FYCCN Paddlesport Volunteers Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the FYCCN (Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network) Paddlesports Program?

FYCCN is working with partners and volunteers to reconnect Florida’s children with traditional outdoor activities.  One of the goals of FYCCN is to create the next generation of well-trained paddlers who will safely share Florida’s waterways and become conservation stewards of our natural resources.

How can I become involved?

We need your help!  FYCCN is partnering with Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Petersburg providing an excellent opportunity to train volunteers who will in turn help instruct the next generation of paddlers.  We also welcome your financial contributions to help purchase equipment, provide scholarships for students, and support the goals of this promising program.

How do I become a volunteer instructor?

We are looking for volunteers who are comfortable working with youth age 8-16 in groups of 20-30.  While on the water the groups will be a 1:5 ratio with 1 instructor per 5 paddlers.  Volunteers should be reasonably fit, have some paddling experience, and be able to work outdoors in summer heat.  Volunteers can download an on-line application and if selected be interviewed by phone, Skype, or face to face when possible.  This is a competitive process as we are selecting a total of only 20 applicants from across the state for this pilot program.
The deadline for application is March 15th.

Volunteers will attend one of two training sessions in April or May to become certified as ACA Level-I Kayak or Canoe Instructors at half the usual cost. The weekend Kayak Instructor session will take place at Weedon Island April 5-7 while a four day session featuring both Canoe and Kayak Instructor training will take place at Bill Frederick Park May 7-10 in Orlando.  Reasonable lodging accommodations are available at or near each of the sites if needed.  Most of the training takes place on the water with only a short amount of classroom time.  Volunteers are welcome to bring their own boats and gear or equipment will be available at no charge during the training sessions and at the camps.

In exchange for becoming ACA-certified instructors, volunteers will commit to teaching basic paddlesport skills at one of several locations during a pilot program in the summer of 2013. Volunteers are expected to participate at two different day-long sessions (about 16 hours total) to instruct students ages 8-16 between the months of June – August at one of the FYCCN partner sites.

**Be aware that not everyone who undergoes training will necessarily be able to pass the skills test as required by ACA to become a certified instructor.  There will be no refunds offered although you will gain skills and confidence to become a better paddler by attending the course.

What else does it take to become an instructor?

  • Age minimum 21
  • Enjoy working with students ages 8-16
  • Have knowledge of natural resources (such as Master Naturalist certification) or other experience preferred
  • Lifeguarding experience and CPR certified preferred
  • Must be a strong swimmer and be physically fit enough to demonstrate skills and lift canoes and kayaks with assistance
  • Florida Statutes require that volunteers who work with children must undergo a basic background check.   This will be conducted by FWC at no charge. 

What is the camp experience like?

Staff from each camp will be responsible for supervising students while the volunteer Paddlesports Instructor and assistants will teach basic paddling skills to groups of 20-30 students.  There will be a 1:5 instructor student group size while actually on the water.    

The instructor will be provided curriculum and educational materials that share basic paddling skills with an emphasis on safety and core conservation concepts. 

What is the time commitment?

For the pilot project in the summer of 2013 volunteers are expected to provide instruction at two separate day-long (8 hour) sessions at one of several camp locations between the months of June - August.  Of course we are hopeful that volunteers will stay with the program and continue to provide instruction at partner sites throughout the year. 

Is there any cost involved?

Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Pete has partnered with FWC to offer training at half the typical cost through two different training sessions.  Tuition includes training + materials and membership in ACA (A requirement for certification).

  • Kayak Instruction weekend at Weedon Island, April 5-7,  $150
  • Kayak + Canoe Instruction Orlando, May 7-10,  $300 

Why do I need to have a background check?  What is the cost and who pays for it?

By Florida Statute all employees and volunteers who work with children are required to undergo some degree of background check.   Volunteers providing instruction to youth who work < 10 hours a month will be required to undergo a basic background check through FWC at no charge.  If the volunteer elects to work > 10 hours a month then they will be obliged to follow whatever background checks a particular partner site requires.   

What if I am already a Level I certified trainer, do I still have to take the training?

Yes, even if you have current Level I ACA Instructor certification we expect you to attend a training session.  One of FWC’s goals is to create the next generation who will become the stewards of our natural resources by sharing core conservation concepts throughout the paddlesports training.  These concepts will be intertwined with the paddlesport skills throughout the provided curriculum.  Students will be empowered by gaining paddling skills that will enable them to enjoy our state’s waterways, but more importantly, they will gain a desire to embrace and protect Florida’s fantastic natural resources

FWC Facts:
Any vessel operating in a "slow down, minimum-wake" zone must operate fully off plane and completely settled in the water.

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