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California : 1A • June 15-June 28, 2016

Final update!

June 28, 2016

The final goodbyes have been said and everyone is off in the air right now. The drive to the airport this morning was filled with all the signature songs from the trip and some serious sadness. Although everyone was anxiously talking about their first meals at home or family they were excited to see, the Moondance family we all had to say goodbye to today was difficult.. The great news is we brought the trip home in style!

On Sunday we woke up ready for another day in the city! Luckily, we had another beautiful and cloudless day. Before boarding the ferry to Angel Island… Barrett, Louise, and Mae insisted on getting some adorable mini donuts from a stand close by. The group followed their lead and everyone was very interested in seeing the donuts being fried right in front of them. They were a good choice! On the ferry, Mallory spotted a baby seagull by itself (which is extremely rare), and was memzmorized by it for around half an hour.. She is a true pet lover! Chris and Will H. also spotted the first sea lion in the water which was super awesome. We walked about 2 miles around the island and toured through Camp Reynolds… The group also found “the perfect rock” to sit on with a view overlooking the beach and the Golden Gate Bridge. I would say the day started off strong! The ferry ride back was filled with conversations about the famous fast food chain.. In N Out. We tricked the group into thinking we were doing peanut butter and jelly tortillas (their new favorite food) and ended up surprising them with a trip to In N Out. Banks interestingly ordered 2 plain cheeseburgers but thoroughly enjoyed them. Mallory was the first to discover the In N Out paper hats they had and soon enough…. all the girls were rocking one!

Most of them also purchased a few t-shirts for their friends and themselves. Mallory asked me, “On a scale of 1 to 10 how much do I look like a tourist?”… which I found hilarious. After lunch, they wanted to do some shopping around the pier. Naturally.. the girls had their eyes on candy and clothing and the boys were adamant about the sports shop. Drew ended up with a raptors hat that he was super excited about, and it is being worn home today! Louise purchased some amazing socks with cats all over them, and Peyton bought 2 amazing pairs with her dog from home on them. The shopping came to an end with some delicious Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream and watching sea lions play on the docks. We even had a sea lion swim right by us.. I’m pretty sure all the girls were contemplating how they could bring one home with them. That night we had a dance party and cooked some good ol’ hotdogs… America! Chris taught everyone “the running man dance” and had us all hysterically laughing. What other undiscovered talents does the boy have?! Greyson practiced some stellar “leave no trace” skills as he finished off 3 leftover hotdogs. We had Moonup on the beach and once again had an amazing sunset to look at.

Yesterday, being our last day, we woke everyone up with a little contest. The first person to wake up got the first choice with breakfast. Layton and Chris were the winners! Layton was also our leader of the day for the last day and did an amazing job bringing the trip home. After breakfast, we went to a thrift store to buy funky clothes for that nights banquet. Will W. purchased some stylin’ red pants, Chris and Peyton (according to the rest of the group) looked like movie stars, Barrett was in full fuzzy pajamas, Banks looked like a confused business man, and the girls also purchased 5 inch heels… It was quite the scene! We put away the funky outfits for later, met our surfing guides, and hit the waves one last time. Drew dominated the waves (and cheered the whole way through it) … If he had a few more lessons he would be a border-line professional! Surfing was a highlight of the trip for most of the kids.. Thank you to our surfing guides! We headed back to camp to shower before our banquet dinner. The group enjoyed a sit-down dinner, and we were also lucky enough to have a worker sing us an awesome song…It had us all clapping. When we arrived back to camp…we presented awards that we made for everyone, roasted some marshmallows (for s’mores), and sat around the fire trying to forget about everyone’s departure.

We can’t believe these 14 days are already over. We will miss everyone dearly and hope they come back for round two next year!! Thanks for all the unforgettable laughter and memories!

-Addy, LK, and Reece

Fun on the American River!

June 26, 2016

Well… Rafting absolutely lived up to our expectations. On Tuesday, we woke up with a bang and started the banana chocolate-chip pancake making contest. Determined to out-cook the previous pancake chefs, Layton, Louise, and Banks took on the challenge. Layton somehow made the most delicious pancake of them all…even though it didn’t resemble a pancake in any way. We figured we would get them on a little sugar high before rafting (just kidding)! We met the incredible guides around 11 and loaded up the rafts. We had two rafts for our group, one named themselves “Stacy’s mom” and the other “Seven.” Parents- you will surely be filled in on these inside jokes when they come home! LK and Addy were on raft “Seven,” where Will W. and Drew sat in the front and took the waves on head first. Drew also would scream “To Narnia!!!!” every time we would approach a rapid. The guide (Garrett) ended up promising us that he would start calling a certain rapid “Narnia.” I think it’s safe to say we claimed our territory while rafting!

We stopped on the river for lunch and had an incredible sandwich spread. At the end of lunch, the guides organized a cookie challenge. They told everyone to get in a line, hold their hands out, and close their eyes. The guides placed a cookie with a spoonful of jelly on top of each one and told everyone to put the sticky cookie on their foreheads. The challenge was to see who could get the cookie from their forehead into their mouths the fastest. Layton took the win on this one! She ended up with jelly all over her face but was laughing hysterically. She also not only won the race but was the only one to successfully get the cookie in her mouth without dropping it. After lunch, everyone started jumping off a rock into a mini rapid. The current would swing them back onto the beach at the end of it, and they were LOVING it. Mae, Louise, and Layton jumped upwards of 5 times! The afternoon rafting picked up fast with class 3 rapids time after time (the highest class a rapid goes is 5). Greyson, Chris, and Will H. took home the swimming award. Whenever there was an opportunity to jump out of the raft, they took it. The day was also filled with some serious water fights between the rafts. Personal opinion… “Seven” won! Barrett has an incredible water splashing technique that “Seven” slightly resented at the time but it was impressive.

The guides had sodas waiting for the group at the end of the route, and the kids said it might have been the most refreshing soda they have ever had. We thought the day couldn’t get any better… and then it did. The guides cooked a 5 star meal consisting of pasta, chicken, steak, salad, and the most delicious (and warm) brownies! The brownies were devoured in a record 60 seconds (no joke). Louise and Mallory practiced a Moondance policy known as “leave no trace” as they licked the remaining crumbs of brownies from the plate. After dinner, another water battle broke out between the girls and the boys. Drew got soaked from head to toe and Peyton nicely offered her only towel to him. It was great expedition behavior (EB)! By the end of the day, rafting was an absolute highlight for all the kids.
We woke up the next morning with another delicious meal prepared by the outfitters. We were feeling pampered! The same raft groups were requested…so once again “Stacy’s mom” and “Seven” hit the American River. This day was filled with intense class 3 rapids. To say the least, it made things very exciting. The kids compared the scenery to being in Africa (specifically Will W. and Drew… Both have not been to Africa) because of the hills around us with tons of wildlife running around. It had everyone laughing. Mallory sat behind the boys in the raft and ended up being the perfect person to do so because whenever they weren’t paddling…she let them know! By the end of rafting, Peyton announced she was ready for the class 5’ers! We ate lunch with the guides, and loaded up the van to head back to Half Moon Bay. Almost everyone fell asleep at some point during the car ride but we learned of Chris’s talent with singing. You have to be close to him to hear but it’s worth hearing. When we started approaching the city, the van came alive! Mallory and I were looking out the window at a super nice car, and Drew started going crazy saying “Manny Pacquiao!!!” He was right… We were cruising next to a famous wrestler! Mallory and I are still taking credit for the spotting. We pulled into Half Moon Bay around 6, and it felt like we were back home… considering it was the same place we stayed the first night! The group set up tents like professionals, ate dinner, sat around the campfire, and made a camping version of a banana split.. Best banana split I’ve ever had!
To the city we went today! We ventured to Muir Woods first to see the incredible cedar woods. The group walked a two mile loop observing and admiring the national park. Thank you, John Muir! After, we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge blasting the groups new favorite song “Stacy’s mom” and posted up in a park (overlooking the bridge) to eat lunch. Nothing like looking over San Francisco with some sandwiches and nacho cheese Doritos! Next,  we walked the Golden Gate Bridge (about 3 miles over and back). On the walk back the group started a honking game, and the leaders joined right in. Will W. was particularly good at this game and was very enthusiastic after a car would honk… It was hilarious! We laughed the entire walk back. The group had the Golden Gate Bridge singing with honks. Hey, when in San Francisco, am I right?! We will be in touch with one last trip update (before the day that will be left unsaid arrives) Until next time!

Let The Fun Times Roll

June 23, 2016

Today we realized the sad reality that we are already half way through the trip…Our question is.. How?! The fun times have continued to roll these past few days. On Monday, we went on a day-hike close to our Yosemite campground and drove from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe. That morning the kids also had all their tents packed and ready to go without us even having to tell them. We were very proud leaders! The day hike was a 2 mile loop around a gorgeous lake. Mae and Will H. (as leaders of the day) led the group throughout the hike and did a great job setting the pace. Halfway through, we stopped to play some group games. The group games turned into solving riddles… Which can be quite the frustrating game. Chris told the group the “black magic” riddle and had everyone extremely confused. Barrett, however, was on a serious mission to crack this riddle. Reece told the next riddle known as, “the crescent moon society,” and this had the groups minds running in circles for about 45 minutes. Mallory was the first one to crack the riddle, and I was very impressed considering this riddle took me about an hour of thinking and ended in people basically telling me the answer. Banks quickly followed Mallory with solving the riddle… Once again, the silent warrior! For those of you who don’t know these riddles, I think it’s best untold… You might not sleep!

The drive into Lake Tahoe was breathtaking. It was hard to believe that it was a lake considering the size and the beauty of it! As we pulled into the campsite, the Rangers told us showers and firewood were available for purchase…instant happiness in the van! This was everyone’s first shower of the trip. Will H. and Greyson were the only ones who decided not to shower… They chose to tag along with Reece and I’s challenge to not shower all trip. Parents, we apologize…we promise they will shower once before they come home! Drew, claiming he enjoys 45 minute showers, couldn’t be any more excited about the 9 minute shower he took. We made some killer chicken fried rice for dinner and ended the night with some oreos, a camp fire, and moon-up. Peyton offered to clean dishes even though she wasn’t on cook crew. She is a joy to have on this trip..always offering a helping hand!

The group woke up ready to kayak, and we indulged on some oatmeal. Half the group claimed they hated oatmeal but by the end of the breakfast everyone discovered a new found love for the food… Amazing! Greyson, in particular, has expanded his taste buds in a huge way. He now loves oatmeal and most of the vegetables we’ve been cooking. We’re still working on the idea of trying peanut butter! We met our kayaking guides at 9:30, learned some paddling techniques, and loaded up the 2 person kayaks! Mae and Louise were in a kayak together and won the attitude award for the day. Considering they’re the two smallest people on the trip…it took them a tad longer to get where they wanted to go. This didn’t stop their attitude in the least.. They were hysterically laughing and making jokes the entire way! We kayaked to the beach for lunch and had an incredible picnic with a view. Will W. successfully ate 3 1/2 peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. Mae was the first to take a polar plunge off the dock into Lake Tahoe. Trust me, the crystal-clear water was freezing (even with the sun shinning)! Layton, Louise, and Peyton all followed her lead into the water. After some tired arms from kayaking, we decided to surprise the group with ice-cream! Will H. switched it up from his usual vanilla ice cream craving and ended up having chocolate smudged all around his lips for the rest of the night. Layton indulged in some sorbet, and everyone was memorized at how pretty and bright the different colors of her sorbet were. Back at camp..Mallory, Peyton, and Barrett offered to cook the pad-thai dinner last night.. They all stopped their intense 4-square game because “they really enjoyed the cooking.” That night we had an eno-hammock party outside. For the kids who wanted to sleep outside but didn’t have an eno, we let them use ours and Reece slept outside with them! LK and I woke them up with a good swing in the morning! What better way to wake up… Right? The group paddle-boarded all morning, and we even managed to play a group game on the boards. We also organized a race on the boards.. Chris took it away with the win! Mallory perfected her chaco (shoe) tan and we finished the morning off with some sandwiches, watermelon, and pickles! Louise was extra thankful for the pickles. After lunch we loaded up the van and started the drive to the Camp Lotus for the American river (rafting) portion of the trip. We made it here and everyone is anxiously awaiting the thrilling rapids we have in store for tomorrow… Along with the guides cooking us food! What a treat! I will report back with the many stories ahead of us!

Rockin' Time in Yosemite

June 20, 2016

Wow.. What a couple days we’ve had! The group just wrapped up an awesome two days of rock climbing. Will H. has officially been established as the “rock master” as he was the first one up and the last one down the rock each day. He was amazing!! We started day 1 off with a fun van ride, and Chris (being leader of the day) read us the quote “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”… which we all thought was a great thing to keep in mind considering the activity ahead. We started rock climbing around 9 and finished at 2… Will H., being the “rock master,” also did every course they had offered. Mae and Louise both conquered their fear of repelling and ended up doing the free-style repelling not once.. but twice! We had simple… but delicious sandwiches for lunch, and Peyton announced that “it might be the best sandwich I’ve ever had.” Drew was an amazing climber but also a huge team player. After he finished climbing he was down at the bottom coaching everyone else up the rock! We established Banks as the “silent warrior” of the trip because he can be a little quite but he never complains and somehow is a natural at every activity. By the end of the day, everyone climbed and was in high spirits. We were also super lucky to have Greg and Bill as our guides for the day. Everyone loved them and they even ended up popping in a few group games with us.

That evening we headed back to our campsite and the 4 square fun continued. Barrett’s passion for the game came alive as she told us about the intense 4-square battles they have at her school. Later, we sat around the campfire and indulged on some good ol’ s’mores. Reece taught us all how to make a perfectly roasted s’more after many failed attempts by the rest of us. We proposed the question “If you were to bathe in one food item what would it be?” Will H. had everyone hysterically laughing at the response “steaks…well done,” and Mae had everyone drooling over her response as “Chick-Fil-A chicken minis.” We also played a great game of mafia, and let’s just say it brought out the true lawyer in everyone. The night came to an end with a great moon-up (surrounding the fire) and watching the sunset go down. Yosemite is treating us well!

Today was day 2 of rock climbing, and Peyton and Will H. we’re the first ones to get things rolling on the rocks! Luckily, we were blessed with another California dreamin’ blue sky. Will W. and Louise were leaders of the day and nailed it! Will W. kept us laughing all day and also flew up the rock.  Louise encouraged all the other girls to keep climbing even when the group was getting a little tired. By the end of the day, Louise had gone up a majority of the ropes course. Drew came repelling down with his hands in da’ air… Fearless!  On our hike back down to the van, Barrett led the pack and had everyone on a fun excursion down the trail. We surprised the group with a little ice-cream from a local shop near our campground. They were super excited! Greyson excitedly ordered 3 scoops of his favorite flavor… good old vanilla ice cream! We just wrapped up dinner (fajitas) and the people on cook crew were Layton, Mallory, Will W., and Drew. They cooked an amazing meal, and Mallory took a huge initiative to cut all the peppers and onions. The girl is a natural chef! Tomorrow is our last day in the beautiful Yosemite… Our plan is to get one last hike in and head to Lake Tahoe to kayak/paddle-board. To say the least, were moon-dancin’ all around Cali and can’t wait for our next stops. The kids wanted to give some shout outs so we posted them below… Until next time!




Happy Father’s Day dad! Happy birthday Grave! Hope you guys had fun in San Francisco and tell AP I said hi. Having so much fun!


Will W-

Happy Father’s Day dad! Happy birthday Gunter. I miss you guys (actually y’all). I’m having fun. I made it to the top of the rock climb and I surfed. See you all (y’all) soon!



Happy Father’s Day… Just want you to know I’m thinking about you. Hope you have a good day with Mom and Baker. I love and miss all of y’all. I’m having tons of fun. I haven’t showered since I got here! See y’all soon.



Hey Mom, Dad, and my two annoying brothers. Miss y’all, but I’m having a great time here. Also, happy birthday Dad!



Hey Mom and Dad. Happy Father’s Day Dad! I’m having so much fun, and I’m making so many friends. Also, they call me Dave which I think is hilarious. Love and miss you guys!



Hi Mom and Dad and Addison! I just went rock climbing and it was fun. Happy Father’s Day! Love and miss y’all.



Hi Mom and Dad and Avery! I love and miss all of y’all… Especially Avery! I can’t wait to see you A! Happy Father’s Day Dad… See y’all soon!



Hey Mom and Dad! What are y’all up to? I haven’t had a chance to buy postcards yet. Happy Father’s Day Dad! Love you. See y’all soon. Kiss my kitties for me. I know they miss me!



Happy Father’s Day dad! So far we have been rock climbing, surfing, and hiking. They were all fun. I rock climbed to the top once, and I got really excited and then I fell. Okay bye.



Hey Mom and Dad and Tubbe! Happy birthday Dad and happy Father’s Day, I love you so much and mom I miss you! How’s Savannah and good luck on the Lusks party. I think I may have altitude sickness and threw up this morning, hope to feel better soon but can’t wait to see y’all! Having so much fun!



Hey Mom and Jimmy.. Happy Father’s Day. I’m having s fun time and have made friends with everybody. So far we have gone surfing, rock climbing, and hiking. See y’all soon.


Will H-

Happy Father’s Day. Miss you. I am the best climber.


California Dreamin'

June 18, 2016

Cali baby! I think all of us are highly considering moving to this beautiful place after the few days we’ve had. (Accompanied by some killer California weather) this group has managed to jump right into things. Here’s a little update on what’s been rockin’ on this trip.

After everyone arrived in San Francisco, we started heading straight towards Half Moon Bay. We (as leaders) made the executive decision that since we can’t see the Dixie Chicks on tour this summer, we will bring them with us on the road! So…we introduced the kids to some oldies but goodies on the trip, and we think they may come home with a new favorite artist. When we arrived at camp, Drew was an instant leader as he helped all the girls with their duffle bags. Later, Drew also was the first to start the long stretch of “thank yous” after eating some well-deserved comfort food… Pizza! Layton spear headed the idea of going for a swim into the freezing ocean at Half Moon Bay, and all the girls followed her lead. After, all of them were soaking in full cotton outfits but couldn’t stop laughing. Mallory actually said she “loved it and didn’t even care about not being able to shower.” Luckily, there was a shower-head for washing off and Barrett offered the great idea that all the girls take a communal rinse to save water and quarters. Meanwhile, the boys battled it with some 4 square. Before dinner, Will H. shared his insightful future plans about wanting to be a cow farmer and his plans to be a future businessman. Pizza for dinner was a crowd pleaser, and all of the kids dove into some cheese and pepperoni pizza as we gathered around the picnic tables. After a long day, we decided to wrap up by doing our nightly “moon-up” during sunset on the beach. What a killer way to wrap up the end of the day, right? It was obvious that a family was forming by the end of this conversation. We announced Layton and Drew as leaders of the day for Tuesday (aka yesterday).

Yesterday, we woke up bright and early to get the day going.. It was surfing day! Everyone couldn’t stop talking about this activity from the moment they arrived so they woke up with full smiles. Will H., Mae, and Greyson cooked an amazing breakfast… Scrambled eggs and vegetables that were right off the skillet. We left Half Moon Bay with full stomachs and gratitude for the hot breakfast we woke up to. We met the surfing outfitters at 9 a.m. and had a 3 hour surf lesson. The outfitters told us we had the perfect start up weather and I think they were right because everyone made it up on the board!! I was the go-pro captain for the first half of the morning and barley had the camera set up before I see Banks riding his first wave all the way in. He was a natural and he made it look easy… I, unfortunately found out the hard way that that was not the case! As the lesson went on, Mallory discovered her unborn (and impressive) talent with surfing. Chris was king of the smiles today and also caught some incredible waves during surfing. After, Chris helped everyone wash off their sandy wetsuits to give back to the outfitters. We ate some quick sandwiches and loaded up the van for the long car ride to Yosemite. The ride hardly seemed long at all because of how much fun we were all having. Louise demonstrated her karaoke talent as she sang the full lyrics to “Aaron’s party”… and for those of you who aren’t familiar with this song.. It’s a wordy one! Peyton and Reece continued the entertainment of the drive by debating over a type of tree for close to two hours. When we finally arrived in Yosemite, the tears came and the cameras were brought out. Everyone requested we pull over to the side of the road and touch the snow… So that’s exactly what we did! It was a great first taste of the beautiful Yosemite National Park. The day came to an end with some heartwarming macaroni and cheese and a cozy “moon-up” in the van. It was chilly outside! Even after the long day we had, Mae stepped up to get the meal going so we could eat before the sun went down. She was running back and forth from the water hose helping to get water.. What a day!

Today was “Friday Fun-day” so this called for pancakes for breakfast. According to Laura Katherine, Chris cooked her “the best chocolate chip pancake I’ve ever eaten.” After a fun morning of Dixie Chicks and pancakes, we packed up our day packs and hit the road to Saddleback Trail. We hiked around a breath taking (literally) lake and had crystal blue Cali skies while we were doing it. Overall, we hiked about 6 miles and the group did great. Greyson started a heated debate about Ice cream flavors. Will W. and I battled it out with a memory game on the trial for close to an hour, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the group was happy when it finally ended. He also had the whole group laughing at the quote “My Dad is allergic to wheat but he also says life would be depressing without it”… and (as leaders) we couldn’t agree more!  Mallory and Banks were leaders of the day and did an amazing job keeping the spirits high throughout the group. The hike wasn’t easy and we had a few cat naps on the way back to camp… but the hot chocolate party we had after made everything very rewarding. We wrapped up the night with Greyson becoming “king of 4-square” and eating some delicious tomato soup and grilled cheeses!

Tomorrow we venture out to rock climb and can’t hardly wait. We’ll be in touch!!