Klondike Derby Mushing

Working as a team to drive your Klondike sled

By Scouter Liam Morland, February 2002

Driving a Klondike sled is called mushing and requires the Scouts to work together as a coordinated team. This is one of the reasons why a derby is such a good Scouting activity.

At a Klondike Derby, one Scout out of the patrol is called the musher. This position should rotate among the Scouts during the day. The musher is the Scout at the back of the sled and usually helps to push. When travelling fast, it may work better for the musher to stand on a ski with one foot and push with the other. This is called kicking.

The rest of the Scouts are called the team. Each team has a harness (usually a loop of nylon webbing) which is attached to the sled by a rope. Each team should have their own rope, rather than branching a single rope to more than one harness. The musher is in charge of the team. The use the commands below to direct the team. To give a command to the entire team, they just say it. To give it to one person or a few people, they say the name of the person followed by the command.

Start moving.
Turn left ("Haw, like southpaw").
Turn right ("Gee, that's right").
Pronounced "jee".
Keep doing what you're doing.
Slow down, but keep moving. Don't let the rope go slack.
Pick it up
Go faster.
Gee over
Move to the right side of the trail.
Haw over
Move to the left side of the trail.
On By
Keep going straight, passing other teams.

It is important to remember that the musher is not the boss, but the leader of the team. The musher cannot just decide that they want to go fast and expect the team to do so. Rather, the patrol must decide together how fast they want to go, that is, what their objectives are. Once the decision is made, the musher is responsible for coordinating the team to carry out what they have all decided to do.

Since I haven't had time to write about these yet, think about: