Wilderness Water Safety Certification

Course Description

The Wilderness Water Safety certification is for individuals serving in the role of lifeguard in a backcountry environment and is not intended for lifeguards at a pool or beach. Although some time is spent on conducting in-water rescues, the majority of the content focuses on prevention of emergencies through backcountry aquatics risk management

This course meets the OPHEA Water Safety Supervisor requirements for school outdoor educators leading student on water canoe programs.


August 24–25, 2024
Starts: 9:00 am
Ends: 5:00 pm


$439 CAD

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 Course Includes

  • Course Materials
  • Certified Instructor
  • Hot drinks and snacks
  • Farmer John/Jane wetsuits, canoes/gear

 Extra Course Options

  • Reduced Rate on Accommodation at Rock Island Lodge B&B Before and After Course. Use Code: COURSEGUEST.
  • Meals available $73
  • Camping available

 Certification Notes

The Wilderness Water Safety certification is a two-year certification
The card is only valid with a current Wilderness First Aid or higher Certification.
Note: The first aid requirement may be completed after the course but is necessary for certification


  • 18 years of age at the time of the completion of the course.
  • Current Wilderness First Aid (18 – 20 hrs) or better with CPR-C
  • Ability to swim the skill levels of the course or completion of a 458 metre (500 yard) swim.
  • Ability to perform a surface dive to a depth of 2.5 metres (8 feet).

Course Content

 Teaching and Learning

Swimming expectations:

Participants are expected to be very comfortable in the water including cold water sometimes 10°or little colder for short periods of time. Wet suits are allowed for some of the activities in the water.  Naturally Superior Adventures provides a variety of Farmer John/Jill wetsuits for course participants.

Swimming ability is important and strokes will be evaluated to make sure participants are able to perform an effective stroke for moving quickly through the water such as a strong front crawl (freestyle) or breast stroke. A timed distance swim is not part of the class.

In addition, all participants will be required to perform a strong towing kick without the use of their arms. An egg beater, inverted whip kick (elementary backstroke), or scissors (sidestroke).

Participants will be required to be able to rescue and tow an unconscious swimmer 30 meters. In addition, they will be required to surface dive (foot first or head first) to a depth 3 meters or greater, recover an unconscious swimmer and tow them to safety.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1: 9am – 5 pm

  • Introductions and course objective
  • Risk Activity/Scenarios and unique role of trip leaders
  • Establishing Backcountry Waterfronts
  • Stages of Drowning
  • Introduction to Sightings and Emergency Action Plans

12 noon Lunch in Lodge

  • Sighting practice and check off
  • Swimming skills check off
  • Introduction to Backcountry Lifeguarding
  • Rescues- Conscious and Surface Unconscious
  • Wrap up

6 pm – Dinner in Lodge

Day 2: 9am – 5pm

8 am Breakfast in lodge

  • Review from Day 1
  • Setting up Backcountry Swimming Activities with Participants
  • Risk Management Scenario
  • Surface Dives and Submerged Rescues

Lunch in Lodge

  • Epidemiology of Drowning and Cold-Water Emergencies
  • Remote Access Care of Suspected Spinal Injuries (Cliff Jumping discussion)
  • Hasty Search in Deep Water Scenarios
  • Risk Management Scenario
  • Canoe rescues
  • Capsized Canoe in Cold Water Scenario
  • Wrap up

We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Please email us at [email protected] or phone 1-800-203-9092.