ACA Instructor Development Workshop for River Kayaking

Feb 28-Mar 4, 2013

Alder Creek hosted this ACA IDW for River Kayaking; Photo: Andrew Romanelli

Recently, Malcolm Kelly, Steve Pilch, and myself participated in an American Canoe Association IDW to certify as whitewater instructors. There were seven candidates in all, and the course was lead by Instructor Trainer Ben Morton while assisted by Paul Kuthe and Heather Herbeck. Thanks to our excellent instructors, I learned far more than I had anticipated, bettering myself as a paddler and instructor. Ben, Paul, and Heather ran a focused yet fun course!

Instructor Trainer Ben Morton; Photo: John Whittenberger

If you find an opportunity to receive any instruction from Ben, Paul, or Heather, you shouldn’t pass it up. Ben Morton is enthusiastic, friendly, and has excellent group skills, teaching to everyone’s individual needs. I think each candidate received not only the instruction they needed but also a clear progression to continue learning and elevate our performance. Though I work with Paul Kuthe at Alder Creek, our schedules don’t allow much opportunity to receive instruction from him. It was great to experience Paul’s teaching from the position of a student! If you live in the Portland area, I strongly encourage you to pursue coaching from Paul. Check out some programs through Alder Creek and local paddling clubs! This weekend was also my first time meeting Heather Herbeck. Full of smiles and encouragement, I found Heather’s teaching style to be very informative and supportive. Based out of the Columbia Gorge, keep your ears peeled for instructional opportunities from Heather “All Smiles” Herbeck!

Instructors Heather Herbeck and Paul Kuthe; Photo: John Whittenberger

I cannot express just how much value I got out of this course, and I highly recommend this course for anyone looking to improve their river skills, especially if you aspire to lead or instruct friends, clubs, or clients!  This four and a half day course was spent mostly on the water.  Day 1 was spent covering Level 1 flatwater skills, followed by an evening pool session.  Day 2 introduced class I/II moving water on the Clackamas River.  Day 3 was spent on a class II/III stretch of the Washougal River, and the final day wrapped up Level 4 curriculum on Bull Run.  I was exhausted by the final day!  Between four, full days of paddling and working in the evenings, I had to turn lunchtime into some naptime!  Thankfully, the weather was incredible through the entire course.

Soakin up the sun! Photo: John Whittenberger

As a paddler, this course greatly improved my self awareness, cleaning up my lazy strokes and self-taught bad habits. Video assessment is not only humbling, it helped me make a connection between what I perceive myself as doing and what I’m actually doing!

Rescue practice on the Washougal River; Photo: Andrew Romanelli

As an instructor and guide, this course involved a great deal of discussion about learning styles and teaching methods. These discussions helped me assess my own learning style and understand other learning styles. Group management and rescues were other invaluable modules during the training and certification course.

Day 1; Photo: John Whittenberger
Day 2; Photo: John Whittenberger
Day 3; Photo: John Whittenberger
Day 4; Photo: John Whittenberger

This course was highly beneficial as a skill assessment and training program, and it leaves you with a clear progression for skill refinement and advancement!  Working from Level 1 to Level 4, you get a clear understanding of a paddler’s foundations on flatwater that encourage success in more dynamic environments.  Rather than having to certify in each level individually, as with the BCU, the ACA allows you to certify along the leveled progression where your abilities stand.  Afterwards, Instructor Candidates get to discuss what comes next as both an instructor and a paddler.

Beautiful weather and scenery! Photo: Andrew Romanelli

I whole-heartedly encourage paddlers so seek instruction from Ben Morton, Paul Kuthe, and Heather Herbeck, and keep your ears open for assessment and training courses from the ACA!

A huge thanks to my bosses and coworkers for helping make this opportunity possible for me!  See you on the water.

-Andrew Romanelli

ACA IDW Instructors and Candidates; Photo: Andrew Romanelli