Sea kayak instruction course with

ACA Coastal Kayak Instructor Certification

ACA Instructor Certification Course for Coastal Kayak Trip Leaders & Teachers

Working as a Sea Kayak Guide is a fun and rewarding experience! Guides often have the opportunity to travel, work with a variety of ages and skills levels, and help to create lasting memories.

The ACA Level 1-3 Coastal Kayaking Instructor Certification Workshop consists of 2 essential and required parts; the Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) and the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE). Our 4 or 5-day program is an intensive hands-on cooperative learning workshop experience that is designed to refine your instructional techniques and familiarize you with the processes and curriculum of the American Canoe Association (ACA). Days 3 and 4 (the “exam”) are assessment days which require all participants to prepare and present lessons to fellow students to demonstrate, among other essential skills, teaching and paddling abilities.

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  • Location:
    Washington State
  • Activity Level:
  • Season:
    Year Round
  • Length:
  • Experience Level:
  • Pre-requisite:
    Confident Swimmer
  • Ages:

About the ACA Coastal Kayaking Instructor Certification Workshop

Every program is unique, and designed to maximize each participant's experience. This course is also available as a custom program that can be scheduled at your location - this allows you to train with your gear, on familiar waterways, at a time that is convenient for you and your staff, club or community. We generally require a minimum of 6 students to send an instructor out for custom dates/locations. Available anywhere. Email us for details...

2019 Course Schedule
June 10-12 Instructor Development Workshop (IDW)
June 10-14 Instructor Certification Workshop (IDW & ICE)
August 28-Sept 1 Instructor Certification Workshop (IDW & ICE)
August 30-Sept 1 Instructor Certification Exam (ICE)

During the 5 day Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW) you, as instructor candidates will be assessed in the following key areas:

  1. Personal Paddling SkillsStrong basic/intermediate skills, boat control and general professional paddling mode at all times. 
  2. Teaching SkillsKnowledge of teaching methods and learning styles, and how to use them to give an effective presentation. We are also looking for organized lesson plans, group management techniques, speaking and presentation ability, and attention to details in the classroom, on land and on the water. 
  3. Modeling SkillsAbility to visually present and break skills down into teachable/learnable parts. 
  4. Attention to SafetyUse of risk management skills, assessing student skill levels and group control. 
  5. Group ManagementAbility to set up and maintain a suitable teaching location as well as managing a group in the classroom, on land and on the water in both a teaching and guiding situation. 
  6. Technical KnowledgeThorough knowledge of all aspects of paddlesports. Everything from teaching safe car-topping procedures, boat design, and common paddling injuries and avoidance to tides, surfing and regional hazards. 
  7. CoachingBeing able to identify student errors and give positive, corrective feedback.

American Canoe Association Instructor Candidate Pre-Requisites

  • Instructor Candidates must be 18 years of age in order to receive certification.
  • Participants under the age of 18 will receive a certificate of completion.
  • To participate in this course, all participants must be current ACA Members ($25-$30 annually). If you are not a current member, you may renew or join online prior to the first day of class by visiting
  • At the end of the course, instructor candidates must also become members of the ACA Safety Education and Instruction Committee ($25 annually) in order to receive their Instructor Card. Please have cash or check ready for to cover this fee upon completion.
  • All instructor candidates should have a good grasp of essential paddling skills and knowledge prior to enrolling as an Instructor Candidate. Whether your paddling experience is from recreational trips, guided tours, informal instruction, on-the-job training, or a combination of these, you should come to the course looking to increase your knowledge and gain an ability to effectively teach these skills to others. You should not come to the course if you are looking to learn how to kayak, or without a basic to intermediate paddling ability and a desire to teach these skills to others.
  • ACA Instructors are required to have and maintain current First Aid / CPR or Wilderness First Aid certification before teaching any courses.

Learn more about instructor criteria and certification with the American Canoe Association on

During the ICW, you will get a review of the policies, programs and certification guidelines of the ACA, and an opportunity to show us your stuff! The ICW is designed to evaluate your knowledge and technical skills as an instructor. It is not a skill-building course - participants should already have broad paddling experience, including rescues, and be ready to add teaching techniques to that experience. In addition to feedback from me on the process and content of your teaching presentations, all instructor candidates (that's you!) will also critique and evaluate each other. Instructor and peer feedback are valuable components of this course. On the final day of class we often bring in a group of novice paddlers so that you can put your new instructional techniques to work in a group setting. This is an invaluable experience as you move forward and prepare to teach.

Equipment List

A complete Equipment List will be sent to each registered participant. If you do not have a suitable kayak or are unable to bring your boat to the course, please make arrangements with Outdoor Adventures well in advance to rent the appropriate equipment.

 ACA Instructor’s Manual ($15-25)**

 ACA Essentials of Kayak Touring Book ($6.95)**

 Single sea kayak with secure/sealed bulkheads (or secured floatation)

 Coast Guard approved PFD

 Paddle float, bilge pump, & signaling devices

 15’ stirrup

 Tow rig

 Appropriate hand and footwear

 Casual change of clothing

 Spray skirt

 Paddle & spare

 Warm hat

 Thermal underwear

 Wetsuit or drysuit

 Water bottle(s)

 Snacks for on-water time

 First aid kit

 Any other gear/props you use to enhance your teaching

**Books and resources are available from the ACA website or on the first day of class, by request.

IDW/ICE participation does not guarantee certification. An ICE candidate may...

  1. Certify at Level 1, 2, or 3
  2. Be "continued" as a Candidate (this will be defined during the course)
  3. Fail the Workshop