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 …

"I'm so glad I went! I felt like I was learning from the source of knowledge on canyoneering. Really, Rich teaches guides and rescue teams. Instead of me going to a guide, who was probably trained by Rich, I was able to learn from the source! That really shows when he would explain the different techniques/views and how those have changed over time and why. I felt like I was well trained in canyoneering, and also given a depth of understanding that I couldn't get anywhere else. I would highly recommend Rich's classes!"

June 1, 2015

"Thanks Rich for a fun packed two days of great canyoneering training. New methods, new tricks, new tool, the Totem."

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

"Excellent course. Well thought out. I felt I learned a great deal and had a lot of fun doing it."

May 28, 2015

"Even more than expected! Rich is such a skilled and patient instructor. My son and I can't stop talking about everything we learned and will be putting it to use for sure. Thanks to Rich and Judy for a great weekend as well as making new friends."

May 28, 2015

"Not only is Rich an expert but he's a great teacher as well. He's patient and explains procedures and techniques clearly. I appreciate that he is willing to do these classes for the community. I've been able to attend several of his Meet-ups, but also his 3 day canyon leader course with the Boy Scout group from Salt Lake. He provides a great resource to the community. Thanks, Rich!"

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

"I am really impressed with not only the skills and techniques but the fact that you put together such a great course. You did a great job and I learned a lot."

May 28, 2015

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