, ask the question, and sit back to let him answer it.  It will probably take some time, as he's probably never fielded open-ended questions like this. But let him do most of the talking.  Listen actively.  Congratulate and don't condemn; just be a friend. 

Remember to always conduct every SMC in private, but in full view of others to comply with YPT principles.

I used this technique the other day in an over-ice-cream interview with my 8YO daughter.  We had a good talk, and I learned a few things about her I didn't know before.

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