I learned the basics of dinghy sailing as a kid when I went to Summer Camp in Minnesota. They had their own program that taught us what we needed to know to do day sailing safely on small lakes, but were always accompanied by a counsellor. However, it was far from complete and was not certified by anyone. Then came a 20 year hiatus.
I am a big believer in getting some training before tackling something so I know what I am doing. I took two CYA courses while I was a NATO exchange officer stationed at the Royal Military College in Ontario. They had some small keel boats I could sail. The two CYA courses are equivalent to ASA courses, and you can in fact get credit for them in the ASA system (and vice versa). They had a couple of 17 foot day sailors with some sort of keel (O'Day, maybe?) and a Tanzer 22.
T. P. Donnelly
S/V Tranquility Base
1984 Islander 30 Bahama