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.