I was the Scoutmaster for our troop for three years and left for an overseas assignment two years ago. I’m back now, and have discovered that while I was gone the man who replaced me as Scoutmaster did very little to sustain the troop as a Scout-run operation. Since I’ve returned and am now back as Assistant Scoutmaster, I’ve recruited a new committee chair and three new committee members, who have helped taken this troop from having devolved into an adult-led “one-man band” operation back to being a troop with effective and involved youth leaders, and delegated responsibilities once again. One of the results of this turn-around was the resignation of the Scoutmaster. Our Chartered Organization Representative has asked me if I’d consider being Scoutmaster again, and apparently the troop parents support this, along with the troop’s Committee Chair (He’d better—I recruited him!<just kidding>). So, here’s my question: At our next monthly committee meeting, can the committee vote for a new Scoutmaster if it’s not on the written agenda, or should it be discussed and tabled, so that it can be published in advance and then voted on at the following month’s committee meeting? I’m asking because I’m looking to resolve this as simply as possible, so that the troop can continue making progress and so this doesn’t become a distraction for the committee or the troop at large. (Lowell Phillips)
It’s not done by vote! If the Chartered Organization Representative and the Committee Chair agree that you’re the man for the job, and you agree to take it, it’s a done deal. This is described in the Troop Committee Guidebook, and other BSA literature as well, in case your CR and CC don’t know or aren’t sure (in other words, this isn’t my “opinion”—it’s the BSA way). So, when the CR and CC ask you, just say yes and shake hands on it. Best wishes!
That said, you now know the second-most important thing a newly recruited volunteer must do: Upon accepting the position, immediately begin the search for your replacement and, finding that person, recruit and begin training him or her as soon as possible.
Can you please clarify requirement 9a of Camping merit badge? For the 20 days and 20 nights requirement, can a Scout use two summer camps (total of 10 days and nights), and the rest with over-night camp-outs, or is a Scout allowed to use only one long-term camp, and the rest of the nights with single or double over-night camping trips? (Name & Council Withheld)
Ah, you must be a new reader! If you were a long-time reader, you’d know that this is the single-most frequent question I’m asked, in the past 11 years of writing these columns! Welcome aboard! I hope you continue to read (and maybe read some back-issues along the way).
The Scout can use a maximum of seven summer camp days/nights. So, of this Scout’s ten days/nights over whatever number of years, up to seven of these can count toward this requirement. But do also keep in mind that, for this merit badge, those summer camp days/nights are in no way “mandatory.” If a Boy Scout camps all 20 days and nights in a tent he’s pitched or under the sky, at a designated Scouting event or activity, these certainly count, and the requirement’s considered done!
We have a new Tiger Cub in our pack who comes to meetings wearing belt loops, pins, and patches that he hasn’t earned and we haven’t presented to him. When they were questioned by this boy’s Den Leader, the parents said that they went to the Scout shop and just bought them. At first, we thought maybe they didn’t understand the whole process of completing achievements, reporting this to the Den Leader, and then receiving the corresponding badges and so forth at pack meetings, in front of the other boys in the den and pack, but that’s not the case. The parents actually told us that they bought this stuff so that their son could “wear Scout bling.” We’ve tried to explain the idea behind the Cub Scout advancement plan and program, and how they’reactually denying their son the experience andthe opportunity of trying new things and gaining new skills and the sense of real accomplishment, and that he’ll have nothing to work toward or look forward toas long asthey continue to do this, but all they seem to be concerned about is that their son wanted this stuff, so they bought it for him and after all there’s nothing in black and white that says they can’t just buy this stuff and that he can’t wear them if he wants to, so there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do!
Technically, I guess they’re correct. We called our council service center, and they said they don’t believe there’s any guideline preventing these people from buying whatever they want to. The council people told us that the only thing we could try to enforce is “Class “A” uniform guidelines when making public appearances or special events like a Blue & Gold Banquet.
Now, this has become an issue with other parents, who are wondering why we’re permitting this, for this one boy, and I’m at a loss as to what to do on my end, andthe Den Leaders are concerned that this isn’t fair to the other Cubs who are doing it the right way. Any help or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. (Name Withheld in Circle 10 Council)
This is, of course, pure nonsense. Each of those items of course has requirements and it’s a given that a boy is supposed to complete the requirements before receiving or wearing advancement emblems. And it is indeed in writing: These misguided and belligerent people need to read the parents’ guide in their son’s handbook. But of course this is about the last thing they’re going to do. As for being able to buy this stuff with impunity, this is actually irrelevant.
(Although we’d like to believe that the Scout shop folks might actually intercede, and maybe ask a few questions, like, “Say, that’s quite a batch! Where did you earn all those, son? Oh? You didn’t earn them, you just like how they look so you want to wear them? Uh, Mom and Dad, there’s a book over there that explains what these are and tells how your son earns these by showing up at den activities, not by just buying them and wearing them like trinkets or like he’s “accessorizing.” This would be more than nice, but we need to remember that even though these folks may be registered members of the BSA, functionally, they’re store clerks. Thus, while it would be nice, we just can’t expect them to know the in’s and out’s of the Scouting programs, from head to toe. So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and simply thank them for being helpful.)
Coming back around, you can make a stink about this, or chastise the parents, or “bust” the Tiger, but this isn’t the Scouting way. The Scouting way is: Learn by making non-lethal mistakes and then making better decisions, next time. So, leave these ignorant, misguided people, and their son, alone. They’ll learn soon enough that they’ve made their boy into a laughing stock… If it doesn’t catch up to them this year, just wait a little while. As to other parents who don’t get it either, and want “bling” for their sons, just tell ’em they can go do as they please and they’ll be embarrassing their sons in front of their peers, so let’s not get silly here. And please don’t think that it’s you who are somehow “damaging” boys in this sort of situation: It’s clearly his parents, and the fundamental rule in Scouting scenarios like this is: WE CAN’T SAVE BOYS FROM THEIR OWN PARENTS.
So don’t be “the belt loop lawman” or “the patch police”—let ’em go make jerks of themselves, all by themselves.
Bottom line: There’s no cure for stupid.
It’s an awkward situation. My son’s Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project concept has been approved by his Scoutmaster and members of the troop committee, but the Committee Chair refuses to sign the workbook because, in his opinion, the project, as described, doesn’t meet the standards for an Eagle Scout. Can a Committee Chair actually refuse to sign off on something like this because, in his opinion, the Scout (a) didn’t include enough information about the project and (b) developed a project that’s not of sufficient worth to qualify as an Eagle project, when all other adult leaders in the troop, as well as the recipient organization, consider it just fine? If the CC continues to refuse to sign, is there an appeal process available? My son has been working on the writing phase of this project for almost two years now, correcting and adjusting the 75 (by actual count) errors and omissions that this Chair has identified and demanded re-work on, and it would seem a shame for my son to have to start over yet again. (Name Withheld in Sam Houston Area Council)
Your son and his adult advocate (e.g., Eagle adviser, if the troop has such a person or people) need to refer to page 9 of his Project Workbook (BSA No.512-297—2009 Printing), where it lists the four specific signatures required in order for the Scout to begin the work: (1) Representative of the recipient organization, (2) Scoutmaster, (3) Unit Committee member, and (4) Council or district advancement committee member. Here’s the deal: There is no mandate whatsoever that the Chair’s signature is needed. Nor is it needed on page 16, when the work is completed. There, only two are needed: (1) The recipient of the service and (2) the Scoutmaster. That’s it.
So, if everyone else is on board, then it’s time to get the council or district advancement committee signature, so that this properly ambitious young man can get underway!
Now another bit of an observation that can help future Life Scouts on their way to Eagle… There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that should take two years for a project write-up, unless the Scout has been hospitalized and unable to write, speak, or otherwise communicate for 102 continuous weeks. Two years for a write-up is 23-1/2 months too long! Please figure out what’s the road-block here and fix it!
Parent of a Cub Scout—a Webelos I—wants to know if it’s OK for the boy to go back and earn his Wolf and Bearbadges, even though these were two and one years and grades ago. Seems the boy joined the pack later on, and so now he’s bummed that his younger brother, who started at the beginning of the program, camehomefrom our Blue & Gold dinner with his Wolf badge. Made him realize he’s the only boy in his Webelos den who doesn’t have the Wolf and Bear badges. (Al Edelman, Cradle of Liberty Council, PA)
No, this isn’t appropriate. In Cub Scouts, as you’ll recall from your training and from reading the Cub Scout Leader Book, the ranks of Cub Scouting are age/grade-specific. This would be the equivalent of putting this boy back from fourth grade to second grade, in school. This boy’s job, now, is to attack those Webelos Activity Badges—there are 20 of ’em—and earn ’em all, for what’s called a “sweep,” and this gets him all four of his Compass Points and sets him up for the Arrow of Light! Hoo-Rah! Make sure the parents understand that, in Scouting, we move forward; not backward.
I’m the Scoutmaster for our troop and for as long as I’ve been in Scouting as a boy for six years and now as an adult for the past eight years, I’ve never come across mothers on troop camping trips. Now, one of my ASMs tells me that there’s a new-Scout mother who anticipates coming along on a troop cabin-camping trip the Scouts planned and are looking forward to in a couple of weeks.
Is there a BSA policy or rule that would prevent her from coming on the trip?
As I mentioned, her son has just crossed over from Webelos and we in the troop believe that a mother along on camp-outs would make herself, all of the Scouts, and the men, too, uncomfortable in general, and certainly with this particular trip, which uses a cabin that has no separate quarters or “facilities” for women. But the big reasons why we’re uncomfortable with this is that a Scout’s mother along on a camp-out or hike puts significant peer pressure on the boy (“Your Mommy’s here!”), and it can distract everyone from staying on-task, which is to step back so boys can learn amongst themselves and grow into men among their peers. What is your own view on this? (Jim Skinner Theodore Roosevelt Council, NY)
My view is that you make good points, and that this mother, having just come from four or more years of Cub Scouting, in which program there’s “family camping,” may not understand that Boy Scouting is not a continuation of the Cub Scout program, but in tan shirts. So, what to do (don’t assume that this is the only mother you’ll ever encounter who has this point of view)…
Call for an orientation meeting for all new-Scout parents. Begin by describing the Boy Scout program, taking care to point out that it is definitely not a continuation of the Cub Scout program—it’s different and distinct from Cub Scouting; it’s absolutely not “Webelos III.” Then, point out that Scouts camp and hike with Scouts—not with parents—because there’s no “family camping” in Boy Scouts, as there was in Cubs. Then, observe that, if parents do wish to come along on any hike or camping trip, it will be understood that they’ll hike and camp by themselves, out of sound and sight of the Scouts, throughout the entire event, and that this is done so that their sons can be Boy Scouts and enjoy the program as it’s intended to be delivered. Let them know that, for safety and for modest instruction from time to time, the only adults who are actually with the Scouts are the Scoutmaster and one or two Assistant Scoutmasters, and that’s it. Then, stick to your guns.
If it does arise, you may need to observe that, while adult women may be registered volunteers in a Boy Scout troop, Boy Scouting is not and has never been a co-ed program, and so female accommodations, especially when hiking or camping, are usually the exception, not the rule.
But, to be perfectly clear here, if you’re looking for a specific BSA rule or policy that you can fall back on, your search will be futile.
A new boy just crossed over from his Cub Scout pack and joined our troop. At our troop meetings’ opening ceremonies, we typically present the colors, then repeat the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the Scout Oath and Law. This new Scout does not say the Pledge of Allegiance. When we asked him what’s this about, he said that his mother doesn’t want him to be pledging to a flag. Of course, now other Scouts in the troop are asking what’s going on. How do we handle this? Is saying the Pledge of Allegiance an actual requirement, or can a boy still be a Scout, without honoring the American flag? (Roger Good)
This perhaps well-meaning but rather misguided mother needs to be given a copy of the Scout Oath by the Scoutmaster and Committee Chair, in a private and in-person conversation, and asked to read the first couple of lines. The BSA does not have a “policy” about saluting our country’s flag and repeating the Pledge of Allegiance because this is understood as a significant part of the Scout Oath. In fact, the YOUTH APPLICATION that this mother signed states that her son subscribes to the Boy Scout Oath and Law, as do the millions of Boy Scouts across America, and their adult volunteer leaders as well—it is indeed a part of their membership in the BSA. It should then be pointed out to this mother that her preference that her son not repeat the Pledge is her personal decision; however, in that case she needs to remove her son from the troop, because every Scout in the troop is expected to do this. If she argues, you may need to inform her that her son will be removed, in order to minimize his own personal embarrassment in front of his peers, if she does not withdraw him.
Before you proceed with this, do inform your local Scout Executive of this situation and how you intend to handle it. (He may wish to have someone from the council service center present when the conversation with the mother takes place.)
Waste no time further pondering this; the longer it’s permitted to persist, the more entrenched the mother will become and the more will you all will be to begin hoping that, “Well, maybe in time it’ll just sorta go away.” It won’t.
I’ve been reading your columns from previous years (they’re great) and I came upon a question I think you could answer well… My husband and I are both active in our district and we each have a pair of official uniform pants, bought at our local council’s Scout shop. The issue is that these pants only come in ill-fitting, zip-off-into-shorts, summer weight, nylon. We’re in Maine, where some years it seems like winter is the only season we have (reminds me of the movie “How To Train Your Dragon” where it snows nine months and hails the other three). Anyway, my husband remembers wearing BDUs from the Army-Navy store, in camouflage colors, and his Scout shirt when he was in his troop as a Scout, so we went to a local Army-Navy store and bought comfortable, winter-weight, canvas BDUs in “Scout green” (I wore my BSA pants when we bought these, so I know it’s the right shade of green). So I’m wondering if these neatly-kept, technically Army pants (that don’t chafe or require long-johns under them from September up here) in the correct color are actually allowable. If not, how can we find pants that are better-fitting than the BSA issue?(Nicole Swenson, CRT Staff, Pine Tree Council, ME)
Snuggy and comfy as they may be, unofficial uniform parts are just that: unofficial. I’m sure there are a thousand reasons why long-johns won’t work and only these pants really do the job, but ya know what? It just ain’t Scouting and it communicates “do whatever you feel like” to the Scouts you’re all supposed to be role-modeling for. Moreover, have you figured out what “BDU” means? It means Battle Dress Uniform. So, color-match or no, long-johns or no, you’ve got a decision to make: Are you going to get really clever on how you stay warm while outwardly showing the uniform as it’s supposed to be worn, or are ya gonna “go native” in direct violation of a BSA policy. Your call. And, while you’re thinking about it, I have friends in two troops in Alaska who’ve never complained that their BSA-issue uniforms “chafe.” Good luck.
First, a little over a year ago you gave me some advice on a Scoutmaster who was holding back rank advancements and continually added his own special requirements to the BSA requirements. Your advice: Fire him.Well, a year ago we did just that, along with the Committee Chair and a couple of Assistant Scoutmasters. As one result, in the past year since then, we’ve had 12 of our Scouts achieve a combined 16 rank advancements! Our goal is to have almost all of them reach at least First Class by this summer.
But they’re still a young group of Scouts (most of the older Scouts walked away from the troop in its prior “regime,” because they couldn’t advance in rank to save their lives!), so we don’t have much “senior” leadership among the Scouts at the moment.Is there a specific rank a Scout must be, before he can run for Senior Patrol Leader election?I know that the Scoutmaster Handbook says that the junior leader with the most responsibility in a troop is the Senior Patrol Leader, and that he’s elected by all of the Scouts in the troop, and that each troop sets its own requirements for this position and schedule of elections (usually six- to twelve-months apart) and the SPL can be reelected. So, can any one of our Scouts be considered for this, if he’s demonstrated his willingness and desire to be the Senior Patrol Leader, and is subsequently elected by his troop? (John Frazier, CC, Greater Pittsburgh Council, PA)
Yes, your Senior Patrol Leader can be elected just as you’ve described! Remember that the Scoutmaster’s most important responsibility is to train the troop’s youth leaders, and having a “young” SPL is sometimes a blessing (he hasn’t acquired any “bad habits” yet!), because the Scoutmaster can stick right behind him (literally behind his shoulder, sort of like “The SPL Whisperer”) to coach him through what he needs to do! Remember that the SPL is the only youth leader who isn’t a member of a patrol, and he never talks to “the troop”—he always works through the Patrol Leaders (he’s in effect, the Patrol Leader of the Patrol Leaders Council!).
I’m thrilled that you’re succeeding! In fact, you may even want to reach out to those who dropped away (if they’re still under 18) and invite them back to check out the “new” troop! Seriously!
I have a question that’s become something of a debate among several of us, and we want to get to the bottom of it….
We have a Scout trying to finish his First Class requirements. He has everything done but Req. 10, which says: “Tell someone who is eligible to join Boy Scouts, or an inactive Boy Scout, about your troop’s activities. Invite him to a troop outing, activity, service project or meeting. Tell him how to join, or encourage the inactive Boy Scout to become active.” The issue here is that this one Scout has invited several of his friends to come to a meeting or activity, but none has taken him up on this invitation, and at this point he’s pretty much exhausted his list of friends. Myown interpretationof that requirement is that since he invited someone and encouraged them, he’s met the requirement; however, others are saying that whomever he invites must show up, for the requirement to be considered completed. I just don’t see how they can get that, based on the language of the requirement, but that’s their interpretation. Can you help us figure this one out? (Brian Kindron, UC)
This one’s a no-brainer. We all know (or are supposed to know) that we’re not permitted to add or subtract from any requirement, be it for a rank or a merit badge. And we also know that 99.99% of BSA requirements demand no “interpretation” whatsoever—they’re perfectly clear in every aspect. So, since that First Class requirement is 100% silent on whether or not the “someone” who is invited needs to show up or not, we are absolutely, positively not permitted to tack that on to the requirement—certainly not as some sort of misguided “interpretation.”
All this Scout needed to do was to invite one person. No more than that, so states the requirement. His troop leaders are completely incorrect in burning this poor Scout out! Please, as fast as you can, tell ’em that they’ve got to cut this out, and why.
I’m a recently approved Aviation merit badge Counselor, and a member of the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association. I’m planning on conducting Aviation Camporees at our glider port, and I have a question regarding the criteria…
Is it possible to have the Scouts fly an electric RC (remote control) plane with an RC instructor, with a training cable between their transmitters, to receive merit badge credit for flying an RC aircraft?
RC models are costly. Some Scout families can’t afford to buy the materials and electronics to build one. And the foam plate model isn’t challenging to older Scouts who want something more involved. (The foam plate model would be fine for younger Scouts and Cub Scouts, however.) So, can Scouts build some other aircraft model that’s less expensive than an RC model, yet more challenging than the paper plate model? Perhaps a rubber band-powered built-up model that they could then test fly or hold a competition with?
In other words, can we exercise some flexibility, so long as the Scout builds a model that flies, tests it, and then flies (not builds) an RC model with an instructor?
Also, we have some RC model flying simulators (e.g., “Real-Flight”) that we’d like to have the Scouts practice on for a short while before they take on a real RC model (perhaps the use of an RC Simulator could be added as an option, so that two of these three options would be required?). (Mike Vance, MBC, National Capital Area Council, MD)
I fully understand your interest in Scouts and your good intentions. The policy of the BSA with regard to requirements for ranks and merit badges, as you probably know from your MBC training, is that they can’t be modified. This means that each Scout will meet the exact requirements as they’re stated—no more, no less, no substitutions.
I’ve just read the requirements for Aviation merit badge. I can’t find a single requirement that insists that a Scout build and fly a RC aircraft model. Req. 3 provides the option to build and fly either a fuel- or electric-driven model, or an FPG-9, but that’s it. This requirement is silent on the issue of RC (which would hardly apply to the FPG-9!).
That said, do understand that while you, as a Merit Badge Counselor, can’t add to requirements, you’re absolutely permitted to “teach beyond the requirements”—this is, after all, why you chose this particular merit badge! So yes, go ahead and show rubber-band models, and RCs, and others, as you choose, and give Scouts the opportunity to construct the less expensive of these, if possible. Just let them know that this is optional stuff, for fun and learning—so long as the build and “fly” their FPG-9, they’ve met the requirement! How’s that? Will that work for you? Well, Andy, it’s obvious to me that the requirements for this merit badge have changed recently, from the strike-outs I noticed in the requirements.
What I’m asking, I suppose, is how can I offer a suggestion to change the requirements to be more flexible, as someone else has done recently? Perhaps that’s what I am asking: How do we go about changing the requirements to better meet the needs of the Scouts?
The RC requirement states to build and fly; not just fly. So if they don’t build an RC, then flying one will not give them any credit for that requirement.
I’d suggest combining the building of optional models in one requirement by themselves, to build an RC, the FPG-9, or some other flying model that can be tested. I’d also suggest that the flying of any model—RC, the FPG-9, or what ever other model they have available to fly—would be combined into a separate second requirement. That way, they’d have flexibility in what they build, separate from what they fly.
I’m trying to obtain or build several RC models, which I intend to allow the Scouts to fly, at no cost to them, with instructors. But if they must build one themselves to get credit, we may drop this opportunity, since it won’t help them toward getting the merit badge (and it’s expensive—over $1,000—to provide the RC models). Doing so would perhaps motivate more Scouts to try the RC flying, even if they can’t afford to buy the materials to build one ($100 to $200 per model, including electronics).
My concern is that the requirements, as currently written, don’t allow that flexibility or consideration.
My interest is to make this as challenging and interesting as it can be for each Scout, of any age. But the requirements, as written, don’t make my admittedly generous offer a cost-effect way to go. (Mike Vance)
I understand your intentions, and they’re admirable. Until, however, the BSA formally changes the requirements, we’re all obligated to follow the most current requirements, precisely as written. Now I referred to the 2010 merit badge requirements, and perhaps they’ve changed since that printing, in which case of course use the newest ones. But we simply don’t have the authority to make changes superseding the BSA, no matter how well-intentioned. This is why I mentioned the concept of teaching beyond, but signing off on the precise requirements.
For the current requirements, go here: usScouts.org/mb/mb025.asp
If you and your colleagues want to encourage the BSA to change the current requirements, there’s a process for this described here: usScouts.org/usScouts/mb/
I’m working with a small group of Scouts. I am unable to find any information as to whatI can do for activities that would enable my Scouts to earn their ranks. The requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class are on the dry side, and the USSSP site and the Internet as a whole are seemingly devoid of Boy Scout help in this regard. Where canI go for concrete ideas for troop meeting activities? Help! I don’t want to loose the interest of the Scouts! (Michael Veno, ASM, Old Colony Council, MA)
Of course, the very best way for Scouts to learn and complete their requirements for these ranks is to GET OUT THERE! That’s right: Go on hikes, have short overnights, go on more hikes, and on each one show them what they need to know, then let them go ahead and do it! (Always keep at the front of your mind that, in Scouting, boys learn by DOING; not by just listening and watching someone else do stuff!).
There are three wonderful volumes published by the BSA that will help your Patrol Leaders Council decide what they want to do in upcoming troop meetings. These books are titled TROOP PROGRAM FEATURES and you can buy them at your local Scout shop or at Scoutstuff.org. They only cost $6.99 each and they each have a full year’s worth of troop meeting and outing plans and ideas!
What’s the Boy Scout age requirement for roadside clean-up? (Mark Poteat)
The standard minimum age for a Boy Scout is 11. The BSA makes no further overall stipulations regarding age except that the day before a young man’s 18th birthday will be his last day as a Boy Scout. Regarding roadside cleanup, depending on whether it’s a town, county, or state road, you’d want to check with the “owner” of the road.
I’m a high school senior and an Eagle Scout, and I’m writing about Scouting for our school newspaper. I’d like to know: What are some of the effects Scouting has on boys? (Scout’s Name Withheld)
Let’s start here: What have you learned in Scouting that, thinking about it, you probably wouldn’t have learned at all if you hadn’t been a Scout?
I know I wouldn’t have learned the outdoor skills and First Aid, and maybe even the leadership that I now know as second nature. OK, you’ve covered some important stuff. Now, how about interviewing some of your friends in the troop, and asking them what they’ve gotten out of Scouting (so far). You have the time to do this, because you can do it in-person, by phone, and by email. If you do it this way, you’re making it REAL. You’ll also get some great quotes for your paper!
Here’s a question to ask yourself (and others, when you reach out to them): If you HADN’T been a Scout, how would you be different from the way you are now? And here’s the second question: Putting aside stuff like how to build a fire, or knots, or even First Aid, what is it about the real you that would be different, if you hadn’t been a Scout? (Then write down EXACTLY what’s said!)
Go for it! You can do it, because YOU’RE A SCOUT!
Letters to AskAndy may be published at the discretion of the columnist and the editor. If you prefer to have your name or affiliation withheld from publication, please advise in your letter..