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Become a Certified

Stand Up Paddle Instructor

PSUPA Flatwater Level 1 Certification Course


Gain the skills you need to teach classes confidently and safely. Our hybrid online/in person course emphasizes water safety, leadership, stroke technique, and rescue procedures, along with basics of running a SUP business.

Led by your CHESUPEAKE coach Carleen Birnes

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Now Booking Spring/Summer 2024

Carleen Birnes leads PSUPA Flatwater Level 1 Certification for private groups and individuals.

The certification covers the technique and teaching skills needed to lead SUP classes confidently and safely. The curriculum emphasizes water safety, leadership, and teaching risk management and rescue procedures. 

This certification course is designed for convenience, offering a hybrid learning model that includes: self-paced online coursework and an in-person water practicum with Carleen in Severna Park, MD. 

Online Course: 

  • Comprehensive digital manual & video content

  • Learn at your own pace

  • Complete the online exam from home

  • Refer back to the course anytime to stay fresh on material

Water Training Day:

  • Only one travel day

  • Water safety - emergency preparedness and rescue techniques

  • Understanding of weather and conditions

  • On-water group management and communication

  • How to teach the basic elements of stand up paddling

  • Approach and considerations of teaching students of varying ages, abilities, skill levels, and limitations

  • Lesson formats and preparation

  • Refining your own paddle stroke and maneuvering technique

  • SUP gear and equipment overview

Certification is awarded upon completing the course. This includes passing the online test and achieving a satisfactory evaluation of your teaching, leadership skills and attention to safety. 

Certification Requirements:

  • Participants join PSUPA membership prior to attending the cert. Annual fee $85

  • Participants must have a current hands-on (ie., not online-based) First Aid/CPR certification or Wilderness First Aid or Lifeguard Training prior to water training

  • Participants must take online exam after certification course. Test fee $40

  • Participants must wear USCG approved buoyant PFD for water training

  • Paddleboard is not included in the course fee. Inquire for rental rates


  • Online coursework - Complete at your own pace from your homebase

  • On the Water Training - Severna Park, Maryland

How to Register:

Book your entrance into the program here or the link below, then email Carleen at to schedule your water training date and receive your online payment link. Once paid, students will be given access to the online course. 

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Contact us to host a PSUPA Coach Certification at your location. 

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