American Canoe Association Logo

If you are a canoe or kayak instructor make sure you check out the latest issue of the American Canoe Associations, Journal of Paddlesport Education.

The Journal is a fantastic resource filled with tips and ideas to make your teaching easier and more fun.

Here is the description on the ACA website:

The Journal of Paddlesport Education is a monthly electronic newsletter from the Safety Education & Instruction Department that provides valuable information to paddlesport Instructors, Clubs and Affiliates.

From intriguing articles to new initiatives, updated course curricula, and policy changes, the monthly JPE newsletter is a primary tool for professional paddlesport development and disseminating pertinent information.

Published in Teaching

Christopher Stec hails from south Louisiana and has been working in the paddlesports industry for many years in a variety of jobs.  Prior to becoming the Chief Operating Officer of the American Canoe Association, he worked as an outdoor instructor for the YMCA, a field assistant for Davidson College’s off-campus Biology semester, and a raft guide for the Nantahala Outdoor Center to name a few.

An avid instructor (of course!), he holds ACA instructor certifications in whitewater canoeing, river stand-up paddleboarding and swiftwater rescue. When not on the water teaching or in the office crunching numbers, Christopher sits on several national committees including the National Safe Boating Council, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and U.S. Coast Guard’s National Boating Safety Advisory Council

He is also a poetry writer, an Eagle Scout, an Assistant Scoutmaster, fly fisherman and duck hunter. Oh yeah he also has a family with two kids aged five and three.

I recently sat down with Christopher to find out how he is able to keep so many things in the air at once and what keeps him motivated to go paddling with his family weekends after thinking about canoes all week.

1) How did a guy like you land a job at the ACA?

After essentially failing my first canoe instructor certification course back in 1995, I began to volunteer at the regional level for the ACA.  After over a decade of volunteering, and improving my paddling ability, Pam Dillon (Executive Director at the time) actually hired me to work in the ACA’s Safety Education and Instruction Department.  Over time I worked my way to the Chief Operating Officer position and now oversee all of the ACA operations in the U.S. and abroad.

The Stec family out rafting.


2) How long have you been working in the outdoor industry and what got you started?

After canoeing with my high school English teacher, Cabel Tutwiler and the E.S.A. Outing Club (Episcopal School of Acadiana) from the drainage canal behind our school through a south Louisiana swamp to the nearest town, I knew that paddlesports, and the beautiful natural world it leads us to, would play a role in my future.  After the last game of my Division I Collegiate basketball career at Davidson College (thank you Coach Bob McKillop for believing in a walk-on) occurred, I was able to devote my concentration to paddlesport. With guidance from notable paddlesport experts Ed Daugherty, Gordon Black, Sam Fowlkes, Bunny Johns, Eli Helbert, Wayne Dickert, Bob Foote and many others, I was fortunate to find both seasonal and then  permanent work in the outdoor industry with a focus on paddlesport.


3) What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is the daily interaction, either by phone, via email or in-person, with people across the country who share the same passion for the outdoors and the paddle craft that allow them to experience it.


4) What’s the most difficult aspect of the job?

In the non-profit world, there never seems to be enough time or money to accomplish all the things either your members want you to do or that you need to do in order to continue to move the association forward.  The hardest thing about this position is to manage your time between family, work and personal time. I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old and an extremely understanding wife, but it’s still a challenge to balance the desire to make a positive difference for all the paddlers you’re working for and spend enough quality time with your family.


5) What are two tips you can give to somebody who wants to work for the ACA?

Besides being a good person, in order to work for the ACA, an individual needs to be well-rounded and exhibit a history of taking initiative.  The intricacies of the actual job position can be taught, but you need to already have good people skills.  The ability or desire to learn how to paddle is also a plus.  Our office is less than a block from the river and we routinely have our monthly staff meeting on the water.

Christopher Stec giving a presentation on SUP.

6) What about your job do you think would most surprise people?

I think it would be the extreme variation in skill sets that are called upon on a daily basis. This job position has a wide range of responsibilities, from governmental public policy to overseeing the National Paddlesports Instruction Program to being the primary risk manager for a national on-water insurance program for paddling clubs and instructors that spans class V rapids to open ocean U.S. Coast Guard small craft advisory conditions. The most surprising part of my job, at least for me, is although I have a basic working knowledge of four languages (besides English) we have instructors in 22 countries around the world, and I sometimes spend quite a bit of time using Google translate.


7) What was the coolest thing you remember finding when you were a kid out exploring?

Thanks to my parents, I had an amazing opportunity to attend the 17th World Scout Jamboree at Mt.Sorak National Park in South Korea in 1991.  On an overnight backpacking trip, our local guide took us into a cave/cavern on the mountainside.  About 50 yards in there was a 10 foot high Buddha shrine covered in gold with prayer offerings from the local village surrounding it. Regardless of your religious beliefs, it was a work of art and a truly unique experience for a teenager.


8) If you could tell something to your 18 year-old self, what would it be?

Continue to pursue your outdoor oriented career path, but take a few finance and business courses along the way!  Virtually no matter where you end up, it’s bound to help you down the road, I mean river...


9) Do you travel for work?

Yes, I sure do.  I usually travel domestically at least once a month, but most months two to four times.  In regards to the ACA’s international presence, over the last few years I’ve been to Austria, Germany, Chile, Canada and China.  In regards to funding this work related travel, as a non-profit, we leverage every member’s dollar to its fullest extent and work hard to acquire funding from other sources such as grants and sponsorships to help with the ACA’s outreach endeavors.


10) Any last thoughts?

The ACA is a unique organization as it encompasses all aspects of paddlesports. Everyday I look forward to the opportunity to serve paddlers and ACA members across the country as we continue our mission to improve paddlesport Education, Stewardship, Competition and Recreation for everyone.

More information: American Canoe Association

Published in People

 Paddle Canada and Rapid Media Logos

After keeping it under my hat for four months (a record for me), I’m finally able to announce that after 30+ years, Paddle Canada has decided to get out of the magazine publishing industry and shut down Kanawa magazine. Instead, Paddle Canada has decided to partner with Rapid Media and offer their collection of magazines to its members. Rapid Media puts out Rapid, Canoeroots, Adventure Kayak and Kayak Angler.

I think that this is a fantastic partnership for a couple of reasons. Firstly it allows Paddle Canada to finally dump Kanawa magazine which I have not been a huge fan of for quite a while. To me it has been limping along on life-support for several years. Of course it goes without saying that it’s always sad to see any magazine die, especially a magazine that has been around for 30 years. But not to worry; they are going to publish Kanawa as a quarterly newsletter that will come inserted in the Rapid Media magazine of your choice.

This partnership is also a win for both organizations because for the first time they are no longer in direct competition with each other. Fir the first time they can work together on projects for the betterment of paddling in Canada. The brainstorming has already started I have heard rumours of several future projects that have awesome potential but we can chat about them on another day.

Rapid Media is no stranger to partnering with other paddling organizations. Right around this time last year they announced a very similar partnership when the American Canoe Association decided to stop publication of their 20-year-old magazine, Paddler.

Full disclosure, I’m quite involved with both groups so I’m completely biased but had no say in any decisions. I sit as chair of the Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Program Development Committee and do some web design for Rapid Media.

Published in Industry Stuff

American Canoe Association Logo

The American Canoe Association recently unveiled a new resource for instructors called the Journal of Paddlesports Education or JPE for short. Aimed towards certified instructors, the JPE is filled with a wide variety of articles related to sea kayaking, whitewater, and canoeing instruction.

So far the collection is pretty decent. I really liked the article, Teaching and Learning Paddle Sports by Mike Aronoff which is filled with a hodge podge collection of thoughts and ideas around what makes an effective instructor.

Even thought some of the articles could be edited down for length (heaven knows I ramble!), the JPE is off to a great start in producing a list of technical, “how to” industry resources.

Also, I do appreciate that they have applied an Attribution Creative Commons license to everything on the site which means you can use the resources for anything you want as long as you give proper credit to the original author. You can even use the material for your commercial use which is very generous indeed!

Check out the Journal of Paddlesports Education.

Published in Resources

American Canoe Association LogoWant to work for the American Canoe Association? If so, then you are in luck as they just posted the plumb job of Safety Education & Instruction Coordinator.

According to the job description, the Safety Education & Instruction Coordinator position has "primary oversight of the day to day management of the National Paddlesports Instruction Program. This includes working with other staff, individual instructors, the general public, and the appropriate committees and councils of the ACA. The SEI Coordinator must work with a high level of diligence and courtesy while enforcing a national paddlesports standard."

They are hoping to fill the job quickly so if it’s something you might be interested in and you are happy to relocate to Fredericksburg, VA then email the Chief Operating Officer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and he can send you all the information. Handy tip; the email I received said not to call looking for job details so that means email only. Though, that doesn't rule out fax conversations...

Published in Industry Stuff

American Canoe Association LogoThe American Canoe Association has set the date for their annual National Paddlesports Conference which is taking place in Louisville, KY on September 30 – October 2, 2011.

If you have never attended then you really should consider going this year. It brings together instructors, ACA members, and clubs from all disciplines across America. If you enjoy learning from others and mingling with fellow paddling nerds then this is the event for you.

The organizers have just just put out the call for presenters so if you think you might be interested in giving a talk or demonstration you have until April 29th to get your proposal in.

From the doc proposal package:
The American Canoe Association (ACA) is accepting proposals for a wide range of classroom presentations, hands-on workshops, and on-water trainings as part of the ACA National Paddlesports Conference.

We are looking for individuals, clubs and organizations to provide their expertise in a broad range of paddlesports related topics that would be beneficial to all members of the paddlesports community.

We look forward to reviewing your proposal and hope you will be able to join us this fall at the nation’s premier paddlesports conference.

Get the all the conference information here.

Published in Events
American Canoe Association Logo Sea Kayaking UK Logo

If you are an instructor with the American Canoe Association and considering a new sea kayak then you might be interested to know that Sea Kayaking UK (former Nigel Dennis Kayaks) is offering 25% off all in-stock boats right now.

That’s a pretty good deal.

Are you interested and looking for more information? Contact the SEI Department at the ACA.
Published in Industry Stuff

Paddler Magazine CoverBig news in the paddling media world today. This morning at the American Canoe Association’s National Paddlesports Conference they announced that their national magazine, Paddler will be shutting down publication in the very near future.

At the same time they also announced a new partnership with Rapid Media to provide magazines to ACA members in place of Paddler Magazine. When fully rolled out in February members will get a choice of Rapid, Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots or Kayak Angler Magazine. They will also get a choice of extra magazines at a special price.

According to reports the announcement at the conference was a bit of a shock for some but it was generally received positively. This will allow the ACA to focus more on its core areas which are Education, Competition, Stewardship and Recreation.

ACA announced this morning that Rapid Media will now be its official media partner. Paddler magazine suspends publication.less than a minute ago via

On one hand, I’m going to miss Paddler Magazine as it’s always sad when a piece of paddling history disappears. On the other hand I won’t cry over its demise as I really hadn’t read it for several years. To me they tried to hard to cater to all the different aspects of paddling (canoe, sea kayak and whitewater) in every issue. It always seemed to dilute the whole magazine. Great articles but I always found myself skipping through 2/3 of the magazine as I wasn’t interested in the topic.

Published in Industry Stuff

David Johnston giving a poor kayak rolling lesson...The state of Massachusetts has a new House bill sitting with the Senate committee that is related to kayak safety and instruction.

Senate Bill S:974 is an interesting piece of legislation as it will require anybody who paddling a kayak to wear a personal flotation device in good and serviceable condition.

Another major section is related to kayak instruction. Here is the key wording:

Published in Industry Stuff

Tom Lindblade - ACA Instructor of the Year. Photo Credit: American Canoe Association

A big congratulations goes out to Tom Lindblade from Rockford, Illinois. Tom won the American Canoe Association’s annual, “Excellence in Instruction” award which was handed out recently.

Nominated by fellow instructors and ACA members, the award recognizes outstanding contributions in the field of paddlesport instruction.

Published in Industry Stuff
Page 1 of 2

Strategic partner

Paddle Canada Logo