When I started Paddles By The Sea, I knew I wanted it to be a platform to teach SUP (standup paddle boarding) to beginners. So, one of my first steps to starting the business was getting a SUP instructor certified. I wanted to be the best teacher possible to my new students, here’s a glimpse into that journey.
Turns out, there are really only 5 major organizations to get a paddle board instructor cert from. The crazy part is, none of them seem to have the same philosophy. They’re all willing to knight you as a certified instructor, that’s about it for similarities. Some are one day and really only an assessment; some are geared towards fitness, some are super basic level technique, some are intense, and a couple everyone passes. Hold up! Everyone passes?! Can I get a scuba diving cert while I’m at it?
I’m all for everyone getting a trophy, who doesn’t like trophies? However, this is a certificate to teach humans how to do something with a potential to be dangerous. I would not feel confident marketing my new business, and new found skills, with a 100% pass rate certificate. I want to learn how to teach, and shouldn’t pass if I’m not good enough. This isn’t about bragging rights; it’s about being the best teacher possible.
So, the fitness one is out, might teach a fitness class down the road, but I knew I’d be getting lots of first time paddlers. The one day and the basic level are out, want to be able to teach basic, intermediate and advanced. I ended up going with ACA (American Canoe Association). It seemed like the best fit for me and my business goals.
First major reason I chose ACA over the others is fail rate. They fail lots of people, I mean lots. Only two passed my class of five, and these weren’t first timers. To be honest, when I left the class I wasn’t sure if I’d passed or not. If you can’t teach the instructor, they won’t certify you to teach. You must have instructor quality technique; you must also be able to show the instructor you can think on your feet while leading a group. You must be able to speak and communicate clearly. This course was grueling, it was mental and physical, and it was awesome.
Turns out they have a history too. Being formed in 1880, the ACA is the oldest paddle organization in America. Being one of the first to offer SUP instructor certification made sense; they had been offering similar courses in kayak and canoe since 1973. They currently advise the U.S Government and Coast Guard on paddle sports. These people have a standard; they have a very high standard. And I’m happy to say Paddles By The Sea, and its instructors are American Canoe Association certified instructors (teachers).