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Are we really helping anyone?


Best Answer SSF , 17 April 2017 - 12:25 PM

Matt,

I think this is a great question you've asked and the story you shared is a great example of what scouting should be.

 

I think you touch on (as I see it) the very important issue of how far askew the BSA program has come from, what it was intended to be. . 

 

I'm envious of the fact that your troop has been devoid of any of the type of vindictiveness, pettiness, elitism, power tripping, egotism and rogue operations (I don't use any of these descriptions lightly) that I've experienced, as a scouter, or as a parent. 

 

It's always disheartening to me that when people come to this board seeking advice or recommendation about problems within their troop, the most common answer given is very often "find a new troop, this one will never change," but that's just like sweeping dirt under a rug; i.e. the real problem is never actually addressed and these troops continue to operate however they please...and the BSA (and their Charter Orgs) just let them do it.

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#21 RememberSchiff

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 02:12 PM

Well at least we are helping more than bsalegal.com

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Edited by RememberSchiff, 18 April 2017 - 02:15 PM.

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#22 MattR

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 05:13 PM

I marked @SSF's reply as the best, and an honorable mention to @The Latin Scot. Essentially, they are relatively new here and I'm more interested in what they have to say. For all of you that have 1000's of posts, asking you about this forum is like asking an alcoholic about the benefits of wine - no new information to be gained. :)

 

I'd certainly like to see more new people here. I really like scouts. I think it's more important to encourage people to join us than hash out every detail. It seems like there are not many people posting the majority of the posts. Furthermore, the bulk of the posts are off in the weeds. It doesn't seem that those posts are encouraging anyone to stick around.

 

@Sentinel947 started a good-news thread and while some of you mentioned that all the feel good stuff doesn't add anything, I think it does. Maybe different people respond differently but knowing scouting works is a lot more encouraging, especially to the newcomers, than knowing where all the problems are.

 

I agree that there are multiple ways to solve problems and rooting out those methods do a lot of good but it sure would be nice to see a bit more acceptance of other people's approaches. How about a FAQ that includes a section for any of the usual arguments?

 

However, it seems a lot of you are okay with the threads that go on and on. I won't get in your way.


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#23 Chadamus

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 06:01 PM

MattR, since you're interested in newer members' opinions, i'll share mine. After lurking a while, my first post included:

 

Discussions on uniforms brought me here. The discussions on topics I hadn't even considered have kept me here.

 

I found Scouter.com to be helpful before I officially joined. I still do. I read most everything posted, but as was stated earlier I gloss over some. For example, certain Cub topics don't interest me as much since my son crossed over. And while Col Flagg's thread tangent road sign could be used almost daily I often enjoy the alternate paths thru the woods that some topics take. It certainly does seem that the few are making the majority of the posts, but what bothers me are the one-and-done posters. Far too many, but that is the reality of forums I suppose. So to your question - how to get them to stick around? Service Stars!  Seriously, IDK. For me it's summed up so well by Barry: "I love this Scouting stuff." I'll continue to sponge it up as much as I can because I'm passionate about it. I don't have as much to contribute as some, but I've benefited from the thoughts of many. So yes, MattR. You are really helping people. 


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#24 blw2

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 07:57 AM

Yeah, I have often pondered this.

My gut tells me that there are just not all that many folks that are

a) hungry enough for scouting to sit back and "gossip" like this

b) and have the time to do it

c) and are "digitally inclined" to dally around in an online forum setting

 

I think there are a lot of energetic volunteers out there that are willing to put their hour a week in face to face with their scout and their unit, but they have a limit

 

Many don't go to round tables regularly, and this in my mind is sort of like a modern twist to the round table.

Some of these folks do attend round table, participate on district and council level stuff, etc... and put in much more than their hour a week.

And if you figure a few percent of those folks do go online.....and add to that a few percent of folks like me that no longer regularly attend traditional RT's but are still interested and energetic.... but this number gets split between several different online options...blogs, podcasts, etc...

    so maybe it's about all that can be expected?

 

It is surprising though.  Other forums on other hobby topics are much more active


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#25 RememberSchiff

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 08:59 AM

I will try hard not to take offense at being compared to an alcoholic. :mad:

 

Over the many years, I have learned much from this forum and unlike dialog with National, I have received response(s)! I would like more new members to join in the discussion. Unlike a regular Round Table, we are not able to elicit a response from those lurking in a topic.

 

Here's a brief list of some of my take-aways, in no particular order.

 

1. When being told a BSA policy, procedure, policy, ASK WHERE IS THAT WRITTEN! Not written, just an opinion. Note many members post corroborating links when they respond.

 

2. Learn to say NO. Balance your time, family is MOST important, Scouting is further down the list.

 

3. Most likely the only way to fix a problem with a scout unit is to transfer to another. Childhood years are short and will not come again.

3a. Not having fun, it is time to go.

 

4. It is okay to have second thoughts, even drop, program aspects that are not delivering locally - OA, FOS, JTE, WB,

 

5. It is becoming more common to take an activity "outside of scouting" as a unit family activity.

 

6. Not all Methods are equal.  Patrol Method. Patrol Method. Oh and Patrol Method.

 

7. The frustrating "Nod and Wink" (having it both ways) is everywhere. There are always exceptions/contradictions to BSA rules.

 

8. Transfer camp properties to a trust outside the reach of council.

 

9. Don't count on Council to support you in any confrontation with parents.

 

10. Don't count on BSA insurance (do you personally have a copy of the policy?), carry your own liability insurance.

 

11. Yes the Eagle Scout project is a scout activity. Yeah seemed obvious to me too.

 

12. Parents want their kids to carry their phone, deal with it. Remember the no-electronics discussion?

 

13. Sadly most CO's and Eagle Scouts are not involved in Scouting.

 

14. There has been much constructive criticism here regarding to all the changes in Medical form. (SS#, body fat, photo permission, carrying meds) and rank/award requirements. National just could not get it right.

 

15. There is much constructive criticism here regarding WB, NYLT, JLT,... Some members  have posted their old training materials! Thanks!

 

16. The merit badge program  appears broken at council level while some troops are handling the merit badge program rather well. Takeway, work on recruiting parents and setting up a program within troop. Recruiting talent outside of scouting is difficult at best.

 

16. Most scouting is local, i..e., most will not attend a HA center, Jamboree, or go on a distant trek.

 

Above is a partial list.

 

My $0.02,


Edited by RememberSchiff, 19 April 2017 - 09:00 AM.

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#26 Col. Flagg

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:03 AM

^^^^^^^^^^

Make a sticky.  ;)


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#27 blw2

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:15 AM

sidetrack I guess, but

what do you mean by #5?

 

#10 is interesting.  I don't recall reading about any issues there one way or the other.  We are not currently carrying any extra insurance.


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#28 RememberSchiff

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:30 AM

sidetrack I guess, but

what do you mean by #5?

 

#10 is interesting.  I don't recall reading about any issues there one way or the other.  We are not currently carrying any extra insurance.

 

 

#5. Activities not allowed or constrained by GSS. There have been discussions in the past about paint-ball, water guns,... In the past, some members have mentioned their unit holds those activities "outside of scouting" as a family activity.

 

#10. I was referring to your own personal liability insurance. As I recall, @Stosh was one who suggested this. Seemed like a good idea.


Edited by RememberSchiff, 19 April 2017 - 05:18 PM.

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#29 Col. Flagg

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:31 AM

sidetrack I guess, but

what do you mean by #5?

 

#10 is interesting.  I don't recall reading about any issues there one way or the other.  We are not currently carrying any extra insurance.

 

#5: BSA restricts too much. Laser tag, 3d target shoots, water pistols, water balloons, paint ball, etc. I tell my patrols and crew that if they want to do these things, have a group activity, ditch the unit shirts and enjoy yourselves.

 

#10: BSA insurance covers very little. You need PERSONAL liability insurance. Even the RSO insurance you get from firearms and archery training does not cover what it should. I write the cost of my additional personal insurance off as an expense. The annual cost for $1m coverage is pennies compared to what would happen if I got sued for some kid running in to an archery range I am running DESPITE following all the protocols to keep him out.


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#30 CalicoPenn

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 01:30 PM

#5: BSA restricts too much. Laser tag, 3d target shoots, water pistols, water balloons, paint ball, etc. I tell my patrols and crew that if they want to do these things, have a group activity, ditch the unit shirts and enjoy yourselves.

 

 

 

From the Boy Scouts of America Website:

 

Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized. This prohibition includes archery tag. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag, or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations. Units may participate in formally organized historical reenactment events, where firearms are used and intentionally aimed over the heads of the reenactment participants. The use of paintball guns, laser guns, or similar devices may be utilized in target shooting events following the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety.

 

 

There is a very specific list of restricted activities in the guide to safe scouting.  The above happens to be one of those paragraphs in that list.  No where does it say that National is restricting or banning water balloons.  Councils may do so but that's a Council rule - and you'll need to take it up with them on why they've decided to do so.  Very often, people come away from training for something like Day Camp Program where it will be suggested that instead of using water balloons, use sponges for water fights - the sponges are re-usable (and therefore thriftier), more environmentally sound (and therefore cleaner) and if you get the right kind of sponge, can be used more than one time in one load of water and when these folks come back, they pronounce it as if it's some kind of restriction or against policy.  Of course, you can come in to this forum and get the real scoop from us oldies with more than a thousand posts if you care to.

 

There is, however, restrictions regarding laser tag, water pistols, paintball, etc.  It's actually a very simple restriction - you can't point at or shoot at people or depictions of people (manikins, people shaped targets, etc.).  You can still do target shooting - you just can't have people as your target.  For some reason, there are people who just can't seem to grasp that the BSA does this for perfectly valid reasons.  First, doing so goes against everything they teach about rifle, shotgun and archery safety.  Rule #1 in all cases?  Never aim your weapon at someone.  Ever.  The BSA teaches TARGET shooting as a sport.  You don't see Olympic athletes shooting at targets of people during competition, do you?   Second - the BSA is NOT a martial organization.  We have cool uniforms (or maybe not so cool) and all kinds of bling on them, kind of like the military, but we are NOT the military.  Want to shoot at depictions of people?  Join the Army, the Marines - let THEM teach you about shooting at other people.  Beyond that one restriction on paintball or laser tag, you're free to have a Troop outing to use paintball guns to shoot at targets all you want.  

 

There is not one restriction or ban by National that takes away from the fun of Scouting.  What takes away from the fun of Scouting is the lack of imagination of people who look at that list and jump right to the conclusion that they can't do anything.  If you're one of those people, it isn't National that is the problem, its you.  There are hundreds of things out there for Scouts to do - more than a Scout will be able to get to in a Scouting career.  When's the last time your Scouts played horseshoes?  I'm gonna hazard a guess and say never.  Go Bowling.  Go Canoeing.  Folks are always complaining their Eagle Scouts can't tie knots - so go do something that requires the use of knots.  Go do some orienteering.  Get together with a local nature center and go on a night hike looking for owls.  There are generations of Scouts who never had these activities available to them in the first place and yet may have had a lot more fun in Scouting than Scouts do today. 

 

 

Also - on this:

 

#10: BSA insurance covers very little. You need PERSONAL liability insurance. Even the RSO insurance you get from firearms and archery training does not cover what it should. I write the cost of my additional personal insurance off as an expense. The annual cost for $1m coverage is pennies compared to what would happen if I got sued for some kid running in to an archery range I am running DESPITE following all the protocols to keep him out.

 

This is a great idea - but do check you policy documents carefully - both your Personal liability insurance and/or your Unit's liability insurance.  You know all those restrictions?  I've said this before but it bears repeating - it is incidental that these restrictions protect the Scouts - they are really there to protect the corporation known as the BSA.  In a lawsuit or an insurance settlement discussion, the BSA can point to that restriction on having paintball battles between Patrols to reduce or even eliminate their liability.  Just having that policy there and readily available is often enough to shift the liability down to you.  So you have this nice, shiny liability policy of your own.  That's great if there is an incident and you've been following the rules.  But if you don't follow the rules?  If the BSA's insurance company can point to that rule and say your broke it so therefore they aren't paying, your own insurance company can do the same.  Its very possible that your own insurance company has a clause in your policy that states that they don't have to pay if you weren't following the rules.


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#31 Col. Flagg

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 02:08 PM

No where does it say that National is restricting or banning water balloons.

 
The BSA website does not say it, but their official shooting sports manual does. Check here. They are prescriptive about how big the water balloons are and how they can be used. That's prohibiting using them for any other purpose (throwing at each other) as well as the size.
 


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#32 NJCubScouter

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:08 PM

If only there was a moderator function that could enforce such an idea. ;)

 

Be careful what you wish for...


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#33 CalicoPenn

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 06:36 PM

Col. Flagg....Did you actually read through the shooting sports manual or are you just using what some "reporter" for Newsmax quoted out of context (which is something Newsmax does often - take a real quote and turn it in to fake news to outrage their readers)....Had you looked for that quote about water balloons.....(Quoted here for everyone else to see..Further, the manual states, "For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball.")....you would have learned that this refers to using water balloons as ammunition for sling shots and wrist rockets - NOT as a rule on water balloons for water balloon fights. In addition, it's less a rule than a best practice - a water balloon filled any much larger than a ping pog ball isn;t going to work very well with a slingshot and will be far less satisfactory when it hits the target.
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#34 Back Pack

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 08:02 PM

What about the use of squirt guns?
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#35 Col. Flagg

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 08:17 AM

Col. Flagg....Did you actually read through the shooting sports manual or are you just using what some "reporter" for Newsmax quoted out of context (which is something Newsmax does often - take a real quote and turn it in to fake news to outrage their readers)....Had you looked for that quote about water balloons.....(Quoted here for everyone else to see..Further, the manual states, "For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball.")....you would have learned that this refers to using water balloons as ammunition for sling shots and wrist rockets - NOT as a rule on water balloons for water balloon fights. In addition, it's less a rule than a best practice - a water balloon filled any much larger than a ping pog ball isn;t going to work very well with a slingshot and will be far less satisfactory when it hits the target.

 

You cannot throw or shoot anything at anyone, correct? Can you use giant balloons are targets? Sure. Can you throw a water balloon of ANY size at another person? No. So how are balloons not at least partially banned?

 

Same with squirt guns or even those water tubes. Shooting anything (even water) at anyone is forbidden...and that's stupid. No one in their right mind, except an lawyer, would think there's a relationship between a Scout using a SuperSoaker to spray his friend and the mis-use of a firearm.


Edited by Col. Flagg, 20 April 2017 - 08:19 AM.

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#36 CalicoPenn

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 08:35 AM

Who told you that you can't toss water balloons or water filled sponges at people?  Can you find one policy by National that forbids this because I certainly can't and I've looked and looked and looked.

 

In fact, I want to thank you for helping to prove up my statement that people go to training (or in this case read something) then go ahead and claim that something they've heard or read is policy and that some things are banned (when they aren't).  The BSA does not ban water balloon fights.  The mention of water balloons in the shooting sports manual is only about using them as ammunition for slingshots.  Extrapolating that to mean that there is some kind of restriction on the size of water balloons for water balloon fights is all you - not National - just you.  You have come to that conclusion and have become one of those people who claim something is a national policy when it isn't. 

 

You've also helped show just why this forum is needed - there is so much not quite right information out there that this forum can help correct.

 

As for water guns, rubber band guns, etc. - if it looks like a gun - even if it looks like a funky space gun and obviously is meant to be a gun, then no, you can't use them.  And no, it doesn't take a lawyer to understand that even pointing fake guns at people in the BSA goes against everything the BSA teaches about gun safety. 


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#37 Col. Flagg

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 09:12 AM

Who told you that you can't toss water balloons or water filled sponges at people?  Can you find one policy by National that forbids this because I certainly can't and I've looked and looked and looked.


At our end of summer district RT we heard reports from the various troops about their trips to summer camps (mostly out of council). Many of the troops reported being told they could not use squirt guns, water balloons, etc. *if* they were going to shoot or throw them at people. The doc they quoted? They very doc we are discussing. This is not just one camp, or two camps, or three camps. This was MANY camps across MANY different councils across MANY different regions.

 

In fact, two troops reported being threatened with not being able to go on their trek at Seabase because they were using "water noodles" to shoot water at each other.

 

So you can mince the words in the doc any way you want, but MANY other people are interpreting this as prohibitions.

 

But let's leave that alone for a moment and get back on the other issue, the ability to cool stuff outside of BSA that BSA forbids. Playing laser tag, paint ball, shooting 3D targets, etc., are fun and boys should be allowed to play them. The reasoning for barring such fun is specious at best.


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#38 qwazse

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 10:28 AM

What about the use of squirt guns?

We don't use squirt guns/super-soakers, etc., we only use mobile heat-stroke care delivery devices.

Our victims simulate desperately needing core temperature reduction while so delirious they evade rescue.

:cool:


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#39 CalicoPenn

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 04:17 PM

At our end of summer district RT we heard reports from the various troops about their trips to summer camps (mostly out of council). Many of the troops reported being told they could not use squirt guns, water balloons, etc. *if* they were going to shoot or throw them at people. The doc they quoted? They very doc we are discussing. This is not just one camp, or two camps, or three camps. This was MANY camps across MANY different councils across MANY different regions.

 

In fact, two troops reported being threatened with not being able to go on their trek at Seabase because they were using "water noodles" to shoot water at each other.

 

So you can mince the words in the doc any way you want, but MANY other people are interpreting this as prohibitions.

 

But let's leave that alone for a moment and get back on the other issue, the ability to cool stuff outside of BSA that BSA forbids. Playing laser tag, paint ball, shooting 3D targets, etc., are fun and boys should be allowed to play them. The reasoning for barring such fun is specious at best.

 

 

Yes - that document does say you can't use squirt guns to shoot water at other people - it's always been quite clear - it's a simulated gun - and the BSA teaches never to point a gun OF ANY KIND at other people. 

 

It does NOT say anything about throwing water balloons at people - that's a misinterpretation and its not surprising that it might be repeated at any number of summer camps - The last time I went to National Camp School, the instructors were volunteers - not professionals (there would be one professional there, and lets face it, they're a bit clueless themselves when it comes to policy).  Once something like this gets repeated over and over and over it becomes a monster all of its own and no amount of looking at the actual wording of official documents will change people minds.  You will not find any official policy of the BSA banning water balloon fights because it's tossing things at people.  The Cub Scout program still suggests that day camps and packs and dens use sponges for summer time water fights - and that's tossing something.

 

But yes, lets leave all that alone for a minute and get to the other point - that the BSA is banning "fun things" like laser tag and paint ball.  They aren't telling anyone that Boy Scouts can't do any of this outside of Scouting.  Heck, if a Troop wants to get together and go paintballing or laser tagging together, that's just fine - AS LONG AS YOU DON'T CALL IT A SCOUTING ACTIVITY!.  I'll repeat it again - that rule isn't to protect your boys, or you - it is to protect the Corporation known as the Boy Scout of America.  If someone gets hurt playing Paintball, they can point to their rule and deflect all liability down to you in case someone decides to sue.  That's what this is all about.

 

Here's the main point though - the BSA has all kinds of books out there loaded with 100's of fun activities that you can do as Boy Scouts - anyone that just can't imagine running a fun program without those very few items that the BSA doesn't recognize as appropriate for Scouting may need to rethink their ability to lead a unit.


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#40 RememberSchiff

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 05:13 PM

Within safe limits and grounded safety instruction, we try to do activities that our scouts consider fun. If the BSA does not agree, due to liability or lack of confidence in us or whatever, it becomes a family activity with parent approval and participation. We were/are all parents before we were/are unit leaders.

 

All of our unit shooting sports activities with exception of summer camp are outside of scouting. 

 

We have also driven go-carts outside of scouting.  Snowmobiles, ATV's no.

 

In Cubs, we held a workshop with some bench power tools for Pinewood Derby. It was a family activity. For some dads and sons, it was the first time that either used  a band saw.

 

Hunting was another "family activity".  3D targets for practice and live, of course, for hunting.

 

Another $0.02,


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