ACA Certification Courses

ACA Certification Courses

Osprey Sea & Surf Adventures is an official American Canoe Association Professional Paddle Sports School. We offer personal paddling training courses, assessments & instructor certifications for all levels of ACA Sea Kayak & Stand Up Paddle instruction.

For levels 3,4,and 5 Ocean Touring Certifications, the instructor certification program is made up of two components, the Instructor Development Workshop (IDW), and the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE). Students are required participate in both sessions to become an instructor, with the understanding that participation does not guarantee certification.

For level 1 and 2 Essential Skills Instructor candidates, we also offer Instructor Certification Workshops (ICW). The ICW is a three-day comprehensive instructor training and certification-combined course.

Osprey Sea & Surf Adventures also offers Sea Kayak and SUP skills assessments for all levels that can be schedule upon request.

Prior to participating in this process participants are required to become members of the American Canoe Association, purchase an ACA instructor manual, and upon completion of their Instructor Certification become members of the Safety Education and Instruction Council (SEIC). To be an instructor you must be 18 years of age and also have current first aid and CPR certification.

For more information, or to become a member of the ACA, check out the ACA web page.

The Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW)

The ICW is only provided for Level 1 and Level 2 Essential Skills Certifications. This course combines the Instructor Development Worshop as well and the Certification Exam into a single three day course. The IT will spend time working with the instructor candidate on personal skills, group management and teaching. Additionally, the IT will also assess the candidate with the appropriate skills criteria, and issue a continuance, or pass the candidate.Participation does not guarantee certification.

Dates: February 20th- 23rd in St. Petersburg, FL, May 23rd – 25th in Westport, MA

Cost $450.00

Instructor Trainer: Carl Ladd

Pre course checklist:

Current ACA Membership and SEIC Membership (bring your ACA number with you)

Purchase a copy of the ACA Instructor Manual with CD

Print copies of ACA Required Texts and Materials  for aspirant instructors, read them & add to ACA Instructor Manual

Review the requirements for ACA Coastal Skills Assessments (levels 1 or 2).

Learn a bit about your national canoe, kayak and raft organization at Inside the ACA

The Instructor Development Workshop (IDW)

The IDW helps students to become acquainted with the ACA model of effective instruction, paddling and leadership necessary in kayaking. The teaching techniques, paddling skills, technical knowledge, rescue and safety competencies, required for successful completion of the Instructor Certification Exam will be reviewed and modeled during this course. Participants are recommended to have passed their Skills Assessment at the level they are seeking to become an instructor.

The IDW is offered at different skill levels, candidates should participate in the IDW that matches their skill level as a paddler. Please go to the ACA web site to view the different skills assessment levels, course outlines and instructor critiera.

The IDW is a prerequisite for the Instructor Certification Exam.

Level 3: May 5th-8th, Westport, MA

Level 4: May 5th- 8th, Westport, MA

Cost $550.00

Instructor Trainers: Carl Ladd, Todd Johnstone- Wright, Nate Hansen

Pre course checklist:

Current ACA Membership and SEIC Membership (bring your ACA number with you)

Purchase a copy of the ACA Instructor Manual with CD

Print copies of ACA Required Texts and Materials  for aspirant instructors, read them & add to ACA Instructor Manual

Review the requirements for ACA Coastal Skills Assessments (levels 1-5).

Learn a bit about your national canoe, kayak and raft organization at Inside the ACA

The Instructor Certification Examination (ICE)

The ICE is the final exam for instructor certification. Participation in the ICE does not guarantee certification. Candidates should be proficient in all skills at their level of desired instruction before attending the ICE.

Throughout the certification process, candidates will be evaluated and must be able to perform all of the related skills at a 100% competency 70% of the time. For example – a candidate must demonstrate an ACA model of any given stroke seven out of ten times to be considered at a passing level. A solid instructor candidate should be able to perform all the skills at their level with unconscious competence.

The ICE is offered at different skill levels, 3 – 5. Candidates should participate in the ICE that matches their skill level as a paddler. Please go to the ACA web site to view the different course outlines, skills assessments, and instructor criteria at their respective levels.

Level 3 ICE – July 1st- 2nd,  Westport, MA, Cost: $

Level 4 ICE – TBA,  Cost: $450.00

Instructor Trainer: Carl Ladd, Todd Wright, Nate Hansen

ACA Coastal Kayak Trip Leader Training – Level 2

This course is intended to provide the skills and training necessary for an adult leader possessing basic paddling skills to lead day trips for participants with beginner level paddling skills calm coastal environments. The emphasis of this course is trip leading, safety education and rescue on water, but not specific to paddling instruction. The content is ideal for clubs, camps, scouts and other entities providing guided trips.

Dates: TBD or contact us to schedule a training for your group    Cost: $450.00

SUP Instructor Certification Workshop/Essentials of SUP 1 & 2

The ACA ICW provides SUP Instructors the basics of water safety and a solid framework of SUP teaching techniques. This three-day program is an intensive, fast paced workshop designed to refine your instructional techniques and familiarize you with the processes and curriculum of the American Canoe Association. Students aspiring to be certified as SUP instructors will need to have current certifications in both CPR and First Aid.
Goals for this course include:
-to become familiar with current educational theory as it applies to paddle instruction
-to develop personal paddling skills
-to develop teaching and coaching skills
-to develop safe group management techniques
-to become familiar with ACA procedures for certified instructors

In the Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW) you will be assessed in the following areas: Personal Paddling Skills, Teaching Skills, Modeling Skills, Risk Management, Group Management,  Technical Knowledge, Coaching & Assessment.

Pre-requisites: Proficiency with basic skills outlined in ACA Instructor Criteria, ACA Annual Membership, First Aid & CPR certification, 18 years of age or older.

Level One Instructor Criteria

Level Two Instructor Criteria

Dates: May 27th- 29th, Westport, Ma,  July 7th- 9th, Westport, Ma

Cost: $450.00

Instructor Trainer: Jim Bernard


SUP Instructor Prep Course

This class is designed to be a full day prep clinic for folks who will be taking an ACA SUP L1/L2 Instructor Certification Workshop. It will also benefit students who just want to improve their personal paddling skills and understanding of the sport or are working towards guiding or teaching SUP classes. Topics covered will relate specifically to the skills needed to successfully complete an ICW and will generally come from the ACA SUP Instructor criteria:
-Personal paddling skill development, SUP strokes.
-Teaching theory
-Teaching practice
-Learning styles
-Environmental issues while leading a group
-Group management and safety considerations
A full day class, mostly on the water. Students need to bring food, water, snacks, and clothing necessary for the entire day.
This class is NOT a pre-requisite for the ACA SUP ICW & completion of this class does not offer any preferential consideration for the ICW.

Date: May 7th      Cost: $100


Kayak & SUP Instructor Updates

Instructor Updates can be accomplished by one of the following methods:

  • Participate in an actual Instructor Update course at your highest certification level
  • Participate In an IDW or ICE at the highest level of certification
  • Assist with an IDW or ICE at the highest level of certification (with the pre-approval of the facilitating IT) and complete a review of ACA Policies & Procedures with the IT
  • Complete an approved Endorsement (check with the SEI Department beforehand)
  • Co-teach a skills course at your highest level of certification under the supervision of an IT in that discipline and complete a review of ACA Policies & Procedures with the IT

Dates: May 6th – SUP Instructor Level 1 & 2, $150.00

Cost: depends on method and level of update. Please contact the IT for more information and possible dates. 508-636-0300


Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures
489 Old County Rd.
Westport, MA 02790

American Canoe Association, Canoe and Kayak Recreation

Our Instructors are American Canoe Association (ACA) certified, British Canoe Union (BCU) coaching certified, or both

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