June 29, 2016
Aloha family and friends,
It is hard to believe that the trip has already come to an end. It feels like yesterday that we first saw all of their nervous and excited faces. It was not easy parting at the Kahului Airport, but knowing that it was “see you later” and not “goodbye” helped ease our teary eyes and tight hugging arms. We wish all of our students safe travels home.
When we last wrote to you all, our adventurers had wrapped up sea kayaking. The following day we dove into two awesome days of riding waves and hanging loose. Addy shined as the all-star surfer of the group. Jack, Lillian, and Baker were close behind with some stellar moves and big smiles. Everyone got creative, sometimes riding two or three to a board! Our wave masters were the Maui Beach Boys of Hawaii. Their knowledge of the water and excitement to teach pushed us all to success as we each got up on the board to ride those crazy waves! One of our students Elizabeth, unfortunately had to sit out of these two days because she was not feeling great. We were stoked though to have her finish out our last two days with her spectacular recovery and desire to spend more time with the group!
After riding some rad waves, we woke ourselves up for our last early morning water adventure and hopped on a ruby red boat to drive 5 miles off he coast Maui to the island of Molokini. Out in the deep sea we viewed the clearest waters of all the ocean and literally came face to face with thousands of fish. We were stunned! The creatures lacked fear, often swimming almost into our masks. As we swam we came upon a reef shark, moving close to the bottom of the 100 feet of water below us. While he was very far down, the clarity of the water made him seem as if he was only a few inches away from our pupils. After this expedition, we maneuvered to the other side of this small island where we came across two bottle nosed dolphin and one long, speckled eel. Caroline, Quinton, and Oliver were elected sun bathing champions as they rested on the inflated pontoons of our skiff. As they soaked in the sun they chatted about the chance of visiting Maui and the wonderful opportunities it had brought them. Quickly to join in, May and Sarah Grace dried off under the sun’s rays after enjoying the clear waters. As our students reflected on the crystal waters, they enjoyed sandwiches, pops, and puns provided by our guides. Sadly we had to turn in as our boat tour had ended. But we remained enthusiastic for our next activity with Griff the Maui guru!
We woke early again the next day to paddle board with Griff and his coworker Michelle. This relaxing journey was interrupted by water fights and efforts to knock each other off our boards. Kasey and Caroline did their best to stay dry but they were no match for the eager leader Zach! As we laughed and splashed in the waves we reflected on our trip thus far knowing that tomorrow would be our last day together. All of the students commented on how thankful they were to have gone on this trip, and for the friends they had made.
Sadly, we loaded up the van on our last day to roll to Piiholo Ranch to zip line in the gorgeous rainforest of Maui. The views were sensational and the guides were even more so. However, it had to end and we drove back to the Montessori School of Maui to load up the van and head to the airport.
We cannot express how thankful we are to you all for allowing these amazing kids to come on our trip. The inspiration and information that they taught us is indescribable. We hope each student gets home safely and back to all of your loving arms. While it was difficult to say goodbye, we appreciate all of our time with them and the opportunity to learn about each one.
We cannot thank you all enough.
Kienne, Zach, and Maddie
June 24, 2016
Aloha Family and Friends,
Hope you all are having a totally tubular time at home! Two days ago, your adventurers put on their helping hats to travel to Uncle Oliver’s Hawaiian farm for some community service. In order to get there we drove on a lengthy, narrow, one-lane road through traditional Hawaiian lands to reach Uncle’s gorgeous family property. His wife’s ancestors have occupied the lands and farmed taro for decades by hand. While there, we took on many tasks; we tilled muddy taro fields with our bare hands and feet, just as Uncle’s natives once did. Our ladies in particular were true pioneers of this muddy task. In particular, Lillian rapidly scooped heaps of mud into her little hands and plopped it on her head. Elizabeth, Kasey and Caroline were quick to follow and soon thereafter we were unable to decipher what was a camper and what was mud. The strongest of our group used their muscles to haul concrete weights to the upper fields of the valley that Uncle is no longer able to do for himself. Oliver and Quinton were encouraged by the challenge, hauling the weights a few hundred feet. In the end, they each reported that it was one of the better objectives they had completed. Taking time from his own tasks, Uncle taught us Moondancers how to be fully self sufficient by catching and moving the tilapia that he farms on his land from one small pond to another. The kids adapted quickly and truly made a difference on the property. We took time in between work and sun for mud fights in the taro fields followed by refreshing swims in the fresh water river rushing through the valley in which we worked. As leaders, we were left speechless by the care and effort as well as respect and tenacity each student displayed. We truly have a sensational group of future leaders.
The following day was our last with Amy and Diana, but these Hawaiian goddesses certainly left a bewildering impression, a desire to protect the lands we have been given and teach those that do not know the same. We hope to see those two in similar blue waters again one day. First we travelled to Makena Beach to learn proper ocean protocol when collecting data on the creatures that inhabit certain coral reefs. Specifically we were searching for Hawksbill Turtles. Two groups were formed and we spread out to swim in a line in hopes to find this majestic creature without disrupting the busy under waters of the sea. We saw many gnarly Green sea turtles, but alas not one Hawksbill was found. However, our spirits did not dwindle in response to the lack of Hawksbill turtles because as our snorkel came to an end we discovered a 5 foot reef shark! Our adventurers were unafraid, and took their GoPros closer to get a better look at this spooky fish. May, Baker, and Jack were the bravest of them all, diving deep in the water to take closer look at the mysterious animals burrowing under the coral.
The wind was our supportive companion as we set out into the early hours of the morning to learn how to wind surf. Quickly, all party members discovered that instructors make everything look seemingly flawless and found ourselves slipping into the water more than once. The group was split up into batches of 3 to comprehend the do’s & don’ts of windsurfing, while receiving one-one one tutorials by our knowledgeable water advisors. As several clouds passed and new waves appeared, us Moondancers looked like professionals. All of us managed to remain perpendicular to the board and soar through the winds like the mighty and fearless Poseidon. We showed off our skills by completing a number of wind surfing races and held a competition to see who could conduct the most graceful fall. The afternoon sun crept upon us all and we willingly said our goodbyes to the sails, boards, and outfitters in hopes of some very necessary hydration and shade. We were exhausted! Naturally, the entire group decided a few slices of pizza was the best call for lunch and we enjoyed those greasy carbohydrates with very ripe strawberries and cold grapes under the shaded protected area of the beach. With some food in our bellies to reenergize ourselves, we headed towards the hills to break in our shoes with a short hike.
The following day we awoke with a quick start, moving out of our campsite at Maui Prep and into the van for some bagels on the go. A little sleepy but anxious for the day’s activity, we winded our way back to the beach to meet Griff and his coworkers at Aloha Kayaks for an early morning paddle and snorkel. The waves were kind to us as we crept our way in tandem kayaks over the sunrise surf. Jack and Sarah Grace were quick to grasp the concept of team work and launched to the head of the pack! In the back, Caroline and Addy struggled to get their boat to head in the desired direction. However, their spirits did not dwindle and they turned their awkward methods into a splashing fiasco, choosing to see the comedy in conflict. Towards the end, our adventurers hopped out of their kayaks for a brief snorkel in the ocean. Unfortunately, the waves from the surf beat us to the spot and churned the sand below clouding our view of the ocean floor below. While we were unable to see all that we had hoped, a friendly sea turtle came up close for air near us making for some excellent photo ops! We returned to our new camp site for the evening and quickly set up our tents. With worn out eyes we ate lunch and settled in for a relaxing afternoon at camp, knowing that tomorrow would be a huge day. We went to sleep with a carbo-loading dinner of southwest mac ‘n cheese, knowing that we would wake early the next day to see the sunrise at the Haleakala Volcano crater!
We lifted our sleepy heads and forced our bodies from their cozy cocoon beds at 3:15am for a rigorous day. Today was the day we had been preparing for – Haleakala Crater. Our group of Moondancers strapped on their boots as a group of unstoppable, fearless, and determined mountaineers. We charged our bodies with sugary cinnamon rolls and various cereals before loading up the van for an hour and a half drive to Haleakala National Park. Assorted musicians helped mentally prepare us all during the drive as we watched the sun slowly rise before us. In awe, we witnessed the sky be painted with the yellows, reds, and oranges of the sun and the truest blues of the morning sky. Magical does not even describe this view. With pep in our step, all van riders quickly made way to the bathroom after a long hydrating drive and reunited shortly after for a group stretching circle. Peter and Griff, our Haleakala hiking masters, discussed the trails, safety, and importance of the crater before we said goodbye to the front country and entered the bowl of the volcano. The beautiful 11.5 mile hike took us through various different types of terrain created by the early eruption and the aftermath that occurred in this now dormant volcano. Taking respectable water and snack breaks, we swept through the majority of the hike (roughly 8 miles) before stopping for a delicious lunch. We packed with us peanut butter, Nutella, and jelly tortilla sandwiches and indulged in them while viewing the majestic expanses surrounding us. Refueled and ready to rock the rest of the way, we marched forward towards our last three miles, uphill switchbacks (eek!). Undaunted by the challenge ahead, we advanced skywards. Halfway through, we stopped our students and asked them to space themselves out to have a reflection hike. They took on the task beautifully, reporting in the end that their thinking time was one of their favorite parts of the hike. We rejoined our group to finish the last mile together, encouraging each other as we went. Haleakala is a demanding hike; however, our kids meant business and did not give up or even think about turning around. We wanted gold and gold we got!! Our appreciation for this incredible group is tremendous and we cannot wait to see what our next few days have in store!
Maddie, Zach, and Kienne
June 19, 2016
Aloha Family and Friends,
Wishing you all the same sandy beaches and warm smiles that we are so lucky to be having in Maui, Hawaii. After a very sleepy arrival from all 11 kiddos, we managed to munch on some amazing local pizza and preform our first Moonup. With many closing eyes in sight, we quickly introduced ourselves, talked about the following day, and said our good nights. The smell of bacon, egg, and cheese croissants brighten the spirits of our tired troopers and we packed up our tents and duffles in response to movie from Montessori School to Maui Prep. Griff, our island guru, gave a very entertaining history lesson of Hawaii using chalk and everyone’s water bottles. We learned that there are in fact, 133 islands and respect is key to living a sustainable, safe, and peaceful life for all. After each receiving our snorkel gear, Griff showed us how to properly wear our goggles and fins and we felt ready for an adventure!
It was time for lunch, after we splashed around at Nonohe’s sandy beach. A few eager Moondancers got out their snorkels to break in the new gear while, others decided to bask like lizards on the beach and watch the waves roll in. Everyone was having fun and mesmerized by the beauty of Maui. After some tasty sandwiches and a tasty bag of chips we climbed back into van and travelled to our new home, Maui Prep.
Upon our arrival, the kids were the first to reach for their tents and let some bathing suits dry. We gathered around the shaded picnic tables and preceded to talk about service, how we as people have a responsibility to respect and care for others, hydration, sunscreen, positive attitudes, etc. The group was starting to mesh even more and as leaders, we knew we had such a special group of kids on our hands. A competitive game of kickball took place on our sleeping grounds as each person showed off some secrecy athletic skill they had stashed away. More games and laughs were shared as we slurped down some spaghetti and cleaned our cook gear in a light Hawaiian shower before Moonup. The day ended again with positive vibes and droopy eyes.
Our third morning began with a sensational sunrise of the brightest yellows, oranges, and reds. Having felt like we had slept for centuries, we drove our hungry bellies to D.T. Flemings to meet Diana and Amy, our Hawaii Wildlife Fund rock stars. We indulged in some killer bacon, egg, and cheese English muffins and crunchy, scrumptious purple grapes. With full tummies and plenty of sunscreen we discussed the four necessities for every living creature: food, water, shelter, and habitat. We played one of our favorite trust games, using each others legs as benches, if we participated equally we could sit together In a balanced circle symbolizing a flourishing ecosystem. After filling our brains with knowledge of marine life and conservation, we maneuvered into our snorkel gear and hit the water of Kanaha Beach. Within in moments of our eyes dipping into the water, we encountered our first turtle through a colorful medley of coral! While schools of fish were traveling through our flippers, Amy and Diana guided our awestruck eyes to the state fish, wild sea urchins, and a spotted moray eel! By far the most clever creature we encountered was an octopus. This purple elusive critter came in and out of view, camouflaging into the coral it called home.
Popping out of the water, knowing we would return, we hit the showers to rinse off the salt in our hair and GoPros. We then jumped in the van to travel to a local beach spot to make a delicious picnic of sandwiches in the warm sand. Uncle Oliver, a traditional Hawaiian, joined us to speak about the importance of his land and conserving the spirit of the Hawaiian people. He has graciously invited us into his home to perform a service and repair his taro fields that were recently ravaged by wild boar. Tomorrow, we will visit his land to work alongside his family. Stay tuned for more exciting adventures to come from our Maui Moondance Adventurers!!
Maddie, Kienne, and Zach
Happy Birthday, Dad!! Love, Caroline
Hey fam, Pookie, and Hayes! I hope you have fun at camp. Dad, I hope the Warriors game was fun! Love you mom! Love, Baker
Hey Mom and Dad, I am having a blast in Maui! Love, Kasey
Hi Mom, Dad, Suzie, and Henry, I’m having so much fun! Love, May
Hey Mom, Dad, Jack, Ebby, and Flora! Having tons of fun! Love, Adelaide
Hi Mom, Dad, Wilson, and Virginia! I’m having so much fun! Love, Sarah Grace
Hey Mom, Dad, Reid, and Mabel, Maui is so gorgeous! Love ya! Stay safe. xoxo, Lillian
Hey Mom and Dad, I miss you. I’m having so much fun. Love y’all, Elizabeth
Hey guys, hope the house isn’t too quiet without me. Still dancing and goofing off out here in Maui! Love, Jack
Hi Mom and Dad, I’m having so much fun in Maui! Happy Father’s Day, dad! Love, Quinton
Hey family! I’m having a great time in Maui! Happy Father’s Day! Love, Oliver