Level 4: Whitewater Canoeing Instructor

Take the Whitewater Canoeing Instructor Development Workshop and Instructor Certification Exam (IDW & ICE).

The Instructor Development Workshop (IDW), over 2.5 days, is where instructors assess Instructor Candidate demonstrations and teaching technique, providing feedback for improvement. Instructor candidates receive an exit interview with specific recommendations and 2-4 teaching assignments for the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE). Over an additional 2.5 days, Instructor Candidates’ teaching and demonstration skills are evaluated by course instructors to determine instructional status with the ACA. Additional course-specific requirements can be foundon the ACA Website in the ACA Instructor Criteria documents.

Course Length: 
40 Hours (5 Days)
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be a current ACA member in good standing
  • Be able to independently participate in all skills, activities and rescues listed in the appropriate ACA Certification Course Outline and Instructor Criteria documents
  • Be able to effectively communicate with the Instructor Trainer and other course participants
  • Be able to manage all personal care and mobility independently
  • Completion of the appropriate level assessment course, or equivalent skills
  • Confident paddling in class II whitewater
  • Completion of Level 4: Swiftwater Rescue Skills Course recommended
Certifications Received: 


Personal Gear: You must provide these items!

  • Personal Flotation Device
  • Type III or V, should allow freedom of movement
  • Head Protection
  • Should provide adequate protection for the forehead, temples, ears, and the back of the head
  • Cold Protection
  • Wetsuit or Drysuit, Polypro, Splash gear
  • Foot protection
  • Sturdy footwear providing protection from sharp rocks and other debris while providing some thermal protection. NO Sandals – use an old pair of sneakers

While not required, it is suggested that all ACA members acquire the rest of this basic equipment over time:

Basic Rescue Gear:

  • Rope
  • Throw bag containing 70' of 3/8" or larger floating line. Needs to be constructed as a kernmantle braid, A Spectra core has considerable strength advantage
  • Knife. Easily accessible knife which can be opened/prepared with one hand, stainless steel blade, and rubberized hand grip
  • Whistle. A loud plastic whistle which can be heard at long distances over noise of rapids
  • First Aid Kit. A well stocked kit should include at least bandaging and splinting supplies, cold packs, latex gloves, CPR microshield, emergency food (sugar/candy). Should be stored in a water-tight bag

Technical Rescue Gear:

  • Webbing. A 10-15' length of 1"/4,000 lb. test, tubular nylon webbing tied in a loop
  • Carabiners. Two locking AD aluminum carabiners rated in excess of 5,000 lb. tensile strength
  • Prussik Loops
  • Two prussik loops large enough to tie a triple wrapped prussik knot on a 1/2" rope. Prussiks should have a tensile strength of at least 4,000 lb., yet their diameter should be between 5.5 and 7 mm

For the ACA’s specific eligibility requirements for instructor courses, go to the ACA website and identify the discipline and level of certfication for the course you are enrolling in.

The  first half of the course experience, the IDW, is an introduction to the curriculum presented in the format conforming to the ACA curricular guidelines. At the end of this portion of the course, Instructor Trainers meet with individual students to evaluate their strengths and challenges, and to assign specific teaching topics for the second half of the course.

The second half of the course experience, the ICE, is the opportunity for the student to become the instructor, modeling ACA skills and teaching prepared and impromptu topics to the rest of the class. It is largely studentdriven, monitored closely by the Instructor Trainers.

Because of commuting time to and from river sites, participants should plan to pack their lunches each day, to maximize time in class. Bringing plenty of snacks and water, layers and dry clothes is important, as folks get cold each afternoon with the amount of time in the water practicing skills. Please review the ACA Gear List to best prepare for a comfortable experience.

The IDW/ICE ends with exit interviews, award of the level of instructor gained through the experience. The SWR IDW/ICE also includes a written examination. Students should be aware that they may or may not receive the level of instructorship they originally enrolled for; individual skill not only as a paddler but also as an instructor will play into the Instructor Trainers’ final decisions.

Class will end between 5PM and 6PM on the last day of the course. Please do not plan to leave before then, or make travel plans requiring an earlier departure or you will risk certification.

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