When it comes to teamwork, it’s hard to beat sled-dogs – four to eight to 15 of them, harnessed together, all pulling in the same direction for the same goal. It’s a CEO’s dream. And it’s Kari Hunyadi’s passion.
Kari, of course, is the Challenge Course Manager and Lead Facilitator here at NorthStar Adventure but she is also an experienced and enthusiastic sled-dog trainer. Kari developed our environmental programs and facilitates our group programs and dog-mushing program.
A resident of Slatington, where she lives with her team of huskies Kari became interested in mushing while living in northern New York more than 10 years ago.
“I grew up with show dogs,” she says. “When I lived in New York, I didn’t ski so I got into the dog-sledding. I started the programs in northern New York for the County 4-H where I worked at the time. She later did a program for the Girl Scouts in Connecticut and when she moved here about a decade ago she put together the program we now use for Girl and Boy Scouts and other youth groups at NorthStar Adventure. She also does programs at other locations, such as schools, nursing homes and similar sites where she can introduce the dogs and give guests a chance to meet them and learn about them.
“Obviously where there is more snow there is more sledding, where the snow is less dog sledders do something called dryland mushing,” she tells guests during the programs. “I try to do a lot of hands-on with the kids but there are things I need them to know, first, such as the history of sledding, the breeds, the equipment and other things, such as how to greet a dog you don’t know.”
In addition Kari provides background on what the dogs eat while sledding and what mushers wear during events, the history of major events such as the Iditarod – the annual 1,200 mile long sled-dog race across Alaska that commemorates the sled dog culture in Alaska; what they typically pull today and the vocabulary used by mushers when working with the dogs.
“I don’t have a ‘canned’ presentation,” Kari says. “Each program is created for the particular group I’m working with. Sometimes it’s more on the breeds, sometimes we do more on the Iditarod. It depends on what they want.”
There are, however, several key points that she tries to impart to every group.
“I think it’s great that kids learn than not all dogs are the same and they shouldn’t put the dog in a situation where something bad can happen, either to themselves or the dog,” she says. “The other thing is that dogs with a job love to do it. When my dogs see the harness they go crazy because they love to do the mushing. We don’t treat mistreat the dogs and we don’t force them to do anything. This is something they really enjoy.”
Kari is also one of the Merit Badge Counselors for our Boy Scout programs and has Pennsylvania and Federal Clearances to work with youth.
Contact us today to learn more about the dog-mushing and other youth programs at NorthStar Adventure. Call 610-759-2270 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of last season, it was pretty clear that the Philadelphia Eagles had some work to do. Despite an enormous array of talent, they just could not deliver. This year doesn’t seem to be any better. Yes, injuries have hampered their efforts, but it’s pretty clear after their eighth loss – to a team that actually had a worse record coming in to the game — that these guys just don’t play well, together.
It’s been one of their problems for a few years now, to be honest. There just doesn’t seem to be any real teamwork.
As sportswriter Andy Benoit wrote in the July 25 issue of the New York Times when he was assessing last year’s collapse and looking forward to the 2012 season, “The real reason the Eagles underachieved was they never figured out how to properly piece their tremendous individual parts into a fine-turned machine.” Part of the problem may be that the Eagles built a team, but never developed it.
We work with several sports teams, mostly at the collegiate and high school level, and we know that team development is every bit as important as team building. You can have the best players in the sport, but if they don’t know how to work together, to communicate, to trust each other, they will not succeed.
A couple years ago we worked with the Lafayette College womens’ field hockey team and the results surprised evencoach Andrew Griffiths.
“Activities like (those at Northstar) challenged the team in a variety of ways,” Griffiths told us afterward. “It was really beneficial to see their problem-solving capabilities. Different leaders emerged from what we would have expected off the field, which was great to see.”
That’s a refrain we hear a lot – new and surprising leaders emerge during our team development activities. We have heard it from coaches and corporate leaders. We work with every team that comes to us, whether they are trying to win a championship or trying to build a business, in ways that encourage all employees and members to demonstrate the best of their abilities in a variety of ways that aren’t always obvious in the work-a-day world.
Griffiths’ goals when he brought his team to Northstar were to improve communications and increase trust among teammates. When that happens, a team gels. And when a team gels, games are won.
This year Griffiths’ team won the Patriot League championship and earned a first-ever at-large invitation to the NCAA championship playoffs. So what’s the difference between the field hockey players and the pro football team? Maybe it’s not how much they practice, maybe it’s how they practice.
“The incremental value of going out on the field one more time versus what you get here – there is nothing like it,” Griffiths said of the time spent in real team development. “Get out of your regular environment and change up the schedule.”