Field Notes

Big Wild 3C • July 17-July 30, 2017

A great end to a great trip!

July 30, 2017

One last hello from the beautiful state of Wyoming!! After an amazing two weeks we made our way to the airport this morning. Our last van ride together was a memorable one, even at such an early hour this morning, featuring our favorite group songs. The last day is always sentimental thinking about going off in our different directions but yesterday we sure did make the most of our final moments. We hit up a local pizza place for banquet in our newly purchased thrift store finds. Shelby won the pizza eating contest finishing up with 5 slices like a champ.

We finished up early and headed back to the campsite to start packing. Maggie made sure to bring a few extra slices of pizza for the road. Spirits were so high as the kids helped each other pack up their duffles. Kendall, as always, was our cleaning machine and helped us scrub down all the pots and pans. William was right there next to her giving our stove a much needed deep clean. While most of us were still recovering from our feast Evie was still up to help us finish off the leftover desserts from the trip because in her words “we let nothing go to waste!” What could have been a not so fun part of the day quickly became one of the highlights. Henry made sure we had one last round of soccer juggling and we finally beat our record.

With everyone working together we got packed up just in time to head back into town for the rodeo! The rodeo was an awesome touch to our final night. Christy rocked her new cowgirl hat and fit right in with the locals. Jack made sure to keep rocking his thrift store outfit and had the whole group laughing. There was a petting zoo at the entrance that had all the kids excited. Hayes especially was fond of all these animals and kissed one of the goats (picture to come later)! The kids had a blast and after we saw our favorite events we loaded up and headed back to camp for our final moonup. Cameron and Hayes led us with an amazing quote that summed up our trip perfectly. We spent over an hour just talking about all of our favorite memories. It was truly amazing to see how much these kids had grown since the first day and the inseparable family they had become.

The kids slept under the stars together one last time and were real troopers when we woke them up before the sun this morning. The last day is always the hardest but it was reassuring to hear them all already planning a reunion trip for the future. As leaders, we cannot thank you enough for raising such amazing kids and trusting us to bring them into the Moondance family. These past two weeks have been incredible getting to know each and every one of them and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. Signing off one last time, peace, love, moondance! Jess, Lauren, Billy


Climbing in the Tetons!

July 30, 2017

Hello everyone!! After an incredible white-water rafting section, our group was headed back to Jackson Hole for our final activity, rock climbing! Before we left Idaho, we had to make one final stop to celebrate a job well done……..We conquered some ice cream just like we conquered the river! The scoops were INSANELY generous and the smiles were wide as the kids reflected on the last four days on the water. After our final cheers to Idaho, we drove through beautiful mountains and valleys as we journeyed back to Wyoming. We made great time on the drive, which allowed the kids an hour to explore Jackson Hole and all of its small-town wonder! Evie and Christy jumped at the chance to buy a real and authentic cowboy hat. It made them fit right in in this little mountain town, and brought out the inner cowgirl in both of them!

Before we grabbed some dinner, Henry led the group in a game of “birdy on a perch” in the middle of town square. Although some people were staring, the group had a great time trying to jump onto each other’s back and singing funny songs together. Kendall even did a great impersonation of a “confused carrot” to win the veggie off and the game overall! Who knew we could have so much fun and so many laughs in a short time! We grabbed some delicious BBQ in town and drove back to our campsite to get a good nights sleep before our first day of climbing!

The next morning, we met our guides at quite possibly the most beautiful lake we have ever seen. We had been hearing for the last two weeks how beautiful the Tetons were, but the stunning views were something that you really can’t put into words. The kids were so excited to take a boat ride across the lake to the area that we would begin to climb. Although we didn’t have time, William and Jack wanted to jump right in and fish their hearts out!  They were bummed we couldn’t stop, but they quickly cheered back up when they saw how great the climbs ahead of them were!

We broke up into small groups to learn the ins and outs of the rock in our Level 1 Climbing School. Maggie was quick to excel, and she was the first one up all of the routes today! It didn’t matter how many pitches there were, she always has a smile and was always willing to head on up! We spent hours trying our different climbs and spent lots of time bouldering. All of the kids did incredible on this first day and made the most of their time on the rocks! Although a couple people were nervous at the beginning, it was incredible to watch the group rally around each other and support each other relentlessly!  Hayes was always the first to jump into a cheer for a fellow climber and sometimes gave them that extra confidence to power up the side of the mountain!  We are so thankful for her positive energy and encouragement, alongside everyone else’s as well!

Day two of climbing school, we faced harder climbs with steeper slopes. Although it may have technically been harder, you never would have known it with the way Cameron flew up the ropes! Her natural climbing ability impressed the Exum guides and all of us as well!! Once we all made it to the top of the cliff we enjoyed a well-deserved lunch break. Not sure I’ve ever had a sandwich with a better view than that! Of course, what goes up comes back down… so down the mountain we went! This time our mode of transportation was a 100+ foot repel! Shelby looked like an absolute natural lowering herself to the ground like a true professional. She had absolutely no fear and it was awesome to see her in her new element!

It was a hard goodbye to the beautiful Tetons and climbing school, but we lifted our spirits with a trip to the local thrift store! The kids had a blast finding new and fun outfits to head to banquet dinner! Although all of the outfits were great, Jack takes the cake with the best dressed! He stayed in character and had us laughing the whole night! As a final goodbye to Jackson Hole, we are headed to the local rodeo to get a taste of the true west. I can’t wait to fill you in on that excitement soon!! 

As always… Peace, Love, and Moondance… Lauren, Billy, and Jess.


White water rafting!!

July 26, 2017

Hello from Washington!

We are so excited to share the past four days with you, as this white water rafting trip was one for the record books. We finished up our time in Pinedale with a beautiful lakeside campsite by Soda Lake. The kids stumbled down to the lake to find some canoes that were just asking for us to jump on in. Shelby hopped right in and paddled around for what seemed like hours! It was the perfect send off after a great backpacking section in the Wind River Range. The next morning was early, as we began our 11 hour van ride to Idaho! The time passed quickly with lots of napping, car games, and sing alongs to “In the Air Tonight”, led by Jack and William. We finally arrived to our new campsite that sat nestled beneath towering Ponderosa pine trees. After sleeping in the back country and being the only people for miles it was so different to have people nearby at our campsite! We called it an early night as we had our first day of rafting ahead of us tomorrow, and we wanted to be well rested and ready. The next morning we met our new guides who would help us navigate this exciting stretch of the lower Salmon River. We jumped into our rafts as our guides taught us about the water we would be floating through for the next 4 days. The floating quickly began games of raft wars and jumping into the water to cool off. We saw some small rapids today that served as good warm up and practice for the next two days, which served as “big rapid days”. We arrived to our first beach side campsite and were so lucky to grab the one that we did! We had a good amount of shade and the perfect area to begin what Henry dubbed the “SRCCBBCD1″, or the Salmon River Country Club Bocci Ball Championship, Day 1”.  Henry, Jack and William played for hours, and continued to play at each campsite we stayed at! It became quite a spectacle as the rest of the group got involved as spectators and made “celebrity appearances”.  Our second day of rafting involved much bigger rapids than we had encountered on the first day. We fueled up and hit the water bright and early! It wasn’t long before we found ourselves in the middle of class 3 and 4 rapids! The kids had a blast as they bounced up and down through the white water. Hayes constantly wanted to “ride the bull”, or sit on the front of the raft through the rapids. Her smile was as wide as the river and the waves hit her in the face and sometimes even knocked her back into the boat! We made our way down river and stumbled upon another beautiful white sand beach to spend the night. Henry, Jack, and William picked right back up where they left off and now had SRCCBBCD2. The girls passed the time playing card games, mafia, chitchatting, and laughing at the boy’s intense competition! It was a great way to celebrate the big rapids, and get ready for more tomorrow! The next morning, Maggie manned the kitchen as she whipped up some delicious French Toast for the group. She looked like a natural in the kitchen offering a helping hand to all the guides. Today was not only filled with rapids but also two opportunities to jump off of cliffs! The kids were all so excited to plunge into the water below them that they jumped off one ledge three times each! Although she was very nervous at first, Christy conquered her fears and jumped into the water like a champion. It was such a rewarding feeling for everyone to see her smile as she came back out of the water afterwards. We are so proud of her for jumping!  Our final campsite was truly a small slice of heaven. It sat like a little Garden of Eden against the very charred hillsides, and was stocked with fresh blackberries, apples, apricots, pears, and wild deer! Cameron and Evie collected and ate their weight in blackberries! They said they were the best berries they had ever tasted! After all the kids had their share of fresh fruit, they resumed their intense frisbee games. Without fail, Kendall had asked at every campsite if she could climb the mountains that towered next to us. Although most of them were too steep, Kendall finally got her wish. We climbed all the way up to the top of the canyon and were treated with a beautiful view. She said it was the most rewarding feeling to look at the river 1000 feet below and know that she climbed all that way! We all returned to camp and had a well-deserved dinner of fajitas. The best part? For desert the guides baked fresh blackberries into our brownies! It was a perfect final night as our guides and kids all came together for more mafia and Moonup on the boarder of three states. We lay beneath stunning stars and reflected on how fast this section had flown by! The kids all had an incredible time on the river and were sad to see it go. Although they were bummed for a little, they all quickly discussed how excited they were to go back to Jackson and hit the rocks! Can’t wait to fill you in on climbing soon!

Peace, love, and Moondance!

 Lauren, Jess and Billy


A Big Time on Big Wild!

July 22, 2017

Greetings from the Big and the Wild!

We have had a great start to the trip and I can’t wait to fill you all in!!! The first day was a long but exciting one, as the students slowly but surely began to step off the plane and into the stunning Jackson Hole. It is such a cool airport with a unique view, so make sure to ask your kids about it! We waited for all of our group to arrive and passed the time playing silly games and eating at a delicious local pizza place. Kendall had us all cracking up with her dance moves and the group quickly realized that this is a place that they can be as weird as they want! The group was so excited to finally meet Cameron, the last member of our group to arrive, that they greeted her by changing her name and making a human tunnel for her to run through! It was the warmest welcome to her new Moondance family! We returned to our campsite for an early night as we had a big day of driving ahead of us to make it to our backpacking section. We admired the beautiful Wyoming stars as Jack and Hayes were selected as our first leaders of the day. It was a huge honor for them to be selected, as they both showed great leadership and teamwork on the first day.

It was an early morning as we drove to the GROW ranch to meet our guide for backpacking. The kids quickly (and affectionately) nicknamed him Jason Borne for his top notch survival skills. We had a challenging first day, as we hiked 6 miles with very full packs to our campsite. However hard the hike, Henry could be found at the front of the pack, blazing the trail for us to follow. The kids did an incredible job on a challenging journey, and were rewarded with a stunning lakeside campsite. We were so excited to set up our base camp for the next couple of days that Evie ran to camp in celebration! William and Jack went straight to fishing, where they basically could be found for the remainder of backpacking. They caught a few fish, tree branches, and even some lily pads along the way. The next morning we ventured to another lake a few miles away. During our games of “trail telephone,” Christy had the group rolling with laughter as she changed the messages sent from the front to back of the group to a hilarious version of the original message. While the boys continued fishing at our destination, the girls explored the area and found an amazing view of the blooming flowers and mountains to enjoy while sharing stories. As a thunderstorm began to brew in the late afternoon, we made quick work of the hike back to camp, made another delicious backcountry dinner, and held our nightly Moonup before getting a good night’s sleep.

We awoke the next morning and continued to explore the area, this time traveling to Lightning Lake. Shelby, Maggie, and Kendall were excited to try their own hands at fly fishing and quickly got down the form of a very difficult style of fishing. After doing a good bit of fishing, the group came together to play “Mafia” in a beautiful opening next to the lake. Once we felt we had explored the whole area, we made our way back to camp to get our dinner going and enjoyed it surrounding our nightly campfire. The next day, we embarked on our final trek out of the backcountry. Now that our legs had adjusted to hiking we were able to hike the 5.6 miles out in half the time it took us to make the same hike in! There was a huge sense of accomplishment among the group as everyone let out big “Wooooooo’s!!!” when we finally made it to the trailhead. After working so hard for the past few days, we decided it was time for some relaxation and headed back into Pinedale to their fantastic aquatic center. After a few laps around the lazy river, Cameron led the crew up the indoor water slide and jumped right in as the rest of group followed quickly behind.  We had a blast playing around in the different pools and after cleaning up and showering, finally made our way back out to the countryside to the beautiful Soda Lake. The group was pretty pooped by this point but we still managed a little hike up a nearby hillside to enjoy the sunset overlooking the huge lake and hold Moonup. With the sky totally clear, we all slept right under a gorgeous night sky filled with stars and saw more than a handful of shooting stars while we all drifted off to sleep. We are all extremely excited for the next section of the trip (rafting!!!) and can’t wait to fill you all in on the great memories we are all making! 

Peace, Love, and Moondance!

Billy, Lauren, Jess


Students

  • Shelby
  • Evie
  • Hayes
  • Harry
  • William
  • Kendall
  • Christy
  • Maggie
  • Henry
  • Jack
  • Cameron

Staff