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Ce contenu n’est pas disponible à l’extérieur de l’Ontario. Veuillez communiquer avec le ministère de l’Éducation de votre province pour des renseignements sur les Lignes directrices sur la sécurité de votre province.

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Outdoor Education - Paddle Rafting


Secondary - Curricular 2017

Update coming soon to reflect amendments to Ontario Public Pools Regulation 565 that come into effect on July 1, 2018.

Lakes, Rivers

Flatwater, Class I and Class II River Classifications only.

Class I: Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. There are few obstructions and all are obvious and easily missed with some training.

Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers.

In both of the above classes there is no evidence of rapids with moderate, irregular waves, large waves or strainers, strong eddies or powerful currents (source: International Scale of River Difficulty).

White Water Canoeing, White Water Kayaking and White Water Rafting are not appropriate activities at the Secondary level.

Consult Outdoor Education – General Procedures.

When using an outside provider, prior to the activity taking place this activity page must be presented to the outside provider prior who must meet the minimum requirements listed on this page. For more information on planning trips using outside providers, consult Appendix N - Outside Activity Providers.


Teacher – A person with a current certification from the Ontario College of Teachers, under contract by the school/board. This person is legally responsible for the students.

Trip Guide – An individual who has the required certifications and/or knowledge/skills of the route and activity. This role could be fulfilled by a teacher, a parent/guardian/volunteer or an employee of an outside provider, and must be approved by the school/board.

Lifeguard - An individual who is at least 18 years of age; who has the required certification; and who is responsible for the overseeing of swimmer safety.

Instructor – An individual who provides instruction on skills and possesses the required certifications. This role could be fulfilled by a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or an employee of an outside provider.

Parent/guardian/volunteer – An adult who has been approved by the principal and has been instructed on responsibilities (e.g., monitoring [supervision]).

Supervisor – A supervisor is a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or trip guide. This term is used only in relation to supervision ratios.

Outside Provider - An outside facility contracted by the school/board to provide activity services.


Determine that all equipment is safe for use.

A fully stocked first aid kit appropriate for the number of participants must be readily accessible and waterproofed (consult Appendix D - Sample First Aid Kit).

A working communication device (e.g., satellite or cell phone, or satellite GPS messenger) suitable for the activities/locations must be available. If the device is with a person on a raft, it must be secured in a water tight container or bag. This device must be maintained, waterproofed, protected and dedicated for emergency communications only.

Rafts must be provided by the facility. Personal rafts must not be used.

Comply with the Minimum Safety Equipment Requirements in Transports Canada's Safe Boating Guide

Correctly fitting and Transport Canada- approved P.F.D./lifejackets, with whistle attached, must be worn and properly secured at all times by all students when near the water, on docks and in rafts.


Determine that all necessary clothing and footwear are included prior to departing on the excursion.

Clothing (in layers where appropriate) and footwear appropriate to the activity, location and environmental conditions must be worn.

Rain gear and/or a dry change of clothing kept in a watertight bag/container must be accessible.


Flatwater Class I, or Class II River Classification only.

Check with local authorities for current information regarding route safety.

Water conditions must be appropriate for the skill level of the group.

Instructor/trip guide must be familiar with site including potential hazards and emergency exit points.

Special Rules/Instructions

Be aware of students whose medical condition (e.g., anaphylaxis, asthma, casts, previous concussion, orthopaedic device) may affect participation (consult the Generic Section).

Risks involved with the activities must be communicated to parent(s)/guardian(s) with a signed response form from the parent(s)/guardian(s), giving permission for student to participate.

Where the activity takes students off campus, parents/guardians must be made aware of means of transportation used.

Prior to participation students must receive training or information on concussion prevention and awareness specific to the activity, information on the possible risks of the activity and procedures and rules for safe play. Students must not participate in the activity until these instructions have been received.

Activities must be based on skills taught.

The teacher and instructor must both take into consideration previous training and fitness level of all trip participants and the length of time and intensity of physical activity.

No diving or jumping off rafts. Proper exit techniques must always be followed.

Establish appropriate start and stop procedures (e.g. whistle system).

Swim Test

Prior to paddle rafting, students must successfully complete the following swim test in its entirety, in sequence and without any aids or stops:

  • Rolling entry (backwards or forward) into deep water at 2.75m (9’) minimum depth
  • Tread water for 1 minute
  • Swim 50m (164’) continuously any stroke

The test must be administered by a certified instructor/lifeguard (test is based on the Lifesaving Society’s Swim to SurviveTM Standard).

The swim test must be completed within the school year in which the activity is taking place.

In lieu of completing the swim test, students may provide proof of Bronze Medallion certification or higher.

Instructor and outside provider must be aware of the swim test results.

Students who do not pass the above swim test or who do not have the aforementioned certification must not participate in paddle rafting.

Paddle Rafting Skills

Skills must be taught in proper progression.

Prior paddle rafting, a prerequisite test must occur in a pool, shallow water, or sheltered bay for which students must demonstrate to the instructor competence in paddle rafting skills, as follow:

  • Launching
  • Positioning of paddlers
  • Proper entry/exit


Every craft requires a qualified steersperson.

Steersperson may sit or stand while steering.

Steersperson is the in-charge person outranking all persons in the boat.

Steersperson for each boat must demonstrate the following knowledge and skills:

  • Read and understand Transports Canada's Safe Boating Guide
  • Be able to manage the team and exercise authority over team members
  • Load the boat
  • Balance the boat
  • Maintain a straight course
  • Steer a figure eight course around two buoys at normal speed with a full crew, in both directions, or in the absence of buoys, steer a set course which includes both left- and right-angled turns
  • Execute sideways manoeuvres without going forwards
  • Turn the boat through 360 degrees in both directions without the use of paddlers
  • Guide the craft forward in a straight line without the use of paddlers
  • Execute an emergency stop
  • Execute safe approaches to a jetty/pontoon/dock in still and windy conditions
  • Manage the unloading of the team members
  • Secure the boat and determine that gear is put away correctly

Emergency Procedures

All trip guides must be knowledgeable of the established emergency and safety procedures for their site. Trip guides must outline emergency and safety procedures to all participants and other trip supervisors.

Environmental Considerations

Instructor must take into consideration environmental conditions (e.g., air and water temperatures, currents, tides, currents and wave conditions, weather, air quality, wind, humidity, UV index, insects)

Instructor and teacher must:

  • be aware of and respond to changing weather and water conditions prior to and during the trip; and
  • cancel, postpone or alter the excursion if conditions put students’ safety at an elevated level of risk. (e.g. wind, temperature, lightning storms, fog).

Visibility of 500 m (1640’) is required

If storm weather suddenly approaches, leave the water immediately.

Daylight paddle rafting only except under emergency situations.

Navigation lights (e.g., waterproof flashlight) are required if operating at night or in restricted visibility.

Students must be made aware of ways to protect themselves from environmental conditions (e.g. use of hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, personal water bottles, insect repellent, appropriate clothing).

Students must receive instruction on safety procedures related to severe weather conditions (e.g., lighting, funnel clouds, severe winds, tornadoes [consult Appendix F - Lighting Protocol]).


On-site supervision is required.

Supervision Ratios

(A supervisor is a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or trip guide. This term is used only in relation to supervision ratios.)

1 supervisor per 15 students

Steersperson Qualifications

Paddle Rafting steersperson must possess one of the following qualifications:

  • Attendance at a clinic or workshop within the last three years provided by an instructor who is knowledgeable of the activity (e.g., appropriate skills and progressions) and where safety is addressed as outlined in the Ontario Physical Education Safety Guidelines.
  • Past experience within the last three years as a steersperson in paddle rafting, having knowledge of the activity (e.g., appropriate skills and progressions) and where safety is addressed as outlined in the Ontario Physical Education Safety Guidelines.

Instructor Qualifications

For an OCA member waterfront setting (e.g., local pond or lake in a sheltered, confined spot), the minimum ORCKA qualification is:

  • Camp Canoeing Instructor

Situations beyond the training of the Camp Canoeing Instructor or outside of an OCA member setting will require an Instructor to have one of the following current certifications:

  • ORCKA Basic Canoeing Instructor
  • ORCKA Canadian Style Paddling Instructor
  • ORCKA Canoe Tripping Instructor 2
  • ORCKA Moving Water Instructor 2
  • ORCKA River Running Instructor 2
  • ORCKA Canoe Tripping Level 3
  • Paddle Canada equivalent.

For non-OCA member sites, and for flatwater paddle rafting in a non-wilderness environment, there must be one instructor with a minimum of one of the following qualifications:

  • ORCKA Basic Canoeing Instructor
  • ORCKA Canadian Style Paddling Instructor
  • ORKCA Canoe Tripping Instructor 2
  • ORCKA Moving Water Instructor 2
  • ORCKA River Running Instructor 2
  • ORCKA Canoe Tripping Level 3
  • Paddle Canada Waterfront Canoe Instructor
  • Paddle Canada Intermediate Lake Skills
  • Paddle Canada Introductory Lake Skills
  • Paddle Canada Advanced Lake Skills – Solo
  • Paddle Canada Advanced Tripping Skills
  • Paddle Canada Advanced Moving Water (both tandem & solo)
  • Paddle Canada Advanced Tripping Skills + Wilderness Advanced First Aid + CPR + 1000 km experience
  • Paddle Canada Advanced Tripping Skills + Wilderness First Aid + CPR + 500 km experience
  • Paddle Canada Waterfront Canoe Instructor

Lifeguard Qualifications

A teacher, trip guide or instructor over the age of 18 must have a current National Lifeguard (N.L.) certificate.

Supervision for the Swim Test

There must be a minimum of two certified swimming instructors/lifeguards on deck or in the pool.

Supervision ratio is 2 instructors per 50 students, with both instructors certified as outlined below.

In situations where there are 51-75 students, an additional certified swimming instructor or lifeguard (NL) is required. The instructor requires the same certification as listed below.

Instructor Qualifications for the Swim Test

One swimming instructor must hold one of the following current certifications:

  • National Lifeguard Certificate (NL)
  • Standard First Aid Certificate (e.g., Red Cross, Lifesaving Society, St. John Ambulance, Canadian Ski Patrol)

All other swimming instructors must hold one of the following current certifications:

  • Canadian Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Award
  • Lifesaving Society Instructor Certificate plus an Assistant Lifeguard Certificate
  • Lifesaving Society Swim Instructor Certificate plus an Assistant Lifeguard Certificate
  • YMCA Instructor Certificate
  • Ontario Teachers Aquatic Standard (OTAS) - for pool situations only
  • National Lifeguard Certificate (NL)

Verified copies of certification must be available in the pool area.

First Aid and Emergency Action Plan

At least one teacher, trip guide, instructor or supervisor must have one of the following current first aid certifications:

  • National Lifeguard (N.L.) certificate
  • St. John Ambulance’s Emergency First Aid with CPR C + AED
  • St. John Ambulance Wilderness First Aid
  • Canadian Red Cross Emergency First Aid & CPR (Level C)
  • Canadian Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid
  • Canadian Ski Patrol First Aid Certificate
  • Equivalent to any of the above.

Follow the school’s emergency action plan including accessibility to a vehicle for transportation of a student to hospital (consult Appendix E - Emergency Action Plan).

Safety Craft

If instruction is taking place in a pool, no safety craft is required.

A safety craft is a designated craft that is rescue-capable, taking into consideration necessary factors (e.g., distance from shore, weather, water and wind conditions), and contains at least one instructor, trip guide or individual who meets the first aid certification.

A safety craft must be in the water and accessible while students are paddle rafting. If the safety craft is motorized then the operator must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card and must have experience in navigating the craft.

Also see Generic Section to view complete safety requirements.