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, provided.

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 …

"Any time that you can learn from the pro, Rich Carlson, its a fine day of learning and meeting people with the same interest and passion as you have for the sport of canyoneering!"

May 28, 2015

"Thank you to Rich and the rest of the group for sharing all your knowledge with me and taking the extra time to help me get up to speed with the rest of the class. Even if I only remember a fraction of what I learned it will be worth every minute in the class."

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

"Absolutely loved the workshop with Rich Carlson. Definitely a fan of the Totem and VT prusik . Every canyoneer needs these versatile tools in their pack. I would recommend this course to anybody wanting to get instruction from one of the best canyoneers in the world. Thanks Rich!"

May 28, 2015

"Your devotion to the sport and your concern for your students was very apparent during the course. The entire canyoneering community is in your debt for the fine work you are doing."

May 28, 2015

"The cumulative structure of the course was right on. We had three opportunities to learn each technique - classroom (camp), controlled situation (bridge), then actual application in the canyons."

May 28, 2015

"Awesome opportunity Rich knows his stuff. His emphasis on safety, patience and his obvious love of teaching canyoneering really make the difference."

June 1, 2015

"It was a privilege learning from a master like Dave. The natural anchor systems he taught showed a great deal of creativity. It was refreshing to hear from someone who could speak from many years of real practical experience, instead of those chest-thumpers on the chat group. Thank you for caring about us newbies."

May 28, 2015

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