FREE Boater Safety Classes Offered at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center

Boat Safety Classes for the 2024 season will be held on April 20, May 18, June 15, July 20, and August 17. All classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Contact the Park Rangers at 815-667-4054 for more information.

Things to know

One 8-hour class is required to complete your certification.
Anyone over the age of 12 can be certified.
Students under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

This class is recommended for:

  • New boaters
  • Families that enjoy boating adventures
  • Seasoned boaters who would like to brush up on their safe boating knowledge

This class covers the basics of:

  • Boater Safety
  • Equipment Requirements
  • Emergency Measures
  • Navigation
  • Boating Laws
  • Motorboat Registration and Titling

We encourage people of all ages and experience levels to take the course. Each of us has the responsibility to keep this lifetime leisure activity free from tragedy and personal loss to ourselves and our fellow boaters.

Boaters from out of state can take this course and receive their boater safety card, which is good in many of the surrounding states.

Persons at least 12 years of age and less than 18 years of age may only operate a motorboat if:

  • They are in possession of a valid Boating Education Certificate of Competency issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Safety Education Division, or
  • They are accompanied on the motorboat and under direct control of a parent or guardian, or a person at least 18 years of age designated by a parent or guardian.

Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, who intends to operate a vessel in Illinois powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more, needs to complete a boater safety class.

Class materials will be provided but participants should plan to bring their own lunch and drinks. Participants are also asked to follow state, local and CDC guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing while attending the class.

For more information on other Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved boating safety classes, visit

Kids on PWC with life jackets

Contact Information

950 N. 27th Rd.
Ottawa, IL 61350