Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ACA SUP Instructors Certification Workshop

What a fun weekend on San Francisco Bay!  Cindy & Steve Scherrer came down from WA to help me run an American Canoe Association Level 1/2 SUP Instructors Certification Workshop for 6 potential candidates.  We had a great team of paddlers with a ton of learning going on and super support from all.  In the end, we certified four new Level 1 Instructors and two new Level 2 Instructors - success!

Congrats to Adrianna, Kelsa, Jeff, Alon, Michael & Mitch!

One of the best venues I've ever worked in

Instructor Candidates from Massachusetts, Colorado & California

Near perfect conditions all weekend

The ACA SUP Instructors Program was created on the foundation of 40 years of paddling instructor development.  Since 1972 the ACA has been developing curriculum and implementing best practices for paddling instructors from canoeists to kayakers to standup paddlers.  

The common question with the 3-day SUP Instructor Workshop is "what are we going to do for three days?"  The answer usually consists of something like "we'll do as much as we can, but really we need 4 or 5 days."  The way this program is designed, candidates need to have already developed their personal paddling skills before coming to this course so they can focus on the how-to of teaching.   More often than not, candidates need personal skills training during the instructor training and aren't quite ready for level 2.  

In order to get certified, candidates must demonstrate proficiency & knowledge in a couple different areas like teaching & learning theory, safety & rescue, strokes, maneuvers, technical knowledge, group management, leadership, trip planning and more.  There's much more to know than just how to pivot turn and go fast.  

The essence of the course is to help candidates become ready to develop a paddling program.  The three major segments of that program are:

Strokes & Maneuvers.  Can a candidate exercise full control over their board all the time?  Do they have the cognitive skills to decide what stroke to use when?  Are their strokes efficient?  Is their body position safe?  Do they understand the main paddling concepts?  Do they know the names of each stroke and how to break them down into smaller pieces?  Are they able to develop teaching progressions?  Do they understand the different ways people learn and can they adapt their teaching methods to foster success?  

Rescue & Recovery.  Can candidates deal with the unexpected?  Are they safe?  This includes things like towing, paddler recoveries, unassisted rescue, rescue protocols & signaling.  Candidates are required to be certified in CPR and venue appropriate first-aid.  Candidates must demonstrate the strength and technique needed to respond quickly and appropriately.  

Journeying.  Is the candidate a good leader?  Can they manage a group of paddlers well?  Do they exercise sound judgement & make decisions quickly?  Are their trip planning skills adequate?  Do they understand the marine environment & the weather?  Can they read water?  

My best advice for future Instructor Candidates is to review the Instructor Criteria, master the paddling strokes forwards and backwards, onside and offside, and increase your marine environment knowledge as much as possible.