Monday, September 30, 2013

To Bend and Back!

The ACA's 6th annual National Paddlesports Conference took place in Bend, Oregon over the weekend--and what a weekend it was! 

In partnership with Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe and the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, the ACA was able to host a fun and educational conference complete with guided kayaking and rafting trips down the Deschutes River and a film festival showcasing the world's best paddling films. 

Participants were also able to attend the Whitewater Symposium, simultaneously taking place at the Mt. Bachelor Village Resort in Bend throughout the weekend.

Stay tuned for more updates (and pictures) from the 2013 NPC!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Heads up to all Instructors!

The annual ACA instructor audit is already underway.

If your ACA instructor certification expires this year on 12/31/2013, the ACA SEI Department will be completing an audit of your reported teaching credit, instructor update, and general ACA membership expiration. So stay tuned.

If you have questions regarding your certification, please contact the SEI Department.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Canoe Sailing National Championships

If you're in the New Jersey area, be sure to check out the 2013 Canoe Sailing National Championships happening this weekend at Union Lake Sail and Tennis Club in Millville, NJ!  

The 5 Meter Class National Championship Races will start at 11:00 AM on Saturday, and the ACA Class National Championship Races will start at 10:00 AM on Sunday. 

Read more about it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An ACA Safe Boating App is in the Works!

Are you an app developer? Do you know someone who is?

The ACA is currently accepting proposals from individuals, organizations, and businesses to develop and produce a safe paddling mobile application. 

As part of our leadership role in boating safety, the ACA has obtained funding through the U.S. Coast Guard to develop and launch a free, user-friendly safe paddling application for the iPhone and Android operating systems. 

For more information, and to receive a copy of the official RFP for this project, please contact the ACA Communications Coordinator.

Proposals must be received by 5:00pm on Monday, October 14, 2013.

We can't wait to show you the final product when it launches next year!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Online Waivers Benefit Members, PACs and Event Organizers

As a service to our members, Paddle America Clubs, and event organizers, the ACA now has an online waiver system.

Check an event's webpage via the Event Calendar to see if the event coordinator has chosen to use online waivers for their event.  If you are an event coordinator and would like to utilize online waivers for your event, please contact the Insurance Coordinator for details.  

Paddle America Clubs (PACs)
If you are a member of an ACA Paddle America Club and you are signing your annual waiver, please click here.

Note, you will then need to login to your account to proceed.  If you need assistance with logging in, please contact the Membership Department.

Instruction Courses
At this time, the process for using an online waiver for ACA instruction courses (skills, assessments, certifications, and endorsements) is still under development.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Chattahoochee Kayak Challenge

Have you ever kayaked blind-folded? If so, you might have some idea of what it felt like to be a competitor in the Chattahoochee Kayak Challenge this summer. The ACA was proud to sponsor this unique race for the visually impaired and blind as part of the Opening Ceremony for the 2013 Beep Baseball World Series in Columbus, GA. 

Beep Baseball is an adapted version of America's favorite pastime--the baseball's location can be determined by blind players because it beeps! At the event in Columbus, eighteen of the beep baseball teams trained 2-person kayak teams to compete in the Chattahoochee Kayak Challenge.

"The ACA was an active and significant part of this very successful event. I learned a great deal while instructing paddlesports to the visually impaired and the blind," said Joe Moore, ACA Education and Outreach Coordinator. 

The winning kayak team, Taiwan Homerun, received the $5,000 prize. And the ACA was presented with a trophy of appreciation at the award ceremony concluding the event. 

The wood base of the award was taken from the dam they demolished to create the urban whitewater course in Columbus, GA

Since 1990, the ACA has been a leader in offering training to paddlesport instructors and program providers in the best practices of Inclusive Outdoor Recreation activities. Learn more

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Legend of Paddling Award

The ACA is proud to recognize Bruce Lessels with the 2013 Legends of Paddling Award.

Bruce Lessels was a member of the U.S. Whitewater Team and won the bronze medal in C-1 at the 1987 World Whitewater Championships in France. He has served as a board member of the Deerfield River Watershed Association, the U.S. Canoe & Kayak Team, and New England FLOW, as well as a past chair of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Bruce is an ACA-certified canoe and kayak instructor and served for several years on the ACA: Safety Education & Instruction Council. 

Learn more about Bruce and previous Legend of Paddling Award winners...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Excellence in Instruction Award

The ACA is proud to recognize Ben Morton with the 2013 Excellence in Instruction Award. 

Ben spends most of his time traveling around the country to work for many different paddling schools as a guest instructor/guide, as well as to teach ACA Instructor Certification Workshops. He currently works for the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Rocky Mountain River Program, Jackson Hole Kayak School, DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking, Esprit Costa Rica, and CKAPCO (Canoe, Kayak, and Paddle Company). Demonstrating a strong commitment to his own professional development, Ben assists and takes courses from renowned instructors like Ben Lawry, Chris Stec, Trey Knight, Kent Ford, Mike Aronoff, Jimmy Holcombe, Jim Coffey, Paul Kuthe, Heather Herbeck, Michael Tavares, Fritz Orr, John Garman, and many others.

Learn more about Ben and previous Excellence in Instruction Award winners...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Volunteer of the Year Award

The ACA is proud to recognize Kelly Gossett with the 2013 Joe Pina Volunteer of the Year Award.

In addition to running New Mexico Kayak Instruction, where hundreds of able bodied adults and children are taught kayaking each year, Kelly Gossett was instrumental in starting a program that teaches adults and children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities how to kayak. Kelly has provided adaptive kayaking programs for the developmentally and physically disabled community for more than three years, and he is the only provider of adaptive paddling classes to New Mexico residents. Kelly also teaches kayaking at a camp for cancer survivors, a camp for muscular dystrophy sufferers, and a camp for those in wheel chairs. In addition, he regularly volunteers his time to teach kayaking for the Adaptive Physical Education program of the Albuquerque Public Schools.

Learn more about Kelly and previous Volunteer of the Year award winners...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sanctioned Event of the Year Award

The ACA is proud to recognize the North Fork Championship & Whitewater Festival with the 2013 Sanctioned Event of the Year Award. 

The 2013 North Fork Championship & Whitewater Festival was sanctioned by the ACA. The Whitewater Festival invited people to enjoy an eventful weekend and watch some amazing kayaking. Paddlers came from all across the world to compete in the North Fork Championship, and the river seemed to rise to the challenge. The day before the event, the NF Payette came up to a challenging and awesome flow - showing its classic, impressive identity. 

Learn more about the North Fork Championship & Whitewater Festival and previous Sanctioned Event of the Year Award winners...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tigris River Flotilla

Dave Burden, the International Paddlesports Ambassador for the ACA, is currently assisting organizers of the Tigris River Flotilla. An initiative of Nature Iraq, the Tigris River Flotilla project will take activists on a journey down the Tigris River using traditional vessels in order to document and bring awareness to the threats facing this robust river ecosystem. 

Dave crafting a SUP paddle in Turkey before heading to Iraq.

Over the next two months, the paddlers and boatmen of the Tigris River Flotilla will stage a series of events starting in Hasankeyf, Turkey, and continuing down the Tigris to the delta in the marshes of Southern Iraq. The ACA is supporting Dave as he trains and assists the organizers of this project, helping to ensure that they are safe on the river and able to teach basic paddling skills to the regional residents they meet along their journey.

Group listening to a sitar in a cave in Turkey before heading to the river. 

Learn more about Dave and the important work he is doing to support the Tigris River Flotilla:

Stroke of Achievement Award

The ACA is proud to recognize the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance with the 2013 Stroke of Achievement Award.

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance (BPTA) is an ACA-affiliated club that is multi-faceted, including being a driving force behind the 2013 National Paddlesports Conference. BPTA recently established the Deschutes Paddle Trail, a navigable paddle trail within Deschutes County that has enhanced river and lake recreation and appreciation for a wide variety of recreational water enthusiasts while promoting water safety, education, and stewardship. As a national nonprofit organization, BPTA is devoted to the preservation of the natural beauty of the Deschutes Paddle Trail. 

Learn more about the BPTA and previous Stroke of Achievement Award winners...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Green Paddle Award for Waterway Conservation

The ACA is proud to recognize Tom Eckels with the 2013 Green Paddle Award for Waterway Conservation.

Tom is the Program Manager for the Illinois Water TrailKeepers (IL WTK) Program, which is jointly sponsored by Openlands and the Illinois Paddling Council. The program recruits and trains canoeists and kayakers to "adopt" a waterway for the purpose of cleaning it up (trash removal) and to report conditions to appropriate authorities regarding hazards to humans, log jams, portages, dump sites, and pollution sources. This information is also made available to the greater paddlesports community. As a coordinator of volunteers, Tom is also a volunteer. His work is driven by his love for paddling and strong desire to protect the integrity of our waterways. 

Learn more about Tom Eckels and previous Green Paddle Award winners...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

ACA Award Week - Rushton Award

Each year, as part of the banquet at the ACA National Paddlesports Conference, the ACA presents a series of prestigious national awards to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, service, and dedication to various aspects of paddlesport. 

Every day this week on the blog, we will be highlighting a different 2013 ACA National Awards winner. All winners will be officially announced at the National Paddlesports Conference in Bend, Oregon, September 27-29.

The ACA is proud to recognize REI Outdoor School with the 2013 J. Henry Rushton Award.

REI Outdoor School provides outdoor enthusiasts with beginner to advanced level classes and outings in a variety of activities. REI Outdoor School experts teach classes in outdoor fitness, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, stand up paddleboarding, navigation, snowshoeing, road cycling, camping, skiing, wilderness medicine, and more. 

Learn more about REI Outdoor school and previous Rushton Award winners...

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Paddlesports Grant Coordinator

Paddlesports Training Grant Coordinator - T.J. Turner

The ACA is excited to announce that T.J. Turner has started as the new Paddlesports Training Grant Coordinator.

He will be responsible for coordinating 14 canoe, kayak, and SUP Instructor Certification Workshops for various state agencies across the country.

T.J. grew up in the Lower Shenandoah Valley, where he gained appreciation for the outdoors and the mountainous terrain and the waterways of Virginia. In 2001, he started his career in recreation by obtaining a snowboard certification through the Professional Association of Ski Instructors/American Association of Snowboard Instructors in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. In 2006, he attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia to study kinesiology focusing on sport and recreation management. While attending JMU, he worked with the University Recreation Center Outdoor Program running programs all around the Shenandoah Valley area and even some paddling trips through West Virginia and Maryland. In 2009, he traveled to Macomb, Illinois to pursue his outdoor recreation education at Western Illinois University. In May 2010, he graduated with a Master’s degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration. In May of 2010, he interned at the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission to continue his outdoor recreation training with a water-sports focus. In the Fall of 2010, he moved out to Wyoming and directed a ski school in the Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest. In April 2011, he took his first American Canoe Association course with Josh Hall, Charlie MacArthur, and Roger Schuman for L-2 Stand Up Paddleboard. Since that date, he has been pursuing his passion for teaching and educating others about watersports.  In May 2011 and 2012, he helped manage the CCPRC camp program and helped train incoming summer staff.  He currently holds an L-2 certification for Stand Up Paddleboard, helped to write the L-3 SUP surf curriculum for the ACA, and paddles mostly in the greater Charleston area and Folly Beach. 

T.J. is already on his way to the annual NASBLA Conference in Boise, Idaho to connect with the various state Boating Law Officials.
T.J. Turner

Learn more about T.J. and your ACA Staff...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Modern Skills for an Old School Tool Session at NPC

Raphael Kuner explains how to properly use a flip-chart

Using flip-charts and whiteboards while teaching is very common.  But how much thought have you given to using them in a modern and proper way? Flip-charts and whiteboards are easy to use, and allow the presenter to avoid most technical problems.  However, most flip-chart and whiteboard data tends to be illegible and ends up being more confusing than helpful. 

At the 2013 National Paddlesports Conference, Raphael Kuner will explain how to make drawings clear and understandable, and how to interact with your board AND your audience.  Don't miss your opportunity to become a flip-chart-wizard just like Raphael at the 2013 National Paddlesports Conference.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

International Member Benefit

An ACA Partner

Don't forget, if you're an ACA member, and you would like to attend the upcoming 2013 International Whitewater Hall of Fame (IWHoF) Induction Ceremony, we have a ticket for you - at no cost!

  • Reserve your ticket(s) for the IWHoF Induction Ceremony here.

Also, while you're in Europe, you can attend the 4th annual ACA Europe Paddlesports Conference that starts the very next isn't that convenient!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Enjoying the Outdoors Responsibly Session at NPC

Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, Patrick & TJ Beezley

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, and is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands.  

Join Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, Pat & TJ at the 2013 National Paddlesports Conference in Bend, OR for an interactive presentation and discussion that will focus on the elements of the Leave No Trace minimum impact program.  Come learn how to easily and effectively integrate Leave No Trace into your daily life!

Monday, September 9, 2013

ACA Elections - Vote

Take part in shaping the future of your ACA.

Vote today!

Electronic voting is only available until Monday, September 23rd, then you would have to go to Bend, OR to cast your vote...which isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Hope to see you at the Annual Membership Meeting at the National Paddlesports Conference later this month.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September Kokatat Instructor of the Month: Ty Atwater!

The ACA is proud to announce the September Kokatat Instructor of the Month—Ty Atwater from Corvalis, Oregon! 

Ty is an ACA Swiftwater Rescue and Whitewater Rafting Instructor and was introduced to river rafting by his parents at the early age of 5. Ty loves rafting, especially pulling on oars. During the last couple of years, he has also spent considerable time in canoes in the Boundary Waters of MN and learning to kayak the local creeks of the Northwest. While he has gained an appreciation of non-inflatable craft, rafting is still number one in his heart. 

When asked what drew him to become an ACA Instructor, Ty explains, "Once I started guiding for my college outdoor program, I was hooked on teaching and sharing my love of water sports. After a short stint as a fisheries tech in Washington state I knew I had to get back to working with college students. I took an ACA Swiftwater rescue and Raft guide instructor course and the rest is history.”

One of Ty’s favorite runs is on the John Day in Oregonthe Clarno to Cottonwood section. He raves about the remote location, breathtaking scenery, and the warm and dry weather (a rarity for Oregon!). His second favorite is the Breitenbush River in the Oregon cascades, boasting equally awesome scenery and great kayaking.

We asked Ty about one of his fondest paddling memories, and he offered up a story about a very delicious bet:

“I once bet a friend that he couldn’t body surf in a hole for ten seconds. Of course he was successful, and we had to pay up on the bet of a gallon of sherbet ice cream. We had no way to keep it frozen and ended up eating it all in the parking lot of the store split 6 ways. To this day I can’t eat Orange Sherbet.”

Next on his adventure wishlist: paddling in Alaska for the summer. He hopes to one day make it to the icy state, bringing all types of water craft and packing in as much as possible, from running rivers to sea kayaking.

Congratulations, Ty!

To learn more about Ty and our other Instructors of the Month, or to submit a nomination, visit our website.

Friday, September 6, 2013

New ACA Communications Coordinator

Catharine & her dog, Stella, on the California coast

The ACA is pleased to announce that Catharine Lloyd has joined the National Office Staff as the new Communications Coordinator.

Prior to relocating to Fredericksburg and joining the ACA team, she lived and worked in San Francisco for four years, first as a teacher and then as a marketing manager and copywriter. Catharine graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with a degree in English and Creative Writing in 2008. 

Outside of work, she loves to paddle, run, cook, read, and volunteer. 

Learn more about Catharine...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Bend Paddle Trail Alliance at NPC

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance (BPTA) is a nonprofit organization formed by a group of paddlers with the purpose of enhancing recreational opportunities in Central Oregon.   Their mission is to promote and establish a navigable paddle trail within Deschutes County that will enhance river and lake appreciation for a wide variety of water enthusiasts, while promoting river safety, education, and stewardship.

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance will partner with the ACA for the Paddle-Green River Clean-Up at the 2013 ACA National Paddlesports Conference scheduled for Saturday, September 28th.  This is an on-water clean up, so canoes, SUPs and kayaks are a necessity! 

The Bend Paddle Trail Alliance will also be a recipient of the proceeds from the Reel Paddling Film Festival at NPC.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

New Lifejacket Classification?

For the last several years, the U.S. Coast Guard has been working to redesign the labeling for personal flotation devices to more effectively convey safety information. The current proposal is to remove type codes, aka Type I, II, II, IV and V, in regulations on the carriage and labeling of Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices.

PFD type codes are unique to Coast Guard approval and are not well understood by the public. Removing these type codes from the regulations would facilitate future incorporation by reference of new industry consensus standards for PFD labeling that will more effectively convey safety information and is a step toward harmonization of our regulations with PFD requirements in Canada and in other countries.

If you have an opinion on this, comments are being accepted to the Coast Guard's online docket until Oct. 15.

Learn more...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Any of you Coastal Kayak Instructors Speak Italian?

An up-and-coming ACA Pro School located in north Sardinia, Italy is seeking an instructor who is:

  • An ACA certified Coastal Kayak Instructor
  • Also certified in SUP or another discipline
  • An English/Italian speaker is most desirable

Responsibilities would include, but are not limited to:

  • Marketing Sardinia courses/excursions to potential US customers
  • Organizing and leading courses/excursions in Sardinia during the May-October season

All interested parties who meet these requirements may contact Marco Venturini directly at: for further information.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Adaptive Paddling with Senator Kaine

Senator Tim Kaine talks with SUP paddlers

As the ACA continues to strive towards access to our nation's waterways for people of all abilities, Executive Director Wade Blackwood and ACA Adaptive Paddling Instructor Trainer Joe Moore recently met with Senator Tim Kaine and his staff at a military base in Quantico, Virginia. Among the discussion topics were how to expand access to on-water paddlesports programming for people of all abilities across the country, both in and out of uniform.

A special thanks goes to Kevin Carr of Creating Ability for providing on site expertise in all forms of equipment designed for adaptive paddling.

Learn more about:

Read the newspaper article.