New Director of Training and Assessment

The American Canyoneering Association is very pleased to announce that Steve Szoke of Salt Lake City, Utah will be our official Director of Training and Assessment. His commitment to helping the ACA achieve its goals of having high quality and consistent programs is quickly becoming….legendary, and we are appreciative he will be sharing this with us.

The dedication Steve has shown to the craft of instruction and evaluation of canyoneering skills is impressive. And his clear intent to help people be safe and enjoy their canyoneering experience is honorable and a gift to canyoneers everywhere. His training techniques are focused, deliberate, and purposeful and I believe it is exactly what this kind of activity requires.

Personally I would like to thank Steve for his guidance, professionalism, and patience with my infinite goofy questions. I also want to express our collective gratitude for the countless hours he has volunteered to help others be better canyoneers. Thank you, Steve. I look forward to seeing where his ideas and leadership take our Training and Assessment programs.

Safe travels to all,
Rick Green


Welcome Jenna Sylvester

Jenna Sylvester


The ACA welcomes Jenna Sylvester as our newest member of the Advisory Committee.

Here is a little bit about Jenna where she shares ideas and values that are in strong alignment with the ACA:

“I grew up on the Central Coast of California watching my sports coaches mold young athletes. Looking back now I realize they were not only crafting technically advanced athletes but also strong, enduring individuals and teammates. I want that kind of coaching for our canyoneering community, especially when it comes to safe practices. Strong, capable, self reliant canyoneers who go out and have the most fun you’ll ever have in your life. Hello from SoCal! ”


Welcome to the ACA Jenna!

ACA’s 2018 Fall GLAR: Guide, Leader, and Aspirant Rondy

The ACA 2018 Fall GLAR – Guide, Leader and Aspirant Rondy is coming!

Howdy American Canyoneering Association Guides, Leaders and Aspirants. It’s time again for our Fall gathering!  Another opportunity to share ideas, renew canyon bonds and continue to build continuity and consistency in our Programs.

The Fall GLAR will be held September 29-30th near Kolob Reservoir in SW Utah, near Zion NP.  A close friend has offered to let us stay on his land (800plus acres) near the head of both Kolob and Oak Canyons.  What a spot!  Anyhow, It is a beautiful location and will provide us access to areas for training, assessing and lots of canyon fun.  I am hoping that moving this Rondy a bit closer to our friends in Nevada and California can make it a little easier to join in on the fun.

Details on training and assessments, camp location, meals etc will be posted shortly. We are planning a CL1 Assessment, some Assessor training/certifications and some interesting skill building workshops. Save the date and practice, practice, practice, fun stuff coming up!

If you want to start practicing for these ACA Assessments, make sure to check the ACA Skills Checklist

This Rondy is likely to be free, so we should be thinking along the lines of some communal meals, sharing or resources etc.  “Family style”.  If you would like to volunteer to help out with the Fall 2018 GLAR please send me an email or give me a call.

Rick Green
EoE Owner/ACA Guide

ACA’s Spring 2018 Guide, Leader, and Aspirant Rondy

Howdy Canyoneers!

I hope everyone is well and getting into the fun of Spring “Rondy” Season!!! We wanted to send everyone a quick update on some of the ACA’s latest “happenings.” Pardon me that this is a little late in coming, the double-whammy of Spring Break and Easter hitting together has really had us chasing our tails, I must admit. The west is full of lots of nice folks wanting to see these beautiful canyons.


Circle of trust!
(photo: Nathan Smith)

The ACA’s Spring 2018 Guide, Leader, and Aspirant Rondy (GLAR) in Escalante was well attended with an enthusiastic group of canyoneers. The cool weather proceeding did not dampen spirits, and as the skies cleared the smiles showed that we were ready for work. Everyone arrived well prepared for a safe and smooth weekend, giving us lots of time to focus on important training as well as some quality time to spend with old friends and to make some new ones. The primary training objective was for us to begin mastering skills and techniques used as competent canyon leaders. Members worked for three days fine-tuning their canyoneering leadership skills to include: trip preparation, training on instruction and coaching, individual and team spotting techniques, and the art of “sequencing” people, equipment, and skill sets in and around a canyon environment. Described as the “soft skills,” the challenges and rewards of being a competent canyon leader and team member reminds us that canyoneering is as much or more about the people as it is about the technical aspects. Just sayin’ people are cool. For an “extra-scoop,” we challenged everyone to ascend Beau Beau (Egypt 1.5), including the 20 ft drop. I witnessed people sharing incredible teamwork, problem solving, and a pot-shot toss that I would have given a .5% chance of success, . . . and it was done perfectly on the third shot. What an effort and what great teamwork everybody. Learning can be so fun! Still smiling thinking about it.


Potshot toss!
(photo: Nathan Smith)

(photo: Nathan Smith)

Our first Aspirant Assessment under the updated skills checklist has been successfully completed! Congratulations to our canyoneers listed below, who arrived well prepared and eager to demonstrate their technical competence. It was obvious to our assessors that a good effort had gone into their preparation, and thusly the ACA wants to thank them personally as well as thank the generous members who helped in preparing them for this challenging set of tasks. Bravo! Super strong group. The ACA recognizes the importance of our Training and Assessments Programs and the positive effect it has on our sports safety. Offering training sooner than later is important to our mission, but getting it correct is obviously much more so. We needed clarity and consistency for our training paths, and completing the new Aspirant Assessment was a particularly important step in that direction. We have now established the model for evaluating and updating our current skills lists and assessment. Going forward we will be able to move thru the L1 and L2 (Leader 1 and Leader 2) programs and assessments rather quickly. Since the consistency of this training is critical to the safety of many canyoneers, we are arranging for assessors to visit the varying regions to certify leaders and Pro’s on becoming qualified in the assessment process. It is relatively simple to run a very solid assessment, but important that we are all using the same techniques. It would be great to see assessment opportunities a few times a year in all the regions we are active in. Regional training, regional assessment. Side note, are you interested in becoming an instructor? Separate from our Recreational and Professional “paths,” I would like to create a rigorous training program for those who are passionate about instruction. ACA Certified Instruction is back.

The Advisory Committee will be having their third meeting April 10. As they continue to prioritize and strategize ways of helping us reach toward our objectives, I have asked them to look into one matter right away. The ACA has a shortage of women in our ranks. It goes without saying that we are best served as an association and as canyoneers when we have a more mixed and balanced set of viewpoints and backgrounds to seek answers from. The ACA has many super strong women, but something tells me we could be doing much more to include them in every aspect of what the ACA does. Based on this, I have asked the Advisory Committee to begin reaching out to the various women’s groups and community leaders to ask if they might give us insight into a way of improving our understanding on this very important topic. I believe it is possible that with ideas and input from our own valued female Membership as well as from other groups and Leaders, we can shed light on a way to a more inclusive and safe American Canyoneering Association.

Well that’s about it for now. Everybody keep in mind that we are always looking for new ideas and are open to suggestions. Until that formal pathway of communication is established, feel free to send me any questions ACA related and I will do my best. Stop by Escalante to say hi if you are down in this part of Earth’s sandstone playground!

Congratulations ACA’s 2018 Spring Aspirants Class:

Vyonne Mincberg

 Kelly Dobitz

 Brent Diggz

Adam Crenshaw

Noah Landrell




ACA President

New ACA Committee Members

Elisha Matthys

The ACA has added our fourth Advisory Committee Member, Elisha Matthys. She has become not only an experienced canyoneer, but also an active member in the community teaming up in top rated canyons like Kolob and Imlay, becoming an ACA Leader 1, and participating in initiatives to promote the advancement of women canyoneers. She is smart, enthusiastic, and a pleasure to canyoneer with. Elisha and her husband Scott are assets to the ACA. We very much appreciate her offer to give us a hand. Looking forward to fun times ahead.


Scott Barlow

The ACA has a new Secretary! Scott Barlow has volunteered to help with organization and management of details associated with our programs. Scott and his wife Saori are known in the Utah canyoneering community for their love and enthusiasm for the sport. Calm, cool, and motivated, Scott will not only assist with our tasks, but will also give us a fresh perspective. We look forward to working with and learning from Scott.

ACA Goals

At our Fall 2017 Guide/Leader/Aspirant Rendezvous, I asked our group of 17 canyoneers some basic questions about their involvement with the ACA. It was in the form of a questionnaire with the usual stuff like “What do you like about the ACA? What would you like to see more of / less of?”, etc. I understand that this is a very small sample group, but their time and commitment to canyoneering gave us some valuable insight into the ACA experience. I have combined their information with what I have learned through emails, phone calls, and “trail talks” to compile a short but important list of goals to begin working toward. A special thanks to all who shared your ideas, suggestions, and opinions. We all benefit from your knowledge and experience.

I present to you the ACA’s initial list of goals as “guidelines,” for us to use until such time that an Advisory Board (AB) is created. Once established, the AB can gather more information from our Membership and make adjustments and changes to short- and long-term planning as necessary. Here are the initial goals:


  • Promote an environment of openness and inclusiveness that stimulates the growth of new ideas, innovations, and techniques for canyoneers now and in the future.
  • Open channels of communication with membership via the establishment of an Advisory Board (AB). The AB will be the mechanism by which ACA goals and strategies are managed.
  • Follow up work to standardize techniques and instructional methods used to teach, practice, and experience canyoneering. Reinstate accredited trainers and training centers programs.
  • Honor the ACA’s philanthropic role, nobly performed by Rich Carlson. It is both a privilege and an imperative that we continue the promotion of good will and good and safe canyoneering techniques.
  • Initiate outreach to other canyoneering organizations, coalitions, etc. This is part of our effort to better understand the community, to help us focus the ACA’s role, and to improve effectiveness.


If you are interested in helping the ACA with its mission, please email me directly for more information. Currently we are looking for one Advisory Committee member. We also would like help getting representation for the Colorado/Rockies and the Pacific Northwest regions. If you are interested, let me know! The Committee will be in place shortly and begin organizing our tasks. I will keep everyone posted with developments as things get moving forward.

Safe travels to all,
Rick Green

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