June 28, 2017
Lillian and I cannot help but be a little sentimental as we write this final trip update to you all. These students have been nothing short of exemplary in every way. The poise and maturity each student possessed is something that we will remember forever. However what we are so proud of is the amazing support each student gave to one other since the opening of our trip at the airport. The dynamics of children are shifting so rapidly that to see complete strangers come together and become truly in unison with one another is a memory Lillian and I will cherish forever.
Our group got off the Salmon River yesterday morning and had a long van ride back to home base in Jackson. The rapids on the last leg of the river were HUGE and most everybody swam in the 54 degree water. We arrived back in Jackson around 2:30pm and began what we like to call, Iron Chef, where the students use up all the excess food to make Lillian and I a full, 3 course meal, comprised of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. The gang agreed to do boys vs girls and we sent them off without hesitation. The guys crafted a chicken, bacon, and jalapeno nacho appetizer and the girls made a nice, crispy southern grit souffle. The fellas made a nice quesadilla complete with under cooked rice and the ladies made a chicken, rice, and avocado mix. Their presentation helped them gain the lead as the boys’ appetizer took the cake. Lastly came the desert. Michael’s desert was leftover pasta shells covered in chocolate sauce, bananas, honey, and pop tarts. Surprisingly tasty! And the ladies made a honey banana toast, but in the end the gentlemen took home the W.
Shortly after, we took a quick trip to the town of Jackson and let the kids explore the shops and even got to see the town show. Myers and Warren lead the boys pack around town as they blazed through all their leftover money on souvenirs. Jack D and Jack R both scarfed down an entire pizza at banquet night and even had some leftovers to spare. Andrew got an awesome Yellowstone hat that fit him perfectly and Blake and Stewart had amazing things to say to the group in our last moments. Gretchen, Bella, Mercer, and Grace gave very deep and thoughtful answers at our last Moonup that we had that night. This group bonded so quickly and so intensely and we are proud to call ourselves leaders of this crew. They all got each others contact info and I know they will be in touch for years to come. What a great crew and I know they all learned a little bit more about themselves and my hope is that they realize they can do so much more once they return home. We have the confidence that they will!
Lillian and Spencer
June 28, 2017
Greetings Big Wild 1A families,
We just got off the river after four days of being pampered by the Salmon River Rafting guides. We had some awesome guides that kept us entertained and well fed throughout the trip. On our first night camping alongside the river, one of the guides showed the group a raft game that involved a ton of upper body strength in lifting the raft. No matter how many times people tried, Andrew always beat everybody. (If you catch your child doing push ups this fall, you will know why.)
Michael, Jack D, and Warren were assigned cook crew the first morning and served up tons and tons of pancakes. They named themselves “three men with spatulas” and voluntarily got up early the next two mornings to be on the breakfast cook crew again just because they had such a blast. We hit some big rapids in the morning before we pulled over to hike up to a secret cave. It was filled with a natural spring and Blake decided he could definitely live in the cave if allowed.
We continued paddling through the day and Meyers kept everyone laughing because no matter where he would sit in the boat, he always seemed to get hit with the biggest part of every rapid. Jack R. came up with the idea that we should tie both of the rafts together and call it it the “party barge.” Spencer and Gretchen did back flips off the front of the raft while Bella enjoyed getting into the water any chance she could. Michael always seemed to find a way to “accidentally” slip out of the raft so he earned the name “Slippery Mike.” In all honesty it is not a bad nickname, we love you ‘Slippery Mike!”
We paddled a long but relaxing 25 miles the next day until we hit a perfect spot for some lunch tacos. The boys played a few games of touch football until the guides suggested we play a massive game of capture the flag. Mercer surprised everybody with how fast of a runner she was when she constantly stole the flag from the other team. Stewart also was named the MVP of his team after he consistently participated in all 10 games we played . We finished rafting to our campsite where we slept on a secret beach. Grace led the girls in a deep conversation by the water before everyone slept on the sand under the stars.
Our last morning entailed two of our biggest rapids of the trip before we docked at our takeout point. Now we’re headed back to Idaho for a last but debatably best day because it’s our big banquet dinner together! Our last few memories together are coming to and end and we are cherishing every moment!
Lillian and Spencer
June 21, 2017
After two days of climbing in the Tetons, we are exhausted!! We had beautiful weather and even more beautiful views up on the mountain. Both mornings started with a ferry ride across Jenny Lake and a hike up to a massive waterfall. Right off to the side of the waterfall was where we climbed!
We spent our first morning learning all of the knots necessary for the climbs and breaking in our climbing shoes. Michael loved the climbing shoes and took every opportunity to scramble on rocks. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing a multi pitch climb up four pitches! Jack Rothschild led the entire group by going first and setting high expectations for everyone else. Blake rounded up the group in the back and cleaned out the gear to bring it to the top when he climbed. Jack DuBose was fascinated all day with a family of marmots that lived at the top of the rock we were climbing to. Andrew was quite the photographer and captured some sweet pictures of the view and of other climbers. After a full day of climbing, we came back to our camp spot and filled up on quesadillas and buffalo chicken dip! Stewart and Grace were the Leaders of the Day and they did an incredible job. They constantly came up and asked what they could do to help all day and made Spencer and I’s jobs so much easier.
The second day was a lot tougher than the previous one. Everyone split into groups of 2 or 3 so they could have more personal time with the guides. Mercer and Meyers conquered their fear of heights and did even more multi pitch climbs the second day. Warren thrived during the 100 foot repel and made sure to do it in style. Gretchen was the last person to finish climbing because she wanted to take full advantage of all the climbs she could do. One of the guides came up to me after the second day and raved about how impressed he was with Bella’s natural ability to climb. She sprinted up every wall without any hesitations!
Tonight, we are about to feast on a Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green beans, and even watermelon. A well-deserved meal for a well accomplished two days. Tomorrow we head far down the road to Idaho where we will start our last activity, rafting!! We’re excited for the last adventure but also sad that our trip is already halfway over.
Lillian & Spencer
Myers: Hey mom and dad, I am having fun!
Warren: Mom and dad how’s it going? I’m having fun!
Jack D: Hi, Lillian is related to the guy who ran for president.
Michael: Hi mom and dad and David. Wyoming is very fun and I really liked rock climbing but I miss the TC.
Andrew: Hi family, having fun in Wyoming! Miss you guys!
Blake: Hey y’all, Moondance is fun. Wyoming is the most beautiful place I have ever been. I never knew mountains could be so tall. Rock climbing was amazing too.
Stew: Hello fam. Camp is super fun!!
Mercer: Hey everyone! Having fun! Love and miss you! Tell you everything when I get to Maine. See you seen!
Grace: Hey guys, I’m having a great time out here! I love you and miss you!
Jack R: Hey fam on our way to the Salmon River 10 hours away. Having a great time love y’all!
Birdie: Hey McMeekin clan! Having a blast and freezing to death. On the way to Idaho (10 hours) to raft. Love y’all so much. See you soon! (P.S. love you P, MW, Meaple, and Cal)
Bella: Having fun in Wyoming and it is so cold and I have had a million nose bleeds and lost my Raybans. Currently in a 10 hour car ride to Idaho! Having a blast 10/10!! Xoxo
June 18, 2017
We have finally made it out of the back-country and are showering up from a busy 3 days! The group is all too excited for rock climbing tomorrow and the mountains on our drive back to Jackson were a constant reminder of the fun that lies ahead. Gretchen and Bella kept the group morale high during the entire trip with their constant story telling and high energy. Stewart and Michael’s laughs were always infectious once we arrived at our camp sites. Jack D. has got a natural flow about his fly fishing cast and even though he hasn’t caught anything yet, I feel as if a 10-pounder is in his future if he keeps at it. Blake lead all the boys up a pretty big hill to watch the sunset and they conversed about one another’s hometown. Mercer, Grace, and Annabella helped out a TON in the kitchen and made some great meals and some even better S’mores!! Andrew lead the group in our nightly Moonup and had a very relatable quote that made everyone stop and ponder silently for a bit. Warren and Myers have kept the group smiling with their witty sense of humor and funny pranks and Jack R. has been a huge help around camp, always asking people if they need help or what he can do to help us out. We have an early morning tomorrow and can’t wait to start climbing! All is well in Jackson!
Spencer & Lillian
June 15, 2017
Hello Big Wild Families,
We heard from the Big Wild leaders that all students made it to Jackson Hole and this Big Wild trip is in motion. Check back in for updates to come along the way!
-Moondance Administrative Team