History of Scouting Alumni & Friends

National SAA Committee in October 2015

Building a bridge from the past to the future...

In 2008, in preparation for the centennial celebration of the Boy Scouts of America, an alumni program was initiated under the auspices of the national development committee.

The purposes were to:
  • Identify and reconnect alumni and friends.
  • Take advantage of the increased activity and awareness surrounding the 100th anniversary.
  • Reengage former Scouters who could assist the BSA during its second century



The first Reconnecting Scouting Alumni training session was held at the Philmont Training Center in June of 2009. The faculty consisted of Rick Bragga and the inaugural Alumni Relations Director, Bill Steele, who also served as the Director of the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) at the time.

It was during this course that the concept of an alumni award with square knot was created. The course was conducted again each summer at Philmont through 2014. A graduate of that initial course, Roy Keithley, of Austin, Texas, became the first chair of the national alumni committee.

During its early years, from 2011 – 2013, Steele, Keithley and Bragga represented Scouting Alumni and Friends (SAF) - then known as the Scouting Alumni Association (SAA) - at Alumni Road Shows in major cities across the country. Their purpose was to educate Scouters about alumni activities and the benefits they could provide local councils. 2011 marked the first time a National Scouting Alumnus of the Year was bestowed upon an individual. That distinction was given to Jack Coughlin of the Westchester Putnam Council largely for his contributions to the Eagle Scout Directory project which assisted the Boy Scouts of America in locating over one million lost Eagle Scouts.  


Ed Pease replaced Keithley and became the second chair of the national SAA committee in 2013.  Pease led many strategy sessions which led to greater focus and refinement of the BSA's mission to engage alumni. NESA contributed funds to hire an Associate Director to work with Steele to help SAA's expansion efforts. The name "The Scouting Alumni Association (SAA)" and tagline "Once a Scout...Always a Scout" were also formally adopted and at the close of 2013, over 7,000 alumni counted themselves members of the SAA.

In 2014, SAA began webinars to further spread the word about alumni programs.  It was also in this year that the local Council Alumnus of the Year award was created and implemented. A free Hiker Level and a paid Pathfinder Level of SAA membership that included discounts and other perks were introduced. Steele retired in the Fall of 2014 and Dustin Farris took the reins as the new director of the SAA. At the close of 2014, over 150,000 alumni counted themselves members of the SAA. 

Under Pease leadership, the SAA continued to expand the national SAA committee to include twenty-two members and operating through multiple vice- chairs (Affiliates, Awards and Recognition, Communication, Information Management, Membership, Program and Special Initiatives, and Training). The SAA is now structured like many BSA programs with national, regional/area and council/district committee representation. At the close of 2015, over 230,000 alumni counted themselves members of the SAA.

Last revised May 4, 2016