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California 1B • June 14-June 27, 2017

It's not Goodbye, it's See You Later!

June 27, 2017

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” Winnie the Pooh. 

As we write this last trip update we are filled with so many emotions; sad to say goodbye to each of your amazing kids, yet also filled with so much joy for the lasting memories they have left in our hearts. 

These last days have been absolutely unforgettable. We arrived at Half Moon Bay on Saturday and were lucky to camp right on the beach, falling asleep to the crashing waves each night. We shredded some gnar the past two days at Pacifica State Beach. The kids killed it, catching on to surfing immediately. Andrew impressed us with his stellar surfing skills by riding a wave in on top of two boards. One of our surf instructors made a point to tell us how natural Kelsey and Walker were in catching the waves! And Kate conquered her fears of riding some waves by being the number one rider today. 

Two nights ago, we had our traditional Iron Chef cook off between cook crews. Each of the groups made everyone some amazing meals, but Cook Crew Group #2: Sheffield, Bea, Grant and Kelsey took the cake on the best meal treating us to pizza appetizers, taco pasta, and s’more balls for dessert!

Last night, we had our banquet dinner at the Mexican restaurant, Tres Amigos. Collin and Brooks were super groovy in their thrift store outfit choices, getting all decked out for dinner!

Mary Margaret and Ellie led us in some group games tonight on the beach that had us on the sand laughing. The group favorite was Veggie Off where two people have to act out a veggie with a descriptive adjective attached to it-it’s hilarious!

Joseph and Walker were out last Leaders of the Day, and blew us away with their sense of leadership and heart that went into the last Moonup on the beach. They made sure to let the group understand how important and memorable the last Moonup is, and led us in some great questions; the first: “If you could pack one thing forever in the Uhaul what would it be?”,  and the second: “What is your favorite/happiest moment from your Moondance experience?”. We ended up sitting on the beach reminiscing, laughing and hugging one another. 

The amount of happiness each of your children has brought us these past two weeks has been indescribable. Each of their personalities fit perfectly into the group and were crucial to making the group dynamics strong. We are so proud to see the remarkable difference in each kid from Day 1 to our last night together as they came out of their shells and showed their truest selves. We are sad to see them off, but are so grateful for the lasting impact they have made in our hearts and in the hearts of each other. You all have raised some wonderful humans with some very bright and adventurous spirits. We know they are off to do big things. 

It’s not goodbye, just see you later!

Lots of love and thanks,

Brit, Jack, and Mary Hill

Just Another Day in Paradise!

June 23, 2017

Hello readers! 

We are currently en route to the Olema Campground where we will be staying for the next two nights and explore the Point Reyes National Seashore-we are stoked!

Today was a busy day; we woke up with the sun to head back into Yosemite National Park for one last hike and then hit the road and headed for the coast to wrap up our final few days.

Brooks and Collin both lost a tooth last night, and the Moondance tooth fairy paid them each a visit. Bea and Sheffield were great this morning on cook crew preparing both breakfast and a station for the other students to make and pack their lunches for the hike. Andrew’s song requests for the drive into Yosemite this morning kept the spirits and energy high before starting our hike. Joseph and Grant were great in helping the leaders find the trailhead for our hike. Mary Margaret and Walker were also super great leaders along the hike. They led us to up to the picturesque Verna Falls. It was a tough, steep hike, but was deemed the kids “favorite hike absolutely ever”. We hiked up stone stairways with the mist blowing on us keeping everyone cool, and walked under a double rainbow with the crashing waterfall on our left. It was truly as if we were walking in a fairy tale! When we reached the top we stopped for a lunch break on Sunshine Rock to dry off and enjoy some pita wraps. Kate was so kind to French braid everyone’s hair on top of the rock, and Ellie helped us leave our Moondance mark by sticking a Moondance bumper sticker on the metal sticker post at the top of our hike!

Kelsey and Brooks were our Leaders of the Day today, and both were super helpful in waking everyone up, making sure tents were broken down and that the U-Haul was all packed up. We couldn’t have done today without them!

Off to listen to some tunes and play some car games! 

Best wishes,

Brit, Jack, and Mary Hill 

Conquering New Heights in Yosemite

June 22, 2017

Greetings from the warm mountains of Yosemite!

What an action packed few days these have been. We have spent the past few days hiking and rock climbing about and around Yosemite National Park, and let us first say, WOW. Yosemite Valley may very well be one of the most beautiful sites we all have seen. From the giant waterfalls to the vast mountain faces, the drives into the park were magical and special for each of us.

Our first day in Yosemite was spent hiking. Bea helped lead the group to right in front of the beautiful Yosemite Falls. Grant and Brooks kept us all smiling with their Lion King picture moment in front of the falls (Grant lifted Brooks up in the air right in front of it!). We also stopped by the gift shop and the kids all got some sweet knick-knacks for themselves and family members.

The next two days were spent rock climbing on some of the amazing rock faces around the park. Andrew and Kelsey constantly impressed us with their stellar climbing skills. They both climbed all of the routes, making it to the top on each while taking on the harder sections. We were so proud of Kate and Sheffield who conquered their fears and made it to the top of some really tough climbs! Walker was also an awesome belayer and climber, impressing the mountaineering school guides with her skilled nature in both climbing and supporting the other students!

Joseph and Ellie kept us super fueled with some amazing food while on cook crew. We have been treated to chicken curry, barbecue quesadillas, and pad thai! Collin and Mary Margaret were our Leaders of the Day today, and were very responsible and on top of things all throughout the day. They chose a great quote tonight for Moonup: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” Frederick Douglass. The quote was very fitting for the challenges undertaken while rock climbing, and we feel it inspired the group to continue to push themselves throughout the duration of the trip.

We are so excited for what this next week has to hold for the group; they are truly a soulful, loving and adventurous crew that we are so humbled to lead.

Best wishes,

Jack, Brit, and Mary Hill

To Yosemite and Beyond!

June 19, 2017

Hi from Yosemite! 

We just drove in to our camp site for our Yosemite National Park section of the trip and we couldn’t be more ecstatic. Everyone’s positive energy during Moonup under the stars was contagious and put everyone in good spirits as we all head to sleep tonight.

The past few days on Lake Tahoe were filled with much adventure and sun. Yesterday we kayaked around the clear waters of Lake Tahoe and took on some mini excursions along the way. Mary Margaret and Walker led us up a little hike on an island in the middle of Lake Tahoe with a breathtaking view! Grant and Andrew were the paddle superstars in their sea kayak, leading the way the entire morning. Brooks and Bea’s enthusiasm during our afternoon hike got the entire group excited to continue on and see the beautiful views. Kate’s cooking skills on Cook Crew last night were impressive with her yummy hot dogs and mac n’ cheese (that was voted the best meal so far!)

This morning we paddle boarded on Lake Tahoe and it was beautiful! Collin and Joseph were skill masters on the boards with their balancing skills and willingness to be the first to jump in the water. We had a long drive this afternoon from Tahoe to Yosemite, and Ellie and Sheffield were awesome leaders in keeping the group spirits high with their riddle games and great song ideas. Kelsey and Kate were the Leaders of the Day today, and led an awesome Moonup tonight. They both read a quote that spoke to living life to the fullest and asked a very mature and insightful question that all three of us were very impressed by: what is the most valuable lesson you have learned thus far in life?

Off to sleep on that one!

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads! The kids have included some shout outs below for you!

Best wishes,

Brit, Jack, and Mary Hill 

Kelsey: “I’m having so much fun! Can’t wait to tell you about it! Happy Father’s Day!”

Kate: “Happy Father’s Day! I love you”

Mary Margaret: “Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you”

Walker: “Happy Father’s Day & Happy Early Birthday! Love ya!”

Andrew: “Happy Father’s Day! Love you so much!”

Joseph: “Happy Father’s Day! I miss you guys. Kachiga”

Collin: “Happy Father’s Day. Love you guys. See ya in a week”

Grant: “Happy Father’s Day! Love you all (even Gavin). Kachiga!”

Sheffield: “Hey Mom and Dad! Happy Father’s Day! I hope San Francisco was good. Love you guys”

Brooks: “Happy Father’s Day! I can’t wait to see you!”

Bea: “Happy Father’s Day! I’m having a gnarly time. Miss y’all so much! Kachiga!”

Ellie: “Greetings fam! Hope you had a gnarly Father’s Day! Xo and Kachiga!”

To Lake Tahoe and Beyond!

June 17, 2017

Greetings from Lake Tahoe! 

We have had an eventful and fun filled first few days of our Moondance Cali trip! We were so excited to welcome all of your kiddos to the West coast on Wednesday, and quickly jumped right into getting to know each other with some fun name games and lots of cards. Our first trip section was rafting the South Fork of the renowned American River. We rode some stellar waves and were treated to some delicious food cooked by our raft guides. Andrew and Walker impressed us with their proficient paddling skills both days on the river with their strength and optimism leading the group! Joseph got everyone in the group to jump in the water off of the rafts many times, and he and Ellie were awesome participants in the group games played along the river. Everyone was also grateful to Kate for her French braiding skills prior to the river days too 🙂 Collin has been keeping us smiling and laughing with his humorous nature and kind heart, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that!

This afternoon we enjoyed a scenic drive to Lake Tahoe and got some great group pictures along the way. Mary Margaret and Brooks were our awesome Leaders of the Day today, and served as mature, fun and inspiring role models for the rest of the group. They both lead our group in our Moonup tonight with a great quote and insight towards the philosophy of Moondance in regards to stepping out of your comfort zone. Bea, Kelsey, Grant, and Sheffield impressed us with their yummy cooking skills on cook crew tonight and made us some delicious fajitas, guacamole, rice and beans. Grant’s spiced veggies and Sheffield’s Mexican rice and beans were a favorite, and Bea’s guacamole was particularly a huge hit. Kelsey was also the first to help out with the cleaning up and can opening (which all of us were struggling with!) 

We are all genuinely humbled and proud of each of your children just 3 days in. They are an impressive and dynamic group of young individuals and we couldn’t be more excited for what the rest of our trip has to hold.

Off to paddling Lake Tahoe in the morning!

Sending lots of greetings and love from each of yours to each of you!

Brit, Jack, and Mary Hill 

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 


  • Grant
  • Joseph
  • Bea
  • Mary Margaret
  • Andrew
  • Brooks
  • Kelsey
  • Ellie
  • Sheffield
  • Collin
  • Kate
  • Walker