NACK Training

NACK/ACA Training, Assessment and Certification

North Atlantic Canoe & Kayak has been formed as a club dedicated to paddler development at all levels. The NACK Training, Assessment and Certification program is designed to insure on-water safety, facilitate good group management and support member development.  All NACK members are entitled to the ACA Quickstart Kayak Skills training program (a $75 value) as part of their membership benefits.  In addition, members are entitled to an official ACA Skills Assessment (another $75 value) each year by an ACA Certified Instructor.

ACA Skills Assessment is required for participation on most club sanctioned paddling trips. An Assessment is not required for Training Sessions, Unrated Paddles, Peer Practices and other functions which are appropriately staffed by the Training and Safety Committees.


ACA Coastal Kayak Skill Ratings

NACK Provides the following courses at no cost:

ACA Kayak QuickStart Course

ACA Level 1 Kayaking Skills Assessment

ACA Level 2 Essentials of Kayak Touring Assessment

ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak Assessment

The full description of these courses can be found on the ACA Website

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true. Greek Statesman & Orator Demosthenes 384-322 BC

ACA Skills Classes are provided periodically by NACK Instructors or Guest Instructors who are often brought in due to their specialized instructional skills.  We strive to keep the cost of these classes low so they are affordable to the widest spectrum of the membership.  In the past NACK has been able to acquire the services of nationally and internationally recognized individuals in order to provide the highest level of instruction for our membership.  These classes are part of our commitment to our membership to afford them them the opportunity to develop their skills to the highest levels.

Contact for registration and additional information

Peer Practices are weekly sessions for NACK members to get together to practice their skills and prepare for official ACA Skill Level Assessment. There is no cost for peer practices or an annual assessment. Other ACA Training is offered to members at a substantial discount from what is commercially available. Many of our training activities are based out of Timber Point Park on the Connetquot River in Oakdale or Jones Beach State Park.

NACK Instructors

The programs of Instruction created by the American Canoe Association in the various disciplines of canoe, kayak and rafting represent the highest quality instruction that is generally available in this country. NACK intends to facilitate development of member safety and skills through the use of ACA Certified Instructors. By learning from a Certified Instructor you can be sure that your Instructor has completed one or more ACA Instructor Development Workshops (IDWs) following a detailed and demanding curriculum and has passed an Instructor Certification Exam (ICE) under the supervision of a certified ACA Instructor Trainer or ACA Instructor Trainer Educator. Periodically (every four years) ACA Instructors must re-affirm their certification through the process of an ACA Instructor Update with a Certified Instructor Trainer. The ACA requires all it’s Instructors to maintain certification in First-Aid/CPR or Wilderness First Aid.

Just as there are levels of skill ratings, there are also levels of Instructor Certification which increase the range of skills the Instructor is certified to model and teach. It is relatively easy to gain certification at the “Introduction” Level 1, in a specific aspect of paddling (sea kayak, river kayak, canoe, etc.), certification at the “Essentials” Level 2, is more demanding in the breadth and depth of curriculum which must be mastered, as well as quality of stroke modeling. Certification as a “Basic” Level 3 instructor is significantly more demanding of advanced and refined skills with requirements for understanding and modeling combined strokes as well as certifying in more demanding conditions. Higher level ratings such as “Open Water Coastal” (kayak), “White Water” Canoe or Kayak or “Advanced” Open Water or White Water Kayak are even more comprehensive and require more extensive training in risk assessment, duty of care and generally demand a higher commitment to multi-day IDWs and a challenging ICE.

If you are a student, be sure you are working with a properly certified ACA Instructor whose rating is up-to-date in the appropriate discipline. Any ACA Instructor should be able to present assurance from the ACA of their current rating and status. Those wishing to pursue advanced training to become an ACA Instructor should consult with the Divisional Instructional Facilitator in their region, who will put you in touch with an ACA Instructor Trainer who can advise when the appropriate courses are scheduled. Information on training can also be acquired on the ACA Website or by contacting the ACA Safety Instruction and Education Committee (SEIC).

The requirements for NACK Instructors are detailed in the Training Policy. Basically, all NACK Instructors must be ACA Instructors, members of NACK and also be approved by the NACK Training Committee.

If the first time you rely on a skill is in a survival situation and you find you have not mastered it – then what?
Top Tips for Coaches 2002

NACK Trip Rating System

The NACK Training Committee has developed the Trip Rating System that describes trips of progressively challenging nature in terms of environment and skill level. This system is consistent with the American Canoe Association Coastal Kayak Skills Ratings and ACA Instructor Ratings.

NACK Assessors

The NACK skill assessment program is consistent with published ACA guidelines. NACK Skills Assessors are ACA certified Instructors that have received further approval from the NACK Training Committee.  Currently only ACA Instructors may grant ACA Skills Certification.

NACK Leadership Program

NACK needs good trip leaders to function as an active paddling club. Becoming a Trip Leader is an enjoyable way to get out on the water and paddle where you want to go. If you choose venue’s that are generally accessible you will always have a good group of participants. Because all participants must be rated, you can be assured of good support skills in your group. Trip Leaders who give of their time to plan and execute safe trips deserve the respect and admiration of all members and receive work credits for each paddle.

There are two ways to become a NACK Trip Leader. All ACA Instructors are trained to lead a group on the water and are therefore certified to lead trips at levels consistent with their Instructor Certification level. However, some Instructor schedules are too busy to lead club trips, especially at the height of the season.

The NACK Training Committee has detailed a program for development of member NACK Trip Leaders in the NACK Training Policy. Upon completion of a basic leader training program and an on-water mentoring program any member may lead trips at levels consistent with their skill rating. This Training Policy describes requirements for members leading trips of different ratings. All NACK members are encouraged to volunteer to become NACK Leaders and help support our programs.