Leaving The Kennel

Saying good-bye to Vern Halter’s Dream A Dream Dog Kennel was tough.  Dogs, puppies, morning walks through the woods, teachers collaborating – things I love. Before we left,  Vern gave us a challenge to team up and create an Iditarod race plan.  Hmmm . . . we scratched our heads, but worked together to come up with a plan that may just get us down the trail – if we had dogs, sled, gear, $30,000, etc.  After presenting our dog plans we were sent out to the dog yard for a true musher challenge.  All 5 of us had to harness and bootie a dog, then take off the harness and booties so the next person could work.  Good old “Wing”.  She was so patient with 5 rookie mushers trying to harness and bootie her, and not get the reward of pulling a sled when we were done.

After cleaning up and taking many more pictures, we had to drive away.  The kennel was a memorable way to begin our 2012 Summer Workshop for Teachers.  25 teachers (including staff) came together strangers and left as friends.  I’m looking forward to the rest of camp and the challenges, the collaboration and the friendship that it offers.

Good-bye puppies :-( 

Joe May

“You did it with snowshoes, you did it with an ax, you did it however you could.”  That was the first thing Joe May told us as he talked about the early years of racing in the Iditarod.  Joe drove his Fiat to Alaska in 1975 “sick in body and sick in the head” and made a life for himself here.  He built his cabin by hand and settled in.  At some point he acquired some dogs and ran a trap line.  His dogs were fast and could go long distances.  It was Dick Mackey who talked him into racing the Iditarod.  Joe made his sled out of plywood and he made everything else he needed on the trail.  What an adventure!

Joe is definitely old school.  Some of the new ways don’t sit right with him and he would like to preserve the history and true meaning of the race.  There were about 30 of us in the room while Joe spoke and you could have heard a pin drop.  As teachers who respect the Iditarod, we could understand his message.

The Iditarod will move ahead.  We, as teachers of the lower 48, would not be able to follow the race as closely as we do without the technology.  More mandatory items have been added to the race since Joe May’s time and more rules have been put in place to protect the mushers and protect the dogs.  Time moves on, but history is preserved thanks to people like Joe May who continue spread the message.

Iditarod Summer Camp For Teachers!

There are about 24 teachers (the largest number ever) gathered in Alaska for the Iditarod Summer Camp For Teachers.  We are all here to collaborate and learn how to make the Iditarod a valuable classroom tool.  We began the camp at Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla on June 24.  Teachers are here from Wisconsin, Florida, California, Ohio, New York and Texas to name a few – we even have a teacher from Germany to make this a true International event.  From Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, we traveled to Vern Halter’s Dream A Dream Kennel in Willow, Alaska.  All of us squeezed into the Lee Larsen Training Center and grabbed a bunk or bed.  What a great way to get to know each other!  After meeting the dogs and walking with puppies, we were treated to dinner by Chef Extraordinaire – Terrie Hanke.  After dinner we heard from Terrie and Blynne Froke about their trail adventures as Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™.  Most campers fell into bed in complete exhaustion.  For most, it was their first night with a 3 or 4 hour time difference.  If there was “sawing logs” I didn’t hear it, I was sound asleep.

We woke up early on the 25th and were eager to head outside to pet the dogs and take a puppy walk.  Vern also treated half the teachers to a dog ride in an ATV.  I don’t know who was more excited – the dogs or the teachers.  The day was filled with teachers sharing lesson ideas.  The Iditarod covers such a wide range of learning opportunities that includes Math, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies.  We cover all age groups and all disciplines, and we are all getting ideas from each other.  The collaboration here this week is amazing – and it’s only MONDAY!

The day ended with a fantastic meal by our gracious host, Vern Halter.  My bunk mates and I had a full day and – even though it’s daylight at 10:30 – we are all ready to saw some logs.

An Evening With Dallas Seavy

J.J. Keller is a Wisconsin company about 40 miles from where I live and they sponsor Dallas Seavy.  Needless to say, they are ecstatic about his 2012 Iditarod win.  The fact that he is the youngest person to ever win the Iditarod is a bonus.  To celebrate his win, they brought him to their corporate headquarters in Neenah, Wisconsin in May and invited the public to listen to his story.

It was pointed out to us (us being the audience of about 200) at the beginning how much Dallas loves to talk.  Yes, he does.  But I could have listened to him all night.  He shared a little about his life and a lot about mushing, sleds, and dogs.  He had some profound thoughts about competition and his strategy for a winning team.  He answered questions from the audience honestly and in great detail.  Dallas has a quick wit and sense of humor to keep us all engaged.

Afterward he autographed items and talked to each person like he or she was a missing friend.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.   My friend, Mo, said this evening wasn’t on her Bucket List, but she’s going to add it and check it off.   We left J.J. Keller as Dallas Seavy fans.  Congratulations Dallas – see you in Nome in 2013!

Linda Fenton, 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail

Linda FentonLinda Fenton, 2013 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™  teaches 3rd grade at the Waupaca Learning Center.  Having used Iditarod in the classroom as a teaching tool for the past 11 years, Linda says  “I have kept the Iditarod as part of my curriculum because students use research skills, technology skills, math, science, reading, map skills, writing and drawing. Over the next year, I hope to reach as many teachers and students as possible through the Iditarod website and use of Skype. The Internet is a window to the world.”  Read Linda’s bio at this link.

For lesson ideas, scroll below or use the menu on the left side of the page!

Getting to Alaska For Summer Camp

I had my plane ticket, I had my clothes packed, I had my summer business squared away, and suddenly I didn’t have a bridge to get from Wisconsin to Duluth, Minnesota to catch my flight to Alaska for the Iditarod Summer Camp for Teachers.  It is now labeled as the “Worst Flood In Duluth’s History” and it has wreaked havoc among the people and zoo animals of this Lake Superior city.   The challenge for me was to try to catch the second leg of my flight in Minneapolis.  The cost – $271.  Yikes.  After a few phone calls, sweet Joanne from Iditarod Headquarters had me back in the air from Minneapolis at no additional cost.

I flew into Anchorage at 11:30 p.m. ADT on June 20 – the Summer Solstice.  To be in Alaska during the Solstice is, yet, another dream of mine come true.  Driving around the Wasilla/Palmer area on June 21 surrounded by mountains made the panic and heart palpitations of the previous day all worthwhile.

Bridge or no bridge, I made it to the beautiful state of Alaska, I experienced the Solstice, and I look forward to our Iditarod Summer Camp for Teachers!