Aquatic Recognized Certifications

(Revised April 2016)

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, current certification, lifeguards must also verify their skills in rescue and emergency procedures specific to the camp's aquatic area(s) and activities guarded. 

At this time, the American Camp Association requires that any aquatic, first aid, and CPR 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.).

The first number is the standard from the Accreditation Process Guide, 2007 Edition. The second number is the standard from the Accreditation Process Guide, 2012 Edition.

*PA.3 Swim Lifeguard Qualifications MANDATORY (also *PA.30, *PT.14)
American Red Cross Lifeguarding
Ellis and Associates Special Facilities Lifeguard, Pool Lifeguard
YMCA Lifeguard
Boy Scouts of America Lifeguard
National Lifesaving and Aquatics Lifeguard Training (LGT)
RLSS-Royal Life Saving Society(UK, Australia) Lifesaving Society (Canada)  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
Skills Active/New Zealand Recreation Association Pool Lifeguard Skills Award if working under a Competent Supervisor and Pool Lifeguard Practising Certificate or higher
Surf Lifesaving New Zealand Surf Lifeguard Award
URSUS Aquatics Lifeguard
UK/Irish WSA National Pool Lifeguard Qualification Lifeguard
Surf Life Saving Australia Surf Rescue, Bronze Medallion
Starfish Aquatics Institute  Starguard Lifeguard
H20 Pro Lifeguard
US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer
Lifeguard-Pro Must complete both online and in person certification;  Deep pool, Youth Camp, and Waterfront certifications acceptable.
*PA.18 SCUBA Diving MANDATORY
NAUI Instructor
PADI Instructor
PA.19 Swimming Lessons
American Red Cross WSI
Canadian Red Cross WSI
YMCA YMCA Youth and Adult Instructor I or II
Boy Scouts of America Aquatic Instructor
Starfish Aquatics Institute Starfish Swimming Instructor
Ellis & Associates Learn to Swim Program Instructor
Swim Lessons University  (Pool use only) Certified Swim Instructor
AUSTSWIM, Inc. AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety
Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) of Great Britain Level 1 or Level 2 Aquatic Instructor
Swimming South Africa Preliminary Swimming Teachers Certificate, National Swimming Teachers Certificate
Professional Swimming Teachers and Coaches Association (PSTCA) (South Africa) Level 1 or 2 Instructor Certificate
Active Training, World Aquatics Swimming Instructor
Skills Active/New Zealand Swimming SNZ Swim Teacher Award (previously ASTA)

National Certificate in Recreation and Sports – Aquatics (Swim Education) Level 3
*PA.20 Watercraft Guard Certification-MANDATORY  (also *PA.22,*PA.30, *PT.14)
American Canoe Association Instructor Certification in: Introduction to Kayak or Canoe Instruction (Level 1), Essentials of River Kayaking, Kayak Touring, Riving Canoeing or Touring Canoeing (Level 2); River Kayak, River Canoe or Coastal Kayak (Level 3); OR Whitewater Kayak, Whitewater Canoe OR Open Water Coastal Kayak. Swiftwater Rescue
US Sailing Small Boat Sailor Instructor, Sailing Counselor Course
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)

Sierra Rescue (Provides courses in the Western USA) Swift Water Rescue for appropriate craft. 
Royal Yacht Association Dingy Instructor

Lifeguard certifications listed above (with specific craft rescue skills and experience)

Ohio DNR Small Craft Courses - specific to each craft
PA.27 Watercraft Instruction (also *PT.14)
American Canoe Association Instructor Certification : Introduction to Kayak or Canoe Instruction (Level 1), Essentials of River Kayaking, Kayak Touring, Riving Canoeing or Touring Canoeing (Level 2); River Kayak, River Canoe or Coastal Kayak (Level 3); OR Whitewater Kayak, Whitewater Canoe OR Open Water Coastal Kayak.
US Sailing Small Boat Sailor Instructor, Sailing Counselor Course
American Red Cross Basic Sailing Instructor, Canoe Instructor (Flat Water or Moving Water), Kayak Instructor (Flat Water or Moving Water)
USA Water Ski Association Instructor
American Sailing Association Basic Small Boat Instructor

British Canoe Union

Level 2 Coach  (Flat Water Canoe and Kayak)

PA.1 Aquatics Supervisor Qualifications
American Red Cross Lifeguard Management
YMCA YMCA Aquatic Facility Manager, Pool Operator on Location, Waterfront Director
Boy Scouts of America National Camp School Graduate, Aquatics Instructor
Lifeguard, swim instructor, or boating instructor certifications listed above
US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer
*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