A few years ago, J suggested he take me to a Bootcamp organized by the Northern Vic Sled Dog Club, at the beginning of my first season sledding. I'd attended most of his races the year before, including handling his six dog team in SA and at the snow. I was a little puzzled - why did I need to go to a Bootcamp, couldn't J just tell me what I needed to know? He said I'd get heaps out of it. Ok. We went, and it was awesome.
Jump forward a couple of years and we're on NVSDC committee, organizing the same Bootcamp. It was still awesome, but wow, so much work. I guess even if you know there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes, it's different when you actually experience it. Fortunately, we have a great committee, all hard workers, and lots of support from the rest of the club.
Things I thought were great:
- the weather - warm during the day, cool enough to run dogs in the evening and morning, brilliant!
- the depth of knowledge of the speakers running the workshops - we estimated in the car on the way home that the committee and guest speakers have over 150 years of sledding experience in total, and that was evident in the talks and discussion being given.
- the food - we were lucky to get Pancake Pete to do our dinner on Saturday evening and breakfast on Sunday, and it was awesome. Cooking in the bush with no kitchen facilities, on a limited budget is a big challenge, but the result was incredible.
- seeing the excitement on the faces of the newbies who got up very early to run a 1 dog race. This was also a good chance for the club to check out gear we hadn't looked at for many months, to make sure we knew what we had to prepare for the Classic in June.
Things I'd like to do differently next time:
- adjust the workshops to match audience needs better. It's a big challenge to present a program that meets the needs of newbies, folks with a couple of years' experience and old hands. As a result of this, the presentations ended up being very, very long.
- not be sick!!!! I spent the whole weekend rasping at everyone with almost no voice at all.
- try to find a balance with club work and looking after our own stuff. A sledding weekend is often, arrive, relax, do nothing, do nothing, do nothing, and then bam, go go go! Making sure that our dogs get enough time outside, but get put away when things are stressful - like when the start clock is beeping, but they're not running - have water, get fed, get walked, get ready for their race... Well, that was hard enough when J started being Track Marshall for some SHCV races a couple of years ago. Now we're adding a small child, his meal and nap routine, and both of us having committee work to do. Part of our solution was our playpen - a space where the Wee Monster can play safely - he was pretty happy to be there, as long as one of us was in view. We've asked some amazing family members to help us out for the Classic, because it's just too hard otherwise.
I'm also looking forward to getting back out there and getting to race myself!