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Historical Overview:


In 2010, through the work of Dave Burden, the ACA's International Paddlesport Ambassador, the first ACA sanctioned club in China was opened on Fuyang Island. Several of the Coastlines Kayak Club staff received the ACA Level 2: Essentials of Kayak Touring Assessment. Coastlines co-founder David Chen continues to support the ACA's outreach in China.





Over the past several years, multiple ACA Instructors, Instructor Trainers and Instructor Trainer Educators have had the opportunity to teach a wide variety of Assessment courses and Instructor Certification Workshops (ICWs) in China.


  • Dave Burden
  • Juan Paulo Ceron
  • Mark Carlson
  • Dave Kessman
  • Ben Lawry
  • Ivan Bartha
  • John Browning
  • Larry Gioia
  • John MacDonald
  • Ben Rush
  • Christopher Stec
  • Mike Looman
  • Dale Williams
  • Chris Wing
  • Trey Rouss


From Level 1: Intro to SUP to Level 3: Coastal Kayaking to Level 4: Whitewater Kayaking to Adaptive Paddling Workshops, there are now multiple ACA certified Instructors across China.  In addition, over 1,000 ACA assessments have been awarded over the past few years.










On May 19, 2017, the ACA entered into a partnership with Zhejiang University.


After a series of meetings, a signing ceremony took place at the International Paddlesports Summit in Hangzhou in conjunction with the 120th anniversary of the University.


Zhejiang University is a national university in China. Founded in 1897, Zhejiang University is one of China's oldest, most selective and most prestigious institutions of higher education. It is a member of the C9 League, the Yangtze Delta Universities Alliance and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities.


Excerpt from the Strategic Partnership Agreement

In order to further the spread and promotion of paddlesports, and to advance the exchange and development of paddlesports between China and the USA, both parties held mutual and friendly consultation. By utilizing Zhejiang University’s hundred-year old educational influence, and American Canoe Association’s expertise in paddlesports, on the basis of the principles of “resource sharing”, “complementary advantages”, “emphasis on practical results”, “win-win cooperation”, both Parties have agreed to establish a stable and sustainable long-term partnership, and reached the following strategic partnership mutual understandings:

• Establish strategic partnership with the aim to keep it for the long term.

• Launch educational and instructional cooperation, ACA will assist Zhejiang University in establishing paddlesports curricula, the ACA will give its authorization to Zhejiang University to carry out ACA's existing paddlesports educational and instructional programs and establish an ACA accredited education and instruction headquarters on the Universities premises.

• Both Parties will provide each other with favorable conditions and treatment, forge a new developmental advantage, and work together to promote paddlesports in China’s schools.


We would like to thank ACA Instructor and teacher at Zhejiang University, Ge Wu for his continued assistance throughout this process. In addition, we have also been working with former Chinese National Team member and Sprint World Champion Ms. Yaping Xu from the University on this outreach project.

  • ACA - Zhejiang University Agreement (PDF)
  • ACA Speech (PDF)


March 2018

Through new and existing partnerships, the ACA continues to grow in China.

In March of 2018, five ACA members spent time in China promoting paddlesports education.

Multi-discipline ACA Instructor Trainer Ivan Bartha of One Planet Adventures ( returned to China for his 6th visit.  Ivan conducted an external review for an outdoor school in Yangshou and then facilitated programs for another outdoor school in Yunnan Province.

One Planet Adventures mission is to provide outdoor leadership skills training using adventure, innovation, client centered culture and collaborative learning experiences while maintaining the highest industry standards.

One Planet Adventures, LLC is a proud Guide, Outfitter & Livery Member of the ACA.


Chair of the ACA's Coastal Kayak Committee John Browning, an ACA L4: Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer, conducted one Kayak Instructor Certification Workshops (ICW) in Hong Kong and one in Malaysia in February and March. Since September 2016, John has conducted four Coastal Kayak Instructor Certification Workshops (ICWs) in mainland China, four ICWs in Hong Kong, and one in Malaysia. He is also in the process of learning Mandarin. John can be reached at:

ACA International Paddlesport Ambassador (and ACA Instructor) Dave Burden of Southeast Expeditions ( and Coastal Paddlesurf ( continued the ACA's ongoing partnership with Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. Along with Isa Cohen ACA Level 2: Essentials of SUP Instructor from Tula Adventure Sports ( in VA Beach, VA, they taught Introduction to SUP clinics to 32 students at Zhejiang University as part of Ms. Xu's outdoor recreation program.  Dave helped initiate the relationship between the ACA and Zhejiang University six years ago.

Finally, former ACA Chief Operating Officer Christopher Stec mentored the first Level 2: Essentials of SUP Instructor Trainer in China.  After co-teaching with Chris at Zhejiang University in May of 2017 in a course organized by Ge Wu, Jackie Lo of Enigma Water Sports (, began pursuing his ACA SUP Instructor Trainer certification.

The SUP Instructor Certification Workshops were conducted on the Da Jiang Li River about 1.5 hrs from Guangzhou over eight consecutive days. 

"I was extremely impressed with Jackie's ability to connect with students and provide them with appropriate feedback to improve their SUP ability," commented Chris Stec. "Jackie organized and executed two well run ACA Level 2: Essentials of SUP Instructor Courses and I'm honored to recommend him as an ACA SUP Instructor Trainer in China."


A special thanks to John of the Pearl River Kayak Club ( for hosting these two SUP courses at his facility.




Collegiate Exchange Program:


The ACA is very excited to be able to provide an invitation to U.S. Colleges and Universities with a paddlesport program to conduct an exchange program with students and/or faculty with Zhejiang University's paddlesport program.


This is a unique opportunity to not only share our respective ideas on paddlesports, but also to enhance the cultural experience between our two countries.


If your College or University is interested in a paddlesports exchange program, please contact ACA staff for additional details.



Club Outreach:


The ACA is also committed to supporting the numerous paddling clubs that are arising throughout China. 


From offering Instructor Certification Workshops and Assessment Courses for clubs to special benefits to be found on the ACA's soon to be launched Chinese website, we realize the important role that paddling clubs are playing in growing various aspects of paddlesports throughout China. We would like to thank the team at Zhouji Kayak Club as well as all the other paddling clubs that have invested time and energy in enhancing the quality of their programs by participating in ACA instructional programs.


Next Steps:


Over the next few months the ACA will be setting up a Chinese website and payment platforms on AliPay and WeChat. 


We will continue to increase the translation (our Instructor Manual is currently in Mandarin) of relevant ACA documents and course criteria.



Special Thanks:


The ACA would also like to thank Dave Burden, Ivan Bartha, and Ge Wu for the significant amount of time, energy, and guidance that they have provided in regards to the ACA's growth in China.

ACA Mission

Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling, stewardship support to help protect paddling environments, and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration, and recreation.

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