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Comparing and contrasting associations that pertain to adventure education and outdoor pursuits Geoff Wright ESS 777
When getting involved in a specific outdoor activity, whether it is to teach a certain skill or enhance your own outdoor experience, there are many different associations that offer various accreditations. The question is: Which association best fits my needs?
The purpose of this synthesis is to provide highlights of each association and quick comparisons between different associations that relate to the same specific activity. This will help guide participants to which association is suitable for their own specific needs.
These activities that represent the associations being presented are: • Kayaking and canoeing • Scuba diving • Ropes course building, maintenance and programming • Mountaineering, rock climbing and outdoor leadership • Wilderness medicine • Mountain biking *Activities and corresponding associations are presented in this order*
American Canoe Association (ACA) • The ACA is a not for profit organization that provides education on matters related to paddling, supporting stewardship of the paddling environment, and enabling programs and events to support paddle sport recreation. • Founded in 1880, this association has been existence for over 125 years. • In 2005 the ACA had over 50,000 members in their organization.
Highlights if the ACA • The ACA is well known and respected credential program • They have extensive certifications in for all levels of paddlers in all types of boats and different boating environments. • The publications of assessments and materials a strong point for why their credentials are respected. • The ACA helps set boating regulations for the United States Coast Guard. • They have other publications such as Paddler magazine (six issues/year), Paddle Dealer (four issues/year) and Kayak Magazine (two issues/year).
Paddlesports Industry Association (PIA) • The PIA nonprofit trade industry that is focused on increasing business in the paddlesports field. • The PIA does not offer certification for people to learn how to boat, they are in affiliation with the American Canoe Association (ACA) for all of their training needs. • The PIA is comprised of over 1,300 companies that rent boats, outfit and/or guide trips, and retail and manufacture equipment and accessories.
Highlights of the PIA • Buisness members of the PIA get special discounted services on banking advice and information, business computer software, shipping discounts, and insurance discounts. • Business members of the PIA receive free membership to the American Canoe Association (ACA).
ACA or the PIA? • If your focus is teaching or learning how to paddle the ACA is the best company available. • The PIA would be a good association to be a part of if you owned or operated a paddling company.
National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) • NAUI is a nonprofit corporation that focuses on educating the community about scuba diving. • They are involved in teaching the United States Navy SEAL Teams as well as helping NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory where astronauts train for their space walks. • NAUI offers over 30 courses that range from skin diving to very technical dives such as ice dives and dives using alternate air recourses like helium and nitrogen mixes.
Highlights of NAUI • NAUI offers the more technical courses than any other association. • NAUI has involvement with the United States Navy SEAL Teams and NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. • NAUI is a nonprofit association. Therefore, the business decisions that NAUI makes are probably not based as much around money as they would be if NAUI were a traditional business.
Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) • PADI started as a way to make it easier for the average person to get into the sport of scuba diving. • Today over 900,000 people across the world are certified through one of PADI’s courses. • PADI offers over 25 different courses that range from general beginner courses to specific courses such as night or wreck diving. • Many PADI courses can be used as College school credit.
Highlights of PADI • Has more members than any other association in the diving industry. • More recognized by dive shops around the world than any other diving association. • PADI offers over 15 courses that meet the American Council on Education requirements and can be counted as college credit.
PADI or NAUI? • If you are looking to dive for pleasure or teach a general scuba diving class you probably will end up going through PADI. This is merely because they are the dominant association in the scuba field. • Education wise there is not a big difference in the curriculum between NAUI and PADI so the basic educational aspect and experiences should be the same. • PADI is more widely known so if you wanted to travel and dive other places the PADI certification would be a better option because it is excepted in more places.
The NAUI certification would be a better option if you were interested in United States Navy SEAL Teams or the NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. • NAUI would also be a better fit if you were interested in very specified dives such as ice dives or dives using alternate air recourses like helium and nitrogen mixes.
The Association of Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) • The purpose of this association is to promote the use of Challenge Courses and to set minimum standards for Challenge Course installation, operation and inspection. • ACCT has over 1500 members and 37 different vendors (People who build ropes courses). • They are associated with building over 75% of the challenge courses in the United States. • ACCT provides certifications to individuals that are involved in running challenge courses.
Highlights of the ACCT • ACCT revised and published their 6th edition of their standards for the installation, inspection, ethics, and operations for challenge courses • This was with the help and supervision of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) • The ACCT is the only association at this time that provides certifications to individuals that are involved in running challenge courses.
Professional Ropes Course Association (PRCA) • The primary goals of the PRCA is to produce and manage ropes challenge course and zip line / canopy tour standards, be a advocate for the development of the ropes challenge course industry. • The PRCA is an Accredited Standards Developer through the American National Standards Institute. • Together PRCA members have logged over 1 million participant days as well as been responsible for building hundreds of ropes courses.
Highlights of the PRCA • The PRCA is the only Accredited Standards Developer in the industry that is recognized by the American National Standards Institute. • The PRCA is a non-profit association. • The difference between a nonprofit association and a trade association (like the ACCT), according to the PRCA, is that a trade association governs practices for the economic or material gain of it’s trade members.
The ACCT or the PRCA? • At this time the ACCT is more experienced and has a better instructor training program. • The ACC has more vendors to chose from. • The PRCA is the only Accredited Standards Developer which I can’t decipher why that makes a huge difference now, but it could in the future. • The PRCA will soon have the only instructor certification that is offered directly through the association itself and not a private vendor. • I think this set up is better because vendors can charge what ever they want. • Also, even though the vendors are teaching off the same ACCT standards, there is more of a chance that the material presented in different certification classes could very with what the vendor thinks is important and not what the association deems as valid teaching material.
American Mountain Guide’s Association (AMGA) • In 1979, 12 professional guides decided to found the AMGA to formalize an organization that represents the greater guiding community in the United States. • AMGA is a representative to the 21-member International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) • The AMGA offers different levels of certifications in the disciplines of rock climbing wall guide, alpine guide, and ski mountaineering guide. • The AMGA has a very detailed certification process. • To complete just one discipline, such as becoming a certified alpine guide consists of taking 4 prerequisite programs that each consist of about 2,000 dollars and 5 to 12 days.
Highlights of the AMGA • AMGA is the only association in the US that is associated with the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA). • They use the IFMGA standards for all of their certification programs. • The AMGA has detailed certification programs that are very respected with in the industry. • The AMGA is the oldest association in the United States.
Professional Climbing Instructors' Association’s (PCIA) • The PCIA is a non-profit organization focused on providing quality education and instruction for new and existing climbing instructors who primarily teach basic skills and/or facilitate climbing experiences. • The PCIA offers four different certifications: the Climbing Wall Instructor Course, a Base Managed Instructor Course, a Top Managed Climbing Instructor Module and a Single Pitch Climbing Instructor Module.
Highlights of the PCIA • The PCIA is the sole accreditation program in the United States that requires formal examination and certification of all the accredited organization's lead instructors. • This means that guiding companies, schools, and other programs that become a part of the PCIA have to send at least one of their members through a PCIA training course.
The Wilderness Education Association’s (WEA) • The mission of the WEA is to promote the professionalism of outdoor leadership through establishment of national standards, curriculum design, implementation, advocacy, and research driven initiatives. • The WEA offers a certification called the Outdoor Leadership Certification (OLC). • The OLC consists of 21- 28 days and nights in the field. The content of the class is based around their own curriculum which is an 18 point program that dissects different key components that are important in outdoor leadership. • The OLC is based on standards from other programs such as Leave No Trace and the Wilderness Medicine Institute.
The WEA or the AMGA? • The Alpine Guide certification offered by the AMGA is a more technical certification than anything that the WEA offers. • The WEA curriculum consists of an 18 point curriculum that offers basic survival skills, but their curriculum has more content about environmental ethics and communication skills than the AMGA curriculum offers .
The AMGA or the PCIA? • The AMGA has been the leading company in the field of training guides in the United States for the last 25 years. • With their affiliation to the IFMGA, which is well known world wide has developed written standards, the AMGA dominates the United States guiding field. • The PCIA is a very new company that is separating itself from the AMGA by focusing on how they award accreditation to organizations that want to be “accreditation members”. • Something to keep in mind, if there is a guide company or a school that is a member of the AMGA, that doesn't necessarily mean that anyone in that organization has gone through any AMGA training. • However, If a guiding company of school is PCIA certified that means that someone in that organization has been formally trained through one of the PCIA programs.
The Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) • The WMI is an association that since 1990 has been offering a range of course and certification opportunities that focus on wilderness medicine training. • In 1999, WMI was purchased by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and officially changed its name to WMI of NOLS. • The most popular courses are wilderness first responder, wilderness EMT and wilderness first aid. • The most accredited class that the WMI teaches is the Wilderness EMT. • This is a 180 hour course includes a National Registry Exam, which certifies the participant as a registered EMT in most states.
Highlights of WMI • The WMI has now trained over 75,000 students through the different programs that they offer. • The Wilderness EMT final test is accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). • WMI programs are offered in many locations throughout the country and throughout the year.
The Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO) • In 1975 SOLO developed their first wilderness medicine curriculum called “Mountain/Woods First Aid” . • SOLO offers courses such as Wilderness First Aid (WFA), Wilderness First Responder (WFR), Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT), and specialty courses such as search and rescue and travel medicine.
Highlights of SOLO • SOLOis responsible for developing the first Wilderness First Aid (WFA), Wilderness First Responder (WFR), and Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) curricula in the United States. • SOLO has begun publishing textbooks and other materials that pertain to wilderness education through a publishing company called TMC books, of which they are co-owners.
WMI or SOLO? • Traditionally SOLO has been the standard leader as far as developing and implementing wilderness medicine curriculum. • WMI actually branched off of SOLO and used their curriculum in the beginning. • WIM now has their own curriculum developer and the two companies find themselves working together to keep current curriculum for the wilderness medicine industry. • In my opinion, the certifications that are awarded by these two associations are comparable. • The WMI is now marketed better and offered in more places around the country so this is the certification that most people will probably end up obtaining. • SOLO offers more specialty courses such as the search and rescue course and the travel medicine course.
The American Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) • The IMBA is a non-profit company that has a mission to protect, create, and enhance quality trail experiences for mountain bikers worldwide. • IMBA is responsible for more than one million hours to trail work projects on public land, and have created more than 5,000 miles of new trails worldwide. • A lot of this trail development is possible because of the ties that the IMBA has developed with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forrest service. • The IMBA offers a certification that called the National Mountain Bike Patrol (NMBP). This certification was developed to help people assist, educate and inform all trail users in order to enhance their recreational experience.
Highlights of the NMBA • The biggest contributor to the development of trails in the United States. • Good ties with government agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forrest service. • . The National Mountain Bike Patrol (NMBP) is a working volunteer program that manages local designated trails and promotes safe mountain biking experiences.
USA Cycling • The USA Cycling association is an association set up to promote and organize events in the biking community. • Racing events is USA cycling’s primary focus. • USA cycling offers races for all ages and skill levels on mountain bikes, road bikes, track courses, bmx courses and cyclo-cross courses. • Cyclo-cross is a 2 mile event featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to ride and carry their bike while and navigating around obstructions. • USA Cycling offers an annual Racing license. • The purpose of this license is to make sure all racers understand the basic guidelines and safety requirements that are required for their sport.
Highlights of USA Cycling • USA is the largest biking association in the united states with over 50,000 members. • 2,500 sanctioned races and fun rides a year are offered through USA Cycling. • Benefits of getting a USA Cycling license are being able to qualify for certain racing opportunities, different cycling discounts, and insurance benefits.
USA Cycling or the NMBA? • These two organizations are different in their focus. • The NMBA’s main focus is on mountain bike trail building and maintenance. • The focus of USA cycling is to offer races for all ages in not just mountainbiking but also on road bikes, track courses, bmx courses and cyclo-cross courses.
References • American mountain guide’s association. Retrieved October 8, 2008, from http://www.amga.com/ • International federation of mountain guide’s association. Retrieved October 8, 2008, from http://www.ivbv.info/en/the-ifmga/ • Association of challenge course technology. Received September 22, 2008, from http://www.acctinfo.org • American National Standards Institute. September 22, 2008, from http://www.ansi.org • American canoe association. Retrieved September 30, 2008, from http://www.americancanoe.org/ • National association of underwater instructors. Retrieved November 10, 2008, from http://www.naui.org • The american mountain bike association. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from http://www.imba.com • Professional association of diving instructors. Retrieved November 7, 2008, from http://www.padi.com • Professional climbing instructors' association. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://pcia.us/pro/ • The Paddlesports industry association. Retrieved October 28, 2008, from http://www.paddlesportsindustry.org • Professional ropes course association. Received October 7, 2008, from www.prcainfo.org • Stonehearth open learning opportunities. Retrieved October 28, 2008, from http://www.soloschools.com/
The national registry of emergency medical technicians. Retrieved October 28, 2008, from http://www.nremt.org/about/nremt_news.asp • Wilderness education association. Received October 9, 2008, from http://www.weainfo.org/ • Wilderness medicine institute. Retrieved October 22, 2008, from http://www.nols.edu/wmi/ • USA cycling . Retrieved December 6, 2008, from http://www.usacycling.org/