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TLT info now in the NSPN business forum

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The ACA course is long on paddler skills, which is certainly a good thing (ANY training is a good thing). However, it is glaringly deficient tactically, as it does not incorporate the one key component that made the NSPN Trip Leader Training so successful: TEAMWORK. A typical NSPN trip was based around having a team of four people with the same training supporting each other. Their number, combined skills and common knowledge of safety procedures is what made the team strong and capable of handling multiple problems on the water at once.

The ACA's suggested ratio of 2 leaders to manage 10 trip participants - or worse yet, 6 participants with ONE leader - provides at best an ILLUSION of safety. As anyone who's led or assisted on a trip where a rescue or tow was needed can attest, a SINGLE sick/injured paddler often requires the attention of multiple trained personnel, which would leave a two-person team with no one to attend to the rest of the group. A sudden change in conditions can cause multiple and/or repeated capsizes or incapacitations that would overwhelm a two person leader team. A single unruly participant (we've seen plenty of those) can require the constant attention of a Trip Leader, leaving only one person to lead and manage the rest of the group and no backup in the event of a problem. A single leader would IMMEDIATELY be in an out-of-control situation in any of these cases.

Moreover, it's difficult to see how 16 hours of ACA training could adequately replace the 40 hour NSPN program. It's hard to over-emphasize how important the extra classroom time and the on-water role-playing exercises (a.k.a. "scenarios") are to the trainees' development of a real understanding of what can occur on the water and what's necessary to manage a group. The fact that the new program is "blessed" by the ACA doesn't mean that it's equivalent to our own club program. At best, it provides a solid foundation which could be built upon by adding important elements of the NSPN program.

If the NSPN implements the ACA program as it's dictated by the ACA, it would result in a serious DECREASE in safety of official trips. A 5:1 participant:leader ratios is simply not safe and a single leader on any trip is not safe. In that situation, people would be safer paddling with private groups with multiple experienced paddlers and the club would be better off to not run official trips.

OTOH, if the club combines the hard skills of the ACA program with the teamwork and tactics of the NSPN Trip Leader Training, it will result in a solid system that provides a REAL safety net.

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I agree with Brian on most of this, but particularity on the depth of the ACA Leader training vs NSPN's. NSPN's was a lot deeper, and in crucial ways.

This plays into another issue, namely trip levels. I cannot see how the ACA training would qualify anyone to lead anything higher than level 2 trips. So that leaves level 3 out in the cold. I wonder if thought has been (or is being) given to using BCU or ACA personal achievement awards for that in some way -- like BCU 4-star (or ACA equivalent) on top of ACA TLT qualifies you for leading level 3 trips.

Also, seems like BCU 5-star, all by itself, should qualify one to lead level 3 trips at least, if not 4. It's almost moot at this point, but perhaps the one 5-star paddler with a close association to the club (he's a past member, and though he's not now, he sure posts a lot) could be enticed into putting his award into action for the benefit of the club.

And, looking a bit ahead, the revamped BCU 4-star is supposed to include some leadership components. So when it comes out, perhaps we could evaluate it as an alternative to ACA TLT.

I guess my more general point is, now that we've started down the path (slippery slope?) of outside certs for trip leading, why not broaden it, especially since the initial ACA spec is indeed kinda minimal. I realize that the ACA may have legal-istic objections regarding insurance, but can't hurt to look into it.


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