Learn to Become a Maine Sea Kayaking Guide in this Intensive Course
ACA Instructor Certifications
- L3 ICW (5 Days)
- L4 ICW (4 Days)
Instructor Certification Workshops for Sea Kayakers
American Canoe Association (ACA) instructor certifications are the industry standard within the world of paddlesports. These certifications are essential for professional instructors and are also valuable for paddling club members, summer camp counselors, and school outing club leaders. All instructor certification workshops are taught by ACA-certified Instructor Trainers. To learn more about the ACA instructor certification system visit this page of the ACA website.
Instructor Certification Workshops (ICW): Portland Paddle offers these workshops that combine the two courses required to become a certified instructor: The Instructor Development Workshop, which is focused on the development of paddling and teaching skills, and the Instructor Certification Exam, which involves a formal evaluation of skills. Students must be able to demonstrate during the instructor certification exam that they are able to meet the criteria for certification in order to receive certification.
ACA Skills Assessments – Skills assessments offer a way for a paddler to confirm that they are competent at a certain level within the ACA system. Generally, anyone who wants to take an Instructor Certification Workshops must first undergo an ACA skills assessment that shows they have the required skills. These assessments take place prior to the start of the course, and can be done with any ACA certified instructor of appropriate level. Skills assessments can also serve as helpful proofs of competency when registering for other advanced level courses, or for adventure races or remote expeditions. Portland Paddle offers skills assessments at all levels with our certified instructors, as do our partners at Pinniped Kayak.
Skills Clinics and Touch Ups – Portland Paddle offers classes in all areas of sea kayaking skills, at all levels, including navigation, bracing and edging, rescues, weather and seamanship, rolling and more. If you have a specific skill set you would like to learn or improve, please see our lessons page or contact us to set up a private lesson.
- The science of learning and teaching
- Exercises to teach and practice paddling skills
- Refine and advance your own paddling abilities
- Group management and interpersonal skills
Instructor certification workshops are taught in the greater Portland area at sites with the appropriate environmental conditions. Depending on the requirements of the certification and the weather of the day this could include our main site at East End Beach, our satellite location at Crescent Beach, or other coastal destinations, rivers, and lakes within an hour of Portland. You will be notified by your instructor of the exact destination before the beginning of the course. Limited transportation or carpooling options may be available if necessary.
You will receive expert instruction from an American Canoe Association certified Instructor Trainer, as well as opportunities for peer learning, and a chance to work with practice students.
We encourage students to use their own kayaks and other gear for this workshop, since many of the skills covered are best learned in a boat that one has experience paddling. However, if that is not possible we will provide a kayak and basic paddling gear at no extra cost.
All of the following, if needed, is included in the cost of the course:
- Drybag so you can bring along a few items on the water (snacks, phone, warm layer, etc.)
- Tow rope
- Paddle float
- Bilge pump
In this certification workshop we will explore a variety of approaches to actively support and promote learning in our students. This is a busy and interactive course, with exemplar sessions by instructors, and many opportunities for candidates to deliver practice sessions, receive feedback from peers and staff, and refine their approach to instruction. Through the week candidates will work towards demonstrating competency with the teaching, leadership, and personal paddling abilities required of L3 Instructors, and on days 4 and 5 we will assess those abilities authentically, by providing candidates the opportunity to teach a group of genuine practice students. This ICW utilizes coastal environments in the Casco Bay area, with moderate wind, waves up to 2 feet, small surf, and current up to 2 knots. A detailed description of the minimum topics to be covered by the course, as required by the ACA, can be found here.
- Proof of an ACA L3: Coastal Kayaking Skills Assessment with an ACA certified instructor, meeting the criteria outlined by the ACA
- Comfort paddling in course appropriate environments, including 10-15 knots of wind, up to 2 feet of waves and surf, and up to 2 knots of current
- Prior experience with capsizing and recovering a sea kayak, and performing other rescue maneuvers
- Basic knowledge of navigation and seamanship
- Basic knowledge of paddling strokes, braces, and other fundamental techniques
L4 Open Water Sea Kayak Instructor certification is offered for existing L3 Coastal Kayak instructors who are prepared to expand their teaching skills into more advanced environments, and provide more effective and differentiated instruction in authentic paddling environments.
In addition, to addressing the core ACA criteria, we’ll look at a variety of teaching/instructing/coaching concepts, and processes that are not traditionally part of ACA Instructor Development and put them into practice. Therefore, this ICW will also make for an informative update for current Instructors and Instructor Trainers. Content will be focused on the standards and competencies required to instruct within the L4 venue autonomously.
Candidates will leave with refined personal skills, an improved arsenal of instructional tools, and a personalized action plan to continue their growth as paddlesports professionals.
Candidates must be existing ACA L3 instructors, and have passed an L4 Skills Assessment. This may be used as an Update for existing L4 instructors.
A detailed description of the minimum topics to be covered by the course, as required by the ACA, can be found here.
- Be a certified ACA L3 instructor in good standing
- Have previously reported at least 2 L3 courses to the ACA
- Have completed an ACA L4 Skills Assessment with an ACA certified instructor, meeting the criteria outlined by the ACA
- Comfort paddling in course appropriate environments, including 15-20 knots of wind, 3-5 foot waves, 3-4 foot surf, and 2-4 knots of current
- Intermediate to advanced knowledge of navigation and seamanship
- Intermediate to advanced knowledge of various paddling strokes, braces, and other techniques
- The ability to reliably perform a kayak roll
Nate HansonPinniped Kayak, ACA Instructor Trainer
Nate’s enthusiasm for kayaking is hard to hide. With an encouraging teaching style, he enjoys helping students discover new possibilities in a sea kayak, working with each individual to attain his or her own personal paddling goals – whether that’s surfing a tide race, or simply getting into a boat without tipping over. The owner of Pinniped Kayak, Nate spends most of his time teaching and paddling on the waters surrounding Acadia National Park in Downeast Maine, though the sport of sea kayaking has also brought him around the globe to the coasts of Chile, Croatia, Scotland and more.
Nate’s credentials include: British Canoeing Sea Kayak Coach, ACA L5 Advanced Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor, ACA L4 Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer, ACA L4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor, BCU 4-Star Sea Leader. He is also certified as a Wilderness First Responder (WMA). He has served as an instructor at the East Coast Paddlesports Symposium, Symposio de Kayak del Pacifico Sur, the Bay Of Fundy Sea Kayak Symposium, the Western Isles Sea Kayak Symposium, and the Downeast Sea Kayak Symposium. Nate is proud to be a Team Paddler for P&H Custom Sea Kayaks.