When a scout has completed all of the requirements for a rank, he can schedule a Scoutmaster Conference.
Rob/Alec: How do they schedule? (email or just walk up?) Either works... especially for the lower ranks.
Rob/Alec: What does it entail/why is it necessary?
Most of the requirements needed to reach first class can be tested and signed off by scouts who are at least first class. A scoutmaster conference has several parts:
Congratulations... for learning and growing. Discussion of recent trips, relationships, leadership lessons along the way
Leadership and Ethics... the scout will be asked to reflect on leadership and how he is learning to live by the Oath, the Law, etc.
Skills Mastery... the scout will be asked to demonstrate knots, first aid, map and compass... any of the skills he learned will working toward the rank.
If a scout is unable to demonstrate skills, or lacks the required knowledge of the Oath or Law the SMC will be extended to another meeting time. A scout never "fails" an SMC... but rather is given the opportunity to take the time to relearn before continuing with the conference.