July 28, 2016
As we write this last trip update, our 12 beloved campers are on planes back to their homes on the mainland. Without a doubt, this summer has been one of the most rewarding experiences Katie, Alfred, and Noni have ever had. We saw a strong passion for life in each of our campers this summer and we could not be more proud of them. As a group, we helped each other be patient, aware, dedicated, empathetic, and confident. All 12 campers grew so much during this trip and filled our hearts with joy. To the parents, we cannot thank you enough for sending your children on this incredible journey with us. Because of your kid’s thoughtfulness and excitement, our Moonup circles were a source of encouragement, reflection, and growth, while our day-to-day activities were bustling with adventurous spirits.
Though the last section of the trip was a bit different than normal considering our 3-night stay in the local Marriott, the group made a strong effort to hold onto the Moondance ethic of strong community and group development. Our SCUBA journey was so much fun for all 15 of us. On the first two days of SCUBA, the campers completed their skills and training in the pool at the local diving locker. It was hard for the leaders not to be able to participate and interact with the kids during their pool training, but we heard plenty of funny stories from their time in the pool. Sounds like they had a blast! Everyone agreed that Jack and Parker were a great source of entertainment during the pool training. Especially during one of the more serious skills (Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent, haha), the two of them were making everyone underwater crack up. Even the pool training was enough to convince the campers that SCUBA was an awesome activity. At Moonup after the first day in the pool, Jackson confidently said that his “rose” of the day was finding a new passion in life (SCUBA!). The first ocean dives were from the shore right next to our hotel. We spent 2 days doing shore dives and saw some beautiful marine life such as coral, eels, Manta ray, a sea turtle, and the famous Humuhumunukunukuapua’a!
During the shore dives, each group of divers swam with the diving instructors and completed the training until the second afternoon, when everyone became officially SCUBA certified. Shoutout to Haley for challenging herself and obtaining her Advanced certification!
Her underwater videography skills are impressive, to say the least. After our second day of shore dives, we cooked dinner on the deck by the pool at the diving locker. Thank you to Jensen, Lindsey, and Holland for making delicious pasta for the group as everyone else played cards and hid in the shade from the hot sun.
That night as a Leader of the Day, Isabel prompted the group with a great question for the end of Moonup…. What has been your biggest accomplishment this summer? It was great for us to have some reflection time before we dove (no pun intended) into our last full day together. On our last day, we woke up early and got things moving quickly thanks to Marie’s precise timing and help moving people along. We met at the harbor and completed two beautiful dives from the boat. George and Eve rocked the Miley Cyrus space bunz along with their full SCUBA gear. It’s the small things that make the difference :). We saw amazing fish and had a blast free swimming in the ocean one last time before heading back to the hotel. Back at the hotel before bed, we had a hilarious time playing sardines throughout the maze of the hotel lobby. Olivia’s combination of exhaustion and giddiness was entertaining for all of the girls in our last hours before departure day. On departure day, we had a great time cleaning gear, playing games, and grilling out on the beach before driving everyone to the airport.
It was so hard to say goodbye. A few tears and a few hundred hugs later, we are separated once more. Though we live in different cities and go to different schools, Katie, Alfred, and I are confident that the 12 campers will be with us going forward.
Thank you again to the parents for giving your kids this amazing opportunity – I will never forget the joy I experienced with your kids for those 3 weeks in Hawaii. Stay in touch, don’t be a stranger, and keep in touch with your adventurous spirit!! There’s so much more to explore.
Hope to see you sooner rather than later.
Noni, Alfred, and Katie
July 24, 2016
Due to recent changes in our sleeping quarters, we figured we should give you a quick update from our past few days. There was a small tropical storm coming past the Big Island, so most state beach parks have closed down for the weekend. I know Hayes emailed you all to let you know we opted to stay indoors and not in our tents- just to be safe! Most campsites on the island are closed, so we were all thankful for a dry, safe place to sleep while we worked away at our SCUBA certifications.
Despite the tropical storm breezing through, we’ve seen nothing but clear, blue skies and cheery faces all week. We completed all training in the pool and have now completed 4 full ocean dives! Unfortunately the group was unable to do a boat dive yesterday because of possible storms but the diving instructors were nice enough to lead 2 more shore dives for us. Everyone became officially SCUBA certified yesterday afternoon! A huge congrats to all these new divers! The weather is still holding up today and we are looking forward to a boat dive to sum up an incredible 3-week journey. Fingers crossed we see some sea turtles, dolphins, or maybe even a Tiger shark! We’ll send a more thorough update tomorrow evening as the kids board the plane home – thanks to everyone for their patience during the change of plans! More to come soon…. Now we’re off to explore the coral reefs!
George- Thanks for influencing me so much to go on this trip. It’s been so fun!
Marie- Thank you for sending me on this trip and joining me in LA tomorrow! I had so much fun on this amazing trip – see you soon! I got my SCUBA certification and I can’t wait to go diving with you.
Eve- Thank you for sending me on this awesome trip!! I’m already planning my Moondance trip for next year. 🙂
Lindsey- Hi! Miss you all can’t wait to see you tomorrow! I had a great time in Hawaii!!
Olivia- Can’t wait to hear more stupid dad jokes! Love you all, thank you for sending me on this trip!
Parker- Thank you for sending me on this trip I had so much fun!!
Holland- Thank you for giving me this awesome opportunity. You guys are the best. I miss Bean and Saint and I can’t wait to see all of you!
Haley- Shoutout to Mom, Dad, and Hawk! Thank you for sending me on this trip. Miss you and see you soon!
Isabel- Shoutout to Mom, Dad and Anna!! Can’t wait to see you tomorrow- don’t forget to pick me up!
Jackson- Had a great time in Hawaii!! We did some great things and I’m excited to come back.
Jensen- Had a great time in Hawaii! Looking forward to some good food at home!
Jack- Can’t wait to see y’all! Pizza sure would be nice when I get back….
July 20, 2016
Hello from The Big Island in Hawaii! We are having such a fun time on this island and we can’t believe we only have five full days left together.
After a long travel day and drive along the shore with ample amounts of jam sessions to Hilary Duff and One Direction (turns out Jackson appreciates that music, too), we finally arrived at our new campsite in Volcanoes National Park. The next morning, we packed our lunches and spent the day in the park. We hiked about 5 miles and loved getting to see the craters, lava tubes, and beautiful rainforest. Both Holland and Eve were great Leaders of the Day on the hike; Holland confidently lead the hike while Eve stayed positive and easy going despite a hurting foot. Our last days of community service were so rewarding. We worked with a non-profit called Project Hawaii. Project Hawaii has been working hard for years to help homeless children get the help and support they need to stay in school, stay healthy, and get out of the cycle of poverty. Our group helped fundraise for Project Hawaii’s summer camps and back to school programs. George and Haley were especially dedicated to the task – their enthusiasm was contagious and really effective! We’re still waiting to hear the total amount of money we raised but we’re sure our hard work made a big difference in the community!
Our campsite at Volcanoes National Park was a big perk in the past few days. The huge eucalyptus trees, breezy evenings, and red sky from the glow of the lava made for a wonderful atmosphere when we returned from a hard days work in town. Lindsey made it that much better with her incredible red chicken curry dish for dinner one of the nights! On our last night in the park, we drove into the park and had Moonup under the full moon at the edge of the volcano’s crater. Before the next day’s activities, Alfred spontaneously decided to take the boys on a hiking adventure through the wee hours of the morning until breakfast time. Cheers to Jack for being so eager for the hike that he only wore a t-shirt and shorts, and cheers to Jensen for being so eager that he drank his energy drink a good 6 hours before the hike and also forgot to bring snacks for the journey. Forgetfulness aside, the boys had an incredible time exploring the park as the sun rose over the mountain. The next day, the leaders surprised the group with a trip to Pololu Valley for lunch on a black sand beach and a hike up the mountainside. Marie and Parker helped the group stay encouraged with their own excitement for and appreciation of the black sand and the journey up the mountain. After the hike, we drove to Spencer Beach Park and set up camp along the ocean and took our first showers in four days! A big thank you goes out to Olivia and Isabel for continuing to always lend a helping hand as the group set up tents and started dinner as the sun went down. We are all happy to be clean and are looking forward to pesto pasta before hitting the hay! We start our SCUBA adventure in the morning and could not be more excited. More to come soon!
July 15, 2016
We’ve had a great time together since our first update!
On Day 5, we had an awesome time at the high ropes course. Holland and Marie quickly conquered their fear of heights as the group supported and encouraged each other. After several challenging tasks, we felt a lot more connected as a group and confident about the days ahead! In the afternoon, we explored a popular snorkeling spot at a nearby beach. On the first day of kayaking, we paddled 5 miles on the Wailua River and hiked to a waterfall for lunch. At the waterfall, George and Jensen were eager to swim under the falls and dunk their heads under the pummeling water. After the kayak ride, we decorated the campsite for our fiesta dinner to celebrate Parker’s 16th birthday! The next day, we got up early to begin our 17-mile kayaking adventure on the Na Pali Coast. Everyone did such a great job despite the journey being very physically demanding. Jackson proved himself to be a great leader because of his laughter and optimism despite having to endure motion sickness from the rocky waves. Shout out to Eve and Haley for being our fearless jumpers in the sea caves along the way! The coastline was awe-inspiring to say the least and it could not have been a more rewarding experience. Yesterday we volunteered with Waipa in the morning and afternoon. We owe a big thank you to Isabel and Lindsey for working hard harvesting taro and weeding the kale garden with great attitudes, too! Though morale was a bit low during lunch time due to sleepiness from the previous day, we had a pep talk that encouraged us to push through to the end of the work day. In the afternoon, all three leaders were impressed by everyone’s cheery spirits and vigor out in the fields! This morning we woke up at 5am to help Waipa prepare taro for their famous poi day. Poi, a paste-like food made from the taro plant, is a staple food in Hawaiian culture and has significant symbolic importance within Hawaiian history and tradition. We worked hard as a group through the morning and feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to play a part in such a significant tradition. After work in the morning, we took advantage of some free time in the afternoon to play games and reflect on our trip thus far. While Jack enjoyed his French-braided locks and Hawaiian shirt in his hammock by the beach, Olivia initiated conversation and games with the group before dinner. This afternoon was the perfect opportunity to soak up our last rays before leaving Kauai! I can’t believe it’s already time for us to pack up for our next chapter on the Big Island!
We are sad to leave this beautiful town but we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us! More to come soon 🙂
July 10, 2016
I can’t believe it’s already time to write our first update! Our first three days together have flown by. We are having such a fun time laughing, serving, eating, and playing under the sun. When we picked everyone up from the airport on our first night together, Isabel and Olivia were quick to entertain the group in the airport with their outgoing and goofy personalities. We jammed out to music and ate pizza and cookies during our drive to our beachside campsite. On the first day, we volunteered across the street with the Waipa Foundation. Waipa is an integral part of its community, as it offers programs for kids and adults alike to educate the public about the importance of restoring natural habitats in the area and increasing local food production. In the morning, we listened to Waipa staff discuss their role in the community and the importance of our service. We removed invasive plant species at their stream restoration site and cleared trees and bushes from a shady, beachside site in the afternoon. Jackson, Eve, and Parker worked tirelessly until the last branch and root was gathered from the site. That evening, Holland, Jack, and Lindsey made us some incredible quesadillas before a great Moonup on the beach.
Yesterday, we woke up early for our first surfing lesson in Hanalei Bay. We were impressed by everyone’s enthusiasm and confidence. Haley and George are definitely naturals on the water! In the afternoon, we had a blast on the outrigger canoes. Jensen proved himself as the only male on our canoe able to keep rhythm as we attempted to stroke in unison. We paddled across the bay, jumped off the pier, and returned with a jaw-dropping view of the mountains above us. Before dinner, we relaxed and reflected in our hammocks among the branches hanging over the sand. This morning we enjoyed our last surfing lesson and experimented with a few tricks before calling it quits. Before community service with Waipa in the afternoon, the leaders of the day, Marie and Isabel, lead us to a beautiful local swimming hole where we ate our lunches on volcanic rocks near crystal blue waves. This afternoon, we helped weed in Waipa’s kale garden and were given kale in appreciation for our hard work! As I write this update, Olivia, George, and Hayley are preparing pesto pasta and kale salad for our dinner. We’re looking forward to Moonup and the high ropes course in the morning! Holland wants her parents to know she’s sorry she forgot to call them in the airport and that she’s having a great time! Lastly, George just wants to say I love you to his sweet mama. More updates from Hawaii coming soon!