Watershed Blog

Upgrade Your Paddling Skills | American Canoe Association Safety & Rescue Courses

Now that Spring is here, we know you’re all antsy to get out and hit the rivers. If you haven’t been paddling in a while, and plan on doing some whitewater routes this year, it may be a good idea to brush up on some skills. Even at intermediate or above, there’s always something new to learn or a skill to work on. 


Luckily, the wonderful American Canoe Association (ACA) is hosting a number of safety and rescue courses across the country starting now! 

American Canoe Association 2015 Swiftwater Rescue Conference

American Canoe Association


The ACA is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It’s comprised of people who love paddling, and cherish and protect rivers and outdoor spaces within the United States and beyond. They’ve been around since 1880, nearly a century and a half, and have been servicing the wider paddling public through their educational programs that aim to enhance the safety and survival skills of paddlers from beginner to expert. They also support stewardship initiatives, while offering community competitions to paddlers of all skill levels. 

American Canoe Association 2015 Swiftwater Rescue Conference

With over 15,000 members and 300 paddling clubs and affiliated organizations, they provide insurance to hundreds of events and races each year. Their reach extends across all 50 states and 35 countries worldwide, with their educational programs reaching 800,000 people annually. 


They share a vision and mission to connect diverse communities through a shared commitment to stewardship and safety by providing opportunities for growth, fun and challenge in the paddling community. All-inclusive and fostering a strong sense of fun, safety and teamwork, the ACA is an established presence in all things paddling across the globe. They also present a series of prestigious national awards to people and organizations that display model service, leadership and dedication to multiple aspects of paddlesports. 

American Canoe Association 2015 Swiftwater Rescue Conference

ACA Safety & Rescue Courses


The ACA has just begun putting on their Safety and Rescue courses, which last all throughout the year. From Level 1 to Level 5 courses, there’s a wide variety of topics and skill sets to learn and engage in, hosted all across the country by professional personnel. 


Engage in basic safety courses that strengthen your understanding of various equipment, boat fits and maneuvers in a calm, flat water beginner setting. This is a wonderful opportunity to loop in a friend or family member who you’ve been dying to get on the water with, but they haven’t been sure where to start. By the end of this level 1 course, they’ll be taking on the local lakes with confidence. 


Looking to go the extra mile with your skills and shoot for a swiftwater rescue instructor certification? The ACA’s level 4 and 5 workshops pit you and other candidates in an intensive 5-day course where you’ll learn industry standards for teaching swiftwater rescue techniques. A variety of lessons and scenarios, on and off land, will help illustrate best practices and rules to help everybody qualify for the certification. 

American Canoe Association 2015 Swiftwater Rescue Conference

From beginner courses to instructor certifications, the ACA can help you further develop your paddling skills and careers with their valuable resources and experience. 


To see their full course calendar scheduled throughout 2022, visit this link: https://americancanoe.org/education/take-a-paddling-class/course-calendar/

American Canoe Association 2015 Swiftwater Rescue Conference

For all of your outings on the water this year, beit flatwater urban paddling or class V rapids, you can trust Watershed Drybags to keep your gear 100% safe and dry. Need something to fit perfectly below deck? Our Ocoee Duffel is a crowd favorite, with enough space to fit a spare change of clothes, lunch and a first aid kit.