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ACA Level 1 Kayaking Instructor Training

  • 09 Aug 2024
  • 10:30 AM
  • 11 Aug 2024
  • 5:00 PM
  • S. Strafford, VT
  • 5




Women Outdoors’ E. Mass. and Vermont/NH leaders have organized a Level 1 kayaking instructor training course — the American Canoe Association (ACA) Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW) — in Vermont with ACA instructor Ben Morton. As of June 2, 2024, we have 4 confirmed students and openings for another six qualified participants. 

Ben is an ACA instructor of instructors who's highly recommended by our NH/VT Regional Contacts Bonna Wieler and Debra Weisenstein, who’ve both participated in his paddling workshops.  

Workshop Description

Here’s a link to a description of the L1 Kayak Instructor Workshop. In a nutshell, the ICW includes both instructor development training and instructor assessment.  In order to excel in this course format, Ben advises that it’s important that candidates arrive with realistic expectations and a foundation of prior paddling experience.  

In order to assess your qualifications to participate, here are links to the ACA Level 1: Introduction to Kayak Curriculum: 

Instructor Criteria
  • This criteria is used as a framework for instructor workshop delivery and instructor candidate assessments.
Skills Assessment
  • The skills assessment is in the form of a class outline, but the clear outline of skills listed within the table can be a beneficial tool to understanding what “hard skills” will be expected of the instructor candidate.
Sample Skills Course Outline
  • The sample skills course outline is exactly that, a sample skills course.  There is an abundance of curriculum listed within this document, and it serves as a tool for considering what an instructor may (or may not) want to include within course outlines that they prepare themselves.

If you have any questions with regard to your level of readiness, or any of the resources and content listed above, please feel free to contact Ben at

Course logistics:


Aug. 9-11, 2024


Friday: 10:30 a.m.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m.
Sunday: 8:30 a.m.


Sunday, 5pm*

*Note: Staying over on Sunday night so as to leave on Monday morning is an option. Our hostesses, Bonna and Deb, have generously offered to house as many of us as they can accommodate, for the full weekend, including Sunday night. Bring camping gear or check with Bonna to borrow some.

VENUE: Bonna and Deb are generously opening their home in South Strafford, VT so that we can all stay for the weekend. Instructions/address will be sent to confirmed registrants. 


  1. A bedroom in the main house with one double bed to sleep one or two women who are OK with sharing.

  2. A pop-up trailer that can sleep 3.

  3. Camping: no limit.  A tent on a platform will have mattresses for 2 or 3.  Another platform will have a screen tent on it.  Individual tents may be pitched.

  4. NOTE:  There is one bathroom in the house and an outhouse near the campsite.  


There's an outdoor kitchen area with a two-burner stove at the campsite and a kitchen in the house with a propane stove/oven.  Stay tuned: Bonna and Deb may assign preparation of specific meals to each of us.  Personal food should be stored in your own cooler, not left at the campsite unless your cooler is animal-proof. Deb and Bonna have two large coolers for this purpose. 


The goal of this ACA course is to turn people into kayak instructors, not trip leaders. Of course there is a lot of overlap between those two things, as an instructor has to lead a group on the water. There is primary focus on how people learn and how to teach, performing and modeling kayak strokes with precision, and creating your own lessons, including demos, clear explanations, and an invented activity or game so students can practice the skills and get feedback. 

When Bonna and Deb did the Level 1 instructor class with Ben in early June 2021, he had each do a wet exit and swim to shore with their boats and paddles.  They also performed one deep water assisted re-entry. 

What Ben will teach will depend somewhat on people’s skill going into the class: for example, whether he has to teach basic strokes before teaching how to teach more advanced strokes. 


Participants may bring their own boats or rent one from Bonna and Deb. Cost for the 3-day weekend boat rental = $50. 


  1. TOTAL COST: Ben's fee is $1,500, which we will share equally. Note: This cost does not include participant's ACA and SEIC dues (ACA Membership: $40 / SEIC Dues: $30).

  2. TRAINING COST PER PARTICIPANT: The cost depends on how many participants we wind up with, and on whether participants choose to apply for and meet the requirements for a training scholarship that will cover 1/3 of the costs for Women Outdoors members in good standing (see No. 4 below). 
    Deb and Bonna will assist as co-instructors. Neither will be charged and hence won't be sharing the cost.
    The class maximum with one instructor and two assistants is 10. We'll determine closer to the date how many we'll have. If we have 4 participants, the cost (of training alone, without ACA dues or food costs) will be $375 each plus a small PayPal fee. If we have 10 participants, the cost  (of training alone, without ACA dues or food costs) will be $150, plus a small PayPal fee.
    Those members in good standing who apply for and meet the requirements of a Women Outdoors training scholarship (see No. 3 below) will be awarded a scholarship to cover ⅓ of the tuition cost. For additional financial support, you can also request regional funds from  your Regional Contact(s) (if you don’t know who that is or how to contact her/them, you can check out the Our Regions page to find out. Again, final cost will be determined by how many participants sign up. 

  3. SCHOLARSHIPS: Women Outdoors has agreed to reimburse 1/3 of our fee to Women Outdoors members in good standing, in exchange for commitments from the training scholarship recipients to lead at least 2 trips in the year following certification. Please be advised that scholarship applications must be submitted at least a month in advance of receiving certification so that the board of directors has time to vote on applications. 

    Sign in to Women Outdoors and then access the scholarship application here. 

  4. COVID: Please test within 24 hours prior to arriving and send us a photo of the results. Please see email addresses for Lisa Vaas, Bonna Wieler and Debra Weisenstein below. 


    The only case in which the fee for this course is refundable is if you find another Women Outdoors member in good standing who can take your place.


Lisa Vaas (
Bonna Wieler (
Debra Weisenstein ( 

We look forward to paddling and learning how to be paddling instructors with you. 

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