ACA Canyon Leader Training is not a 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 Training 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.

Please Note: The Canyon Leader Training Program does not include a competency assessment, therefore it must not be represented as nor perceived as a certification. If certification is required, you should consider ACA Professional Guide Certification

Our Canyon Leader Training Program consists of three levels:

  • Aspirant Canyon Leader
  • Canyon Leader I
  • 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 Level 1 and Level 2 Skills Checklists. Aspirant Assessments are conducted by Canyon Leaders, I or II. 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 Level 1 and 2 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.

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

Aspirant Canyon Leader -- Step by Step

1. Learn skills from the ACA's Level 1 and 2 skills checklists, preferably from ACA certified guides/instructors.

2. Get out and descend canyons! Practice your skills.

3. Pass the ACA's 2-day Aspirant Assessment.

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

5. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

  • minimum of 25 canyon descents;
  • minimum of 5 unique canyons descended.
  • participation in two Level 1 Skills Practice Sessions conducted by ACA Canyon Leaders
  • participation in two canyon descents organized through the ACA's meetup group by ACA Canyon Leaders

Canyon Leader I

Canyon Leader I is a recreational designation that requires (1) completion of the ACA's 5-day Level 1 Leader/Guide Course, (2) lead three canyon descents, each under the supervision of a Canyon Leader I or II, and (3) facilitate two Level 1 skills practice sessions, each under the supervision of a Canyon Leader I or II.

Once designated 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. Learn skills from the ACA's Level 1, 2, and 3 skills checklists, preferably from ACA certified guides/instructors.

2. Get out and descend canyons! Practice your skills.

3. Complete the ACA's Level I Leader/Guide Course.

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

5. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

  • minimum of 50 canyon descents;
  • minimum of 10 unique canyons descended;
  • minimum of 10 canyons descended in which you performed in a lead role, at least 3 of which must have been done with a current ACA Canyon Leader I or II as mentor AFTER the Level I Leader/Guide Course.
  • facilitating two Level 1 Skills Practice Sessions, each under the supervision of a Canyon Leader I or II

How long does Canyon Leader I designation last?

Canyon Leader I designation is valid for three years, provided you (1) keep your member profile current on the ACA's website, (2) participate in at least two Leader Guide Rendezvous, and (3) serve as mentor to at least two Canyon Leaders per year.

Canyon Leader II

Canyon Leader II is a recreational designation for individuals who have completed the ACA's 7-day Level II Leader/Guide Course and passed the 4-day Level II Assessment, who do not intend to pursue professional canyon guide certification.

Once designated 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 II -- Step by Step

1. Must be current Canyon Leader I.

2. Get out and descend canyons! Practice your skills.

3. Complete the ACA's Level II Leader/Guide Course.

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

5. Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following:

  • minimum of 75 canyon descents;
  • minimum of 15 unique canyons descended;
  • minimum of 20 canyons descended in which you performed in a lead role, at least 10 of which must have been done with a current ACA Canyon Leader II as mentor AFTER the Level II Leader/Guide Course;
  • mentored two Aspirant Canyon Leaders AFTER they completed the Level I Leader/Guide Course.

How long does Canyon Leader II designation last?

Canyon Leader II designation is valid for three years, provided you (1) keep your member profile current on the ACA's website, (2) participate in at least two Leader Guide Rendezvous, and (3) serve as mentor to at least two Canyon Leaders per year.

Canyon Leader II are also encouraged to seek out ACA professional canyon guides to be their mentors and to pursue opportunities to assist them with courses, meetups and rendezvous.

What people are saying …

“Just wanted to drop you a quick note

to let you know that I really enjoyed your course. Thanks for your patience. You are a great teacher. I have found in the past that just because one has the knowledge on something, doesn’t mean they have the ability to convey that information to others in a way they can retain it. You actually have the gift. I know I retained more that I thought I would. It was a pleasure spending those three days under your guidance.”

“The knowledge I have gained

in these few days was incredible. My expectations were far exceeded. Thanks to Rich and Stefan for great instruction and smooth improv when needed.”

“The class was fun and loaded

with so much useful information. Thanks Rich and Judy for providing a warm and relaxed environment to learn and practice the ART of canyoneering I also found it to be another opportunity to meet great people and network to get out and have fun!”

“I have been a rock climber for over a decade

and didn’t really expect to learn anything new. Was I ever wrong. I didn’t realize that there were so many specialized systems employed in canyoneering. All of it makes sense. Rock climbing systems are fine for dry rock, but not at all appropriate in a canyon – especially if there is water present.”

“All I can say is WOW!

Terrific course. I had already taken a course from a private guide service and was concerned I might not learn anything new in the ACA basic course. My concerns were totally unfounded. I paid half as much for the ACA course and learned at least twice as much. By my math that’s four times the value. Keep up the good work, ACA.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t say this

since I’m planning to take more courses in the future, but your fees are too low. I learned more in three days than I have in my first six years of canyoneering with friends. The course is worth at least twice what you are charging. Kudos.”

“It was immediately obvious

that your instructors are not just canyoneers, turned guides, turned instructors. The course structure and quality of instruction was as good or better than any college course I have ever taken. Very professional.”

“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.”

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