How the ACA Supports Paddlers

The American Canoe Association (ACA) has supported people involved in paddlesports since 1880—more than 140 years. ACA began in the United States and now has 15,000 members from around the world.

canoeing on a stormy lake

“The heart of the ACA is the people who paddle, cherish and protect the rivers, lakes, streams, bays and oceans of the United States and beyond.” (ACA website)

ACA supports paddlers in four primary ways: competition, education, stewardship and insurance. Let’s take a look at each:


The ACA supports competitive paddlers from local to international level, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It supports local paddle clubs and programs for children as young as six years old, through their developing years and into high school. ACA includes support for parents, coaches and officials to help ensure these kids have fun while they learn the skills used in competition at local, regional, state and national levels.

At the international level, ACA supports teams that compete in the Olympic and Paralympic paddle competitions—canoe sprint, paracanoe and canoe slalom. It also provides support and opportunity for International Canoe Federation competitions like canoe freestyle, wildwater, dragon boat and more.

To learn more, visit ACA’s Competition page.


The ACA’s educational programming has been recognized well beyond the US, in over 30 countries worldwide. There are three ways ACA supports paddlers with paddlesport education:

  • Find courses in your area offered by ACA certified instructors. These can be from beginning to advanced canoe, kayak and SUP, rafting or safety and rescue.
  • Find ACA certified instructors in your area. They have a database that’s easy to filter based on the paddling discipline, the level and the location. The database includes contact information for the instructors.
  • Become an ACA certified instructor. Do you love to paddle and want to teach paddling skills to others? Get certified through the “gold standard”—the ACA.

To learn more, visit ACA’s Education page.

recreational kayakers


The ACA actively supports partner organizations that are committed to public water protection and access for paddlers. It’s “committed to making the world a better place to paddle!” (ACA website)

ACA is a member of Outdoor Alliance, a coalition of national advocacy groups from many different outdoor disciplines. It partners with LL Bean in a grant program for paddling non-profits, clubs and volunteer groups. It also partners with several other organizations like the US Coast Guard, Outdoor Alliance for Kids and National Safe Boating Council.

ACA is also active at every level of government to help influence public policy in areas like broadening public water access, PFD regulations and education standards.

To learn more, visit ACA’s Stewardship page.


One of the most important benefits of ACA membership is access to their insurance program for individuals, instructors, outfitters, guides, clubs and events. Those who participate can get affordable liability insurance through ACA’s group rates.

To learn more, visit ACA’s Insurance page.

How to Join ACA

Membership in ACA has many benefits, including all of what you’ve just read: competition, education opportunities, participation in stewardship of our waterways and affordable insurance. Members also receive discounts through various retailers and a complimentary subscription to Paddle eMagazine.

ACA even owns a private 35-acre island near St. Lawrence Islands National Park in Ontario that’s available to its members year-round.

kayakers on coastal waters

Membership starts at just $40 a year for individual members. Outfitters, guides, clubs and schools can join as group members. Membership as an Affiliate Organization is also available, intended for retailers and manufacturers.

To learn more, visit ACA’s Membership Types page.

Can we help you choose your next canoe or kayak paddle? Get in touch with our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

More for you...