Paddling Magazine prompts the discussion of negative impact of certifications

Below is a link to Paddling Magazine’s recent article raising the question of if there is negative impact in the kayaking community due to the pressure and focus on certification. Take a read. What are your thoughts?

NACK was born (as I’ve been told by our elders!) out of a desire for more training and skill building, and a natural path for that has been to leverage ACA guidelines and certifications. To that end, NACK offers yearly FREE  training and assessments. We just had one June 1


Certification killed paddling adventures

One response to “Paddling Magazine prompts the discussion of negative impact of certifications”

  1. How many characters do I have to comment?

    I cannot disagree with this sentiment more strongly. Kayaking around a marsh or pond is probably safer than crossing the street; but there is nothing “simple” about kayaking open water.

    To extend the analogy a bit, we just witnessed one of the deadliest years ever on Mt. Everest — largely because tour companies are increasingly willing to take completely inexperienced clients up the mountain. Their motivation boils down to, profit trumps the value of human life.

    No, ocean kayaking is not as dangerous as climbing to the cruising height of a jetliner, but it is not a float on the pond, either. The couple that the author encountered may have been inexperienced as sea kayakers, but they were apparently highly experienced climbers. As evidenced by their conservative decision making, that means they had learned, from their other experience, a generalizable understanding of risk and how to approach and mitigate it in an unfamiliar situation. The author’s anecdote cherry picks a positive experience from an adventure-wise but kayak-naive couple, while disregarding too-numerous examples of tragic outcomes among naive adventurers. Those whom we so admire, and strive to emulate — Muir, Amundsen, Hoffmeister, maybe even the Shackleton party — took huge, but very well understood, risks. Too many want to emulate them without bothering to obtain the knowledge and experience to make their adventure at least a reasonably calculated risk.

    As I have told some kayaking friends here in the north east, certifications are not about bragging rights (although some may abuse them as such); they are about a process for standardizing the acquisition of skills that make it reasonable to push oneself to the next level. Oh, and let’s not forget: when naive would-be adventurers put themselves in situations that they can’t handle and then call for help, it is not only their own lives they are endangering.