ACA Coastal Kayak Instructor Certification Workshops

"I have heard nothing but great things from all our leaders...We will be in touch and continue to send folks up to the

course as long as you are running them."

Ryan Wagner - Camp Manitowish Wilderness Program Director


"I participated in an ACA coastal kayak course with Greg and Lost Creek Adventures last summer. I really enjoyed Greg's insight and varied teaching methods, as well as his encouragement and personality. I absolutely loved the comfortable learning atmosphere and level of professionalism that he and his staff provided. Great location and great fun made for solid learning."

Lucas Will - Lutsen Resort Outdoor Program Director


The IDW will teach you everything that you didn't know you didn't know about your kayaking strokes. It refined my own paddling significantly, and gave me the language and methods to better teach kayaking to others. Greg sets the bar high, but he provides the tools and support needed to help participants meet their individual goals, whatever they may be."

Liz Carson - Participant

The American Canoe Association instructor certification process has two components: the Instructor Development Workshop (IDW), and the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE). The IDW presents Instructor Candidates the teaching skills, technique coaching, and topic knowledge that are required to become an ACA instructor. The ICE then challenges each candidate to demonstrate individual proficiency in the presentation (teaching) and demonstration (modeling) of sea kayaking subjects, general paddling knowledge, safety, and leadership. Certification levels for coastal kayaking include:

 1 - Introduction To Kayak - Teaching novices on flat water in any type of kayak.

 2 - Essentials Of Kayak Touring - Teaching novices to paddle in near-shore  coastal environments.

 3 - Coastal Kayak - Teaching novice to experienced paddlers on coastal waters with sea conditions such as waves and current.

 4 - Open Water Coastal Kayak - Teaching skills for open water coastal environments such as larger crossings and bigger surf.

 5 - Advanced Open Water Coastal Kayak -Teaching skills required for paddling in more advanced open water conditions.

About Your Trainer
Greg Weiss is an ACA Instructor Trainer for Open Water Coastal Kayaking (L4) and an instructor for Whitewater Kayak (L4) and Stand Up Paddleboard (L2). He has been teaching and guiding since 1990 at locations throughout North and South America. Greg has also spent time instructing skin on frame boat building and continues to build boats and carve traditional paddles. He is kept busy teaching adjunct courses at Northland College, running Lost Creek Adventures, homesteading, and of course, paddling.

Entering The Instructor Process

Normally instructor candidates begin the training process by taking the IDW. However if students have limited technical knowledge of sea kayaking topics such as tides, currents, weather, boat design, or have never been coached in proper paddling technique, we suggest taking one of our Skills Courses prior to enrolling in an IDW. The IDW is for those who already have considerable personal kayaking experience and a developing but solid skill base. Following are some of the minimum attributes we suggest for candidates:

  • Ability to effectively use the paddle; forward & reverse strokes, forward and reverse sweeps, draw and sculling draw, high and low braces, in the sea conditions you hope to certify in. Can you effectively low brace in waves? Can you make headway in 15 knot winds? If you don't know you should not be entering the IDW.

  • Have experience with rescue techniques; T-rescue, Side-by-Side, Rafted-T, and Paddle Float. Also have working knowledge of other rescues; Scramble, Reentry and Roll with Paddle Float, Reentry and Roll, All-In, and Scoop. 

  • Ability to perform a reliable kayak roll. (for level 3-Coastal Kayak Instructor and above)

  • Developing knowledge of; safety issues and hazards of coastal kayaking, marine navigation, weather conditions important to the kayaker, hypothermia prevention and treatment, signaling devices and safety equipment, boat traffic & rules of the road, kayak design and equipment, kayak towing technique, and tides.

  • Developing ability to paddle comfortably with grace and style, and to perform rescues efficiently, in the conditions you are wishing to instruct in.

  • Demonstrate leadership and group management skills, experience and judgment necessary to be a safe, effective instructor.

Pre-requisites for taking the ICE (Instructor Certification Exam)
Normally you must have completed an IDW in your area of certification within a year of taking the exam. In rare cases, advanced level coastal kayakers with extensive teaching experience and ACA administrative knowledge can submit a written request to enroll directly into the ICE without taking an IDW. This request must be directed to your Instructor Trainer well before the ICE with the understanding that you as instructor candidate are responsible for all material covered in the Instructor Development Workshop.

Candidates are judged on their paddling, group management, safety, teaching ability as well as general paddlesport knowledge. (i.e. depth & breath & prior experience) In order to pass a given level, ALL criteria for that level must be met. (see resources below for criteria) If you are lacking in one of these areas you may be certified at a lower level until you have demonstrated improvement in the areas noted. This policy insures that instructors are well-rounded and able to meet the requirements of a diverse student population.


Level 1-2: Instructor Certification Workshop - July 2021 dates TBD. Contact us to set up custom dates for your group. 

This certification workshop is a combined IDW & ICE.

Tuition: $325 Register Now

Level 1-3: Instructor Update - August 2021 dates TBD. Contact us to set up custom dates for your group. 

This is a stand-alone update for Level 1 kayak instructors, and when coupled with the kayak rolling instructor endorsement being offered the day prior may be used to complete your update requirement for levels 2 & 3. 

Tuition: $115 Register Now

Level 3: Instructor Development Workshop - September 9-11, 2020

New candidates must meet the following requirements for participation:

Tuition: $325 Register Now

Level 3: Instructor Certification Exam/Update - September 9-11, 2020

The exam is for candidates who have taken a level 3 IDW and are ready to take the exam. May also be used as an update for certified L3 instructors.

Tuition: $225 Register Now

Level 4: Instructor Certification Workshop - May 2021 dates TBD. Contact us to set up custom dates for your group.

Current level 3 instructors may apply for upgrade to level 4 by taking the level 4 ICW. 

Candidates must meet the following requirements for participation:

Tuition: $425 Register Now

Level 4: Instructor Certification Update - Sept 9-11 2020.

If you are already certified at level 4 you may use this course to complete your four-year update requirement.

Tuition: $225 Contact Us to inquire & to register​

Course Information & Logistics


Tuition covers instruction only. For those updating a current certification we occasionally have work-trade available. Contact us for details.) We also offer group discounts.

Required Materials

The ACA instructors manual is $22.50 (member price) and required for certification courses. (Not for updates) You may purchase it directly through the ACA website store.

Required Equipment

You must bring your own boat and equipment or rent. You can rent a kayak package from Lost Creek, (kayak, paddle, pump, float, etc) as well as purchase certain needed items from our store. (tow belt, compass, etc) For this class we offer a special rate of 50% off rentals for the duration of your course. 

During early season courses a drysuit or thick farmer-john style wetsuit is necessary. We do not have dry suits available, however you can often double up on your wet suit.

Required Memberships

The ACA requires all candidates to be members in good standing in order to take an IDW and to hold a certification. This cost  is $25 for an annual membership. Become a member online before your course and retrieve your member number.

Once you have passed the exam you must join the ACA SEIC (Safety, Education and Instruction Committee) which is $30 for an annual membership and allows you to register the ACA courses you teach and use the ACA's liability insurance.


Registration policies follow our class reservation policies. 


Stay with other paddlers at our Apostle Islands Bunkhouse. There are also other inexpensive options for camping and local lodging available.  See our resources page for ideas.

To Register

Once registered we will send you a confirmation to let you know that you have been accepted in to the course. A few weeks before course start we will send you the course packet which includes the course outline, your teaching topics, and other items to help you prepare.



Instructor Criteria

ACA Instructor Policy Manual

ACA Educational Resources

US Coast Guard NOWS (National On-Water Safety) Instruction Program

Lost Creek Blog; "Need To Know" information on sea kayaking technique, rescues, tides & currents, and more. A good start for instructor candidates.

Contact Us

22475 Hwy 13 (store location)

21740 Siskiwit Lake Road (mailing)

Cornucopia, WI 54827



Open 8am-6pm every day during the summer season. Hours reduced after Labor Day and by appointment only after September 13.

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