What's Up With PSF? - ACA

Feb 13, 2024

What’s Up With PSF?

PSF Cover

As spring is rapidly approaching, many outdoor recreation employers are seeking training for their staff. If there are summer camps, scouting groups, or paddling outfitters in your area – now is the time to introduce yourself and express the types of paddling education that you can provide! The American Camp Association accepts the PSF program for their accreditation, so now is the time to engage with this seasonal market and make relationships in your community! One ACA program that has seen popularity and growth is the Paddlesports Safety Facilitator (PSF). SEIC Vice Chair, Trey Rouss has graciously provided a great introduction to the program – check it out!

Paddlesport Safety Facilitator (PSF)

An amazing program with an intimidating name. Let’s keep it real, the PSF is a needed and valuable program AND it can be confusing. I want to assure you all that the ACA staff and SEIC Board are looking at ways to refine and improve this offering for our most crucial contact point with the paddling public.

What is it?

The PSF program is designed to equip participants with the skills and knowledge they need to get people started on a fun and safe paddling experience.

What can a Paddlesport Safety Facilitator do?

A PSF certified member is empowered to provide basic instructions to paddlers on land. They are not taking people out on the water or teaching paddling sessions. Think of a PSF communication as: “This is how you hold a paddle properly, wear a lifejacket securely fastened like this, do this when you tip over, etc.”

How does someone earn the PSF certification?

To earn the PSF award, participants will need to attend an in-person PSF course. There they will engage, share, and learn with an appropriately certified ACA instructor both on land and in the water. Yes, I said in the water! While PSFs are not certified to take people on or into the water, for participants to earn the award, they must demonstrate proficiency with in-water solutions.

The beauty of the PSF award is that it can be multi-craft and achieved within one day for all 3 craft (canoe, kayak, SUP).

Who can provide the PSF certification course?

The details for the credentials are outlined in detail within the PSF criteria on the ACA website.

This course may be offered by currently certified ACA Level 3 or higher Instructors. Additionally, this course may be offered by currently certified ACA Level 1 and 2 instructors with a Paddlesports Safety Facilitator Endorsement. If the ACA Instructor would like to offer the PSF course in another discipline (other than which they are currently certified), they must have, at minimum, an ACA Level 1 Assessment in that additional discipline to offer that module.

As a Level 1 or 2 ACA instructor seeking the endorsement to provide this course, I highly encourage you to participate in a PSF course first! While the content of the course is within the PSF endorsement curriculum, the limited timeframe and large number of students (12:1 course size) is a unique challenge for instructors and trainers.

For IT/ITEs offering the PSF endorsement in a virtual or hybrid fashion, we encourage you to consider requiring the instructor to have already completed a PSF certification. If not, you must be very clear on how you are assessing and confirming the instructor’s ability to plan, deliver, conduct, and report a full PSF course with potentially multiple craft.

Wrapping Up

In whatever way you may engage this program, remember to make your courses all about the participants – not you. Keep courses about fun, activity, and the sharing of experiences. Please reach out to your discipline committees to get involved with the improving and re-imagining of this program.