Aquatic Recognized Certifications

(Revised February 2019)

Below are certifications that meet specified ACA standards, based on a review of the curricula 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.  ACA does not endorse any specific course.

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. 

If additional training and skills verification is noted, this training may be done by qualified waterfront personel (camp staff included).

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.).

Below find certifications which are recognized for the following standards:

     Swim Lifeguard: *PA.3/ST.12, *PA.30/*AD.46, *PT.14/*ST.17
     Scuba: *PA.18/*ST.13
     Swim Lessons: PA.19/ST.14
     Watercraft Guard: *PA.20/*ST.15, *PA.22/*PA.11, *PT.14/*ST.17
     Watercraft Instruction: PA.27/PA.15, *PT.14/*ST.17
     Aquatic Supervisor: PA.1/ST.11
     First Aid/CPR: *PA.5/*ST.7, *PA.23/*ST.7, *PA.30/*AD.46, *PA.31/*AD.47


 Swim Lifeguard Qualifications MANDATORY 



American Red Cross Lifeguarding
Boy Scouts of America Lifeguard
Canadian Red Cross Pool LIfeguarding, Waterfront Lifeguarding
Ellis and Associates Special Facilities Lifeguard, Pool Lifeguard
German Lifesaving Association (DLRG) Gold Badge with caveat: Additional training and skills verification in spinal injury management is required.
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 certification;  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

Lifesaving South Africa Pool Lifeguard
National Lifesaving and Aquatics Lifeguard Training (LGT)
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 
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.
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 6

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

Skills Active/New Zealand Recreation Association Pool Lifeguard Skills Award if working under a Competent Supervisor and Pool Lifeguard Practising Certificate or higher
Starguard Elite  Starguard 
Surf Life Saving Australia Surf Rescue, Bronze Medallion
Surf Lifesaving New Zealand Surf Lifeguard Award
Swiss Red Cross

Brevat PRO-Pool with verification of current First Aid

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



NAUI Instructor
PADI Instructor
SSI Instructor
 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 Water Safety Instructor (WSI)
AUSTSWIM, Inc. AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety
Boy Scouts of America Aquatic Instructor
Canadian Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI)
Ellis & Associates Learn to Swim Program Instructor
Professional Swimming Teachers and Coaches Association (PSTCA) (South Africa) Level 1 or 2 Instructor Certificate
Safety Training Awards (UK) Professional Award in Teaching Swimming at SCQF Level 6
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
 Watercraft Guard Certification-MANDATORY  



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:

Stand Up Paddleboard

Level 1: Instroduction to Stand Up Paddleboarding

Level 2: Essential Stand Up Paddleboarding

Level 3: Whitewater Stand Up Paddleboarding

American Canoe Association:
Open Surf/Coastal SUP

Level 3: Surf Stand Up Paddleboarding

Level 3: Coastal Stand Up Paddleboarding

American Canoe Association:

Safety & Rescue

Paddlesports Safety Course (Completion of online portion only along w/ verification of skills will meet * PA.20)

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.20) , 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 documented craft specifice rescue skills and experience
 Watercraft Instruction 



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, Powerboat Instructor
USA Water Ski Association  

Visitor Resources

Use the resources below to help you prepare to conduct accreditation visits. You can find copies of documents you may need as a visitor, as well as resources you can share with the camps you visit. You may wish to bookmark this page so you can access it quickly from a phone or tablet if needed on the day of the visit.

Visitor Workshops

Visitor Update Workshop: This workshop is designed for current standards visitors. It must be completed by any visitor before he/she is assigned as a visitor for accreditation visits in 2019 and beyond.

Associate Visitor Workshop: This workshop provides training to those who wish to become an accreditation visitor. 

Standards Revisions & Clarifications

Revisions/Clarifications to the APG (2012 edition)

It is important to make sure your copy of the Accreditation Process Guide, 2012 Edition has been updated!  Check out the resources below.

My Accreditation Tool v. 2012

My Accreditation is an online tool for ACA Camps who are preparing their documents for an on-site visit.

Log In to My Accreditation v 2012

My Accreditation Features

The following features are available for use through the “My Accreditation” site:

Standards at a Glance

This is a general overview of the ACA standards based on the Accreditation Process Guide. While each standard is listed in the following material, the specific details, interpretation, and compliance information are not included.  "Standards At A Glance" is a reference for people wanting to know the basics.  Camps or individuals who need complete details for the 2012 standards should contact ACA and refer to the book titled Accreditation Process Guide (2012 Edition).

Accreditation Tools & Resources

Earning and maintaining ACA accreditation takes time and commitment.  ACA has many resources available to help you through this process including the web-based tool My Accreditation, samples of policies and procedures (Resources by Section of Standards), and forms and additional information that will assist you in this process.