Mini Mushers at the Secret Forest Playschool

GREAT OUTDOORS: Ryan Redington Takes Preschoolers Mushing

DULUTH, Minn. — Dog sledding was widely used by those traveling from village to village along the north shore and later by mail carriers. One legendary mail carrier in particular, John Beargrease, is still recognized and honored here today.

With the Beargrease race just weeks away, in this weeks great outdoors Fox 21’s Brittney Merlot takes us mushing with a unique group of young Northlanders.

Revolving around the John Beargrease sled dog marathon as well as the Iditarod, these children at the Secret Forest Playschool in Duluth become actively involved in Team Redington as early as the summer months, making booties for the sled dogs.

“As the snow comes, the anticipation builds to the day when they get to be real mushers!” explained Meghan Morrow the Director and Head Teacher at Secret Forest Playschool.

The children that have mushed with this school before take the reins and become natural leaders. “You put your hands on this way” explained 4 year old Bode.

Helping build the excitement for the first timers, “Telling them how you stand on the runners and being a musher like Ryan Redington and how you harness the dogs and so the little ones, the new ones are definitely feeling the excitement but aren’t quite sure yet what it means.” said Morrow.

But once these youngsters got on the sled, you could just see them light up and boy are they are prepared! Each kid sporting their own handmade bibs and picking a sled dog to call their own on Redington’s Race Team, all of this building a special bond between child and pup.

“Do you want to know our dogs names? Ghost is mine!” said Bode. “She’s in the front!”

Melting your heart in the dead of winter, you can see it’s a part of something bigger.

“Just the sense of team. They feel ownership and responsibility with the dogs.” said Morrow.

Yelling commands to the dogs and really working with them hands on, holds a lot for these mini mushers.

“HAA means left, GEE means right.” yelled Bode.

“It’s an experience and opportunity that I hope bonds them with the natural world and encourages them to be outside and enjoy the weather that we get here.” said Morrow.

After all, the sled dog history and races are a part of living in Minnesota and the elements are a big part of our everyday life. This playschool gets them out in all sorts of bad weather, including the frigid cold days.

“It’s something that I hope playschool teaches the children to embrace. If we wait for the perfect weather, the perfect day, you’d get one or two a year. To really see them out here thriving in this environment is something that really brings me happiness!” explained Morrow.

Their motto, valuing trust, fresh air, experience and wholeness at Secret Forest Playschool – MUSH!

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