Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

ACA Instructor Certifications

Quick Details

L3 ICW (5 Days)
L4 ICW (4 Days)
Skills Assessment (L3 or L4)

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.

Portland Paddle will host a Level 3 Skills Assessment in two four hour sessions on May 7th and 10th 2024 and a Level 4 skills assessment in an eight hour session on August 19th 2024, or email us to set up a private assessment.

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.

Instructor Bios

Nate Hanson

Pinniped 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.