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  • History and Background of the AAI

    The AAI has been developing for over ten years.  It first sparked when a group of experienced outdoor professionals from various parts of the World were reminiscing around a campfire in a remote part of the Arctic North during one evening of a multi-day canoe trip. While relaxing in that deep bonhomie and satisfaction that a great day on a wild challenging river gives, conversation turned to how fortunate they were to have these experiences in their lives and how, as things have developed it has become harder for people of all ages to gain the experience and qualifications necessary to progress as leaders in outdoor activities.

    Accreditation systems can become over complex and bureaucratic; leadership awards orientated towards developing elite athletes rather than the needs of educational and recreational users, and a litigious culture discourages  running challenging activities. In effect, others were having an increasing influence and the outdoor community was the poorer for it.

    Next morning, memories of the discussion from the night before were still around and they agreed to look further into how this might be addressed. Meetings and discussions were had with various outdoor authorities. These senior coaches with a strong sense of respect and loyalty to their pastimes had hoped to improve the schemes and increase participation for new leaders.  After several years with little improvement the idea arose to set up a new international organisation and scheme that addressed the concerns. And so began another long and interesting journey into how an international service for paddlers could be established.

    There was a need to establish the philosophy, style, ethos and the structure of the awards and syllabuses to satisfy the needs of paddlers, paddling professionals and Paddling Providers and encourage them to be active in the scheme. The awards system needed to keep costs down by using up to date communication technology and benefit from the experience and knowledge in how people recreate and learn outdoors and how they might want to be led. The scheme needed to be simple, supportive and relevant and devoid of onerous requirements that were not relevant and necessary while maintaining integrity and rigour to reassure users.

    The exercise of developing the scheme, seeking advice and feedback from acknowledged outdoor experts kept raising a fundamental question. Why just paddling? Feedback from users piloting the scheme suggested that the principles and structure were so broadly beneficial, coupled with the fact that most outdoor people travel a lot and indulge both personally and professionally in a range of outdoor activities or adventure sports that we should mirror the structure across the range of popular outdoor and adventurous activities that focused on recreation and education and that were not already served by organisations with a similar ethos.  The AAI is the result, it is hoped that it can truly represent the needs and aspirations of the worlds outdoor community. AAI aims to work alongside and compliment other existing organisations. Holders of Awards from other awarding bodies are encouraged to get their qualifications additionally recognised by AAI and start using a simple relevant and cost effective awarding body.

    AAI have gone live with a selection of award syllabuses and more are being written and trialled. We welcome feedback to