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Educational Trip Leader Permit Training

Summer campers prepare to paddle by studying a map of the area

A special course for teachers, school volunteers, and student leaders, in partnership with Teens to Trails

Portland Paddle is partnering with Teens to Trails this spring to offer an Educational Trip Leader Permit Training course. The ETLP system is a way for schools to offer paddle sports and wilderness camping programs in compliance with Maine state laws related to health, safety, and staffing in the outdoors. This course is intended for teachers, student leaders, volunteers, and other individuals associated with an educational institution’s outdoor programs. For more information on the ETLP system please see this FAQ from the Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife, or contact Teens to Trails with further questions.

Existing ETL Permit holders may register for just the pool session in order to strengthen and expand their skill set. Pool session will be held from 4:30 to 6:30pm and cover rescue skills for a variety of different water craft.

Course Details:

Date: March 15th

Location: Westbrook Community Center, 426 Bridge Street Westbrook, Maine

Duration: 10 hours (with breaks), split between classroom/outside time and pool time

Time: 8:30am – 6:30pm, pool session 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Price: $90 for full course; $65 for pool session only, for existing ETLP holders

Register Now!

What’s included:

  • Instruction and practice in required components of the ETLP course, including navigation, camp craft, risk management, trip planning, and activities to do with students.
  • Instruction and practice in watercraft rescue in the pool, including canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.
  • Testing as required to receive the ETL permit (approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour).
  • Boats and Paddling gear (but you may bring your own PFD if you would prefer).
  • Tarps, tents, camp stoves, and rope for camp craft practice (you may also bring your own equipment to share with the group or to use for practice).
  • We will cook a small amount of food to share as a group as part of our camp craft practice, but participants should bring their own food as well.

What to Bring:

  • Comfortable clothes for a day spent outdoors in mid March. Layering is key, as we will move between the indoor and outdoor spaces throughout the day.
  • Rain gear and extra warm layers in case of inclement weather (we will still spend time outside even in inclement weather).
  • Clothes for pool time. While the pool is indoors and warm, we will be in the water for most of the two hours, swimming, paddling, falling out of, and climbing into boats. Active swim wear and a long sleeved rash guard or light neoprene layer is recommended.
  • Lunch and snacks.
  • Notebook, writing utensils, etc. for note taking, including while outside.
  • Compass if you have one (if you do not one can be provided).

Register Now!

FAQ for This Course:

For general questions about the ETLP system, please see the FAQ linked above, or contact Teens to Trails.

Q: Is this course a good fit for someone preparing for their Maine Guide Exam, or who wants to generally boost their outdoor skills?

A: No, this course is meant specifically for individuals leading groups of students in the outdoors as part of an educational program. Please see our Maine Guide Training, ACA Instructor Certification, or general lessons page for other types of instructional programs.

Q: I work for a non-profit, municipal rec. program, scout troop, summer camp, or other institution which offers outdoor programs for youth, can I take this course?

A: You may take the course, and will likely find value in it, but you will not be able to receive an official ETL permit. Please email us to discuss whether this is a good fit before registering.

Q: I just want to come for the pool session to practice rescues, can I?

A: If you are a current ETL Permit holder than yes. Otherwise, no.

Q: I want to take my students paddling but don’t have enough equipment, or enough ETLP holders at my school, can Portland Paddle help?

A: Yes! We offer a variety of services, including rentals, guided tours, overnight trips, hire-a-guide, and trip planning packages. Contact us to discuss how we can help your school’s paddling program succeed!

Q: Will this course include the wilderness first aid component required to receive your ETLP?

A: No, it will not. Please contact one of the licensed WFA providers, such as SOLO or WMA, for a full list of providers and to register for a course. Acadia Mountain Guides (WMA affiliate) and Northstar Adventures (SOLO affiliate) are two excellent local providers.

Q: I already have a lot of experience in the outdoors, do I still need to take an ETL course to get my permit?

A: Yes, that is one of the requirements to receive the permit. Even if you have lots of experience, this is an excellent opportunity to learn from both professional instructors, and your peers in the course. We firmly believe that everyone will get a lot out of the experience.

a person in a pool of water


About Your Instructor

a man sitting in a canoe with a paddle across his lap

Eric is a Registered Maine Guide in both the recreation and sea kayak categories, and an American Canoe Association level 3 sea kayak instructor. He has an extensive background in environmental education, classroom teaching, and youth sports. Prior to working for Portland Paddle he was an environmental educator and wilderness trip leader for the Chewonki Foundation, the lead youth programs instructor at Salt Pump Climbing Company, and held a number of different roles at Breakwater, Waynflete, Portland Public, and Scarborough Public schools. He currently leads Breakwater’s after school ski and mountain bike clubs.


About Portland Paddle

Portland Paddle is a full service paddlesports outfitter based in Portland, Maine. We offer the full range of paddling experiences, from short term rentals, guided tours and beginner instruction to multi day expeditions, equipment rentals, and high level coaching. We specialize in sea kayaking and paddle boarding, though we also offer canoe and recreational kayak experiences. Throughout the year we host a number of community events, including a weekly race series, community paddles at East End Beach, free paddle days on the Presumpscot river, a summer camp for local youth, paddle board yoga, partnership events with local conservation organizations, and more.