The Paddle Canada National Sea Kayak Program

The Sea Kayak program includes nationally recognized certifications in five skill levels, five instructor levels, and four instructor-trainer levels. Certifications are earned during course participation and through a process of mentorship. Paddlers are also taught the Leave No Trace principles to encourage active environmental awareness and protection.

The skill levels stream begins with an introduction to kayaking and evolves to the development of the skills and knowledge necessary for safe sea kayak touring.

Skills Development Stream

Waterfront Kayak Skills
Basic Kayak
Kayak Rolling
Level-1 Skills
Level-2 Skills
Level-3 Skills
Level-4 Skills

Instructor Development Stream

Waterfront Kayak Instructor
Basic Kayak Instructor
Kayak Rolling Instructor
Level-1 Instructor
Level-2 Instructor
Level-3 Instructor
Level-4 Instructor

Instructor Trainer Stream

Basic Kayak Instructor Trainer
Kayak Rolling Instructor Trainer
Level-1 Instructor Trainer
Level-2 Instructor Trainer
Level-3 Instructor Trainer

Age Requirement

There are no age restrictions for any skills course (except at the discretion of the course director). For all instructor courses, the minimum requirement is 16 years of age.

Please forward any questions, comments, concerns and feedback to the Sea Kayak Program Development Committee.

To register for any skills stream course:

  • Simply contact the Course Director / Organization and register with them.

To register for an instructor course:

  1. Contact the Course Director / Organization and register with them first.
  2. Register yourself as an instructor candidate member with Paddle Canada here; if you are an existing member or a past skill course participant please login to your account and follow the Instructor Candidate link. If you are brand new to Paddle Canada, then proceed to the Instructor Candidate form.

Waterfront Kayak Skills

The Waterfront Kayak Program is designed to provide knowledge and skills necessary for “beachfront” paddling activities. The items chosen for inclusion in this program are of importance to individuals being introduced to kayaking in a summer-camp environment. The program is designed to teach skill development, safety, and an understanding of limitations primarily through the use of games and activities. Candidates who complete the Waterfront Kayak program are considered to be beginners, capable of performing the basic strokes to manoeuvre a kayak for short distances. If summer-camps or organizations wish to run kayak programs where the desired goal is to take the participants on a paddle outside the designated waterfront paddling area as outlined below (e.g., for a multi-hour excursion), then the trip leaders must gain Basic Kayak Instructor certification rather than Waterfront Kayak Instructor certification.

Aim:

This course introduces the beginner to kayaking in calm waters in a designated waterfront area. The skills and knowledge gained at this level form the foundation necessary for confident and safe travel within small and calm environments. Programming is delivered primarily through paddling games and group activities.

Prerequisites:

None

Typical Course Length:

1 day

Overview

Rescue Skills

  • wet exit
  • retrieve a swamped kayak
  • assisted rescue
  • raft-up

Paddling Skills

  • lifting and carrying a kayak
  • launching and landing a kayak
  • forward and reverse paddling
  • forward and reverse sweep strokes
  • stopping

Knowledge

  • boat outfitting
  • clothing
  • safety equipment
  • paddles
  • cold water concerns
  • equipment care
  • lifejacket policy: always wear it!

Basic Kayak Skills

Aim:

Basic Kayak introduces the novice to paddling a kayak in calm sheltered water. Rescue techniques at this level incorporate the use of a paddling partner and it is essential for all Basic Kayak certified paddlers to travel on the water with others who have been trained in the techniques of assisted rescues.

Prerequisites:

None

Typical Course Length:

1 day

Overview

Rescue skills

  • Wet Exit
  • Retrieving a swamped kayak
  • Assisted Rescue
  • Rafting

Paddling skills

  • Lifting and carrying a kayak
  • Forward and reverse paddling
  • Forward and reverse sweep strokes
  • Draw stroke
  • Low brace

Knowledge

  • Boat design
  • Boat outfitting
  • Clothing
  • Safety Equipment
  • Paddles
  • Injury prevention
  • Equipment care
  • Kayaking resources

Kayak Rolling

Aim:

To understand the basic mechanics involved in rolling a kayak, and to develop the ability to roll a kayak confidently in calm conditions.

Prerequisites:

It is highly recommended that students have Basic Kayak skills certification or equivalent skill and knowledge Must be able to perform a controlled and calm wet exit.

Typical Course Length:

2 hours

Overview

Rescue Skills

  • kayak rolling
  • wet exit

Paddling Skills

  • warm-ups
  • safe body mechanics
  • rolling progressions
  • learning aids

Knowledge

  • kayak fit and equipment
  • heritage

Sea Kayak Level-1 Skills

Aim:

Level-1 provides the skill and knowledge necessary for day-long sea kayaking trips in sheltered waters (non-wilderness areas). Successful completion of Level-1 indicates competence to paddle a sea kayak within a sheltered bay in the company of one or more paddlers with Level-1 or greater skill and knowledge.

Prerequisites:

Paddle Canada Basic Kayak skills certification or equivalent skill and knowledge.

Typical Course Length:

2 days

Overview

Rescue skills

  • Bow rescue
  • Unassisted re-entry
  • Assisted re-entry
  • Towing
  • Communication/signals

Paddling skills

  • Forward stroke
  • Brace low/high
  • Sweep
  • Draw
  • Stern rudder
  • Edge control

Knowledge

  • Equipment
  • Journeying and seamanship
  • Safety
  • Kayaking resources

Sea Kayak Level-2 Skills

Aim:

To provide the skills and knowledge for proficient kayaking in moderate conditions, on overnight trips along a moderately exposed shore with frequent easy landing opportunities.

Prerequisites:

  • Paddle Canada Level-1 Skills certification or equivalent skill and knowledge.
  • Experience: At least 3, one day long, kayaking trips in different locations.
  • Wilderness First Aid (16 hours) with CPR strongly recommended.

Typical Course Length:

4 days including 1 overnight

Overview

Rescue skills

  • Assisted rescues
  • Unassisted rescues
  • All in rescue
  • Rolling
  • Towing
  • Communication

Paddling skills

  • Forward/reverse stroke
  • Sweep forward/reverse
  • Low/high brace turn
  • Draw/sculling draw
  • Low/high brace
  • Bow/stern rudder

Knowledge

  • Equipment
  • Knots
  • Journeying and seamanship
  • Safety
  • Kayaking resources

Sea Kayak Skills Level-3

Aim:

  • The participant in Level–3 will develop practical leadership, risk assessment, decision-making, judgment, group management, and seamanship, in the context of a multi-day journey.
  • Participate in a multi-day journey that includes changing conditions and varying terrain.
  • Develop the skills necessary to lead a small group of paddlers on an overnight journey.
  • Develop the skills outlined in Level-2 to a higher standard of proficiency.

Prerequisites:

  • Paddle Canada Level-2 Skills certification or equivalent skill and knowledge.
  • Tripping experience: extended trips of 2 or more days totalling 10 overnights.
  • Wilderness First Aid (16 hours) with CPR is strongly recommended.
  • VHF radio operator’s license is recommended.
  • Bronze Medallion swimming and life saving (or equivalent) is recommended.

Typical Course Length:

4-days with an excursion that includes 2 or more adjacent overnights.

Overview

Rescue skills

  • Assisted rescues
  • Unassisted rescues
  • All in rescue
  • Rolling
  • Towing
  • Communication

Paddling skills

  • Forward stroke
  • Sweep forward/reverse
  • Low/high brace turn
  • Draw/sculling draw
  • Low/high brace
  • Bow/stern rudder

Knowledge

  • Equipment
  • Journeying and seamanship
  • Safety
  • Knots
  • Kayaking resources

Sea Kayak Level-4 Skills

Aim:

Level-4 provides the skills and knowledge for sea kayaking tripping during multi-day trips along an open coast with rough conditions. This course includes a leadership component.

Prerequisites:

  • All participants must have Paddle Canada Level-3 certification. Vigorous sea conditions along exposed shores with infrequent landing opportunities present significant challenges for individual safety and group management.
  • Wilderness First Aid Certification (36 hours) with CPR is strongly recommended.
  • Restricted Radio Operators License (marine VHF) is strongly recommended.
  • Considerable paddling experience and an ability to roll is essential.

Typical Course Length:

5 days with an excursion that includes 2 or more adjacent overnights.

Overview

Rescue Skills

  • Judgment
  • Decision making
  • Complex scenarios

Paddling Skills

  • Performance
  • Vary technique to cope with situations.
  • Towing

Knowledge

  • Safety
  • Planning
  • Rescue
  • Leadership
Please note that the above course descriptions are for reference only. The syllabus or course policies may have changed slightly over time so in case of disagreement, refer to the latest version of the Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Program Manual for the most up-to-date information.

Please forward any questions, comments, concerns and feedback to the Sea Kayak Program Development Committee.

Waterfront Kayak Instructor

Aim

This program provides the theory and skills necessary for instructors to lead basic kayaking skills and activities in a safe, controlled environment.

Introduces candidates to activities, skills, teaching techniques, and knowledge to effectively teach the Waterfront Kayak program.

Prerequisites

  • At least 16 years of age.
  • Standard First-Aid and CPR.
  • Previous Experience in a Kayak is highly recommended.

Typical Course Length

2 days, minimum.


Basic Kayak Instructor

Aim

To provide a national certification in the instruction and administration of the Paddle Canada Introduction to Kayaking Sea Kayaking Skills course.

The Introduction to Kayaking Instructor is certified to

  • Conduct Paddle Canada Introduction to Kayaking Skills courses and certify paddlers at that level.
  • Assist a Level-1 Instructor on a Level-1 Skills course.

Prerequisites

  • At least 16 years of age.
  • Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Level-1 Skills certification.
  • Current certification in Standard First Aid with CPR. (8 hours).

Typical Course Length

2 days, minimum.


Kayak Rolling Instructor

Aim

This course provides national certification in the instruction and administration of the Paddle Canada Kayak Rolling skills clinic. This award may be achieved through a course or apprenticeship.

Prerequisites

  • At least 16 years of age.
  • Basic Kayak Instructor certification.
  • The ability to roll a kayak confidently. It is strongly recommended that instructor candidates are able to roll confidently on both sides.
  • Current certification in first aid* (14 hours) with CPR.

Typical Course Length

6 hours, minimum.


Level-1 Instructor

Aim

To provide a national certification in the instruction and administration of the Paddle Canada Level-1 Sea Kayaking Skills course.

The Level-1 instructor is certified to:

  • Conduct Paddle Canada Introduction to Kayaking and Level-1 Skills courses and certify paddlers at those levels.
  • Assist a Level-2 Instructor on a Level-2 skills course.
  • Assist a Basic Kayak Instructor Trainer on a Basic Kayak Instructor course.

Prerequisites

  • At least 18 years of age.
  • Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Level-2 certification.
  • Paddling Experience: 30 days in level-1 conditions (including overnights).
  • Current Standard First Aid / CPR (14 hours) or Wilderness First Aid (16 hours)

Typical Course Length

4 days, minimum.


Level-2 Instructor

Aim

To provide a national certification in the instruction and administration of the Paddle Canada Level-2 Sea Kayaking Skills course.

The Level-2 Instructor is certified to:

  • Conduct Paddle Canada Basic Kayak, Level-1 & 2 Skills courses and to certify paddlers at those levels.
  • Assist a Level-3 Instructor on a Level-3 skills course.
  • Assist a Level-1 Instructor Trainer on a Level-1 Instructor course.

Prerequisites

  • At least 18 years of age.
  • Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Level-3 Skills certification.
  • Significant paddle experience in a wide variety of conditions and locations.
  • Current certification in Wilderness First Aid (16 hours) with CPR.

Typical Course Length

5 days, minimum. Including one overnight.


Level-3 Instructor

Aim

To provide a national certification in the instruction and administration of the Paddle Canada Level-3 Sea Kayaking course.

The Level-3 Instructor is certified to:

  • Conduct Paddle Canada Basic Kayak and Level-1, 2 & 3 Skills courses and to certify paddlers at those levels.
  • Assist Level-4 Instructors on a Level-4 Skills course.
  • Assist a Level-2 Instructor Trainer on a Level-2 Instructor course.

Prerequisites

  • At least 18 years of age.
  • Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Level-4 Skills certification.
  • Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Instructor Level-2 Certification.
  • Significant paddling experience in a wide variety of conditions and locations.
  • Current certification in Wilderness First Aid with CPR (36 hours).

Typical Course Length

Level-3 Instructor is achieved only through the mentorship process.


Level-4 Instructor

Aim

To provide a national certification in the instruction and administration of the Paddle Canada Level-4 Sea Kayaking Skills course.

The Level-4 Instructor is certified to:

  • Conduct Paddle Canada Basic Kayak and Level- 1, 2, 3 & 4 Skills courses and to certify paddlers at those levels.

Prerequisites

  • At least 18 years of age.
  • Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Level-4 Skills certification.
  • Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Instructor Level-3 Certification.
  • Significant paddling experience in a wide variety of conditions and locations.
  • Current certification in Wilderness First Aid with CPR (36 hours).

Typical Course Length

Level-4 Instructor is achieved only through the mentorship process.

Please note that the above course descriptions are for reference only. The syllabus or course policies may have changed slightly over time so in case of disagreement, refer to the latest version of the Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Program Manual for the most up-to-date information.

Please forward any questions, comments, concerns and feedback to the Sea Kayak Program Development Committee.

Instructor Trainer Levels

The Instructor-Trainer teaches others how to teach the different levels of the Sea Kayak program.

The candidate apprentices on instructor courses and is assessed on an ongoing basis throughout the mentorship process. The IT Apprentice must assist on at least two (2) Sea Kayak Instructor courses.

For a more detailed description of this level please refer to the Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Program Manual.

Please forward any questions, comments, concerns and feedback to the Sea Kayak Program Development Committee.

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