Kayak and Canoe Guide Certifications
Just as any job in the great outdoors, a kayak guide or instructor must prove their knowledge and proficiency in their sport. While time and experience help to build a strong resume, a nationally recognized certification in guiding or instructing can increase employment opportunities as well as solidify personal technique.
Every river outfitter knows that the best kayak guides and instructors have trained to be instructors.
The American Canoe Association, ACA, leads the river industry in kayak instruction and guiding courses. Ranging from beginner to advanced instruction, the ACA's courses form the national standard for instruction and are recognized all over the world.
For novice paddlers, the ACA provides a Quick Start Your Kayak course for each of the disciplines; river canoeing, flatwater and freestyle canoeing, coastal kayaking, surf kayaking, river kayaking and rafting. This course aims at building a strong foundation based in proper water safety skills.
From there, paddlers can advance their technique and skills in introductory to advanced instruction. For example, the eight-hour Essentials of Kayak Touring course focuses on simple rescue execution, understanding the basics of tides and currents, and rules for paddling in channels. The ACA also provides training with safety equipment specific to the particular water sport. For kayak touring, a student will learn to use a VHF and weather radio as well as a compass for sea navigation.
River kayakers will find that the Whitewater Kayaking Levels 3-5 courses refine existing technique and instruct new maneuvers. These courses helps students evaluate advanced river features to assess risk, develop navigating strategies and nurture good judgment. Advanced courses will emphasize using the proactive and aggressive rescue skills required of an instructor.
These basic certifications, while not specific instructor certifications, provide future kayak instructors and guides with a wide variety of teaching techniques and learning drills. Even better, the student will be able to see different teaching styles and methods that he or she can then refine and use in the future. Employers know that kayakers who have taken the time and initiative to improve their own skills make the best teachers. These kayakers know how to teach kayaking more than the advanced, class V paddler.
The ACA also offers evaluations specific to the future instructor.
Once a kayaker has reached an intermediate level of proficiency, a Trip-Leading Assessment course can be taken. These courses, each specific to one of the many kayak disciplines, evaluate the leading and safety skills of a paddler who wishes to lead groups of others. After on-water skills have been assessed, the student will take a brief written examination. With successful completion of this course, an individual will better lead groups on the water through clubs, camps, scouts or other types of paddling instruction.
The ultimate kayak instructor and guide certification is the ACA Whitewater Kayak Instructor Certification. This course provides the ticket for nearly any kayak instructor or guide position worldwide. Over the course of a week, a kayaker will learn the specific learning styles of a student and methods to teach different individuals properly. Candidates will be evaluated and tested on teaching ability, technical river skills and safety knowledge as they apply to an instructional setting. Additionally, personal paddling skills will be refined and examined for each participant.
The American Canoe Association firmly believes that investing time in developing proper skills and techniques leads to better instruction. Their courses build confidence to practice and to teach. For this reason, they have become world leaders in kayak guide and instructor certifications.
The ACA stamp of approval could pave the way to the world's most prestigious and exciting kayak guide and instructor jobs.