March 2021 RCABC Instructor Manual Update

Instructors and Instructor Candidates, please note the new version (Feb 2021, 7th Edition) of the instructor manual has been published. To view or print it, log into your account and you'll see the link in the left hand menu. The list of updates is located near the start of the menu. Thanks to Peter Hiebert for the editing work!

Canoe Tripping Program Changes

Pack Gear

New as of June 2018
A few small but important changes in the Tripping Program:
1) In order to facilitate running more Tripping Paddler courses for youth programs, a Tripping Instructor can now use a certified Tripping Leader as a second trip leader for a certified Tripping Paddler level course. This eliminates the need to have two Tripping Instructors for a typical group of youth (10-18 students). The inclusion of a Tripping Leader boosts the ratio of students from a maximum of 9 to a maximum of 18, based on the existing ratio of 9:1.
2) In order to make the Tripping Leader certificate more appealing to achieve, the prerequisites have been made more flexible. Instead of needing a Level 3 Advanced Tandem Lakewater certificate (even for leading on lakes), the prerequisite can optionaly be a Moving Water Tandem (Level 1) certificate. The Moving Water certificate includes all of the strokes contained in Advanced Tandem Lakewater. Many people would rather take a river course as opposed to an advanced lake course, and it is hoped that this change will attract more interest in the Tripping Leader program.
Note that the best way to train Tripping Leaders is to include them in an actual Tripping Paddler course and get first hand experience managing groups.

Roger Warnatsch

Instructor Coordinator

New 7th Edition - RCABC Instructor Manual

There are some significant updates to the RCABC Instructor Manual. The new, 7th Edition (printable version) is available when you log into your member account here:
Thanks to a long list of volunteer contributors !

Major Updates include:

Sec I-14 Instructor Challenges, Equivalencies and Mentoring

Sec I-21.2 Lakewater Leader

Sec I-28 SUP Lakewater Levels 1 and 2

Sec I-31 Lakewater Instructor Levels 1 and 2

Sec I-38 Guide Instructor

Sec I-39 SUP Lakewater Instructor Levels 1 and 2

Sec IV-33 to IV-34 Youth Instruction and Leadership, Sample Lesson plan for Youth Instruction, and Lakewater Leader - Teaching Resource

Sec VIII - Guiding Program

Appendix D - Non Pleasure Craft Compliance Guide Synopsis

Instructor Coordinator Report - 2017


It’s been a very productive year for RCABC program updates and development.  A huge thanks to the many amazing RCABC members that have contributed with their experience, knowledge and considerable time commitment through many gatherings of the course standards committee. Also, the website (the part the public sees) and the database (the part only the members see) have needed extensive work to reflect the updates.


Thanks to Lyle Dickieson and others who worked on launching the SUP program. This is the announcement sent out this spring....

We are pleased to announce the new RCABC Lake Water Stand Up Paddling program (SUP). There are many talented, certified canoe instructors within RCABC that could enhance their paddling and instructing repertoire by becoming a SUP Instructor and we’d like as many of you as possible to participate!

Stand Up Paddling is experiencing a tremendous growth cycle with lots of exciting innovations occurring. You may be surprised at how easily accomplished canoeists can transfer their skills into SUP. It will now be possible to become a SUP paddler and instructor under the RCABC umbrella.

The initial plan will focus on qualifying existing RCABC instructors as SUP Instructors, and Master Instructors can become SUP Instructor Trainers. We are also pleased to extend an equivalency option to the many talented SUP instructors with Paddle Canada, ORCKA, and American Canoeing Association.

If you have been considering getting into SUPing, now is the time.  We will begin to roll out this new program at the RCABC Paddle Conference in Hope on May 5-7, 2017. There will be several clinics offered during the AGM weekend.  We hope this will result in our first batch of RCABC SUP Instructors.

Contact Lyle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  to get your name on the interest list, whether you will be coming to the Paddle Conference or not.  For more details about the SUP program go to and find SUP in the courses grid on the home page. Full program details will be in the new version of the RCABC Instructor Manual, scheduled to be released before the Paddle Conference.

Guide Program Announcement

The Guide Program is a new direction for RCABC, and has been in the works for 5 years. Here’s the announcement to RCABC members sent out this spring....

We are pleased to announce the new RCABC Canoe Guide Program. RCABC is a leader in the development of new canoe certification programs, and this is another unique initiative that we hope will improve safety and professionalism in an important outdoor recreation industry in Canada.

The Guide Program, offers a standardized foundation for training canoeing guides for the commercial recreation or adventure tourism industry. The Program is divided into two categories; Day Guide and Expedition Guide. Both have been developed with the help of many of the best guides and instructors in the industry, over many years.  It has gone through multiple revisions and test runs to ensure we’ve got the best quality program possible.

The Day Guide Certificate sets standards and trains canoeists for leading activities without overnight stays. The Expedition Guide is a river based course that sets standards for canoe guiding activities that include camping, cooking, river travel and rescue and other skills applicable to remote wilderness trips.

More information on the RCABC Guide Program can be found at .  We are looking to develop more instructors and get support from as many business owners as possible in the coming years. Please contact Roger Warnatsch, the Instructor Coordinator, if you’re interested at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Lakewater Instructor Level 1 Changes

The Lakewater Instructor Level 1 content has undergone review. It was run a few times last year and we determined that the original requirements set for LWI 1 were still too demanding to achieve the goal of making becoming a Lakewater Instructor more attainable.

The end result is that we eliminated the advanced solo requirement except for a few of the more important strokes from that content (cross bow draw and box stroke). This means that candidates no longer have to do the solo circuit, except for the Level 2 instructor certificate, which is the same as the old LWI course. Note that LWI Level 2 is still a prerequisite for becoming any other type of Instructor in the RCABC program stream, except for SUP.


The database holds all the membership information and is programmed to work within the rules of RCABC’s certification structure. It’s a complex program that our database programmer, Ron Brogden only knows the internal coding of. The new programs have been entered into the database and testing and initial use has gone well. It is important to send us any notes on glitches that you notice.

Instructor Manual

Jen and Peter Hiebert have done a tremendous amount of work on the instructor manual, starting over a year ago. The seventh edition is now out and ready for print. All of the new program changes and some policy changes have been included in the new edition.


Tony Shaw, as always, has contributed a tremendous amount to keeping the RCABC current. Tony and I have made sure that the new program content is reflected accurately on the website. We still need to do some work but it’s mostly up and running!

Transport Canada "Guided Excursion" Guidelines

Many of you are no doubt aware that in the past few years Transport Canada has been making changes to regulations for canoes and kayaks. Here is a summary of what you need to know as of 2014, with updates from March 2015 regarding guided excursions.

Safety Gear

The requirements for canoe safety gear are essentially the same however the "manual propelling device" is no longer listed. If you're a C1 or big canoe paddler take some time to check the requirements that are pertinent to your type of canoe and situation.

The Transport Canada minimum safety equipment requirements are found here.

All RCABC instructors and club members must carry the Transport Canada safety gear requirements for the trip to be sanctioned by RCABC.

Guided Excursion Guidelines (Commercial)

The "Guided Excursion" guidelines apply to canoe instructors and leaders in a commercial setting. The changes are to the interpretation of the law in the Canada Shipping Act. TC's interpretation now makes a distinction between volunteer and commercial activities, even though the actual wording of the Shipping Act law doesn't. If in doubt, follow the Non-Pleasure Craft or "Guided Excursion" guidelines as they are good practice anyway.

. Using a checklist, the guidelines lay out specific requirements for:

  • Pre-Trip Meetings
  • Emergency Contacts & Float Plan
  • Hypothermia Prevention
  • Wearing Helmets and PFDs or Lifejackets
  • First Aid Kit (check the minimum requirements)

In order for the courses to be sanctioned by RCABC these requirements must be met.

TC Guided Excursion Compliance Guide TP15204E

If you are in a canoeing leadership role, RCABC has long advocated following the principles reflected in these guidelines. The difference now (as of 2010) is that leaders are now considered Non-Pleasure Craft and regulations in the Canada Shipping Act of 2001 now apply to us and are enforceable. As you read the Compliance Guide, realize that:

  • the guidelines apply only to the lead canoe (or leaders).
  • the lead canoe(s) are considered NON-Pleasure Craft and the rest of the group are considered Pleasure Craft.
  • these guidelines are not exactly the law; they are suggestion or interpretations of the Canada Shipping Act. If you don't take them literally you must meet the intention of the law in the Canada Shipping Act of 2001.
  • the Pleasure Craft / Non-Pleasure Craft designation applies to the role of the paddler/leader, and is not boat specific. In other words whatever canoe you are using that day to lead or guide in is considered a Non-Pleasure Craft. The same canoe could be used the next day by your students and it would then be considered a Pleasure Craft.

Registration of Canoes and Kayaks

The good news is you don't have to register your canoe. There has been a bit of flip flop on this, but to Transport Canada's credit they have decided that self propelled craft do not have to be registered.



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