As we paddle vigorously forward into 2019, we at River & Ocean are very excited to begin offering the ACA Level 4 Trip Leader Program. This is a challenging and demanding program, encompassing a very broad range of skills and knowledge. Because this program has not previously been offered in our area, we would like to provide a brief overview of its basic structure as a way of introducing it to the paddling community locally and in the extended areas we serve.

The L4 Trip Leader Program is designed to prepare and assess individuals who are interested in leading other paddlers in dynamic open water and coastal environments, and to ensure they have the skills necessary to plan and safely implement single day and multi-day trips with the groups under their care. The emphasis of the training is on leadership, and is designed to take place in conditions up to and including those where dynamic environments create leadership challenges by constraining time available for decision-making, and by hindering communication through ambient environmental noise of wind and waves.

Because of the focus on leadership in this program and the demands of the training environment, candidates for the L4 Trip Leader Program must first pass a Level 4 Skills Assessment. This is to ensure that appropriate personal skills are in place prior to beginning serious work on development of the focused expertise which occurs in the Trip Leader training. As the Level 4 Skills Assessment is the first step in the L4 Trip Leader Program (not to mention the Level 4 Instructor pathway), we at River & Ocean want to try to ensure access to these assessments for anyone who may be seeking one. We strongly encourage you to contact us if you are potentially interested in scheduling one, as we will do our best to accommodate people’s needs.

The L4 Trip Leader program itself begins with a training course.  Targeted conditions include:

  • 15-20 knot winds
  • 3-5 foot seas
  • 2-4 foot surf
  • 2-4 knots of current

with training venues selected to provide a range of leadership environments and to address a broad curriculum of knowledge and skills (click here for detailed information on the training curriculum).

The L4 Trip Leader training runs for a minimum of 2 days. After completion of the trip leader training and on providing a summary of trip experience including leadership roles, candidates are eligible to participate in an assessment (click here for detailed information on the assessment). The L4 Trip Leader assessment also runs for a minimum of 2 days.

River & Ocean will be offering a 3 day L4 Trip Leader Training from June 7-9th with venues selected from regions in and around San Francisco Bay, Bodega Bay, the Golden Gate, Half Moon Bay, or other nearby coastal locations to maximize our ability to meet course goals. This course will be taught by ACA Level 5 Advanced Open Water Instructor and British Canoeing Advanced Sea Kayak Leader (BCU 5 Star) Jennifer Yearley and experienced expedition paddler, ACA L5 Instructor and L4 Instructor Trainer Sean Morley.  We encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have, and look forward to seeing you out on the water!