Paddling is cool!

I’m proud to be an affiliate ACA Instructor Trainer Educator of Canoe Kayak and Paddle Company, an American Canoe Association Pro School offering professional paddlesports instruction. I provide education in flatwater, whitewater and coastal kayaking, river safety and rescue and tandem canoe as well as ACA instructor certifications and instructor trainer mentoring in flatwater and whitewater kayaking. Take a look through some of the information and offerings on the site. –Larry

Photo of Larry Ausley by Sarah Ruhlen


instructorpatchI offer courses in Introduction to Kayaking (Level 1) River Kayaking up through Whitewater Kayaking Instructor (Levels 2-4) and Coastal Kayaking (Levels 2-3) certification as an American Canoe Association Instructor (a few words here on the value of that certification). A very limited number of Instructor Certification courses in any given level are offered in response to demands for education by potential candidates.
Instructor updates are required for all ACA instructors at least once every four-year certification cycle. These can take place at any time during your certification cycle, but I urge instructors to get their updates when they can rather than waiting until the last year in order to insure that an update class will be available to them. Not all Instructor Trainers offer updates in any given year and updates can sometimes be difficult to find for a given level/given discipline/given area.
Experienced ACA instructors may opt to carry their paddling and educational credentials to the next level and apply for certification as Instructor Trainers (IT) who can then teach and certify instructors themselves. Unlike instructor certification, IT development is not just a course, but rather a process of mentoring with an Instructor Trainer Educator (ITE) through the steps of co-teaching an instructor certification workshop and then (at least) lead-teaching a second instructor certification workshop under the supervision of the ITE. The Instructor Trainer candidate may then make an application for certification to the ACA Safety Education and Instruction Council’s Standards Committee, documenting their credentials, proven performance and dedication to excellence in representing ACA. My goal in mentoring IT candidates is to lead them through this process to help them build experience, knowledge and credentials that make their application to the Standards Committee one with unquestionable merit.
kayakers talkingThese are the paddling courses one normally sees. They are meant to introduce and practice new skills on the water or to advance and hone additional skills and knowledge. I teach in 4 separate disciplines including river and coastal kayak, canoe and river safety and rescue. Courses can be taught as standard ACA curriculum or can be custom molded to the students’ needs, interests and timeframe.
kayaker rolling in poolLearning to roll a kayak is one of the first skills many people think of when they want to learn kayaking. It’s not, however, necessarily a make-or-break proposition and there are several other stepping-stone skills that are very helpful to develop first that will make learning to roll easier. I usually prefer to talk with a rolling candidate first to find out where they are along this progression. During a rolling session (and it’s best not to exceed about 2 hours for these due to their physical nature) we’ll cover the skills and tools you’ll need to roll and begin working on the basics of the roll: the one that will work best for you. You’ll leave the session with concepts and drills to help develop and fine-tune your roll. Some people pick it up quickly but many take more extended periods to work their way up to a reliable roll. Read a few more thoughts on rolling on my blog here.
Assessment courses are intended to provide an objective benchmark for a paddler’s skills. These courses require a paddler to demonstrate specific stroke and maneuver skills and rescues to the instructor at a variety of endpoint levels. Successful completion of an assessment course results in an Assessment certificate from the American Canoe Association as a Level 1, 2, 3…etc. kayaker (up to level 5), canoer (level 1-tandem) or river rescuer (up to level 3) in the appropriate discipline. Specialized assessments are also available for River Kayak Day-trip Leader (a 2-day assessment popular with river guides) and for Kayak Camping (river or coastal).


Sapere Aude: Dare to Learn. From the day I took my first kayaking course, I’ve found at every step that understanding and utilizing paddling fundamentals and foundations are keys to moving my skills forward. Whether I’m teaching you as a first-timer, an advanced whitewater kayaker or a budding instructor, fundamentals will be an important focus of our work. I’m also very student-centric. I want to make your learning experience valuable to you. Most of the courses I teach are student-requested/student-generated. In other words…I’m teaching students who are there for a reason: To Learn. I try to make classes safe, fun learning experiences that they will recommend to friends and peers. The majority of my students come to me through word-of-mouth via my former students and clients.

I teach because I want to; not because I need to. I enjoy seeing people have personal breakthroughs. I don’t sell any equipment. I don’t represent any manufacturers. When it comes to equipment, I use and recommend products based on my observations of quality and value. I try to recommend equipment to students that deliver value and give them the best result.

In my years of paddling and teaching, I’ve worked with many instructors, ITs and ITEs and I’ve tried to learn from each of them (and pass along!) the best ideas they had to offer. I’ve also learned, paddled and taught in several ACA paddlesports disciplines including river kayak, coastal kayak, canoe and river safety and rescue. Each discipline has something to be learned for use in another. I think this diversity is one of the values I can offer students. I’ll teach you a trick/nuance/skill in your discipline from another that you can use to make your paddling stronger, more efficient and/or safer.

I made a commitment to clean 1,000 plastic bottles every year from our rivers and streams.
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