ACA Level 4: Swiftwater Rescue Instructor

Take the Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Development Workshop and Instructor Certification Exam (IDW & ICE).

The Instructor Development Workshop (IDW), over 2.5 days, is where instructors assess Instructor Candidate demonstrations and teaching technique, providing feedback for improvement. Instructor candidates receive an exit interview with specific recommendations and 2-4 teaching assignments for the Instructor Certification Exam (ICE). The ICE is an additional 2.5 days and Instructor Candidates’ teaching and demonstration skills are evaluated by course instructors to determine instructional status with the ACA. Additional course-specific requirements can be found on the ACA Website in the ACA Instructor Criteria documents.

Packing List

ACA Gear List

General Information

Course Length

40 hours / 5 days


  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be a current ACA member in good standing
  • Be able to independently participate in all skills, activities and rescues listed in the appropriate ACA Certification Course Outline and Instructor Criteria documents
  • Be able to effectively communicate with the Instructor Trainer and other course participants
  • Be able to manage all personal care and mobility independently
  • Completion of the appropriate level skills course, assessment course, or equivalent skills

Certifications Received

ACA L4 Swiftwater Rescue Instructor.

Depending on skills exhibited at the course, an instructor candidate may attain a lower lever (ie, L3) or a probationary status. Remediation is a possibility to attain the desired level of instruction.

Course Length


Course Expectations

For the ACA’s specific eligibility requirements for instructor courses, go to the ACA website and identify the discipline and level of certfication for the course you are enrolling in.

The  first half of the course experience, the IDW, is an introduction to the curriculum presented in the format conforming to the ACA curricular guidelines. At the end of this portion of the course, Instructor Trainers meet with individual students to evaluate their strengths and challenges, and to assign specific teaching topics for the second half of the course.

The second half of the course experience, the ICE, is the opportunity for the student to become the instructor, modeling ACA skills and teaching prepared and impromptu topics to the rest of the class. It is largely studentdriven, monitored closely by the Instructor Trainers.

Because of commuting time to and from river sites, participants should plan to pack their lunches each day, to maximize time in class. Bringing plenty of snacks and water, layers and dry clothes is important, as folks get cold each afternoon with the amount of time in the water practicing skills. Please review the ACA Gear List to best prepare for a comfortable experience.

The IDW/ICE ends with exit interviews, award of the level of instructor gained through the experience. The SWR IDW/ICE also includes a written examination. Students should be aware that they may or may not receive the level of instructorship they originally enrolled for; individual skill not only as a paddler but also as an instructor will play into the Instructor Trainers’ final decisions.

Class will end between 5PM and 6PM on the last day of the course. Please do not plan to leave before then, or make travel plans requiring an earlier departure or you will risk certification.