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ACA River Kayak IDW/ICE Class

This packet of articles and links to further resources covers all of the ACA River Kayaking class subjects. River kayak instructor candidates should browse the various topics to ensure they are current with ACA terminology and practices. Becoming a ACA certified river kayak instructor definitely takes some effort. They are not looking for the hottest class V boater. Their goal is to recruit/develop individuals with excellent communication skills, an interest in maintaining and improving solid paddling form, excellent safety practitioners, and really enjoy this great sport. The ACA provides different skill levels so most persons in our sport can enjoy teaching. A great way to prepare for the Instructor Development Workshop is practicing teaching with an ACA certified instructor. I would also recommend taking the 2-day ACA SWR class - frankly mandatory training for any class III or above boater. Concentrate on any required skills that give you trouble like rolling in whitewater or accurately tossing a throw rope. Gain some familiarity with the ACA website and ensure your membership is current. I would also paddle a large variety of rivers to develop strong boat/shore scouting skills. When running rivers, get in the habit of identifying clean lines and stick them! Where it makes sense, use river features like waves and holes to ease navigation. When you are ready to share your knowledge with others, take this great course.

Demonstrate knowledge of ACA Policies & Procedures:

How to register & report a course (with and without insurance)
Understanding of the ACA Waiver & Release of Liability
Instructor Maintenance Requirements

The River Kayak Classes:

Level 1: Introduction to Kayaking
Level 2: Essentials of River Kayaking
Level 3: River Kayaking
Level 4: Whitewater Kayaking

Demonstrate knowledge of teaching and learning theory:

Characteristics of different types of learners
Effective teaching methods
Effective prepared and impromptu presentations
Evaluate and provide feedback
Effective documentation of skill assessments
The Drill

Demonstrate the following:

Positive interpersonal skills
Appropriate group management skills (including leadership and judgment)
Ability to choose an appropriate venue / class site

Class Management

Collect and administer all appropriate course paperwork
Establish an appropriate learning environment
Lesson Plans / Outlines
The 6 P's

Introduction & Logistics

Introduction of instructors and participants
Overview with expectations & limitations
Liability waivers, Organization forms, and Medical Disclosure
Site specific procedures, regulations, times
Warm Up and Stretching To Reduce Injury
ACA Safety Resources
Alcohol/Chemical Substance abuse
Group Responsibilities/ No peer pressure

ACA Overview

ACA History
ACA Partnerships
ACA Instructor Offerings
How many instructors are there?
Instructor Requirements
No Guarantees!
Instructor Certification Maintenance

How we evaluate instructors

Level 1: Introduction to Kayaking
Level 2: Essentials of River Kayaking
Level 3: River Kayaking
Level 4: Whitewater Kayaking

Strokes & Maneuvers

Forward stroke, to propel the kayak straight forward with good form
Reverse/back stroke, to stop with control and paddle backward with control
Forward Sweep
Reverse Sweep
Stern Draw
Draw Stroke
Sculling Draw
Low Brace
High Brace
Bow Draw
Stationary Draw
Duffek and other draw variations
Eddy Turns
Peel Outs
Front & Back Ferries
C Turns
S Turns

Safety & Rescue

Principles of Rescue
Types of Rescue


Kayak: types, materials, flotation, parts (including safety features: walls, foot braces, grab loops)
Kayak outfitting: comfort & safety; back rests, hip pads
Paddle: types, parts, length, blade size & shape, fitting, hand position
Spray skirts: types & material, grab loop!
Care of Equipment
Personal Equipment: water, food, shoes, sunscreen, bug spray, sun glasses, eyeglass straps, protective clothing for heat or cold, sponge, hat, whistle
Car topping: Loading and unloading, racks, tie down
Life jackets (PFDs): types, fit
Helmet: types, fit

Getting Started

Launching, carries, landing
Water confidence and comfort
Rescue Priorities: People, gear, & boats
Wet exits
How to empty a kayak
The Terminology of Paddling
Types of strokes: power, turning & bracing
Stroke components: catch, propulsion, recovery, control and correction
Effective Body Usage and Bio-Kinetics
Use of larger torso muscles
Arms as struts connecting paddle to torso
Avoidance of positions that contribute to shoulder injury or dislocations

The Paddling Environment

Characteristics of Current
Downstream and Upstream V's / Chutes
Eddies / Eddy Lines
Waves / Wave Holes
Effects of Obstacles
Ledges / Horizon Lines
Strainers & Sieves
Rocks / Pillows
Holes / Hydraulics
Other Hazards
Power of the Current / River Level
Cold Water
Dams / Flow Diversion Structures / Pipelines
Undercut Rocks / Ice
International Scale of River Difficulty

River Running

Strategies in Running Rivers
Group Organization on the River
Emergency Procedures


Now that you have a basic understanding of strokes, it is time to put that knowledge to good use. During the class, we will have you perform a number of flat water maneuvers to develop solid boat control.

Spins (onside and offside): boat pivots in place
Forward: boat moves in reasonably straight line
Reverse: boat moves in a reasonably straight line
Stopping: boat stops within a reasonable distance
Turns: boat turns in broad arc made while underway
Veering, Carving, and paddling the “inside circle”
Abeam: boat moves sideways without headway
Sideslips: boat moves sideways with headway
Other exercises

Whitewater Practice

Eddy Turns
Sequences of Maneuvers

Next Steps

Emphasize the need for further instruction, practice and experience
River Reading
Hazard Recognition and Avoidance
Boat Control
Managing, Reducing, Eliminating Risks
Recommendation for First Aid, CPR, and rescue training
River Etiquette
Other Paddling options
Local paddling groups/clubs
ACA Membership Registration
Student Packets/Participation cards
Evaluation of course

The Final Exam

Beginners Class Exam
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