Instructor Trainer Educator
I received some fantastic news late last week! I have been certified/recognized as an American Canoe Association L5 AOW Instructor Trainer Educator. For those reading this post who are not paddlers, this certification is the highest level which the ACA offers in its’ sea kayak track. What is an Instructor Trainer Educator (ITE)? An ITE is the person who is responsible for educating/mentoring the TRAINERS who certify the INSTRUCTORS who teach/lead SEA KAYAKERS. What is L5 AOW? Level 5 (of 5) Advanced Open Water = performing the role in advanced ocean conditions (surf, tide races, etc).
My journey towards advanced certification was intentional for many years. I pushed myself hard in the mid-2000s training, developing and educating myself as a sea kayak instructor and guide. I became a Level 4 Open Water Sea Kayak Instructor Trainer, was assessed as one of the youngest BCU 5* Sea Leaders in North America and became an ACA Level 5 Advanced Open Water Instructor in 2007. In 2009, I upgraded my trainer certification to L5 Instructor Trainer. During this period of my development, engaging in training and certification was more than simply “chasing paper”. Actively seeking to learn from the best, put into practice their teachings and receiving feedback was critical to developing skills, seamanship, knowledge, and leadership. As the owner of a paddling school and guide service, I was fortunate to work with many paddlers who were keen to develop their own skills and travel to amazing places.
With more than enough “paper” to back up the experience, I took a rest from my own formal training while expanding my work with students, instructor candidates, paddlers, and leaders. Almost as valuable as intentional training was the continued experience running courses and expeditions in amazing locations and teaching at North America’s top symposia. Through these experiences, I received the benefit of working alongside other top coaches and guides.
In 2014, a friend and paddling influencer suggested I pursue my “Instructor Trainer Educator” status. He told me the ACA needed more quality Educators. I was flattered to receive this feedback but was not ready to depart on that journey. Life’s path was leading me down a career detour and I wasn’t able to be as active in paddlesports. It wouldn’t be for another few years that the encouragement of another good friend would turn my thoughts towards ITE certification.
What does this certification mean? Is it simply more “paper” and the ability to add an “E” to string of letters and numbers (ACA L5 AOW IT”E”)?