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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Home News Local sled dog racer carves new trails with tours

Local sled dog racer carves new trails with tours

Local sled dog racer carves new trails with tours
Musher Aaron Campbell and his sled dogs make their way through the woodlands. -- Photo by Coralie Spratt/Coralie's Photography

After spending 28 years in the sport of sled dog racing, Aaron Campbell decided it was time for a change.

Campbell started working with sled dogs when he was 12, but when organizers shut down the 2021 racing season, he began looking for other ways to get out on the trail. He found it not long after when he opened Campbell’s Racing Sled Dog Tours near Melfort. The business in just weeks away from celebrating it’s one year anniversary.

“From idea to operating, I think we were within a two-week time frame,” Campbell remembers. “It was really, really short. For me personally, that was the biggest challenge.”

Campbell began taking bookings in February 2021, and within weeks they filled up a year’s worth of tours eagerly anticipating a ride on the sled. Visitors get to choose from three different types of tours—a 45-60 minute daylight dash geared towards adult, a 30-45 minute run parents with children, and a moonlight run that mimics the daylight dash, but is only available when there’s a full moon.

Campbell said they’ve started booking group tours too, with the goal of giving people a taste of the outdoor trapper life, of which sled dogs are just one part.

Maintaining a sled dog team is a group effort for the Campbell family. — photo by Coralie Spratt/Coralie’s Photography.

“For a lot of people, (riding a dog sled) has been on their bucket list,” Campbell explained. “As soon as the team takes off, there’s this sense of exhilaration or excitement. They’re surprised at how much power the team has with that take off.”

Mushing on dog sled tours a bit of a change for Campbell, who valued speed over sightseeing as a racer. However, it’s a change both he and his family have embraced.

Campbell’s youngest son is only six years old—a bit too young to help—but his other sons assist with everything from feeds and cleaning to hooking and unhooking the team. His wife helps out too, when she’s not busy working as a nurse in Melfort.

Campbell said it’s brought the family closer since the start of COVID, and given him a chance to earn a living doing something he loves.

“I didn’t train my kids, but they have a passion for the dogs, and they’ve really, just by watching me, picked up on the (process),” he explained. “Deep in their core, they’ve got that same bond with the dogs where they connect.

“It’s tough to get a kid to come off electronics, but if I have tours on Saturday, they’re up and out the door at 8:30 to help load all the dogs. They’re excited to go out there. They’re excited to spend the day with me.”

Campbell used to train by himself when he started as a dog sled racer. At the time, he felt guilty that he had the rush and exhilaration of riding a dog sled all to himself.

He wanted to share that feeling with others, which is a big part of why created the tour, but he still has that itch for racing. Now that the season has started up again, he plans on bringing his top team back to the dog sled circuit, but hopefully with some new fans thanks to the tour.

“Every time I take off (I think) it’s a privilege to be able to do what I’m doing,” he said. “To be able to be making a living with my passion has been a dream of mine since I got into sled dogs and all through high school.

“I never did dream of starting a tour business. I was always focused on racing. In this transition, I’ve actually really (found) I do enjoy (the tour business) a lot.”

Campbell plans to race on Feb. 12-13 at Moon Lake, and then again on Feb. 17-19 at The Pas, Man.

For more information about Campbell’s Racing Sled Dog Tours, visit www.campbellsracingsleddogs.com or their Facebook page.