Field Notes

California 1A • June 14-June 27, 2017

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN! (Please don't wake us up)

June 28, 2017

Hello California 1A families,
 
       What a WOW moment this whole trip has been. These 12 children we had the amazing chance to get to know and love over the past 2 weeks are absolutely incredible individuals. They each have their own unique personalities and great senses of adventure, constantly pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones to expand their horizons. This group is going to be very hard to beat and will always have a special place in our hearts. We love you all so much!
     
Picking up where we left off, after rafting we headed to Point Reyes National Seashore. It was a breathtaking park lined with a beautiful beach and packed with wild life such as sea lions and elk! The LODs were Wesley and Jacob, and they absolutely killed it. Although it was a packed day, they made sure to keep everyone excited, not letting one person lose their excitement. Their encouragement and enthusiasm kept us going. The kids were in great spirits as we cooked out hamburgers and had cookie ice cream sundaes. I don’t think I have ever seen Peter so excited/eat so much… You really can never have too much whipped cream! He definitely rallied the troops to get more helpings. The next morning we did a relaxing hike along the beach. Aiden helped to keep us in high spirits and really make us appreciate the beautiful landscapes around us. She has such a talent of fully appreciating her surroundings. After the hike, we headed into San Francisco and walked along the Golden Gate Bridge! Jane told amazing stories of her trip into Alcatraz, which kept us on our toes as we passed the small island. We ended our fantastic trip in San Francisco with a fun town day in Sausalito. We found such an awesome sock store and Will and Kate found some crazy cool socks. They were hilarious, and neither of them took their socks off for the rest of the trip. That night we had an Iron Chef cook off that exceeded all expectations… It was by far the best meal of the trip. Y’all have some talented little chefs! Lucy made a wonderful dish called “wreck,” which was much more appetizing than the name. We could not get enough after we got over the appearance. Jacob, Cade, and Aiden also made wonderful crepes! They were gone within a minute and had people begging for more. Unfortunately, there could be only one winner, and Wesley, Will, Kate, Jacob, Aiden and Cade won with their wonderful pasta dish. 
       
The next day we woke up and went surfing for the second time! Our LODs were Jane and Kate! They were such a great duo and really pushed the group to go beyond their comfort zones. The weather could not have been better, and our guides said the bright sun and blue skies were very rare! Seeing as the kids had already surfed before, they were pros. James and Cade were surfing on the same board with ease! It was incredible! Kelli and Mason rode a wave holding hands! We were so jealous of how easy they made something so challenging look. Jane even took the guide’s dog on her surf board! There were so many tricks to watch and a lot of amazing photos to take. That night we went to a thrift store and went crazy. Will, James, and Parker were pressured into dressing into more feminine clothes and totally rocked it. We didn’t stop there, though, and we all went fully dressed up into a Mexican restaurant. Although we got some stares that night, it was incredible, and nothing could have made it more perfect!
     
We just want y’all to know how truly wonderful each kid on our trip was. Each and every of you have changed our lives so much and have taught us more than we ever knew was possible. You taught us how to step out of our comfort zones and how to completely let loose. Y’all are such amazing individuals and we can only hope that you won’t forget about us as you head back into the real world. We love y’all so much!
 
We got more bounce in California,
 
Parker, Charlotte, and Sarah

Conquering the Rapids

June 25, 2017

Hello friends and family!

 

     What a wonderful past couple of days we have had. They have been filled with lots of adventure and, as per usual, tons of laughter. The group could not be closer as we ended rafting the American River today. We were spoiled rotten by our raft guides who cooked us incredible meals throughout the trip. The kids could not stop talking about it–especially the hot brownies we had to top dinner off. 

 

      Our rafting section began with a full day of traveling and a fun surprise stop at In-n-Out. In-n-Out was a pretty big deal for those of us who’d never tried it before, and Kate led the charge with excitement (burgers are one of her favorite foods!). After, we made it to Camp Lotus, which is amazingly located right by the river we got to raft on! As soon as we unloaded the kids sprinted to swim in the river… which it personally felt like -30 degrees to me. That didn’t stop Cade, Will and Peter from skipping rocks for hours as the sun went down. I believe the record is 10 skips. Peter and Mason were LODs for the day and absolutely killed it. Even though the day was long from traveling without an activity they helped to keep everyone’s spirits high and keep the positive energy going. After dinner Lucy rolled in the mud giving herself a little dirt bath, and I don’t think we have ever laughed harder. We all went to wash her off in the river and ended up swimming again! I think it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Everyone bared the cold and swam together. It was a blast with a lot of splash fights! 

 

       We got up next the morning and hit the American River. Our LODs were Aiden and James. They were a great combination of leaders. Both pushed the group to face their fears and led by a great example. James definitely had his strength for rafting after eating a record 9 oatmeal’s for breakfast!! The river was perfect, with a great balance of relaxing opportunities to swim and intense, thrilling rapids. Although Aiden and Wesley were a little scared of the bigger rapids we had to face they came out of them excited and eager to do even bigger ones! We could not have been more impressed with their courage. We had a delicious dinner cooked by the outfitters and Kate, Lucy, and Jane were a tremendous help cleaning up after. The guides were so impressed with their willingness to help with such a fun attitude towards it. They made cleaning fun! 

 

       Today we got to have yet another great day on the American River. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was just hot enough to make the cold river feel just right. Kelli helped get up early and was a tremendous to helping pack up camp to get us on the river in perfect timing. Jacob and Wesley were our LODs for the day and kept us laughing constantly. The two are so fun to be around and edge you to want to be adventurous and try new things. Cade got to steer in our boat, which for those who don’t know is incredibly hard… I don’t know if I could lift one of the paddles. The rafting guide was so surprised about how good he was he was convinced Cade had done it before! We ended the trip with another delicious lunch specially made for us and hit the road to Point Reyes. And to everyone’s surprise Mason lost a tooth in the car! I hope the tooth fairy visits us on Moondance! 

 

     As the trip rounds to close we cannot get over how fast these past weeks have passed. Parker, Charlotte and I truly can’t get over how amazing these kids are. Each with their own unique personalities and incredible attitudes. This group feels just like a family, everyone contributing their own strengths and making us wish the last day was weeks from now.

 

Hope everyone is having an incredible weekend!

Parker, Charlotte, and Sarah 


Golden State Shenanigans!

June 23, 2017

Hello Moondance Family!

We write to you from Camp Lotus, where dipping our toes in the water of the American River is all we can do to keep cool and contain our excitement to begin rafting tomorrow! Lucy even rallied us all for a spontaneous post-dinner plunge!

It’s been an incredible few days here in California, with more changes of scenery than we could have ever expected! After we packed up camp at Yosemite Monday morning, we couldn’t say goodbye without one more dip into the valley to see Nevada Falls! Starting up the Mist Trail we faced some steep incline and hot temps, but everyone powered through! We were amazed by Jacob and Kate’s determination, even when the trails got grueling! Our efforts were rewarded as we ascended the stone steps rising along the side of Vernal Falls! The waterfall was so powerful that the mist drenched us as much as pouring rain might have, and all around us the rising cliffs were covered in fluorescent green moss. Making it to the top was like entering into another world–roaring waterfall beside us, valley below, Half Dome in the distance, and none other than a double rainbow crossing the waterfall base.

A land of constant contradiction, Yosemite surprised us on the trail down with an entirely different terrain–the John Muir path was switchbacks all the way down, every bit as hot as the Vernal Falls mist was cold. Jane and Wesley led the way, keeping morale high and the pace ambitious! They blew us leaders away with their determination!

A long drive followed suit, but it was all worth it when we caught our first glances of Lake Tahoe the next morning! We set out on kayaks for a day on the lake, and when we stopped for lunch everyone was brave enough to jump in the water. The sun may have been hot, but the mountains all around were still capped by snow! As we packed up the kayaks for the day, our kayak guides pulled Cade and Peter aside to let them know they had a real talent, and that if they pursued their paddling prowess they could land themselves a scholarship one day!!

That evening we began what has now become a fierce, multi-day game of capture the flag. The girls’ team has an edge on the boys’ team for the time being, but only time will tell.

Wednesday morning brought us a peaceful day of paddle boarding on the lake. We all relished the chance to relax, enjoy being on the water, and see Lake Tahoe from the vantage point that it’s all about. Will and Aiden soaked it all up, their beaming smiles and infectious attitudes reminding us how lucky we are to be here. Meanwhile, Mason’s athleticism and positive attitude continue to wow the group, who took appointing her LOD as a chance to point out that her paddling skills are just as strong as her climbing skills! After a long day on the lake, tackling the super-steep trail towards Maggie’s Peak to reach a Vista Point was a challenge. After a few days under the weather, seeing Kelli as one of the students continuing undeterred towards the lookout was incredible!

The quiet moments have been especially meaningful these last few days as our time together comes to an end. Jacob is always the first awake, and chatting with him while we drink our coffee is always a nice way to wake up. James’ offers to help us unpack the U-Haul truly impress us, and remind us how much he cares about the group and his new friends.

As we embark for rafting, we are thinking about all of you back home. You make this possible for all of us, leaders and students alike!

Only the best from myself, Sarah, Parker and the Adventure squad!

All the love!

Shoutouts:

“I’m having a great time! I miss you and I’m excited to see you!” Love, Kate

“I’m having lots of fun! Love you, can’t wait to see you! Bye!” -Cade

“Hey fam! It’s lit! All the time! Every day!” -James

“Having fun! Love you and miss you! Dad I’m expecting an amazing meal when I get home!” -Kelli

“Miss you and can’t wait to see you soon! Love you!” -Aiden

“Hi!!” -Peter

“I love you and tell Memomme and Nana hi!” -Lucy

“I love you so much, see you soon! I’m so excited for rafting!” -Mason

“I miss you so much, I’m having so much fun! Haven’t showered in two weeks! I love you, see you soon!” -Jacob

“Hi mom, I love you!” -Wesley

“Hi mom, I love you and miss you!” -Will

“Hi mom!” Love, Jane


Rocks Rock!

June 19, 2017

Hello family and friends!

 The past 2 days in Yosemite have been absolutely amazing. We could not have been luckier with the weather and the amazing group of kids we get to be with. Each morning we drove into Yosemite bright and early and got to watch the sun rise on the beautiful Yosemite cliffs and waterfalls. We met our outfitters in Yosemite Valley for rock climbing, which seemed to be the ideal place to really get to experience the most of the incredible park with the views and attractions. The kids immediately jumped right in! Our LODs were Will and Aiden for the first day. They could not have been more helpful. Will helped belay almost every person without a single complaint, and Aiden bravely conquered her fear of heights not missing a beat as she tackled the scariest part… repelling down. The rocks we climbed had different routes that required different skill levels to help each person challenge themselves to the fullest extent! Lucy came in already a pro and easily climbed the hardest routes, but was so encouraging to everyone else by showing them the best ways to take.  Kelli was a champ and climbed all the routes! Jane beat all of our best efforts and came out on top with the fastest record, completing a route in 43 seconds and wowing us all…and making us a little jealous, of course. Kate has been such a help to us leaders, asking to help at any possible moment. It almost feels like there’s 4 of us! We came home tired from a long fulfilling day, and our amazing cook crew James, Kelli, and Cade cooked us our own personalized pizza! They were incredible (definitely still dreaming about them) and let us go bed full and happy. 

          The second day started off the same with an early morning and great views to look at on our way into the park. Rounding that first corner in to Yosemite Valley will never cease to take our breath away. Today’s climbing was an entirely different experience, with crack routes to try out–the type of climbing for which Yosemite is most renowned! While it seemed more challenging to me, that didn’t stop anyone. Our LODs today, Kelli and Jacob, were such a light when we were a little slow to start our morning and kept us laughing the whole day! Mason and Cade climbed every route with ease and determination. It was so fun to watch! Everyone loved watching Wesley climb because she scampered up the rock like a little monkey, not wasting any time! Peter and James had the best attitudes. They cheered on everyone climbing, helped to maintain the positive energy, and of course kept us laughing the whole time! 

After rock climbing we found a world class way to cool off, heading to Lower Yosemite Falls and being blasted by the cool mist making its way to the viewing bridge. With a 10 year record of snowfall this year, the waterfall was flowing with awe-inspiring power, making it easy to believe that this is one of the tallest waterfalls on earth.  Not done yet, we played in the river and made rock men. Wesley made the biggest rock man, dubbed “Santiago”. Overall, the past 2 days have been more incredible than we could have asked for. No one ever complained or let a little heat bring them down. I still am so in awe of how truly amazing and full of adventure these children are! How lucky we are to get to know them. 

Best wishes,

Parker, Charlotte, and Sarah

 


Surfs Up, Cali!

June 17, 2017

Good afternoon, friends and family of an absolutely amazing group of kids!

This group has awed us with their enthusiasm and love for each other. Airport day could not have gone smoother and even though Peter and Jacob had to wait a little bit longer than everyone else, there were no complaints. Both Peter and Jacob have expressed their desire for filming California wildlife on their personal Go Pros, and we are all in support of our budding National Geographic videographers! Jane and Cade were our first Leaders of the Day (LOD) for our first activity surfing at Pacifica Beach, due to their positive attitudes and incredible willingness to help out as much as possible. The set the LOD bar high and were incredible group motivators even when the water was a little chilly. Everyone in the group successfully stood up on the board, and Mason persevered through a first few failed attempts by out-surfing all of us. Kate, with a contagious smile, helped to capture great action shots of everyone surfing. After hitting the waves for a few hours we hopped in our trusty van and headed to Yosemite. Wesley and Will helped to make the car ride so much fun that not a moment went by where someone wasn’t laughing. The entire group was on the edge of their seats as we drove into Yosemite.

Today we had an easier morning with some yummy pancakes to start the day! Our new LODs, James and Lucy showed great leadership and teamwork by helping clean up the camp site and get everyone ready for our day hike! The weather was beautiful and everyone had such great attitudes- how can you not when you’re surrounded by these iconic granite walls?  Helping lead the hike was Kelli and Aiden: they helped to make sure everyone was properly hydrated and having an amazing time!

Parker, Charlotte, and I are thanking our lucky starts for this special group of students. We have all bonded so quickly and already are feeling like this Moondance family is the best yet. Stay tuned, parents, we have so much more ahead of us!

Sarah, Parker, and Charlotte

 

“Thank you for sending me mom and dad!” – Wesley 

“I miss you and I love you mom and dad! And I’m happy to see you in Canada soon. ” -Kate

“STDLTBBBITDHEWASATTYDWTSWTT” – Lucy

“Love and miss you mom and dad! Can’t wait to see you soon!” – Kelli 

“I am having so much fun!!!! I miss you guys a lot!” -Jacob 

“I’m having a lot of fun love you miss you” – Cade

“Hi I miss y’all so much! Everyone in our group is so nice and funny. Love you!” -Aiden 

“Thank you so much for everything!! This is amazing and I love you so much!!!” -Mason

“hi mom!!” -Jane 

“I miss you! I love you” – James, Will, and Peter


All Aboard the California Train!

June 14, 2017

Hello California Families, 

We have heard from the California leaders and everyone has arrived safely in San Francisco and the trip has officially kicked off. We’re excited to hear all about their adventures, stay tuned!

-Moondance Administrative Staff 


Students

  • James
  • Peter
  • Kate
  • Kelli
  • Will
  • Cade
  • Mason
  • Jane
  • Lucy
  • Wesley
  • Aiden
  • Jacob

Staff