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Randy Piland Creates Web Site for 'Boy Scout Handbook'

Randy Piland has been active in the Boy Scouts since he was 11 years old. He's an Eagle Scout and has always enjoyed being a part of the Boy Scouts of America, so he continually looks for ways to give back to an organization that gave him so much. Piland used this summer to design completely a Flash-based Web site companion to the 12th edition of the "Boy Scout Handbook."

Piland, who is a lecturer in the School of Communications, received the contract and began working on the site structure last fall. The bulk of the content came in around mid June with a deadline for completion of Aug. 1. He spent the month and a half creating the visual design and producing the site itself, which includes photography, video, links to resources for Scouts and information from the book.

“Having been a Boy Scout myself and later a Scout leader, you always try to find ways of giving back to the program,” Piland said. “So I do a lot of stuff as a volunteer Scouter and as a contract photographer.”

Piland, who spent 30 years as a professional photojournalist for four newspapers, also took numerous photographs that appear on the Web site and in the physical handbook. He was one of four photographers for the project, and work began 18 months ago. He photographed in the Grand Tetons, Colorado, northern California, up-state New York, Virginia, Florida, Tennessee and other spots around the country capturing Scouts enjoying the outdoors.

“We shot thousands of photos,” Piland said. “The goal was to provide a good mix of images at activities in various environments for the handbook but also provide a wealth of good choices for the Web site. The Web site is a companion to the book, which will be of interest to Scouts who are frequently online.”

A screen shot of a sample page on the handbook's Web site

A new handbook is prepared roughly every 10 years. And while the current one went on sale on Aug. 1, its release will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America in 2010. The Boy Scouts are keeping up with current technology, too. The public can download the “Boy Scout Handbook” as an application on their smart phones.

This handbook is the third one Piland has worked on. He’s also helped with a recent “Boy Scout Fieldbook,” numerous merit badge books, and he rewrote the “Photography Merit Badge Book” in 2004. He will serve as the volunteer photography chairman at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree next summer being held in Virginia.

“For me, (the handbook project) ties in two interests: the interest of Scouting and the interest of photography,” Piland said. “It’s a good way to combine those interests, and it will hopefully have an effect on millions of Scouts throughout the years. It’s really neat to work on a project like this, particularly when they’ve moved in such a modern direction. It was a challenging summer job.”

The cover of the "Boy Scout Handbook"
Colin Donohue,
Staff
8/29/2009 1:58 PM