This is a quick overview of why we've chosen to follow the BCU Star Award training track.
You may be asking "what's with this BCU Star Award deal?" I hope the following may give you a better understanding of the BCU and its Star Awards system.
Within the United States there are two well known paddlesports certification organizations. They are the British Canoe Union (BCU) and the American Canoe Association (ACA).
The ACA has a comprehensive and well developed canoeing and white water kayaking program, and a sea kayaking program that is currently improving. This is not criticism of the ACA, as it is a very good program in its own rights but there seems to still be a ways to go before it meets the BCU system in terms of consistency and rigor.
The BCU has a deep and internationally consistent program for paddler proficiency and coaching. The BCU program has courses that will teach and challenge all levels of sea kayakers, from the first-time novice to those who wish to be prepared for significant open-ocean expeditions.
WHY WE CHOSE BCU
We believe that all kayakers should achieve clear proficiency to meet any possible condition they will be exposed to, and the BCU has an educational system that would allow you to do this. An additional benefit is that the BCU Star Award system is recognized worldwide - a 2-Star award here is the same as a 2-Star in Sweden or Australia, the benefit being that your paddling vacation to New Zealand won't be limited by your lack of provable certification!
The BCU sea kayaking coaching system is the most highly developed and comprehensive training program for sea kayaking in the world. The program has progressed through the efforts of top British sea kayaking coaches including; Frank Goodman, John Ramwell, Howard Jeffs and Nigel Dennis. The coaching system works along two tracks: skill awards (called Star Awards) and teaching awards (called Coaching Awards). The Star Awards provides training in individual kayaking skills while the Coaching Awards system hones instructional sea kayaking skills.
The proficiency track (Star Awards) is divided up into One to Five Star, with a smooth transition from one to four star but then a large jump to Five Star (previously called Advanced Proficiency). One and Two Star are generalist proficiencies, with required proficiency in Open Canoe as well as Sea Kayak, with Three Star and above splitting out into Sea, Whitewater, and Surf specialties.
Please visit the BCU North America website for more information on the awards systems.
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