Training up to instructor level


Totally new to the board and seeking some tips. I (with my partner) have an opportunity to open watersports center in a very remote location (Asia). The opportunity for sea kayaking is incredible. We’d like to work with the local community and train them to be guides.

So the question:

How do we become instructors?

Which agency do you all recommend?

Is there a forum more focused on sea-kaykaing and/or training that you can suggest?

Thank in advance

You first
Sounds like you’re not a paddler now.

All kayak shops have instruction and most are either ACA (American Canoe Association) or BCU (British Canoe Union) and some independent ones. That’s your easiest step in the door. ACA has insurance options if that’s a consideration. You can google and contact them direct too.

I assume you are in the US ?

Two basic systems

– Last Updated: Apr-17-12 8:28 AM EST –

ACA - American Canoe Association or BCU - British Canoe Union.

The BCU is the only one of the two with an international presence, but even the BCU probably can't offer insurance to coaches in SE Asia. Since they are still not there for the US, with a definite base, it's unlikely they'd be able to do it there.

If you are just starting to paddle, the path to a coach/instructor cert is a long one in either system. It'll take some time to become proficient enough to pass anyone's requirements. The BCU path is longer in time and more expensive in terms of required trainings/courses and work on your own that can be placed into a log. The ACA offers two day classes where you can pass or fail pretty short and sweet.

The other possibility is to investigate local options like the Maine Guide system. It wouldn't be worth anything more than a piece of paper outside of Maine, but it is at least a piece of paper that lines up with what you are talking about doing.

You'd probably be better off finding out what other outfitters who have tried this have in the way of certifications. If this is a case where the interest in the business is preceding knowing how to paddle well, you are looking at an uphill climb in any system available in North America.

ACA, BCU plus
ACA and BCU are the two biggies, but tehre are also many smaller ones for different countries (and sometimes even states). For example, Canada has its own instructor certification. And Ireland has its own kayaker rating system.

My take is that BCU is much more rigorous (becoming an instructor is much like going to a 4 year college). ACA would be faster to get the certification on.

Roger Schumann of Eskape Sea Kayaking ( in California is an ACA Instructor Trainer (the folks who train instructors, a step above the folks who are certified just to teach kayaking) and he has been working with outfitters in in Chile and Brazil to first certify the instructors there, and also to train key people in each group to be a instructor trainer. Might be worth contacting him for ideas.

Guide associations
See if there are any guide associations in your area like this:

It’ll be a chance to network with other guides and get more insight into training, instructing and guiding.

It’s a nice idea to hire locals, but if all your guides-to-be are starting from scratch it will be awhile before they’re skilled enough to actually take clients out.

I would consider finding someone already certified as a guide and instructor to move there. He/she can start training locals and you and guiding clients, and you can hire locals as assistants until they get to the level to be guides themselves.

It would be cheaper
and take less time to hire a certified instructor trainer for you, your partner, and staff.

NOLS Sea Kayak Instructor Course
Would be a month long crash course on becoming an outdoor educator/sea kayak instructor.

Depending on where you are in Asia
You might want to check out NZOIA (New Zealand).