For the past two winters New Vision Wilderness has been working with Richard Baum and Anna Threlfall to bring dog sledding to our clients in Wisconsin. Richard and Anna started dog sledding when their children were younger – what started as simply attending a race evolved into getting their own dog for skijoring (a skier pulled by one or two dogs), and soon they had a group of puppies that turned into their own dogsled team. That team is older now, but they still run races on weekends when the weather allows.
The snowy weather in our field area gives us the opportunity for Richard and Anna to share their excitement for the sport with us. Our clients are given the opportunity to get a glimpse into all the different pieces that go into having a dog sled team. At the start of the day the dogs brought to our field are tied in a line to prepare for pulling a sled; clients can even help get the dogs into their harnesses. Once the dogs are ready, Anna and Richard explain their sleds and how they choose to put their team together and what positions each dog does well in. After that it is time to run! After everyone has the chance to ride, clients help get the dogs out of their harnesses and are able to relax with water and some treats. We have the chance to care for the dogs and learn some more about everything that goes into caring for a team of sled dogs.
The entire process touches on many of the same topics that clients are working on here. Some examples include: teamwork, what we can achieve as a team with people in the right positions; communication, how the driver gives commands to the dogs and how the dogs communicate with each other to go the same way; and empathy, how we are able to connect with the dogs and provide for their needs. This dogsledding experience represents what we strive for – having Adventure Education Opportunities support and reinforce the therapeutic process of our clients – the whole team working together to achieve something great.
Academic and Adventure Education Specialist.