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American Canoe Assn Page

The American Canoe Association - Note the "Old and new" on the left...........  The ACA is in the process of modernizing their course structure and the names of each course. When they are done it will be exactly the same Material under different headings......At present the ACA has standardized 5+ general open canoe courses for tandem and solo paddlers, and 5+ Touring/Coastal kayak Classes. They have a system of Work Shops called IDW and ICE for Instructor Development and Certification in these same disciplines.  (there are other courses and canoe disciplines:  poling, C-1 or decked canoeing, rodeo, sailing, racing, slalom, wild water, marathon, touring, freestyle etc.) There are One day Safety classes for moving and white water and a 3 day Swift Water Rescue course which are appropriate to both canoe and kayak.

From within our own ranks and through our association with Canoe kayak and Paddle Company [CKAPCO], We teach or sponsor all of these canoe and Kayak courses. The current Canoe/Kayak schedule is on the CKAPCO site at the link above.  It is of note that CKAPCO is the 1st ACA Pro-School.

The seven courses and Work Shops break down as follows:

  • Two Distinct introductory courses :  
    • Quick Start your Canoe/Kayak (3 hrs.or less)- a flat water course suitable, e.g., for a canoe livery to give beginner patrons prior to an outing on flat water, in controlled circumstances.  Instructors are required to have an Introduction to paddling certification to teach this course. There is no "Quick Start" Certification. Many of our tours begin with a shortened form of this course at the start. We call it on water "Smart Start" Orientation. Students can look at Quick Start as the 1st 3 hours [or less] of Intro.
    • Level I Introduction to paddling Canoe/Kayak(6-8 hrs.) - "Intro" more comprehensive than Quick Start, a course suitable, e.g.,  for scouts at a one day flat water summer camp. [the instructor cert course for "Intro" is a 2+ day affair with 3 days  more realistic than 2, It's focus is teaching modern canoeing]]
    • Level II  Essentials of River Canoeing - This is an Introduction to River Paddling course.  the 8 hour course for easy class l water. This course pretty much matches Antietam Creek demands at easy water levels. It is our most popular course at both the student and Instructor level. It is similar to the old "IRP" Introduction to river paddling. [The instructor Cert. course for Essentials is a 3+ day IDW/ICE.]

      NOTE: We ACC, teach an Abbreviated one day course called "LI, LII Combo Canoe Course" which covers The material Above. for a course outline click here


  • Five Comprehensive canoeing courses.
    • Level III Basic Flat Water or Touring Canoe (2 day stand alone course )  this is about 90% of all canoeing. NOTE, if one takes the Introduction to paddling course then Basic Canoeing would take one long additional day.
    • Freestyle - advanced flat water - a 5 level course with a min. of 6 hours per level .The Zen of Canoeing. (We/CKAPCO sponsor this course with Karen Knight, the current National Champion at this discipline, once each summer.  2011 is not yet scheduled.
    • Level III River CANOE [this is your first level of white water, class I]
      (1+ day stand alone course) (this is the other 90% of all canoeing . At ACC/CKAPCO we pride ourselves on giving River track students a solid and complete foundation in flat water skills... it's where WW skills come from).[4 day instructor Cert.; comfort on class II water teach on Class I]
      • NOTE: The basic courses are designed to use either standard recreational [touring] canoes without special outfitting or WW outfitted canoes.
    • Level IV White Water (2 day course,  one day with  Basic River Prerequisite and proficiency, this is an "up the food chain" course, outfitted boats, helmets, etc.) [5-6 day instructor Cert. that requires comfort in class III water and is taught in class II, Anglers, Needles and Staircase type water]
    • Level V Advanced White Water ( 2 day course, one day with WW prerequisite and proficiency - This is a very high maintenance course with travel to an appropriate venue class III and above [Lower Yough for example] that we would always refer to or teach with CKAPCO or other associate instructors)
      • NOTE: Whitewater and Advanced WW canoeing requires special equipment, saddles, thigh straps, flotation bags, helmets and safety gear. It is not suitable for standard recreational canoes. The venues are not "SAFE" [which is not to infer that any canoeing venue is "SAFE"]

  • Instructor Development and Instructor Certification Work Shops.
    • The instructor development work shop [IDW]is generally a 2 - 3 day course to teach potential teachers what they need to teach, how to teach it and how to demonstrate professionally in any or all of the above 7 standard courses.
    • The Instructor Certification Exam [ICE] or Workshop is generally a 1 or 2 day course/exam, where the student performs, demonstrates, teaches and is evaluated by an Instructor Trainer and is certified (or not) as an ACA instructor at a given level at the end of the course. 
      • Note - A single IDW/ICE that takes a student from Intro through WW open canoe is a 5/6 day Instructor course. It is a difficult endeavor and students that have not seriously pre-prepared will generally not be successful. Unsuccessful candidates are given their deficiencies in detail. They may certify at a later date by demonstrating, through various means [demo, video of demo etc.] the correction of those deficiencies to the/an ACA Instructor Trainer.

All of these courses are flexible as to time. e.g. an excellent flat water paddler will not need the same amount of time to develop moving water skills as a novice paddler. It's in the doing. Discretion to the Instructor. Conversely, the student who just completes a White Water Course should stay away from Niagara Gorge for a couple of days. Discretion to the paddler.

 There is an online application form for classes, workshops etc - if we're not giving the course you want within your desired time frame we can steer you to a scheduled course. Lastly if you'd like to contact the ACA to join, inquire, find a form, find a class etc. the link to their new site is http://www.americancanoe.org


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Revised: August 22, 2014.