ACA Coastal Kayak Instructor Certification


Guide Training


Multi Day







Sea Kayak Guide Certification

The ACA Level 1-3 Coastal Kayaking Instructor Certification Workshop consists of two essential and required parts; the Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) and the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE).

Our 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). The final 2 days of class (the “exam”) are assessment days that require all participants to prepare and present lessons to fellow students to demonstrate, among other essential skills, teaching, and paddling abilities.

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.

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

  1. Personal Paddling Skills: Strong basic/intermediate skills, boat control and general professional paddling mode at all times.
  2. Teaching Skills: Knowledge 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 Skills: Ability to visually present and break skills down into teachable/learnable parts.
  4. Attention to Safety: Use of risk management skills, assessing student skill levels and group control.
  5. Group Management: Ability 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 Knowledge: Thorough 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. Coaching: Being 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.

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.

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

  • Certify at Level 1, 2, or 3
  • Be “continued” as a Candidate (this will be defined during the course)
  • Fail the workshop
Person: Ages 18+