This is interesting; that is a lot of conferences.
I have a completely different perspective about MBs, so I'm curious what you discuss with the scouts before and after they complete the requirements.
I used MBs as a tool for scouts to practice making independent decisions and working independently with other adults without Scoutmaster oversight. Of course I work with new scouts to insure they understand the process of finding counselors, communicating with them and filling out the paperwork properly. But they pretty much have that down after two or three badges. After that, I'm pretty much out-of-sight out-of m-mind. I personally think the Scoutmaster signature shouldn't be required after a scout completes the requirements because why should Scoutmasters care?
I'm not saying my approach is better, just different. So I'm curious to learn what you discuss with the scouts before and after they complete the requirements. Especially the more experienced older scouts.
With the younger scouts the pre-SMC deal with expectations on the difficulty involved with the MB. Having a ton of half done MB's is not something that is effectively providing the right program for the boys. It's kind of like not wanting to set the boy up for failure. Sending a new boy off thinking he's going to walk away with the camping MB or Fitness MB at camp isn't going to be a reality for him. Better to build up the requirements before hand and then take it when the goal is at least on the horizon.
With the younger scouts the post-SMC deal with their evaluation of the material, the MB counselor and whether or not they thought it was a worthwhile effort to have learned. If there's a kit that went with the MB, then I will do a bit of "ooooh" and "aaaah" over the results of his work. It's always interesting to see what they did. I don't want to have the boy just chuck it away in a box somewhere.
With the older boys the pre-SMC deals more with expectations more in line with his skill and maturity level. Fingerprinting, Art, Music, Basketry, Indian Lore, and such just to get an Palm award might involve a little bit more discussion than Welding, Auto Repair, etc. where the boy is genuinely seeking further knowledge in his Scouting career.
With the older boys the post-SMC deals a lot with the evaluation and worth of the MB. I use the comments from the boys to better pre-SMC with other scouts if a MB they want to take has a history of "no good" with a certain counselor or camp program. I also encourage the boy if it was a really good experience to talk it up with the other scouts and encourage them to pursue it as well.
My SMC's are just as important to me as it is for the boys. I learn a lot about the different summer camp MB programs from the boys and if the MB's suck, but the shooting sports were fantastic, then I mark it up in my mental database for the next boys coming up in rank. This allows me to keep a pulse on the MB programs at council and camps.