Friday, March 21, 2008

ACA Instruction

Bonnie had a great post the other day on ACA/BCU Instructor programs, and was looking for some insight to the current classes. Being a freshly minted ACA Instructor I needed to step up and get my thoughts out on the subject.
Getting into the ACA Instructor process was a natural progression for me, as I tend to try and learn as much as I can about things I am passionate about. The reason I chose to go with the ACA was the instructors who taught me were ACA, and at the onset it seemed to be the easier of the two to get started in. The process of attaining star awards as a paddler, before beginning the coaching levels seemed to me like it could be much more expensive, and could take much longer to reach. The IDW/ICE process pretty much took over my Summer last year, so that may have been a moot point anyway!
The IDW we did in the Spring over Memorial Day Weekend, with Gail, Grant, and Mark, up at Living Adventures in Bayfeild Wisconsin. Three days of study, work on the water, and most of all learning fun stuff with a really great bunch of people. It was an eye opener for some who may have thought they may just spend a couple of weekends over that summer, pay your money, get your certification, and start teaching. What I saw, a person really had to know the program for the level they were looking to attain. The good thing (I think) about the different levels is it gives people who may only do classroom, and flat water training on local lakes, and pools, the opportunity to do just that. The IDW was about half classroom, and half on the water training. The on water had a lot of emphasis on "modeling" a stroke, or rescue. So not only must a candidate know the strokes and rescues, one has to be able to do them precisely, and cleanly, and also show a level of comfort doing them. Now we had the rest of the summer to work on those areas we need to improve.
I chose to go for the "Level 3 Basic Coastal Kayak", and if the conditions were available over that weekend I would go for the "Level 4 Open Water". As it turned out, we had some windy weather for the ICE, but didn't have the right conditions for the Level 4. I had planned on doing the Level 4, so the classroom phase, and much of the on water was geared for that level. I think that's why my subject for the classroom was "Tides". Anyone who lives and paddles along the coast will probably still know tides better than me, but after teaching the subject, I'd at least know enough to get the right information, and stay out of trouble. All things considered, I think the ACA has a great program with the different levels, I have absolutely no experience with the BCU so any comments on it wouldn't be appropriate. My plans are to hook up with Kelly Blades in the near future, and attend one of the symposiums with BCU assessments to start the BCU star process. Another aspect is the traditional paddler in me would like to go with the mentoring ideals of the Greenland style, this is another whole world of paddling I have been getting into for the last couple of years. Then I have spoken with Alex about taking some whitewater classes with Rapids Riders this Spring to learn about reading moving water ... there is a world of paddling out there to be passionate about!


bonnie said...

Thanks, Ron! I'll send my friend who's after his ACA certification over here.

Those additional levels sound like such an improvement.

Ron said...

I guess I didn't know the process before the updates, but yes, I think its a good program.

Silbs said...

My impression is that BCU (coaches) stress technique and that some of the examiners have been quite compulsive on that note. The ACA (instructor) stresses teaching techniques but also demands a certain level of technical ability. The BCU will rate a paddler (not an instructor) and the ACA is just getting into that.

Anonymous said...

Ron asked me to check this entry out & add any comments I might have given we did the ACA program together last year.

My impression is similar to Silbs'. I think the ACA program is great for learning to instruct, but it is not a place to learn technique. My critique of the general program is that it lacks mentoring in the process. Fortunately, I have access to a number of first-rate instructors through our club (SKOAC) and have found myself shadowing them ... whether they knew it or not! I would love to see the ACA require a certain number of hours of training under the wing of a certified instructor prior to testing & certification. It would improve the process for all involved. With that said, I think anyone interested in being a quality instructor can find similar volunteer clubs or opportunities to tag-along with instructors and truly improve their teaching style.