Dear Prospective Educator,
Hello and welcome to your River Leadership Course. I appreciate the fact that you have decided to venture into the field of paddle sports education and have taken the initial step to become one of the few who are facilitators of outdoor experience.
Perhaps this is no new undertaking. If you come here with a wealth of knowledge in adventure education and a desire to learn more and pass on what you know—even better. We hope that you not only use your past experiences to help this experience grow to new heights, but that your knowledge and wisdom grow in your time with the course and onward.
The fact is we all come together with our own separate experiences that have helped to shape our lives, our thoughts, and our actions. This is the power of experiential learning. Our growth is dependent on our openness. The more open to learning we are, the more capable we become to teach through our actions, our thoughts, and our lives. This sets the model for the greatest of all facilitators/educators. She is one who listens with an open ear. He is one who acts with deliberateness. She is one who observes without judgment. He is one who promotes the ambition of the group and not the thoughts of his own. They are leaders who, when the day is done, the participants will truly proclaim, “We did this ourselves!”
So again, welcome. I am excited to get to know you and learn from you. You are a valuable asset to this group. You help to shape what we will all later know as our own “common experience.” Not only that, but you’re about to have one heck of a good time!
Chris Wing, H2o Dreams Program Director
Below is a list tasks you should complete prior to your course to best prepare you for class and to ensure that all certifications can be received in a timely fashion. Some of the tasks below you are expected to complete on your own prior to class and complete a competency test, as it is part of knowledge that is required to be covered for your certifications. We choose to not cover all of this material in class to make most of our time with more practical knowledge:
For all courses, must be complete prior to the start of the course:
Core Curriculum for the APEX River Leadership Course:
- Review the ACA Instructor materials below.
- Review the Common Sense Rescue student manual before the course, but pay special attention to knowing the specific knots you will need for the course.
- Review the H2o Dreams curriculum for Advanced Creeking, Freestyle Focus, Slalom for River Runners.
For your ACA Instructor Certification:
- Review Levels 1-4 River Kayaking Instructor Criteria. When you become an ACA Instructor in a particular discipline you are certified to a particular level, and every level below. With that you are expected to not only know your particular body of knowledge but all of the knowledge for the lower levels and there are some differences. As a candidate for certification, you are expected to be entering the course with the necessary paddling skills listed at every level from 1 to 4. We will be spending time to develop your skills beyond this level throughout the course, but it is best if you approach this course with this base knowledge and execution to ensure success.
- You must have an ACA Membership purchased prior to your course both for insurance purposes as well as for your final certification from the ACA. These dues will need to be renewed yearly with the ACA.
- Purchase ACA Instructor Manual and review.
- After completion of the course, you must join and pay dues of $25 to the ACA Safety Education and Instruction Council (SEIC). These are your processing dues and will only occur once.
- Although Wilderness First Aid and CPR are not required for this course, it is highly recommended. In order for your certification to remain valid, you will have to maintain age-appropriate First Aid and CPR. We also highly recommend having taken a Swiftwater Rescue course as well.
- In addition to the specific web pages below, browse and become familiar with the ACA website as an instructor resource as we will quickly review during our course. You should be able to find and identify all of the resources below from the main home page menu and the search function on the website.
- Review the sample skills courses provided by the ACA from Level 1 Kayaking and all Level 2-4 River Kayaking Courses. Although these are suggested course outlines, the ACA allows you to teach “in part or in whole,” just not beyond your “body of knowledge.” Pay special attention to the first page of each course outline, as these are your requirements and student criteria for each course. This includes your course venue and student to teacher ratios.
- Study the Assessment Courses for levels 1-4 (same web-page as above). As opposed to teaching the topics to the student, the student demonstrates competency to an instructor and can be awarded a certificate from the ACA if they are successful.
- Read through the River Kayak Day Trip Leading Assessment and complete the exam at the end of the document. As an ACA L4 Instructor, you will be certified to teach this course and should, therefore, be familiar with the exam questions. Bring your completed exam to your class with you.
- ACA course reporting. There are a couple of key pieces of paperwork you’ll need to be familiar with. In order to maintain your certification, you need to report at least 2 courses (at least one of those at your highest level of certification) to ACA every four years (plus a few other requirements). You can report these courses very easily using either online or hard copy report forms. All of the forms you’ll need are on this web page. If you teach a class that is not insured with ACA insurance (Yes, that’s OK if you don’t want to use ACA insurance), you can use the EZ Skills report form online. If you do use ACA insurance, you need to provide just a little more info using the Skills Course Report Form online or via hard copy. You will not be able to maintain your certification if you do not report at least two courses every four years to the ACA office. Please report every course you teach. It helps ACA to maintain its position with government agencies like the Coast Guard as the national leader and authority on paddle sports to be able to demonstrate how many students ACA programs educate. Our friend and Instructor Trainer Educator, Larry Ausley at Triangle Kayak has published how-to videos on course registration and reporting as well as an article on “Maintaining your ACA Instructor Certification” for your reference.
- ACA Insurance. The ACA provides a tremendous resource to independent paddling instructors in the form of affordable liability insurance for courses. The process of applying for, obtaining insurance and reporting insured courses is outlined on this web page. Note that every participant of the course must be an ACA member, even it is just a $5 “event member” (Exception: Students must be at least 6-month members of ACA to receive assessment certificates) (which the instructor can collect or pay fees for) and every participant, including the instructor (Yes! The insurance covers even the instructor!), must complete an appropriate (minor or adult) ACA Waiver and Release of Liability. Should any accident/injury occur, the instructor should complete and submit an accident report form to ACA. In perspective, ACA-affiliated instruction programs have an excellent safety record that speaks to its effectiveness. Let’s keep it that way.
- Larry Ausley at Triangle Kayak has put together videos and descriptions of deep-water rescues . You will need to show proficiency in these skills during our course, however, they will not be covered in depth during class time.
- We have put together a wealth of information in our online videos library. I highly suggest taking some time to review them to become familiar with the language we use during our courses.