AUXPAD Program - ACA

For ACA Instructors

AUXPAD Program

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has initiated a paddlecraft safety program called Auxiliary Paddlecraft, or AUXPAD.

The program has three major educational points:

  • The need to have and wear a proper life jacket
  • The need to be prepared and have proper safety equipment
  • The need for general awareness about all aspects of paddling safety, including situational awareness and the need to practice skills

AUXPAD includes traditional dockside Auxiliary boating safety activities such as public education, public affairs, literature distribution, and vessel safety exams. A defining element of the program is on-water delivery of safety messages to novice paddlers. Auxiliarist participants in this on-water program are required to have passed the ACA Level 2: Essentials of Kayak Touring Skills Assessment or the ACA Level 2: Essentials of River Kayaking Skills Assessment. Auxiliarists designated as AUXPAD Qualifiers (supervisors) will be required to hold current ACA Level 2: Essentials of Kayak Touring Instructor Certification (or higher) or the ACA Level 2: Essentials of River Kayaking Instructor Certification (or higher).

More information about the program is available in the AUXPAD Handbook and on the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s website.

The USCG Auxiliary is a volunteer component of the Coast Guard, whose focus is on boating safety. Working with the Auxiliary allows the ACA to reach more paddlers, and to help them have more fun on the water. Auxiliary members can take a wide range of boating leadership classes. With appropriate training, they can participate in Coast Guard operations and activities, except for law enforcement and military operations.

ACA strongly supports the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. If you are interested in learning more about AUXPAD or serving as an Auxiliary member, please contact the ACA SEI Department.

For more information about delivering or receiving the ACA credentials associated with this program, please contact the ACA SEI Department. They can connect you with the current Auxiliary Division Chief for Paddlecraft Safety.

AUXPAD Qualification Exams

ACA-certified instructors, ITs, and ITEs may be asked to help qualify Auxiliary personnel for the AUXPAD program. Required skills are described in the AUXPAD Handbook found at on pages 2-19 and C-1 to C-7.  If you are asked to help with a qualification exam, the ACA and the USCG Auxiliary ask you to remember these points.

  1. Instructors, ITs, and ITEs who train or assess USCG Auxiliary personnel are welcome to charge their normal fee for service. Some may choose to reduce their fees or even donate their time but there is neither requirement nor expectation that they do so.
  2. Auxiliary members who also are ACA-certified instructors, ITs, or ITEs may, when training AUXPAD personnel, operate under USCG orders. Those operating under orders and receiving reimbursement for expenses may not make additional charges for their services.  Those not operating under orders may charge their normal fees as described above.
  3. Instructors, ITs, and ITEs who train or assess USCG Auxiliary personnel are expected to maintain the same standards that apply to all other ACA programs. Those being assessed or being considered for instructor certification are expected to consistently perform all skills in a calm and controlled fashion.
  4. The AUXPAD qualification standard mentions that “Isolated capsize with a good cause and rapid self-rescue is not disqualifying; repeated capsizes are disqualifying.” This is meant to allow for unusual circumstances (e.g., a barge creating a large standing wave that capsizes a boater; capsize to escape stinging insects).  The final interpretation of this policy is left to the sole discretion of the assessor.  The intent is that unintentional capsize which is rare and always rapidly corrected by the paddler does not prevent qualification.
  5. During towing evolutions, the instructor, IT, or ITE should work with Auxiliary personnel to determine the most appropriate towing method for the paddling venue. Any effective tow method is acceptable.
  6. During the required five-mile paddle, Auxiliary members are expected to consistently and competently demonstrate all required paddling skills.
  7. In all cases, instructors, ITs, and ITEs have the sole and final determination as to whether or not a candidate has successfully demonstrated the requisite skills required to earn an assessment or instructor certification.