Ray and Team on Pine Lake with St. Elias Mtn. Range in the background
St Elias Community School Dog Sled Rides.
On March 29 and 30th I had the pleasure of giving a short dog sled ride to approximately 100 of the students from St. Elias Community school in Haines Junction. To Say "I had the pleasure", is a bit of a misnomer as a number of other individuals worked very hard to make this a successfull event for students, mushers and of course the dogs. Laura Lucas and Ray Zaidan, both good friends from Whitehorse volunteered their time to bring their teams out to Pine Lake to give students rides. Fran Mackellar, a local musher from Haines Junction volunteered to both run one of the Fast Dogs teams and also handle dogs to keep the flow of activity through the turnaround area smooth and orderly. Heather played somewhat of a dual role as both a knowledgeable dog handler as well as the staff member in charge from St. Elias School. Her prescence made our jobs as mushers much easier, as she was able to keep the students moving and organized as well as giving them a good briefing on what to do and what not to do in and around the sled and the dogs. This allowed us to concentrate fully on making sure the dogs were looked after properly and that things progressed in a smooth and orderly fashion.
Coming back to the turnaround area.
Yukon Junior Association of Mushers was the beneficiary of a generous donation from the school in exchange for this activity taking place, thus, Ray's, Laura's, Fran's, and my time was donated. I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to all those individuals who donated their time to make this event a success for both the students as well as Yukon Junior Association of Mushers. (YJAM)
Heather and one of her pups resting in the warm spring sun.
A few words about YJAM
YJAM was formed in 2002 by myself and a group of other mushers in order to help youth get started in the sport on the right track. Many of the founding members (including myself) had learned mushing through "trial and error" and shared a desire to help the next generation of mushers lessen the "error" portion of the learning curve in mushing. We have done numerous activities since our inception, but most notable is putting on the last three sets of time trials to select Team Yukon for the Arctic Winter Games and to organize the logistics of getting both canine and human athletes to and from the games in Fort MacMurray (2004) and Soldotna Alaska (2006). YJAM is recognized by Sport Yukon as the "Sport Governing Body" for Yukon for Arctic Winter Games activities and with little doubt will once again be sponsoring the time trials for Arctic Winter Games 2008 (Yellowknife NWT.) in December of 2007. Funds raised by this (St. Elias School event) and other efforts are used to assist youth in attending dog mushing competitions as well as purchasing equipment used in dog mushing.
Heather gets a "token" of Yunes's affection.
Over and above the money raised through this activity, the greatest success of this event has been that four students from St. Elias School have expressed strong interest in joining YJAM and learning the sport. My sincere hope is that at least one or two of these youth will follow through and be eligible to enter the time trials with one of the fast dogs teams for an oppurtunity to represent Yukon at The Arctic Winter Games in 2008.
Labels: Training... the next generation of Mushers