Welcome to the planning phase of your upcoming  American Canoe Association River Kayak Day-trip Leader Assessment. ACA assessments are interactive classes designed to both provide education and to document your abilities to successfully perform specific paddling activities. The trip leading assessments can be thought of as a blend of paddling, safety and group management skills that will help you to more safely work with a group of paddlers on a defined venue. To quote the curriculum: “This course is intended to provide the minimum skills and training necessary for an adult leader with basic paddling skills, to safely lead a trip for participants with adequate paddling skills, on a day trip, on moving water up to and including Class I-II rapids.”

Organized below are materials and resources to help you prepare for the assessment. This material will be covered in your course, but it will help immensely for you to have read over, and become familiar with (if not practiced at) this body of knowledge. Our course will end with a written exam that you will need to pass (along with practical on-water exercises during the course) in order to pass and receive you Assessment certificate, so studying up a little in advance should be a big help.

  1. Please complete an online participant information form for contact information for class reporting, safety and emergency use.
  2. Review the River-Kayak Day-trip Leading Assessment curriculum. Feel free to email any questions you may have before the course. We’ll be going over all of this information and exam material during the course.
  3. I have published a couple of videos and descriptions of deep-water rescues that you’ll need to demonstrate during the course. Please review these and practice as much as possible ahead of time. Being proficient in them will save a lot of time and frustration for you in the course.  I recommend this article that covers many of the basic physics of paddling.

The two days of our course we will meet at the designated location (TBA) at 8:30 AM. Each course day will be planned for about 8 hours of work with half-hour lunch breaks. We’ll plan to end our days at 5:00 PM but,  as can happen with field work, be prepared for the  contingencies of a later finish.

The first day of our course will be mostly classroom work with the second day being mostly on-water work. As you can see from the course outline, I’ll be teaching some material, we’ll be interactively discussing some material, and you’ll be demonstrating your abilities for me for some material. The written exam included in the curriculum will be a part of the course and you will need to have a 28-of-40 score or better to pass that part of the assessment. We will try to focus much of the course on specific operations you may have in your business but we will also be considering practices that help you think and react in a more generic context. I’d suggest reviewing this ACA brochure on Best Practices for Paddlers and Paddlesports Programs to see if there are any practices that might be added to your or your organization’s programs.

For the course days, you’ll need:

  • notepad and pencil or pen
  • Clothing suitable for the weather and, for the on-water day, clothing and/or exposure gear suitable for getting and staying wet for much of the day.
  • Footwear with soles and heels. Sandals like Teva or Keen are OK. Booties or water shoes are better. Flip flops or bare feet are not acceptable. As a group leader, you need to be ready to be on foot.
  • Lunches, snacks and hydration. Bring plenty of water.
  • Drybag for anything that needs to stay dry.
  • Sunscreen
  • Kayak or inflatable kayak suitable for river work, preferably of the type you’ll be using to lead groups and/or the type your guests may be using. Kayak flotation is strongly recommended. Sprayskirts are optional (for you).
  • Kayak paddle.
  • Type III life jacket/PFD.
  • Paddling helmet.
  • Optional Equipment (for the course): bilge pumps, tow lines, throw ropes, rescue stirrups

(If anyone does not have a piece of necessary gear, let me know and I’ll see if I can provide)

Best of luck in your course! I’m looking forward to working with you.


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