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Coastal Kayak Day Trip Leading Assessment


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So now it seems the insurance company ( ACA ) is offering the leadership training needed to comply with their own insurance coverage. How convenient !!

Coastal Kayak Day Trip Leading Assessment

* NEW * The American Canoe Association recently passed a proposal for a Coastal Kayaking Trip Leading Assessment, this is a pass/ fail course with a skills check list and written exam. It is a multi-day program designed for clubs, schools, camps and commercial entities who lead trips.

Coastal Kayak Day Trip Leading Assessment: August 25-27, 2006 ($260)

http://www.nspn.org/htdocs/dcforum/DCForumID6/427.html

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Ken-

This is a program for "anyone" who wants to be a better leader on the water. It is not a requirement for folks to take the assessment to lead trips through an ACA PAC. Meaning NSPN will still have insurance coverage running its own official trips similarly to years past.

I think this is the ACA's reaction to various club's questions of how to assess leaders. As well as letting people know individually how they compare to objective standards.

-Sean

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I don't know anything about it, just saw it on another part of this web site.

Nevertheless, it seems the ACA system of insurance coverage, liability and leadership is closing the open gaps for clubs.

Looks like a good way to deal with the "club leadership issue" in one simple 2 day program. A person who passes the assessment would come out feeling that an objective observer with national exposure feels that you are competent to lead others. It doesn't hurt that this same organization is the club's insurance provider.

Even better would be for the club's "trip leader trainers" to become ACA Instructor Trainers to provide this training to club member / trip leaders.

I would think it hard to turn away from this program, but that's just me and it's the same dead horse I've been beating for years. I will drop it now , I promise.

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>http://www.americancanoe.org/PDF/seic2.06.mtg.pdf

The portion of the pdf that discusses this starts on page 41.

According to the intro it is basically designed to provide evidence that a person with basic paddling ability has appropriate skills/knowledge to lead a group of beginning paddlers on a trip in gentle conditions with winds < 10K, waves < 1 foot, and current <2K. The specifics are well described in the materials.

How that would/could fit into NSPN trip leader training is an interesting question.

Ed Lawson

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Thanks. I looked at it quickly and it pretty much covers what the NSPN trip leader training program has been doing.

A couple of comments on the ACA draft - I don't know if it has been finalized:

1)I am not a big fan of the "buddy boat" system, which they seem to like. In my experience people simply don't stay with their "buddy" for very long.

2)The terminology periodically falls away from "club" trip into "commercial" trip leading - they start using the word "client" for example. I suspect that reflects the materials they drew upon for this document.

3)And, for club trips I think way more emphasis should be placed on the roles and responsibilities of every participant, rather than setting up the leader as the sole person responsible.

4) On the multiple choice test I wanted an answer that said "it depends on your kayak" for a number of the boat handling questions. Okay: I don't know the names of the different cloud types, but I sure can recognize the nasty ones coming at me.

Liz N.

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huh?

it's a good program and is of value for any paddler in the club BUT what are the "stringent...requirements" for an nspn trip leader?

my understanding of the nspn trip leader requirement is that candidates show up for the training and have all the needed gear.

since there is no pass/fail element, there is no standard to skills or knowledge and there is no training from a certified instructor. if a participant shows up for all the classes and has all the gear, they can then say "i'm a trip leader".

the classes are not administered or taught by folks that are certified to teach or to guide, are they?

while the trip leader training is a good overview of a lot of material, without a pass/fail minimum requirement, you have no standard.

the ACA suss on the other hand is administered by an ACA instructor and within the suss there are several categories in which potential leaders must perform to a minimum standard or they are defered on the award. so, if someone acheives the award, they have performed to a standard in skills and knowledge. and that's before any gear requirements.

does the club require a trip leader candidate to perform skills or pass a written exam to a standard that's at least a pass/fail?

unless the nspn trip leader training has changed to include at least a pass/fail in any similar component, how could it have more exacting and stringent requirements?

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Rick:

All legitimate questions and most of them were highlighted by the outside consultants last year. The Risk and Liability committee discussed these issues and the alternatives in depth. One of the four priority recommendations to the NSPN board was to change the club's approach to include standards and certification for trip leaders.

The board has adopted and implemented some of the four priority recommendations (for instance, the rewrite of website material and a separate Private Trips message board). While I'm not involved, I understand the board is moving on the trip leader standards and certification this year. While you or I may not agree with all the elements when the program is brought out, there will be a change in the direction you are suggesting.

So let's see what the board comes up with and compare it with the new ACA certifications to see what we think. We can debate it when we have full information. What we learned on the Risk and Liability Committee was that there are no easy answers, particularly for a volunteer club.

Scott Camlin

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i was sitting right next to you in all the meetings and am aware of the challenges involved...i completely agree with you that the are numerous challenges and that you can't make a shift in the model overnight. especially in a volunteeer organization. the course that the trip leader committe and the trainers are offering is worthwhile and the idea is to get it moving in the right direction and then "tweak" it as you proceed. actually, i think for the most part, we agree.

but until the model is shifted fully, to say that the requirements are more stringent is confusing to me because i don't see how there is a standardization without at least a pass/fail, let alone what those standards are, who established them and who/how you enforce those standards.

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>All legitimate questions and most of them were highlighted

>by the outside consultants last year. The Risk and

>Liability committee discussed these issues and the

>alternatives in depth. One of the four priority

>recommendations to the NSPN board was to change the club's

>approach to include standards and certification for trip

>leaders.

>

>The board has adopted and implemented some of the four

>priority recommendations

Are these reports, minutes, decisions, whatever available to the members on the website somewhere or otherwise readily available?

Ed Lawson

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All of this information of the Risk and Liability study and findings were completely presented at a meeting with all trip leaders last March. Only trip leaders were initially effected by this effort of the Risk and Liability study that Scott writes of below.

As I remember, it was suggested that the post trip leader training event that takes place on Liz's porch is a "public declaration and peer review" of your leadership skills and at that time each of us identified our intended trip difficulty to lead, level 2, 3, etc and all present were witness to this ....and speak now or forever hold it..etc....so this suggested that there was some sort of assessment already in place. It was a kinder and gentler type of assessment and the last thing this club needs is to restrain volunteerism by some boot camp experiences.

This new ACA program, does one good thing..it removes the burden of assessment from other club members to an outside party who also provides the insurance. If it is more or less stringent is another issue to be improved on. I think too many people have an unrealistic fear of assessment and fear of failure and it prevents them from getting involved in some good things. Look at all the people who have easily passed these things, are they so much better, or are they stupid for bothering to do it ?

Chris Duff paddled around Great Britain and then around Ireland and after he did that, he went and got his 3 star !! and worked to become a 5 star coach, because he wanted to teach and lead, and be well prepared to do that.

Its all about learning, but being blunt and honest as it involves the welfare other people. The ACA wants people to pass and get involved and to help you. They're not about intimidation and scaring people off.

I hope that the leadership of NSPN would one day embrace the ACA in total, become involved in its instructional programs and participate in the curriculum development as one of the largest ACA Paddle America Clubs. While its not needed to do any of this organizational participation to "do your own thing" and paddle, it seems to me, once you position yourself to "instruct others", you would want to feel prepared and get involved in an organization like ACA that is there to help you be prepared.

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Ed, and all,

We did not have the consultants prepare a final written report because their time was expensive. That would have cost thousands of dollars and seemed unncessary, so it is not available on the website or anywhere else. We retained Preston Cline, a published expert on outdoor education/risk assessment - google him, and Tom Berg, a kayaking expert and lawyer, and provided them with information on how we have been doing things, including the trip leader training curriculum, our policies (which are on the website under trips & skills), and the ACA requirements. They reviewed all that, then met with the Risk Committee.

As Scott said, two of their principal recommendations - to make a clear distinction between club activities and private activities by individuals using our message board and to change wording on the website to emphasize personal responsibility - were implemented. The former via the private trips conference, the latter via text changes on various pages.

I think putting the entire trip leader training curriculum, with all the materials, on the website is a great idea. I don't know if we have bandwidth for it so someone else will have to address that. Actually, it could be published as a manual for other clubs or even the ACA to use. I agree with Brian that it is much more - I'll use the words extensive or in depth rather than stringent - than the ACA's. And, I have no doubt that anyone who attended all of NSPN's trip leader trainings sessions could pass the ACA assessment and multiple choice tests with flying colors. :-))

Liz N.

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I am quite certain that there is not a problem here with embracing the ACA. There is a policy of not requiring trip leaders to spend money on training, otherwise they would be required to take, at the very least, CPR training and almost certainly WFA which is very strongly recommended. We also very strongly recommended any other relevant sea kayaking training they can get their hands on. Requiring is another issue that would be a distinct change in policy and attitude.

See, we already require a very substantial investment in gear: boat, paddle, PFD, tow gear, radio, etc. Once we start requiring them to pay for their own training, who knows what will happen.

As far as the new Coastal Kayak Day Trip Leading Assessment, currently it falls into the strongly recommended category. Since the only requirement is that you be a strong level 2 paddler by ACA's grading systems (which is VERY close to ours), all of our trip leaders should qualify.

There is another issue:

I think that the ACA and BCU may have taken to opposite extremes when it comes to trip leading. Correctly planned for and run, trips come in all flavors and risk levels. The ACA has targeted the mild, level 2 trip for 2 days of training. The BCU with their 5 star certification creates a leader that can handle any trip that can be run (I actually don't know how high their bar is set) at the cost of years of training.

If we sound disappointed with both it's not because we are snobs or feel the need to invent it ourselves, it's because neither solves our problem. So we have 6 days of training to create level 2, level 3, and (very occasionally) level 4 leaders.

In general:

The ACA has come out with some interesting new instructional and certification programs this year. I encourage everyone to take a look at them and try them out and then share your experiences. Learning is fun and sharing is even more fun.

-Dee

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...you're not privy to what's going on within the Trip Leader Committee or the Board of Directors. You shouldn't assume that nothing is going on simply because you don't see it. We've been working on an assessment program for a while and when we're finished with consultations and the program is complete, we'll put it into effect. If you want to have input into the program, I suggest that you renew your membership and have yourself reinstated as a Trip Leader.

As for the existing program, I think it's fair to say that requiring 50 hours of training in and of itself is a much more stingent standard than the 16 hours that the new ACA program requires. I applaud their efforts, but our program already exceeds their requirements.

There has always been an implicit pass/fail system in place, but it was kept low-key in order to keep it friendly and to avoid embarrasing people. I only know of one person who did not pass after completing the program (there may have been more), but there has always been significant attrition of candidates who found the course too demanding. Many of those who would not have passed, self-selected out of the program, to their credit. In some cases, it was suggested to people that they weren't ready for the program, either before they started it or part-way through. They were allowed to drop out voluntarily. Trip Leaders who overestimated their capabilities were gently reigned in. Again, this was in keeping with the philosophy of low-key assessment and keeping the process friendly. The truth is that Scott and Rick did a phenomenal job of doing all of this unobtrusively. Unfortunately, that's lead some people to think there never were any standards.

The whole risk/liability debate has made it clear that we need a more quantifiable standard and that's what we will have. However, we're also taking considerable pains to make sure that the new program retains the spirit of encouragement, cooperation, teamwork and friendship that's been the hallmark of the program all along. We fully intend to keep the "pass it forward" philosophy alive, as it's one of the things that's made the NSPN such a special organization.

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As for hosting it i have a server with bandwidth available and would be glad to host it.

To make the site look nice it would take someone with a good eye for html (Like Billy) to create a slick set of pages for it.

-Jason

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If anyone has any questions about the assessment feel free to contact me. If I can't answer your question(s) I'll contact Mike (the IT) and get the answer(s) from him. I do have the course outlines, etc. I'm not sure it's up on the ACA's site yet. The last time I looked it wasn't.

I hope that some one associated with the club takes the assessment (from us or some one else) so you have the knowledge to compare it to what the club is doing.

david@stillriveroutfitters.com

David Cudmore

Still River Outfitters, Inc.

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Dear NSPN Members,

Before we get ahead of ourselves through posts, I'd like to set the record straight.

Firstly, as we all know (if you don't feel free to read the strings) the club (via the Board) has chosen to follow the suggestions of our Risk Consultants and opt for a more standardize practice of assessing leaders.

Mind you that the Risk Consultants also commended the club on its current Trip Leader Program.

Secondly, we (as a Board) are extensively going through what the appropriate assessment should be. I can assure you that this has neither been and easy nor quick task.

Our goals are to ensure that our program, as a whole, remains in earnest of what we have done and will continue to do. That is to lead and provide safe kayaking trips from and for our members.

However, keeping in mind that our membership constitutes many individuals from all different minds of thought and histories of various training, we have found that there is no presolved perfect solution.

Therefore, we are catering the assessment well within the insurance guidelines setforth by our insurer (ACA) and stay true to the Trip Leader Training program the club has historically worked hard at building.

When the assessment criteria has been determined (which will be soon), I will personally send out a message informing the club on how we will roll it out.

I do appreciate people's wants and needs to know what is going to happen, but I do not want to mislead anyone.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.

Sean

NSPN President

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Here is a message I received from the IT. Maybe it will answer some of your questions.

David, the posts are very interesting. In reference to the course/assessment time, the course outline states a minimum of 2 days, which probably will be insufficient, to train someone with no experience to pass the assessment, or exam. The assessor must be an ACA Instructor Trainer, which does mean they have training and experience in assessing capability and knowledge. The content of the TL program was reviewed by the USCG and discussed in detail. Input came from many very well known and respected paddlers and trip leaders, many of whom are indeed professionals.

The program provides a risk management benchmark, which will help those willing or obligated to lead trips , be aware of accepted protocols. We cannot avoid inherent risk in paddlesport , so must at least try to do our best to manage them. A person familiar with all the material on the TL course outline, will in most circumstances be considered knowledgeble.The most important attribute of any leader, is and will continue to be, judgement which unfortunately we cannot teach any more than we can teach experience, we can only do our best with role play etc..

Until this program was approved in February 06, the only means of officially reflecting competency, was to become an ACA Instructor, or BCU Coach. Both are still excellent mediums, but as you know, both relatively time consuming and expensive, as well as including skills and knowledge that although valuable are perhaps not necessary to be a competent trip leader, including demonstration quality paddling skills, teaching methods, knowledge of course administration, reporting etc.

The Coastal Kayak and River Canoe Committee Chairs had been asking for this course for more than 4 years, but it was not approved until now, due primarily to concerns over liability. There has been a strong and ongoing expressed need for this program from some commercial companies and clubs. Many trips are led by non certified individuals, this type of course/assessment seemed valuable to the BOD as it will help provide a standard for those desiring same.

I understand the resistance that a capable and experienced club trip leader might feel to this.

The ACA is the only accepted US certifying entity, states such as Maryland require ACA certification as evidence of good risk management and expression of a standard of care.

These are only my personal statements and opinions, but I sincerely believe the Trip Leading Assessment is a great program that will benefit the public.

The material should be on the ACA website very soon, it was just approved by the ACA insurer.

I will be happy to send out the material, other than the exam itself. You can forward this email if you think it can clear some haze. I will be putting on the first TL Assessment in May but we have tested it as guide/leader training a number of times in the past 3 years

Best, Mike

David Cudmore

Still River Outfitters, Inc.

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David and Mike,

Thanks, this program is exactly what a club needs. Most clubs just want to be on the water paddling, not re-creating their own versions of programs well thought through by professionals that even include the USCG.

In the case of NSPN it's probably too late for the year 2006, but next year and going forward it might be a much better course to take. It's only right to let the club leaders roll out their program in the next few weeks.

You are so right, good leadership is an exercise of good judgment and also listening and understanding people. Sean's letter at the top of this page represents an appropriate way for a leader to communicate with members. Its informative, calm, and doesn't elicit a negative reaction. You can imagine he'd be good on the water with that style when it's combined with strong paddling skill.

David and Mike, why do you think the ACA TL program gets the job done in 16+ hours yet the NSPN version takes 50 hours? Clubs need to be careful not to overload the membership with requirements just to volunteer. I find it refreshing that there's a credible and nationaly recognized program that gets the job done in one long weekend.

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