ACA Instructor Training Learn to teach others how to packraft & become an ACA certified instructor. Instructor Candidates will learn industry standards for teaching packrafting and are assessed on teaching, technical knowledge & rescue skills throughout the course.

Course Description

PRE-APPROVAL REQUIRED TO REGISTER!  Contact Alaska Packraft School before registering.

The American Canoe Association (ACA) has one of the best established paddlesport instruction programs anywhere in the world.  ACA courses are comprehensive, but allow enough flexibility for individual teaching and paddling styles. The main benefit to taking the course is improving your understanding of paddling technique and theory, so you can paddle more efficiently and teach more effectively.  A secondary benefit is the development process which can give you structured feedback on becoming an effective instructor.  Instructor development workshops are very rewarding and enjoyable, because of the supportive learning environment and community involvement with idea exchanges.  Additional perks include insurance, liability, and networking benefits of ACA certification. 


Information on becoming an ACA Certified Instructor:



Lead Instructor Tommy Gram: Tommy has been teaching kayaking, swiftwater rescue and wilderness medicine for over a decade and has a passion for showing others how to have fun and be safe in the outdoors. Tommy began whitewatercanoeing and kayaking at a young age and has had the opportunity to gain experience in many whitewater paddling disciplines, including: Slalom, River Running, Freestyle and Packrafting. These experiences lead to a career in outdoor education. While not on the river Tommy can be found backcountry skiing in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and working as a Backcountry Ski Guide and AIARE Avalanche Educator.


Instructor Candidate Criteria


  • Be a current ACA Member
  • Meet ACA Essential Eligibility Criteria (scroll down to FAQ for more information) 
  • Class II paddling skills are required.   
  • You should be able to competently and comfortably demonstrate all of the skills and concepts listed on the Instructor Criteria and Sample Skills documents available here. 


Level 1: Intro to Packrafting & Level 2: Essentials of River Packrafting

The certification criteria includes demonstrating paddling and rescue proficiency in Class II whitewater. Days 1-3 are an Instructor Development Workshops (ICW) intended to refine these skills for demonstration quality and give you the tools and framework to effectively communicate these concepts to your students in a dynamic whitewater environment. A pre-course questionnaire and study material will be assigned and due before the course.   


Level 3: River Packrafting & Level 4: Whitewater Packrafting

This is an instructor development workshop and an instructor certification exam (IDW/ICE) for level 3 & 4 Packrafting.  Days 4-5 of this course are targeted at instructors who expect to be teaching on Class II or III whitewater.  Not everyone will receive “Full” L3 or L4 instructor certification, especially if this is their first exposure to formal paddling instruction on whitewater.   No worries!  There are means for upgrading within the ACA system.   


The Level 3/4 criteria and testing includes teaching practicum, and safety and rescue demonstrations. L3/4 criteria also includes these specific strokes and moves: Quality strokework, Catching eddies reliably in class II, Comfort in class II moves such as ferry crossing waves and holes.  Instructor Candidates will be assigned teaching topics to deliver to the group. 



Level 4 Instructor Upgrade ICE: May 24th, 2024 (only for current L3 Instructors)

Level 1-4 Instructor Course: May 25-29th, 2024


1 day Level 4 Upgrade: $200

5 day Level 1-4 Course: $675

Does not include ACA membership fees

Group Max

L4 Upgrade: 5 participants

L1-4 Instructor Course: 10 participants 

Trip Dates

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Related Courses & Trips

Level 1: Packraft Foundations

Perfect for the “never ever” packrafter or those who have paddled a few times, but without formal instruction. This course exposes you to the essentials of packrafting- both the hiking & paddling aspects. You’ll leave with a strong foundation in packrafting basics.

Level 2: Whitewater Essentials

For paddlers with previous packrafting experience wanting to strengthen their ability to read & paddle class II-III rivers.  River safety, rescue skills & risk assessment is also practiced.

Week of Rivers: Class II

The “Week of Rivers” offers a blend of exploration & skill progression. This is a frontcountry tour, showing you a different river each day, a mix of roadside runs & others we hike into.