Outdoor Education (Flat Water Kayaking)

Kayak Training and Single Day Trips which travel within 2 hours from the arrival of emergency medical assistance. (Pools, Base Camp Kayaking, Lake Water Kayaking)

Elementary - Curricular 2023

  • Consult Risk Management.
  • This activity page must be presented to the activity provider prior to the activity taking place. The activity provider must meet the minimum requirements listed on this page. For more information on planning trips using outside providers, consult Outside Activity Providers.
  • Grades 7 and 8 only.
  • White Water Canoeing and White Water Kayaking are not appropriate activities at the elementary level.
  • White Water Rafting is not an appropriate activity at the elementary level (grades 1 to 5).
  • For White Water Rafting in Flatwater and Class I Rivers consult Outdoor Education (Paddle Rafting).


  • Determine that all equipment is safe for use (for example, no sharp corners, cracks, or splinters). Students must be encouraged to report equipment problems to the teacher.
  • Kayak with adequate floatation in nose and stern to prevent kayak from sinking when full of water.
  • Paddle (1 per paddler) and kayak checked for cracks, splinters and leaks.
  • One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m (49’) (for example, throw rope rescue bag) per kayak.
  • One bailer (bailer must be at least 750mL [9oz] with an opening of 65cm2 [10in2] and constructed of plastic and/or metal) per kayak.
  • One waterproof flashlight per kayak.
  • Correctly fitting and Canadian-approved Personal Flotation Device (P.F.D.) or Lifejacket with whistle attached must be worn by all participants and properly secured at all times when:
    • near the water (for example, on a dock or at a shoreline where the depth of the water is deemed a risk);
    • in the water (for example, swimming); and
    • on the water (for example, kayaking).

Refer to the First Aid section for first aid equipment requirements.


  • Appropriate clothing and footwear must be worn. Determine that all necessary clothing and footwear are included prior to departing on the excursion. Dry change of clothing kept in a watertight bag/container must be accessible.
  • When long hair poses a safety risk it must be secured. Devices (for example, hair pins, elastics and barrettes) used to tie back long hair must not present a safety concern.
  • Students must not participate when the length of fingernails poses a safety risk to themselves or others.


  • Check with local authorities for current information regarding route safety.
  • Water conditions must be appropriate for the type of kayak being used and the skill level of the group.
  • Determine that all facilities are safe for use. Students must be encouraged to report facility problems to the teacher.

Environmental Considerations

  • When environmental conditions may pose a risk to student safety (for example, thunderstorms [lightning] or student(s) with asthma, triggered by air quality), teachers must take into consideration their school board/school’s protocols and procedures related to:
    • environmental conditions (consult Weather); and
    • insects (for example, mosquitoes and ticks [consult the school/school board’s protocols and/or regional Public Health Department’s website]).
  • Students must receive instruction on safety procedures related to environmental conditions and be made aware of ways to protect themselves (for example, sun burn, heat stroke).
  • At all times the school board’s weather and insect procedures are the minimum standards. In situations where a higher standard of care is presented (for example, outside activity providers, facility/program coordinators), the higher standard of care must be followed.
  • Teacher and instructor 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. (for example, wind, temperature, lightning storms, fog).
  • If hazardous weather suddenly approaches, leave the water immediately.
  • Daylight kayaking only except under emergency situations.
  • Navigation lights (for example, waterproof flashlight) are required if operating at night or in restricted visibility.

Special Rules/Instructions

  • Be aware of students whose medical condition (for example, asthma, anaphylaxis, casts, previous concussion, orthopaedic device) may affect participation. Consult Medical Conditions.
  • Students must not participate in the activity until they receive information on concussion prevention specific to the activity, inherent risks of the activity (for example, outline possible risks and ways to minimize the risks), and procedures and rules for safe play. Students must receive instruction on the importance of reporting symptoms related to a suspected concussion.
  • Refer to school board policies and procedures (i.e., transportation, excursion/field trip) for communication with parents/guardians, the location of an off-site activity, means of transportation, supervision ratios, and parent/guardian permission.
  • Parents/guardians must be informed that all students will wear a correctly fitting and Canadian-approved PFD/lifejacket, with whistle attached, when near, in or on the water.
  • Students that aren’t required to take a swim test or students that have not passed the swim test without a personal flotation device (PFD) must not enter the water.
  • Activities must be modified according to the age, ability level, language, and experience of students, number of participants, and the facility available.
  • Previous training, fitness level, and the length of time and intensity of physical activity must be taken into consideration.
  • Activities must be based on skills that are taught.
  • Skills must be taught in proper progression.
  • A proper warm-up and cool-down must be included.
  • When a student displays hesitation (verbally or non-verbally) with participating, the teacher must determine the reason(s) for doubt. If the teacher believes that a potential hesitancy during the skill could put the student at risk, the student must be directed toward a more basic skill, or be permitted to select a role within the activity at their comfort level, including the choice to not participate.
  • Prior to participation, the teacher must reference and apply their school board's policy on equity and inclusion as it affects student participation and makes appropriate accommodations/modifications to provide a safe learning environment. Consult the Intent subsection within the About section.
  • Adequate liquid replacement (personal water bottles, water fountains) must be accessible for students before, during, and after physical activity to prevent dehydration.

Kayaking Skills

  • Skills for the safe maneuvering of a kayak must be taught in proper progression.
  • Kayak training, practice of skills, and demonstration of proficiency must occur in a pool, shallow water, or sheltered bay.
  • Before setting out on a day trip, skill knowledge and demonstration of proficiency must occur, either prior to the day of the trip or on the day of a trip, as follows:
    • Use and fit of personal protective equipment (for example, P.F.D.)
    • Lifting and carrying (and portaging where skill is required on the trip)
    • Launching, landing and transporting
    • Entering and exiting
    • Wet exit (with or without skirt according to equipment used on day trip)
    • Assisted re-entry skills (rescuer and rescuee, appropriate to equipment and conditions)
    • Forward and reverse paddling
    • Stopping
    • Pivoting (forward reverse sweep strokes)
    • Sideward displacement
    • Bracing
    • Preventing a capsize


  • All activities must be supervised.
  • The level of supervision must be commensurate with the inherent risk of the activity. The level of risk is related to the number of participants, the skill level of the participants, the type of equipment used, and environmental conditions.
  • On-site supervision is required.

Refer to the Swim Test section for the swim test supervision ratios.

Supervision Ratios for Instructional Time

  • 1-8 Students: personnel and qualifications required are 1 supervisor, 1 first aid certification, and 1 lifeguard certification. These qualifications can be fulfilled by one or more supervisors.

Refer to the definition of Instructional Time.


Refer to the Swim Test section for the swim test aquatic instructor qualification requirements.

Instructor Qualifications

  • For an Ontario Camping Association (OCA) member waterfront setting (for example, local pond or lake in a sheltered, confined spot), Qualified Instructors must have one (1) of the following certifications, or a certification of an equivalent or higher level:
    • ORCKA Camp Kayaking Instructor
    • Paddle Canada Waterfront Kayaking Instructor
  • For all situations beyond the training of the Camp Kayak Instructor, non-OCA member sites and for flatwater kayaking in a non-wilderness environment, there must be one Qualified Instructor with a minimum of one of the following current qualifications:
    • ORCKA
      • Flatwater Kayaking Instructor
      • Coastal Kayaking Level 2
      • Coastal Kayaking Instructor 1
      • Kayak Tripping Level 2
      • Kayak Tripping Instructor
    • Paddle Canada
      • Sea Kayak Level-2 Skills
      • Intermediate River Kayak Skills
      • Flatwater River Kayak Instructor
      • Basic Kayak Instructor

Water Safety Supervisor

  • At least one (1) Trip Guide, Assistant Trip Guide, Teacher, Volunteer, or Qualified Instructor with one (1) of the following current certifications must fill the role of Water Safety Supervisor for the Trip Group:
    • Bronze Cross
    • Wilderness Water Safety
    • Whitewater Rescue Technician
    • Swiftwater Rescue Technician
  • A student may not act as the Water Safety Supervisor if they are participating in the activity.

Refer to the Swim Test section for the swim test lifeguard qualification requirements.

First Aid

A fully stocked first aid kit must be readily accessible. (Consult Sample First Aid Kit)

  • A working communication device (for example, satellite or cell phone, or satellite GPS messenger) suitable for the activities/locations must be available. This device must be maintained, waterproofed, protected and dedicated for emergency communications only. The phone number for the device, and phone numbers for emergency services and school contact people (for example, the principal) must be included with the phone.
  • At least one teacher, trip guide, instructor, or supervisor must have a minimum of a current (not more than three years prior to the day on which the holder is on duty) first aid certificate (standard or higher) issued by one of the following agencies: St. John Ambulance; Canadian Red Cross; Lifesaving Society; Canadian Ski Patrol; or an organization whose certificate is deemed equivalent by the medical officer of health in the local health unit.
  • Follow the school's first aid emergency response (consult First Aid Plan and First Aid Emergency Response) and the school board’s concussion protocol (consult Concussions).
  • An emergency action plan and response to deal with evacuations and lock downs must be followed and communicated to students.

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 (for example, 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 kayaking. The safety craft need not be motorized. If the safety craft is a motorized craft then the operator of the motorized safety craft must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. The operator of the safety craft, whether craft is motorized or not, must have experience in navigating the craft.

Swim Test

Swim Test for Watercraft

  • Prior to the activity, students must successfully complete the following swim test in its entirety, without any stops, in sequence, with or without a personal flotation device (P.F.D.):
    • 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 aquatic instructor or a certified lifeguard (the test is based on the Lifesaving Society’s Swim to Survive™ 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 Star certification or higher.
  • Results of the swim test must be documented and communicated as per school board policy (for example, to the student, teacher, principal, parents/guardians, trip guide(s), lifeguards, aquatic instructor, and outside provider [if applicable]).
  • All Teachers, Trip Guides, and Volunteers must be aware of the students who require a P.F.D./Lifejacket to complete the swim test.

Clothing/Footwear/Jewellery for the Swim Test

  • Appropriate swimwear must be worn.

Aquatic Instructor Qualifications for the Swim Test for Watercraft

  • An aquatic instructor must possess both an aquatic instructor certificate and a lifeguard certificate that are dated not more than two years prior to the date on which they are required to instruct and lifeguard. If the aquatic instructor does not hold a lifeguard certificate, a certified lifeguard must also be on the dock/shore during the swim test.
  • Aquatic Instructor Certificates for Waterfronts:
    • Lifesaving Society - Instructor Certificate
    • YMCA - Instructor Certificate
  • Verified copies of certification must be available in the swimming area.

Lifeguard Qualifications for the Swim Test for Watercraft

  • A lifeguard must be 18 years of age or older and possess a current (the date on the certificate must not be older than two years) lifeguard certificate issued by one of the following organizations:
    • Lifesaving Society – National Lifeguard – Pool/Waterfront
    • Equivalent certificate approved by Minister of Health and Long Term Care
  • A student may not act as a lifeguard if they are participating in the activity.
  • Lifeguard certification is the only acceptable standard in a recreational camp waterfront scenario.
  • Verified copies of certification must be available in the swimming area.

Supervision Ratios for the Swim Test for Watercraft

  • There must be a minimum of 2 certified aquatic instructors or lifeguards at the waterfront or in the water.
  • Supervision ratio is 2 certified aquatic instructors or lifeguards per 1 to 25 students.
  • For every additional 25 students, an additional certified aquatic instructor or lifeguard is required.


  • Flat water kayaking:
    • Kayaking on lake water or river where no rapids exist and eddies are very slight.
  • In-charge Person:
    • Some activities refer to an “In-Charge” person. While the teacher is in-charge and responsible for the overall safety and well-being of students under their care, sometimes there are other personnel who must be identified as “In-Charge” related to specific situations (for example, a pool lifeguard). In activities where an “In-Charge” person is designated, that person, in consultation with the teacher, must make final decisions regarding safety of the students
  • Instructional Time:
    • Instructional time is defined as time during which there are organized activities or instructions. Examples of instructional time are lessons, events, practice, and games.
  • 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.
  • Lifeguard, Assistant Lifeguard and Aquatic Instructor:
    • Refer to the Qualification section.
  • Outside Activity Provider:
    • An outside facility contracted by the school/board to provide activity services.
  • Parent/guardian/volunteer:
    • An adult who has been approved by the principal and has been instructed on responsibilities (for example, monitoring [supervision]).
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD):
    • According to Canadian Red Cross, “A Canadian approved PFD is designed to keep you afloat in the water. PFDs were designed for use in recreational boating and are generally smaller, less bulky and more comfortable than lifejackets. They have less flotation than lifejackets, and have limited turning capacity, but are available in a variety of styles and colours.”
  • Supervision:
    • The vigilant overseeing of an activity for regulation or direction. Activities, facilities, and equipment have inherent risks, but the more effectively they are supervised, the safer they become.
    • The Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education designate three categories of supervision, Constant visual supervision, On-site supervision, and In-the-area supervision. The categories take into consideration the risk level of the activity, the participants’ skill level and the participants’ maturity. The three levels of supervision described are not hierarchical but represent the type of supervision that an activity requires and the type of supervision that is inherently possible.
  • Supervisor:
    • A supervisor is a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer, or trip guide. This term is used only in relation to supervision ratios.
  • 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.
  • Types of Supervision:
    • Constant Visual Supervision:
      • Constant visual supervision means that the teacher is physically present, watching the activity in question. Only one activity requiring “Constant visual” supervision may take place while other activities are going on.
      • Curricular example: During a track and field session, some students are involved in high jump, some are practising relay passing on the track while a third group is distance running around the school. For high jump, the teacher is at the high jump area and is observing the activity.
      • Intramural example: During a school outdoor special events day, some students are involved in parachute games, some in relay games, and others in a team scavenger hunt around the school. For parachute, the intramural supervisor is at the event and is observing activity.
    • In-the-area Supervision:
      • In-the-area supervision means that the teacher could be in the gymnasium while another activity is taking place in an area adjacent to the gymnasium. In-the-area supervision requires the teacher to be readily accessible.
      • In-the-area supervision occurs:
        • in activities in which students may be out of sight for periods of time and the location of the teacher is not nearby (for example, alpine skiing, cross-country running). At least one of the following criteria must be in place:
          • The teacher is circulating
          • The location of teacher has been communicated to students and volunteers
        • in single activities and those that may be combined (for example, other in- the- area activities such as badminton, table tennis, handball – wall) with the following criteria in place:
          • The teacher must be circulating between the activities and readily accessible
          • The teacher informs students of the location of the activities
      • Curricular example: During a track and field session, some students are involved in high jump, some are practising relay passing on the track while a third group is distance running around the school. For distance running, the students are running around the school and at times may be out of sight.
      • Intramural example: During a school outdoor special events day, some students are involved in parachute games, some in relay games, and others in a team scavenger hunt around the school. For a scavenger hunt, the students are running around the school grounds and at times may be out of sight.
    • On-site Supervision:
      • On-site supervision entails teacher presence but not necessarily constantly viewing one specific activity. Momentary presence in adjoining rooms (for example, equipment room) to the gym is considered part of “on-site supervision”.
      • Curricular example: During a track and field session, some students are involved in high jump, some are practising relay passing on the track while a third group is distance running around the school. For a relay, the students are practising on the track and can be seen by the teacher who is with the high jumpers.
      • Intramural example: During a school outdoor special events day, some students are involved in parachute games, some in relay games, and others in a team scavenger hunt around the school. For relay games, the students are participating on the playground and can be seen by the intramural supervisor.

Fri, 01/26/24 10:19 am

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