Advice for IDW/ICE candidates?

At next week’s East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival here in Charleston I’ll be taking the Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) and then the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE) for Coastal Kayaking. All told, I’ll have the pleasure of spending eight days solid on the water between classes and trips that I’m helping with. Couldn’t come at a better time!

Do any new (or seasoned) certified instructors have any advice about preparing for the exam?

rest up and eat well now and
pre hydrate.

Its very intense…and staying late to cram is counter productive. Endurance is the key.

I hope you have your classroom presentation done; its best not to wait till the last minute.

There is lots of water time so its hard if you come from hard water country; hope you have had some recent boat time.

It is not an insurmountable challenge. Come rested and you will probably find the experience fun.

I agree
It’s an endurance event, not a sprint. I took the IDW and was pretty tired after the 3 days. Relax when you can and don’t rush things.

Try to remember
that IDW is time to learn about you and where you are at with strokes and knowledge. A good ITE helps you identify your strengths and also helps you learn skills you need to improve your weak areas. My philosphy on IDW and ICE’s was to see them as training opportunities and not as pass/fail events. I concur with I hope you are not from hard water county (I am). This made it harder for me but it was workable. Skills are skills if you have them they come back quickly. For me it was endurance. Others were use to paddling I was struggling to come up to that mid-season peak. Enjoy and embrace the training you will be better paddler at the end and for me that is what I strive to be a better paddler.

I just (two days ago) completed the IDW/ICE and was awarded a level 3 Instructor certification. I drove down to CHS and had a pop up. I agree wholeheartedly about having your presentations ready to go and be prepared to do impromptu presentations on any number of subjects. Reason I say that is because after the classes and on the water sessions were over I basically got back to the pop up and passed out until the next day. I tried cooking the first night but after that, that went right out the window.

You are being evaluated from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave.

Just remember, and I know this is going to be really tough to do, that this is a journey and not a destination. If you go into it with a mindset of wanting to learn and become as proficient as you can you will mentally do well. If you are trying to “pass the test” you may be doing yourself a disservice. The instructors are incredible, the resources and knowledge base you have is immense and you should try and take advantage at every opportunity to learn new things. And don’t forget your peers! One of the visual cues I got to help improve my modeling of a forward stroke came from a peer and not an instructor and it really helped.

And lastly, you will walk away from the experience knowing far less than you thought you knew and far more than you ever thought you would.

One very telling comment from an instructor after we were through was “The Learning starts now”

Good luck!


do what you do
paddle how you paddle, teach how you teach, relax and have fun!

It is a very good idea to have all of your presentations ready before hand, both full length and short versions. I created full length and short presentations for every topic any of the candidates might be asked to teach. As an instructor it is always good to have everything prepared before hand anyway.

As a general rule I always over prepare for everything, which pays off on long events (like doing the IDW/ICE together). If you do the leg work beforehand the actual event is pretty easy.

Rather than thinking of it as an exam that you have to prepare for and pass, think of it as an evaluation of your current skills. You will learn a lot no matter what.

what they said and…
you need to be prepared for ANY subject. If you plan on getting a cert you need to prove you CAN teach anything, anytime, within your cert.

It is a long, hard road…plan on getting tired…very tired. and having FUN and learning alot!



I agree wholeheartedly with the comment to pre-hydrate. A lot!


runnin’ fer da outhouse
if you drink TOO much you’ll spend all day peeeeeeein’!



seriously lots of us had
wicked headaches from the sixteen hour days and not drinking enough water.

Thoughts on splitting IDW and ICE
I just finished a 3 day IDW, to be followed in a few weeks by a 2 day ICE. Our IT prefers to do it that way as it allows candidates time in between the two to fine tune skills.

I really liked this set up because it avoids having to take most of a week off work to secure the certification. It also made the IDW relaxed and about learning and really differentiates the “on” aspect of the ICE.

What are your thoughts on splitting the two sessions? Do you think we’ll see more ITs move in that direction?

I am
getting ready to assist with an IDW/ICE and preparation is the key. Have your strokes, rescues, and presentations down pat. The course is not the place to learn these, it is for learning how to teach them to others. Not only will you learn from your instructors, I have learned something from students each time I have assisted with a course. Make sure you are very familiar with the course outlines, keep and open mind, and be prepared for long days. Good luck and have fun.

I don’t know
My first cert exam was in that format back in 1998 and I liked it for the reasons you gave, but the split format does not seem to have become more widespread in the last ten years.

It may be a function of IT’s having to travel long distances. Its rare that you get a local pool.

best split
fer shure.

time to adjust and adapt. most IT’s I know would rather run 'em split. I’ve done tons of IDW/ICE, both WW and coastal and only have done one in a single session (ICW). It was OK but the studenmt would’ve got a lot more outta a split.

I shoot at at least 3 weeks or a month between.


best is
to have your L/3 assessment in hand. NOT required YET, but lots of IT would like to see this as a requirement. Soon…(fingers crossed)

To be a L/3 instructor you should be able to wire any L/3 skill and TEACH it! This is a serious challenge for most paddlers.

L/3 is an awesome achievement!


yes the downside with both together
is that you have to have your strokes and maneuvers, your presentations, and your in depth knowledge pretty well down if you are going to do both at once as there is very little time to adjust and overcome if you have a major issue. Mine was a good presentation forward stroke. I can’t begin to tell you how hard I worked over those four days to come up with a decent modeling of that stroke! (still not great but I am still working on it)

I did my IDW/ICE with Scott Szczepaniak at Sea Kayak Carolina and Dale Williams from TITS and Sea Kayak Georgia fame and there is no doubt in my mind that they would have never let me get to the level I got without feeling that I deserved it.

But it was a grueling 4 days especially for this old man! (At least I felt old then)

As I said, the real learning begins after the course.


on the accomplishment.

Dale’s a hard @$$, I know. to get a L/3 first time out is a challenge, 'specially in an ICW.


yeah ok Flatpick

– Last Updated: Apr-09-09 7:35 AM EST –

Dale is a hard a@@??????

And you are a pussycat to train with right????

And I am the King of England. :)


It would certainly indicate a skill level at least before embarking on the IDW trail. We did have one candidate who was struggling with some strokes and even with going straight in chop and during a tow. Frankly I am surprised that it was not a requirement.


I would like to see a level above
the IDW/ICE you are taking. So you you have an L4 certification in order to pass the L3 ICE, but not take the L3 IDW. The snag is that the ACA hasn’t published an L5 syllabus, but part of an L4 IDW, instructor update, or possibly something else could take care of that requirement.

As for combining the IDW/ICE I think it would be nice if both options were available. I also think it would be nice if more people took the IDW with one IT and the ICE with different one.