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Mountains to Sea : 2 • July 2-July 15, 2016

The Last Hooray!

July 16, 2016

After arriving to Andrew Jackson campground, cook crew whipped up some great homemade spaghetti that was enjoyed by all. Vincent loved being in cook crew! A field was near the campsite that the entire group played football in. After dinner we all cleaned our things and sat down for an awesome Moonup. The question was asked “Who are your biggest influences in life?” This question struck everyone and some great answers came out.


The next morning we woke up to get to US Whitewater Center and everyone was so excited! As we arrived we chose to start our day of activities on the ropes course, Jack and Kai were pumped about getting strapped into their harnesses. Water was key today since it was so hot but everyone planned accordingly, special thanks to Sister for sharing her sunscreen. Vincent was an animal on the zip line going down at least 5 times! As we rapped up our time at the Whitewater Center we made our way to get some errands done. First stop was the thrift store where everyone prepared to get a whacky outfit for our last night banquet dinner! Man what a fashion show it was. Next we cleaned out the van and all the kids did a great job, special thanks to Bridget, Cooper and Sim who washed all the pots and pans. After showering and some awesome group pictures we made it to Gus’ pizza where we enjoyed some amazing pizza and French fries. Gabby and Ava decided to wear pajamas to dinner which definitely got some looks! When we returned to camp we prepared for our final Moonup. It was expressed to everyone how sentimental this was being the last day of the trip. Stories were told, laughs were loud, and a trip was finished. These special two weeks were some that none of us that will never forget. Life is about the places you go but more importantly the people you go with. Living in the moment truly.

The 4th went out with a bang!

July 8, 2016

The fourth went out with a bang! Cook crew took the traditional route with our patriotic meal of burgers, hot dogs and homemade fries. Cooper certainly learned how to not season food which gave us all a good laugh when he dumped out half the container of seasoning on the fries. The night was summed up with a fun question asked by the leader of the day, Bridget. The question was: “what is the one thing you would bring to a desert island?” We all answered with interesting perspectives of creativity then enjoyed a beautiful night of sleeping under the stars.

The next day we all packed our back packs and went head strong into the backcountry during a complete downpour. Everyone’s spirits were up as they “raced” down the mountain. Vincent proudly kept the slow pace in the back. We approached the ridge after tackling the slippery rocks and roots with our packs to find a stunning rainbow amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains. A very rewarding view to say the least as we learned how to purify creek water. Soaking up the view close to our campsite made us all appreciate our surroundings and accomplishing the first part of back packing together.

That night we all enjoyed a delicious dish of Mac and cheese with chicken and vegetables made by Vincent, Gabby and Bridget. Leaders of the day, Vincent and Gabby, then asked what’s the happiest we’ve ever been in our life. This definitely ended our day on a positive note that everyone was grateful for.

The following day we summit Mount Mitchell! The group was relieved to leave their packs at the camp and tackle the mountain to get lunch. They did it in about an hour and twenty minutes with Kai leading the troop. Ava kept up the back and made sure all of us stayed hydrated.

The group sped down the mountain with Sim as the leader back to camp for an intense game of capture the flag. Lee, Sam and I sat back and took in the great debate of the game. Vincent decided to make a “documentary” of the capture the flag debate… Jack was leading the debate over the boundaries while trying to send Kai to jail. Sister took a break from the game to join Vincent with his filming to add cool effects to the documentary.

Finally the leaders took charge to end the game and enjoy our last backcountry dinner. We then had Moonup under our tarp shelter in an exciting thunder storm. The question being “how is nature going to affect your personal life?” This had us all reflect on what we can bring back home with us after this trip. We all agreed that we know how to make the most of our resources and enjoy each day to the fullest, rain or shine.

Finishing our last day of backpacking, Jack led the group to the top with our heavy packs on our back and setting a steady pace. Once we reached the summit and got back in the van everyone cheered as we pulled up to a surprise celebratory lunch at Zaxbys! The rest of the day was filled with games at our new campsite. Homemade pizza tortillas was a hit for dinner. Once again we then had Moonup in the rain with the question of “what is your fear on this trip and how will you conquer it?” A majority of the group was afraid of the next activity which is rock climbing. After today it’s safe to say everyone bravely faced their fear. Each kid conquered the 100 foot rock climb and now we are on our way to cool off at sliding rock!

Shout outs:

Jack: shout out to my parents for sending me on this awesome trip and hope you’re having a good time chomey and ched.

Kai: thanks to my parents for sending me to this awesome camp. Say hi to my brothers for me!

Vincent: I have to thank my parents because they sacrificed lots of their money to give me one of the best summers ever. P.s. Say hi to grace for me

Sim: thank you so much for sending me to this camp. I am having so much fun. I miss you guys

Cooper: shoutout to my brothers for taking care of Murphy while I am away!

Sister: thanks for sending me to Moondance this summer! I’m having so much fun trying new things and meeting new people. I miss you guys!

Gabby: thanks to my parents for sending me to a great camp. Love and miss you guys. Tell Sophia I said hi!

Bridget: shoutout to my parents for being awesome and my sisters for being awesome.

Ava: hey family, it’s Ava and I’m having so much fun. I’ve learned lots of skills and am living in the moment. “Waterfall” aka having fun. Say hi to sunny for me.

Welcome to North Carolina!

July 5, 2016

Welcome all Moondancers!

July has finally come around and Mountains to Sea is underway and we all could not be more excited. All of the preparation and wait is over as we all finally got to come together as a family and begin our incredible adventure. After an early arrival at the Charlotte airport for the leaders to make sure everything was squared away for arrivals, the kids started rolling in. We sat in baggage claim as each student arrived and were introduced to the group with expectations of great new beginnings. It’s an amazing thing to meet someone that you know you are about to get to know very well and spend a lot of time with for the next couple of weeks. Sharing experiences to create relationships, all while living in the moment.

Charlotte baggage claim said goodbye to a hectic scene of hellos, games, and new friendships as we gathered our things and piled into our 15 passenger van. Since everyone arrived around the end of lunchtime some INCREDIBLE peanut butter and jellies were made in the van to hold everyone over on our long drive to the Ocoee river. This long car ride was a sight to see as all of these students, brought from all over the country and placed in close quarters, found that a great means of entertainment was conversation with new friends. Jack had a huge first presence and made everyone feel very comfortable with his humor. After picking up some delicious local pizza for a comforting first meal, we all settled into our campsite along the banks of the Ocoee. The kids all talked about how excited they were to begin the trip with such an exhilarating activity. Leaders and kids growing closer and closer, it was time to teach some lessons, learn principles, and speak on ideals that Moondance is focused around. Tent set up was a huge success as the kids caught on very quickly, with the girls having a slight advantage! After getting camp squared away for the first time and everyone becoming comfortable, it was time for the leaders to start mentioning all the lessons that were going to be taught over the next two weeks. Talking about certain things such as Expedition Behavior, Leave No Trace, and Unplugging, leaders Julia, Lee, and Sam laid down the foundation this awesome trip would begin upon. Our first night coming to a close, we all sat in a circle with glow lights around our necks (thanks to Gabriella) and began our first Moonup! Moonup being a time of reflection, serious coming together, and a foster of incredible relationships, the 45 minute every night activity’s importance was emphasized to the kids. The question for the night was delivered as “What are you looking to gain from coming on Moondance?” Answers of friendship, confidence, and adventurous perspectives all came up in a great group conversation.

The Leaders of the Day for the first day were chosen by the leaders to be Sister and Cooper as we were all ready to go rafting. The first morning was early as we prepared to tackle the waters of the Ocoee river with the Nantahala Outdoor Center as our guides for the day. After running through the safety course, putting our personal flotation devises on tightly, and splitting up into two boats, our guides Garrett and Zach placed us into the 7 person rafts. Everyone being a little nervous but excited, we got started and had an awesome first couple of rapids. Cooper did an amazing job up front in Garrett’s boat really being a team leader. We approached the section of the river that was used in the 1996 Olympic Games, and would be our biggest water of the day. After running the rapids with no one falling out, Eli showed his huge enjoyment as we all tapped paddles and high-fived. After a great lunch provided by the NOC with Sim enjoying 5 turkey sandwiches, we prepared for the lower section of the river being characterized for its back to back big drops. The river, crowded with kayakers because of the holiday weekend, was enjoyed by all Moondancers as we closed on a great day of rafting. After getting back and putting some dry clothes on, the group got some snacks and got on our way to Turkey Creek campground to get ready to ducky the Nantahala River and hit some awesome Carolina wood’s zip lines the following day. After getting to camp and whipping up some amazing chicken alfredo done by Bridget, Gabriella, Sim, and Jack, we all reflected on a really amazing day. While dinner was being made, leaders spoke on kitchen protocol, daily cook crews, and the importance of sanitation. As we began Moonup, the kids were really beginning to come into their own  and real friendships were developing, Vincent really being a source of awesome conversation in telling us about coming from such a far away place as Shanghai. Sister and Cooper presented a great first student run Moonup question by asking “Where would you most like to live in the world and why?” After some crazy answers and places, Moonup was concluded with Eli and Bridget being selected to be our leaders for the next day.

After an early wake up call, students broke down camp to make it to the NOC center on the Nantahala to get set for duckying. Duckies are basically white water rafting boats made for 1 person, with the Nantahala waters being much calmer than the Ocoee, but still a source of great excitement. The water was a chilling 56 degrees, but all students enjoyed it immensely! Ava was going around splashing everyone with her paddle as we made our way down with amazing scenery coming from both sides of the river. Kai came up with a new way to sit in his ducky by propping his knees in the front and taking the rapids head on. After making a great lunch of turkey sandwiches and pb&j’s, we all prepared for our afternoon zip lining session. As heights conquered, lines zipped, and fears brought to a minimum, everyone had a great time as we explored some great tree top zip lines and ropes courses. We would like to thank the Nantahala Outdoors Center for hosting us to some amazing activities. As we are now headed into the Pisgah National Forrest, the group’s moral is at an all time high as we prepare to take on backpacking Mt. Mitchell tomorrow. Stay tuned!