American Canoe Association (ACA) Instructor Certification
American Canoe Association (ACA) Instructor Certification workshops are designed for individuals who want to teach flatwater, moving water, or whitewater kayaking, canoeing, SUP or swiftwater rescue.
Our highly experienced ACA Instructor Trainers present the most up-to-date teaching and paddling techniques. Each ACA Instructor Certification course has two parts: an Instructor Development Workshop, in which the Instructor Trainer presents teaching techniques and works to improve the paddling skills of aspiring instructors; and an Instructor Certification Workshop, in which the aspiring instructors teach a mock flatwater, moving water, or whitewater course.
Certification in any of these courses is based on both paddling and teaching skills and is not guaranteed at any level. These courses are only for those with intermediate to advanced paddling skills with some teaching experience.
We offer ACA Instructor Certification in the disciplines of River Kayak, River Canoe, Swiftwater Rescue and Stand Up Paddlboard. The American Canoe Association offers instructor certification at up to 5 different levels with each level requiring a progressively greater understanding of paddling and rescue concepts, as well as an ability to teach and execute those concepts in progressively more difficult rapids. To get more details about instructor criteria you can go the American Canoe Association link.
If you are interested in working in the paddlesport field, ACA certification is considered "the gold standard" for the industry and paddlesport instructors. For eligible candidates Zoar Outdoor offers an in-house certification program. For more information go to the job page on Zoar Outdoor's main website or contact Janet Burnett Cowie, Director of Instruction Programs at 800-532-7483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upon registration for one of these courses, you will be sent detailed information about what will be expected of you and how to prepare, but below are some general guidelines to get you started. ACA's website also has a wealth of useful information about becoming an instructor.
A good instructor proficiently demonstrates good paddling skills, uses memorable instruction techniques, exercises safe judgment and keeps it fun for everyone involved. This course is designed for individuals who have prior paddling & teaching experience. You should not take this course if you are new to paddlesports. For more specific certification criteria, please see ACA's website.
We provide a catered picnic-style lunch on all our clinics. Typical lunches include homemade rolls, sliced turkey, ham or other meats, sliced cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, chips, salsa, hummus, pasta or other salad, cookies or other dessert and hot and cold drinks.
The following statement is required by state law: "Before placing your order, please inform your server if a person in your party has a food allergy."
A good instructor proficiently demonstrates good paddling skills, uses memorable instruction techniques, exercises safe judgment and keeps it fun for everyone involved. This course is designed for individuals who have prior paddling & teaching experience. You should not take this course if you are new to paddlesports. For more specific certification criteria, look at the ACA website, www.americancanoe.org.
The instructor certification process is divided into 2 sections: the Instructor Development Workshop and the Instructor Certification Exam. You are required to attend both sections in order to fulfill the time requirements for your certification.
Instructor Development Workshop - (First half of course)
- we illustrate teaching techniques
- we analyze your paddling skills
- you compare styles of teaching and learning
- you teach student and instructor level topics
- you review your moving water and whitewater skills
- you self-evaluate your work
- you receive our progress evaluation
Instructor Certification Exam - (Last half of course)
- you (as a team) teach a beginner moving program
- you lead us all on a safe, informative and rewarding whitewater trip
- you demonstrate your paddling skills
- we provide feedback on your instructor skills
- you demonstrate competent group management [&] rescue skills
- you evaluate each other's work
- we evaluate you and decide on certification levels
When you take the Instructor Certification Exam, please be aware that participation does not guarantee certification. You will be evaluated on your teaching and paddling ability and your technical knowledge of the sport. Certified candidates teach at the levels listed below. Certification can be at any of the levels, or not at all. Please read and understand the certification requirements which can be found on the ACA website.
Level 1 - Introduction to Kayak or Canoe
This course is ideal for the camp leader or outfitter who leads trips or gives basic safety instruction on a lake or other flatwater site. The candidates must show competence in leadership and group management but do not need to show top-notch teaching or modeling skills.
Level 2 - Essentials of River Kayak or River Canoe
This course is a skill-based program ideal for the camp leader or outfitter who leads trips or gives basic safety instruction on a moving water site. Not only do candidates need to show leadership and group management skills they must also model paddling strokes and show they can teach effectively in class I water and paddle class II.
Level 3 – River Kayak or River Canoe
This course is designed to build on the tools needed to travel down a moving river (up to Class I/II) presented in the Essentials course, including more emphasis on safety & rescue, paddling skills and teaching. Candidates must be comfortable paddling and performing rescues on class II as well as be able to perform a reliable roll.
Level 4 - Whitewater Canoe or Kayak
This course is a skill-based program. Not only do candidates need to show leadership and group management skills they must also model paddling strokes and show they can teach effectively in class II/II water and paddle comfortably class III. Whitewater candidates must have a combat roll in course conditions and be able to teach the kayak roll effectively.
Level 5 – Advanced Whitewater Canoe or Kayak
Is designed to refine and extend the judgment and technique of intermediate paddlers on class III to IV whitewater. This course is not to be taught on water of greater difficulty than class IV. Participants will be introduced to advanced techniques including boat control, playboating and river running as appropriate to the site. This course will use on-the-water scenarios to assess risk, evaluate rapid features and complexities, develop strategies, and nurture good judgment. Course will emphasize use of proactive, aggressive rescue skills stressing self reliance. Prerequisite: Level 4 certification for two years.