a recap of our 2022 fall canine seminar
By, Jackie Vu
Ask any SAR canine handler and they will tell you that seminars are one of the most valuable experiences you can include in your training. They offer unique challenges, new perspectives, and an undeniable opportunity to network with fellow SAR volunteers. Alpha SAR’s latest Fall Seminar was no exception.
To start, this past November’s seminar boasted one of the most in-demand HRD classes ever hosted by Alpha SAR. Instructed by world renowned Craig Schultz, founder of K9 Behavior Consortium, this HRD class was the largest ever and yet sold out in just one day – the fastest in Alpha SAR’s 10 year history! Moreover, this seminar was the first year that Alpha SAR offered a fourth track to their typical three canine disciplines. This new track, Visual Mantracking, taught by professional mantracker Fernando Moriera, opened up SAR community participation beyond just canine handlers. It was an exciting addition and really spoke to the growth potential for this seminar to become a staple resource for regional SAR teams.
The seminar took place at Forest Glen Camp & Retreats in Huntsville TX, home to large cabins, winding trails, a serene lake, and vast wooded areas to accommodate a variety of SAR scenarios. No matter what discipline students enrolled in, each track provided back-to-back days filled with non-stop instruction from sunup to sun down. And after sundown, let’s not forget the all-to-memorable auction always held on Saturday night. The auction, supplied 100% by donations, is the primary fundraising event that enables Alpha SAR to put on this yearly seminar, and those participating do not disappoint! There were epic battles fought over the most unexpected items that fostered a sort of challenge for who would make the more ridiculous bid. And to balance out the comedic laughter were generous heartfelt moments that touched and reminded us all why SAR is a part of our hearts. Its always humbling to realize that everyone bidding already donates their time as a SAR volunteer, but they choose to donate more by financially supporting other SAR organizations. Afterwards, (and with a slightly lighter pocketbook) everyone wanders back to the cabins where old friends and new friends gather by the fire and share stories of SAR adventures.
By the time Sunday rolls around it’s time to pack up and go home. There’s a sense of fulfillment after a long weekend. Not all of it was easy. There is frustration from challenges and a tiredness that comes from growth. But just as prominent is also pride from persevering and excitement for the future. Regardless, everyone leaves with something to remember and this seminar was definitely one for the books.