ACA Canyon Leader Certification is a recreational certification program. It is intended for individuals who facilitate canyoneering programs in group settings such as college outdoor recreation leaders, experiential education program instructors, wilderness therapy staff, camp directors, youth leaders, and recreational canyoneers looking to improve upon their technical skills.

The mission of the Canyon Leader Certification Program is to improve canyoneering safety by developing qualified mentors, thereby reducing the number of canyon descent parties that have only beginner level skills. Goals of the program include: (1) Provide training and mentoring for beginner canyoneers, and (2) Provide advanced skills and canyon rescue training for experienced canyoneers who volunteer to serve as mentors for beginners.

Our Canyon Leader Certification Program consists of three levels:

  • Aspirant Canyon Leader
  • Canyon Leader I (Competent Assistant)
  • Canyon Leader II

Aspirant Canyon Leader

An Aspirant Canyon Leader (Aspirant) is an individual who has passed an Aspirant Assessment that includes skills from the ACA's Core and Aspirant Skills Checklists. Aspirant Assessments are conducted by Canyon Leaders, I or II or higher. Aspirants have expressed their intent to pursue additional technical training, leadership training and mentoring through the ACA.

If accepted into our Aspirant Canyon Leader program you will have opportunities to assist ACA Canyon Leaders in conducting Intro to Canyoneering Workshops and Practice Sessions.

In return, the ACA will offer opportunities for advanced training. You will also be eligible to participate in our Leader-Guide Canyon Rendezvous (GLAR).

Note: Aspirant Canyon Leaders may not accept any form of compensation from participants for their service.

Aspirant Canyon Leader -- Step by Step

1. Start building your Canyon Resume (must descend 12 canyons before assessing)

2. Pass the ACA's Aspirant Assessment. ***Prerequisite: 12 canyon descents

3. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

    • minimum of 25 canyon descents;
    • minimum of 5 unique canyons descended.

4. Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.

Canyon Leader I (Competent Assistant)

A Canyon Leader I is an individual who has passed the Canyon Leader I Assessment that includes skills from the ACA's Core, Aspirant, and Canyon Leader I Skills Checklists. Canyon Leader I assessments are conducted by Canyon Leader II or higher.

Once certified as Canyon Leader I you will be eligible to participate in free leader skills clinics and practice sessions, as well as our Leader-Guide Canyon Rendezvous.

Note: Canyon Leaders may not accept any form of compensation from participants for their service.

Canyon Leader I -- Step by Step

1. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

    • minimum of 50 canyon descents
    • minimum of 15 unique canyons descended

2. Pass the ACA's Canyon Leader 1 Assessment. ***Prerequisite: 25 canyon descents

3. Submit the appropriate First Aid / CPR certification (Basic First Aid / CPR in USA)

4.Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.

How long does Canyon Leader I designation last?

Canyon Leader I designation is valid for three years.

How do I re-new my Canyon Leader I designation?

Retake the assessment

OR..

Assess at the next level.

OR...

Participate in 16 hours of continuing education / training

AND...

  1. Must hold a valid basic First Aid/CPR certification.
  2. Keep your member profile current on the ACA's website

Canyon Leader II

A Canyon Leader II is an individual who has passed the Canyon Leader II Assessment that includes skills from the ACA's Core, Aspirant, Canyon Leader 1, and Canyon Leader 2 Skills Checklists. Canyon Leader II assessments are conducted by Canyon Leader II's or higher

Once certified as Canyon Leader II you will be eligible to participate in free leader skills clinics and practice sessions, as well as our Leader-Guide Canyon Rendezvous.

Note: Canyon Leaders may not accept any form of compensation from participants for their service.

Canyon Leader II -- Step by Step

1. Must be current Canyon Leader I.

2. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

    • minimum of 75 canyon descents;
    • minimum of 25 unique canyons descended

3. Pass the ACA’s Canyon Leader 2 Assessment. ***Prerequisite: 50 canyon descents

4. Submit the appropriate First Aid / CPR Certification. (WFA in the USA)

5. Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.

How long does Canyon Leader II designation last?

Canyon Leader II designation is valid for three years.

How do I re-new my Canyon Leader II designation?

Retake the assessment.

OR...

Participate in 16 hours of continuing education / training  + 2 Training Events (GLAR/Rondys/Ground School/Intro Classes)

AND...

  1. Must hold a valid Wilderness First Aid/CPR certification.
  2. Keep your member profile current on the ACA's website

What people are saying …

"Awesome group Rich, cant wait to learn more from you once I get down perfect everything you taught us. It was an amazingly well digested canyoneering course that makes you want to go back for more."

May 28, 2015

"This was definitely an eye-opening experience into understanding how much there really is to canyoneering. It was a challenging week with tons and tons of information and skills to be learned. Thank you for taking extra time and effort in seeing I understood things clearly. I'm very pleased with the setup of the course. I had so much fun - the canyon trips were excellent. My excitement for canyoneering has greatened even more."

May 28, 2015

"I had a great time in this class even though I missed some of it. Rich you're a great teacher you know how to make it fun."

May 28, 2015

"It's unbelievable how much we have learned in one week. Great teaching and patience displayed by all instructors. Great body of knowledge taught. Good hands-on experience. Good pace and sequence of topics."

May 28, 2015

"This course will easily become the standard by which any other canyoneering course will be judged. It was amazing that the professional mountaineering guides found a lot to learn, but the pace was such that a neophyte like me could also pick things up quickly."

May 28, 2015

"Every canyoneering guide in the U.S. - and the overwhelming majority of recreational canyoneers - have learned from or have learned from someone who learned from Rich Carlson."

May 28, 2015

"I learned more in 2 days of class from Rich than I have learned in the last 5 years of canyoneering. His style of teaching makes seemingly complicated ideas extremely simple. My confidence level in my abilities has greatly increased as a result. I will surely be taking future courses from Rich."

May 28, 2015

"I just wanted to let you know I had a great time at the canyoneering course. Thank you guys for being so flexible with the group and for making sure we were all being taught material that suited our experience and interests. I hope to be able to attend one of the advanced courses in the next year."

May 28, 2015

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