ACA Kayak Instructor Course

ACA Kayak Instructor Course

Become an ACA Kayak Instructor

Program Description


  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be a current ACA member in good standing
  • Be able to independently complete all skills, activities and rescues listed in the ACA Instructor Criteria documents.
  • Be able to effectively communicate, including effective verbal communication
  • Be able to manage all personal care and mobility independently
  • Taking an ACA SWR class for further training on rescue is strongly suggested as is WFR or WFA at minimum.

You do not need to be a class 5 kayaker to take this class. There are 4 levels of certification, ranging from level 1 (Ability to teach intro-level kayaking on class1) to Level 4 (Ability to teach whitewater kayaking on class 2-3).

Become an ACA Kayak Instructor

There are kayakers who teach, and there are teachers who kayak”. If you are a teacher who kayaks, then this is the class for you.

Have you ever considered becoming an American Canoe Association (ACA) certified kayak instructor? If you love kayaking and are passionate about helping others experience the magic of this sport, then you should give it some thought.

This 45-50 hour course is designed to help aspiring kayak instructors improve their teaching abilities, while adhering to the ACA’s golden standard of excellence.

The course is divided into 2 components: The Instructor Development Workshop (IDW), and the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE). The exam happens concurrently with the development portion of the class in the form of giving presentations and providing demonstrations. Performance is also evaluated with regard to paddling ability. Simulations of rescue scenarios, and kayak instructional situations will also be used including a 2 day simulated kayak school, taught and designed by the kayak instructor candidates.

Length: 5 Days

Prerequisites: See Program Description

2024 Start Dates:
May 28th – June 1st  (On the Rogue River in Oregon)

Contact us to schedule a course in your area!

Includes: World-class instruction, Instructor development, and certification exam

Cost: $595
All prices per person are subject to a 3% Government Use and Service fee. Guide Gratuity not included in the price.


The Instructor Development Workshop:

In the IDW portion, candidates learn and practice how to be fun, safe, and effective kayak instructors. The course will cover teaching styles, as well as student learning styles, and emphasis will be placed on how to teach so that learning ACTUALLY happens.

We will explore a variety of teaching topics, including methods for teaching hard skills and for boating concepts. You will learn what goes into giving great presentations both on and off of the water and have opportunities to practice teaching skills. This is also a good time to hone your own personal paddling skills and technique. We will be using video review throughout the class.


The Instructor Certification Exam:

In the ICE portion, you will be tested on your teaching ability, technical knowledge, and your ability to perform rescues and maintain safety as it applies to kayak classes. You will also be tested on your personal paddling style, modeling ability, and skill.

And don’t forget, this class is tons of FUN! J.R. loves teaching this class because it’s one of the most creative, fun, informative things he has ever experienced in kayaking. This is a great opportunity for personal paddling and kayak instructional growth. In addition to developing your technical skills, candidates will also hone their “soft skills” in order to become a more perceptive and flexible teacher.

This class is designed to develop instructional and personal paddling technique, and to prepare you to teach our beloved sport at the highest standard.

It is about building great instructors and effective mentors. We emphasize safety and fun, while building creative progressions for paddling success

Don’t Take Our Word For It. Hear What Our Guests Have To Say!

My family loved every moment of our week long kayaking school. Not only did the wonderful and fun guides teach us how to kayak and roll, but we also established friendships and memories that I know will last for a lifetime. Thank you, Sundance! We can’t wait for our next trip.

Lauren K., San Francisco, CA

In my years as a river guide and in my own trials at learning to kayak I have seen many go through the progression and take up a paddle. But learning how to kayak is not easy and can involve overcoming some very innate fears. Of all the teachers I have encountered none have so effectively turned that fear into fun as Sundance Kayak School.

Aaron B., Denver, CO

My instructors make maneuvering through challenging cross currents look effortless, but I have learned that there are no short cuts to doing so myself. Every time I enter a new rapid, I know a community of paddlers supports me.

Zoe L., Berkeley, California

The guides and others created a FUN and safe environment that allowed me to get out of my comfort zone.  JR’s teaching is a combination of silly, serious and encompassed in a positive energy and a can-do spirit.

Charlie, Berkeley, California

The experience was the highlight trip of my summer. I had been “making” it down the river, but that’s it. I felt like I was kayaking a bunch, but reached a point that I wasn’t getting any better. The instruction I received from your great group of instructors has been so helpful. They gave me so many techniques/paddle strokes to work on and they helped me with the bad habits I had developed. There wasn’t a single instructor that I didn’t think was great and enjoyable to be around, both on and off the water.

Angela W., Olympia, WA

I recently spent a week on the Rogue River with Lori and JR from Sundance Kayaking school and it was AMAZING!!!! I’m looking forward to going on another kayaking adventure soon and hope to be able to learn more from them again!

Megan S., Los Angeles, CA

Additional Information

Also check out our ACA Raft Instructor Certification!

American canoe associationThe ACA:

The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a worldwide organization, dedicated to promoting safety and education in paddlesports. It is the gold standard for kayak instruction in the country. ACA instructors enjoy member benefits through the ACA such as pro-deals, discounts, recourses, and access to affordable insurance for your classes. With this certification, you will have everything you need to start teaching classes for yourself. This is your opportunity to promote paddlesports, spread the love of kayaking, and have a job doing what you love!

Taking a kayak instructor course is a way to take your personal boating to a whole new level – as you may know, perhaps the most effective way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. If you are already helping other kayakers, wondering “what is the next step in my own progression”, this is it. For more information about instructor certifications, or to register with the ACA, visit the ACA website at

Sundance Kayak School has been well known as a center for learning and cutting-edge instruction for almost 4 decades, and we are committed to leading the industry into the future.