Aquatic Recognized Certifications

(Revised April 2017)

Below are certifications that meet specified ACA standards, based on recommendations from the certifying bodies. This list will be updated several times each year. To determine if courses or certifications not listed meet standards requirements, e-mail the standards department at the ACA national office.

It is important to remember, that in addition to having the appropriate and  current certification, lifeguards and aquatics staff  must also verify their skills in rescue and emergency procedures specific to the camp's aquatic area(s) and activities. 

At this time, the American Camp Association requires that any aquatic, first aid, and CPR/AED certification must include, at minimum, 50% of course time to include in-person instruction, hands-on practice, and skills assessment under the direct supervision of a certified instructor from one of the organizations listed below. It is acceptable to have a portion of the course be completed online (course readings, etc.).


*PA.3 Swim Lifeguard Qualifications MANDATORY (also *PA.30, *PT.14)



American Red Cross Lifeguarding
Boy Scouts of America Lifeguard
Ellis and Associates Special Facilities Lifeguard, Pool Lifeguard
Highfield ABC (UK) Level 2 Award in Pool Lifeguarding with caveat: Additional training and skills verification in use of rescue tube and spinal injury management is required.
H20 Pro Lifeguard
Lifeguard-Pro Must complete both online and in person certification and receive actual certifcation;  Deep pool, Youth Camp, and Waterfront certifications acceptable.
Lifesaving Society (Canada)  National Lifeguard Pool, National Lifeguard Waterpark, National Lifeguard Waterfront, National Lifeguard Surf
Lifesaving Victoria

Pool Lifeguard

National Lifesaving and Aquatics Lifeguard Training (LGT)
RLSS-Royal Life Saving Society(UK, Australia) National Lifeguard Service Award, National Beach Lifeguard, National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (must have additional training for lake guarding), National Open Water Lifeguard 
RLSS - Royal Life Saving, New Zealand Bronze Medallion with verification of current CPR/AED
Royal Lifesaving Society Australia Bronze Medallion with Caveat: Additional Training and skills verification  in use of rescue tube, and backboard for spinal injury management is REQUIRED
Skills Active/New Zealand Recreation Association Pool Lifeguard Skills Award if working under a Competent Supervisor and Pool Lifeguard Practising Certificate or higher
Starfish Aquatics Institute  Starguard Lifeguard
Surf Life Saving Australia Surf Rescue, Bronze Medallion
Surf Lifesaving New Zealand Surf Lifeguard Award
Safety Training Awards, STA (Scotland)

Level 2 Award for Pool Lifeguard QCF

Must also complete the  Additional Units: First Aid, Emergency First Aid, Backboard, CPR and AED

Safety Training  Awards, STA (UK)

Professional Award for Pool Lifeguard SCQF Level 7

Must also compete the Additional Units: First Aid, Emergency First Aid, Backboard, CPR and AED

UK/Irish WSA National Pool Lifeguard Qualification Lifeguard
URSUS Aquatics Lifeguard
US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer
YMCA Lifeguard



NAUI Instructor
PADI Instructor
PA.19 Swimming Lessons



Active Training, World Aquatics Swimming Instructor
Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) of Great Britain Level 1 or Level 2 Aquatic Instructor
American Red Cross WSI
AUSTSWIM, Inc. AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety
Boy Scouts of America Aquatic Instructor
Canadian Red Cross WSI
Ellis & Associates Learn to Swim Program Instructor
Professional Swimming Teachers and Coaches Association (PSTCA) (South Africa) Level 1 or 2 Instructor Certificate
Scottish Swimming UKCC Level 1: Coaching Swimming
Skills Active/New Zealand Swimming SNZ Swim Teacher Award (previously ASTA)

National Certificate in Recreation and Sports – Aquatics (Swim Education) Level 3
Starfish Aquatics Institute Starfish Swimming Instructor
Swim Lessons University  (Pool use only) Certified Swim Instructor
Swimming South Africa Preliminary Swimming Teachers Certificate, National Swimming Teachers Certificate
YMCA YMCA Youth and Adult Instructor I or II
*PA.20 Watercraft Guard Certification-MANDATORY  (also *PA.22,, *PT.14)



American Canoe Association:


Flatwater Canoe Safety and Rescue, Level 1 Introduction to Canoeing

Canoe Touring: Level 2 Essentials of Canoe Touring, Level 3 Freestyle canoeing, Canoe Camping-Touring Canoe

American Canoe Association:

River Canoeing

Level 2: Essentials of River Canoeing, Level 3: River canoeing, Level 4: White Water Canoeing, Level 5: Advanced White Water Canoeing, River Canoe Day Trip Leading

American Canoe Association:


Flatwater Kayak Safety & Rescue

Level 1: Introduction to Kayaking

American Canoe Association:

Coastal Kayaking

Level 2: Essentials of Kayak Touring,  Essentials of Sit On Top Kayaking

Level 3: Coastal Kayak: Basic Strokes & Rescues, Sit on Top Coastal Kayaking, Essentials of Surf Kayaking,

Level 4: Open Water Coastal Kayaking: Open Water Skills, Surf Zone, Tidal Currents, Surf Kayaking

Level 5: Advanced Open Water Coastal Kayaking: Rough Water Maneuvering & Towing; Advanced Surf Zone

Coastal Kayking day Trip Leading

American Canoe Association:

River Kayaking

Level 2: Essentials of River Kayaking, Level 3: river Kayaking, Level 4: Whitewater Kayaking, Leverl 5: Advanded White Water Kayaking, Kayak Camping-River Kayak

American Canoe Association:

Safety & Rescue

Level 2: Essentials of River Safety & Rescue

Level 3: River Safety & Rescue

Level 4: Swiftwater Rescue

Level 5: Advanced Swiftwater Rescue

American Red Cross Small Craft Safety w/designated craft (completion of online portion only along w/ verification of skills will meet PA.21) , Basic Sailing Instructor, Canoe Instructor (Flat Water or Moving Water), Kayak Instructor (Flat Water or Moving Water)
American Sailing Association Basic Small Boat Instructor
British Canoe Union Level 2 Coach Training (Flat Water Canoe and Kayak)
Royal Yacht Association Dingy Instructor
Sierra Rescue Swift Water Rescue for appropriate craft. 
US Sailing Small Boat Sailor Instructor, Sailing Counselor Course
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Small Craft specific to each craft
Lifeguard Certification listed in PA.3 Along with additional craft specifice rescue skills and experience
PA.27 Watercraft Instruction (also *PT.14)



American Canoe Association

Instructor Certification for designated craft and environment  from courses listed above (*PA.20).
American Red Cross Basic Sailing Instructor, Canoe Instructor (Flat Water or Moving Water), Kayak Instructor (Flat Water or Moving Water)
American Sailing Association Basic Small Boat Instructor
British Canoe Union Level 2 Coach  (Flat Water Canoe and Kayak)
US Sailing Small Boat Sailor Instructor, Sailing Counselor Course
USA Water Ski Association Instructor
PA.1 Aquatics Supervisor Qualifications



American Red Cross Lifeguard Management
Boy Scouts of America National Camp School Graduate, Aquatics Instructor
Lifeguard, swim instructor, or boating instructor certifications listed above
US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer
YMCA YMCA Aquatic Facility Manager, Pool Operator on Location, Waterfront Director
*PA.5 First Aid/CPR MANDATORY (same as *PA.23 and *PA.30 and *PA.31)



American Red Cross A. Standard First Aid, Community First Aid, Responding to Emergencies, Emergency Response
B. CPR, Community CPR, CPR for Professional Rescuer
American Heart Association CPR, Heart Saver Plus - Adult, Heart Saver AED - Adult/AED, Health Care Provider
SEE ALSO CPR acceptable on First Aid Equivalents Page