Field Notes

California 2A • July 1-July 14, 2017

"Sea" you later California!

July 14, 2017

Moondance family,
 
What an incredible last day to end an incredible two weeks. Ending the trip right where we started helped us realize just how close we have bonded as a group. We can truly say that we are one big happy family! 
 
Although Thursday morning was set aside for cleaning, the kids threw themselves into the work and got the job done while making it so fun. Cece and Ginny helped lead the way by adding so much positive energy and keeping everyone laughing the whole time. John helped to DJ the session, which kept everyone motivated and breaking out their amazing dance moves. 
 
After a morning of hard work it was finally time to hit the waves for some surfing! The weather was beautiful with a nice breeze to keep everyone cool. The water was freezing but this was not our first polar plunge of the trip, and the kids headed in without hesitation. Our LODs for the day were Tommy and Keeley and they were such an incredible duo! Both kept the group full of energy and helped to keep people positive. Not a smile left anyone’s face, and it could not have been more perfect. Lily and Sophie led the pack in surfing today. No wave or cold water could slow them down as they caught almost every wave and made sure to help anyone that needed it. By the end they were both doing tricks taught by our guides!
 
After an incredible afternoon of surfing we surprised the kids with thrift shopping and dinner! Patrick and William made us laugh until we were crying as they came out of the store both in dresses. We were so impressed with their courage and bold fashion sense. It takes a lot of bravery to wear a dress in public but they rocked it and made it 10 times more fun for us. Maggie also looked awesome in multiple different types of clothing including pajama pants and a Hawaiian shirt. She had so much confidence, and as usual her laughter was contagious.
 
We cannot get over just how amazing these past weeks have been. These children are so special–each with their own unique personalities and talents that they brought to the group. This group had so much positive energy and was full of laughter. We have never laughed harder than we did these past two weeks. As we closed our last moon up we realized just how close our group has gotten and it takes a special group of people to get that connection. Although we are all very different, all of the kids were so accepting and encouraged everyone to be themselves. 
 
We love you kiddos so much and would not have changed one thing about these past two weeks and we hope to see them on another Moondance trip in the future!
 
Much love,
Charlotte, Parker, Lulu, and Sarah

Fun Times in the Bay!

July 13, 2017

Hello friends and family of these wonderful children,

 

What an amazing past of couple days! There was a nice change in weather as it dropped into the 50s! We were surprisingly excited to put on our layers due to the past week being quite hot. We rolled into our campsite later in the day and the kids were insanely helpful at setting up camp in record timing and making the tents look perfect. 

 

The next morning, we got to sleep in a little more than usual and had a fun pancake breakfast that was well deserved. The LODs for the day were Ginny and Lily. What an incredible duo! They were great leaders that gave us the enthusiasm and positive spirit we needed. After breakfast, we headed down to the ranger’s station and let the kids chose the hike for the day in Point Reyes National Seashore. The group decided on an awesome hike that could not have been more perfect! With clear skies and the perfect temperature, we hiked to the beach where we spent the majority of the afternoon soaking up the sun! Cece and John lead the group in a polar plunge into the freezing ocean. Although it was cold, all of the kids played in the water for a couple of hours laughing the whole time. Tommy was an amazing sport when everyone decided to carry him into the water. Back at camp there was a fun game of volleyball and a sweet dance competition. Maggie holds the title of the best dancer… I don’t think I have ever laughed harder than I did last night. All of the kids have gotten so close and there is always so much laughter surrounding us. 

 

This morning we woke up and drove into San Francisco. We hiked the incredible Golden Gate Bridge that had a beautiful layer of fog covering it. The LODs for today were Maggie and Patrick. Both added so much humor and laughter to our day helping to keep our spirits high even with the cold winds. For lunch, we surprised everyone with their frequent requests, In-n-Out burger!!!! With full bellies, we spent the rest of the day in Sausalito, which is an adorable town with a view of San Francisco. Keeley helped show us all the great stops and almost seemed to be a local. She was so nice in showing us exactly where to go! Ending a perfect day in Half Moon Bay, we had an Iron Chef competition. The kids showed their true competitive sides as they battled to cook the best dish for the judges, the leaders. Sophie and William helped lead their teams with encouragement due to both being incredibly competitive! There was much smack talk and heated warfare but there could only be one winner… and it was Grill Masters (William, Keeley, Maggie, Patrick, and Ginny).

 

What an adventurous and fantastic two weeks it has been. I have laughed more than I thought was possible and got to know 10 truly amazing children. Charlotte, Lulu, Parker, and I have had so much fun and are so sad as it closes to an end. We cannot thank y’all enough for giving us the opportunity to meet this special group. 

 

Best wishes,

Charlotte, Lulu, Parker, and Sarah 


Rafting, Blazo, Brownies and More!

July 11, 2017

Hello Moondance families!

We here in California cannot get enough of adventuring with this unbeatable group. These past two days rafting the American river have been chock full of rapids, incredible food, and countless hours spent enjoying the river. We hate to think our time together is that much closer to coming to a close, but these past few days could not be beat. 

Our first day on the river got off to a quick start, and before we knew it we were taking on rapids. Lily and Cece crushed it in the front of the boat, leading the paddling and taking the waves head on. We paddled to a serene lunch spot, where we all got to jump off a tall rock and into the river below, floating down to where the river brought us to shore and to an amazing spread of lunch food. Parker, Lulu, Sarah and I had as much fun as anyone jumping into the river, and we could all not have been more refreshed before taking on the more challenging rapids after lunch. 

After an incredible day of rafting, the students still had not had enough of the river. Back at Camp Lotus we splashed around some more. John especially could not get enough, constantly to be found splashing and dunking and getting as much time in the water as possible. 

As the raft guides began cooking with the help of the boys, we all got to try our hand at Blazo–the upgraded rafting version of tug of war, played while balancing atop metal boxes. Ginny and Maggie showed us all how it was done, and while Parked has long been the reigning Blazo champion, Ginny finally beat him and took the Moondance Blazo throne. 

By dinner time, we were all gathered round an unbeatable spread. We aren’t sure we’ve ever seen two people more excited about a meal than Patrick and William were upon learning that the meal featured steak. As if that weren’t enough, the raft guides pulled out piping hot brownies to finish the meal off. Tommy showed incredible team spirit by volunteering to clean up not only after dinner, but after each meal we had at Camp Lotus. 

We felt so lucky to have our awesome raft guides, Rowan and John, join us for Moonup Sunday night. It was the perfect end to an incredible first day of rafting!

Monday we got to start the morning of right with another incredible meal thanks to our raft guides. With plenty of breakfast to get us rolling, we again hit the river. Sophie and John really shone Monday, with unmatched enthusiasm for paddling and ability to get the whole boat working as a team. Keeley and Cece loved any opportunity to jump into the river and swim down a rapid, and everyone had tons of fun with splash wars and attempts to push one another into the river between rapids. 

After such an action packed two days, it feels nice to settle in to the comfort and cozy cool temperatures of Camp Olema. With the stunning views on our drive in as an indication of what lies ahead, we have a feeling our time here exploring Point Reyes will be yet another stunning adventure. 

It’s crazy to believe that so soon these incredible students will be back home and recounting these stories to you all in person, but until then we could not feel more lucky to share this summer with such an amazing group. 

 

Much love,

Charlotte, LuLu, Parker and Sarah


Terrific Times at Tahoe

July 9, 2017

Hi Moondance Family! 

The past two days have been filled with lots of adventure and of course, lots of laughter. After a gorgeous drive through Cali, we arrived at our campsite in Tahoe greeted by cooler weather. Sophie and Ginny, our LODs, led a great Moonup to get us excited for the day ahead. 

The next morning we headed to the lake to meet our kayak guides for a morning on the water. This was one of our favorite mornings thus far; I don’t think we could have asked for nicer weather. The water is so clear that you can see 75 feet deep! We stopped on the beach for lunch and a quick swim to cool off from the heat. The water felt so refreshing and was exactly what we needed to get us ready for the paddle back. Cece and Keeley tipped their boat getting back in after lunch, but laughed it off and got right back in. When we got back to the van, we grabbed a quick snack and changed into our hiking clothes in preparation for a gorgeous hike to Maggie’s Peak. It was awesome to see the entire group so energized for one of the steeper hikes we’ve been on despite already having a full morning of kayaking in the sun. In the lake at the top, there are fish that eat the dead skin off of your feet, which was so much fun to experience. Ginny faced her fear of the fish and got her feet in there too! Lily was one of the first ones to go all the way in which inspired Maggie, Cece, John, and Sophie to swim together across the lake and back, all the while being cheered on by the rest of us on the shore. 

Back at camp, we made our first fire of the trip to roast hot dogs to go with the mac and cheese. We even got out the fixings to make s’mores! At Moonup later that evening, led by Patrick and Keeley, we learned what famous musical artist each person would be. Some answers included Selena Gomez, Lil Yachty, and Post Malone. 

Today was another action packed day. We started the morning with SUP (standing up paddle-boarding). We paddled, swam, and sunbathed under sunny blue skies with gorgeous 360 views of the mountains. Tommy loved paddling really hard and then jumping off right before running into one of the other paddle boards. That was so much fun for everyone because we all starting jumping off and playing games. I got a lot of lovely refreshing splashes from William that always came when I least expected them. We had a great lunch on the pier taking in the views for the last time before getting in the van to drive to Camp Lotus where we will be spending the next two days rafting on the American River. To cool off from hotter weather than we have been used to, we all headed to the river where we spent the late afternoon swimming and skipping rocks. Tommy was a huge help tonight on cook crew preparing a fun Taco dinner. Everyone is very excited for the days to come- they keep getting better and better!

 

All the best, 

Lulu, Charlotte, Parker, and Sarah


Climbing in the birthplace of climbing!

July 7, 2017

Hello Moondance family!

We write to you fresh off the breathtaking trails of our Nevada Falls hike in Yosemite! As we set up camp here at Lake Tahoe, so many incredible memories from the last three days come to mind. 

Tuesday morning marked the beginning of our time rock climbing here in Yosemite. From the moment this crew got their harnesses on they showed an impressive talent for climbing, keeping our climbing guides busy seeking out further routes to challenge this crew. As our group began learning in none other than the birthplace of climbing, Patrick and Keeley impressed us from the get-go, tackling climbs with athleticism and ease. Tommy’s generosity really shone thanks to his newfound love for belaying. He belayed all of us as the day went on and became an expert on guiding and supporting his fellow students!

Tuesday was also a big day because of the 4th of July! After climbing we headed off for a surprise celebration swimming in a beautiful lake! With the water lapping at our feet, cheeseburgers grilling, and plenty of watermelon, we got to celebrate America’s birthday in true California style! Swimming in the lake was pure bliss after such a hot day on Yosemite’s towering rock faces. The lake was even home to a natural rock water slide from which we could glide into the water! We all decked ourselves out in red, white and blue body paint, glitter, and even hair chalk! After such an incredible day, we headed back to camp with fireworks in the sky above us! 

On day two of climbing, we headed to an incredible spot in direct view of El Capitan! Learning that one of our rock climbing guides has climbed El Capitan no less than 16 times made us realize how truly lucky we were to be learning from these guys! Cece and Patrick were the first two to tackle two of the hardest climbs of the day, showing impressive bravery and getting the ‘beta’ (inside scoop!) for the rest of the group. John blew everyone away this day, clambering to the top of a 5.10 rated climb and demonstrating an incredible talent for climbing. Sophie and Ginny also shone for their determination, climbing longer than anyone and finding the energy to tackle still more climbs after lunch. 

Another day under our belts, we set up the camp kitchen and whipped up some phenomenal pizzas. Maggie showed her culinary artistry by creating a pizza with cheese, pepperoni, and sausage in the design of William’s face! William devoured his self-portrait pizza, and all around the pizzas that Maggie, Patrick, and Ginny whipped up were a smashing hit. As if the day hadn’t been eventful enough, Lily surprised us all by losing a tooth! Turns out the tooth fairy even make visits to Yosemite… 

We couldn’t leave Yosemite without tackling the Vernal Falls hike. From climbing the Mist Trail, to descending the John Muir trail, this hike blew us away. We were blasted by mist from the waterfall and circled by rainbows as we climbed up from the valley. Everyone tackled the tough hike with unbeatable attitudes. 

Watching this group come together has been so rewarding. When asked the Moonup question ‘What have you learned on this trip?’ William responded, “Be your true self and others will do the same.” This is exactly what we’ve seen from this group these last few days, and is just one small example of all the ways in which these students have wowed us with their incredible attitudes. We can’t wait to see what Lake Tahoe has in store for us!!

Until next time!

Much love,

Charlotte & the Crew


Surf's up in Pacifica!

July 4, 2017

Hello Moondance family!

Parker, Sarah, Lulu and I could not be more excited to announce the safe arrival of ten phenomenal students! It’s hard to believe we’ve only known this crew for three short days–they’ve already accomplished so much and gotten to know each other so well!

On airport day, despite the bustle of baggage claim and staggered arrivals, this awesome group found plenty of time to play cards, chow down on some fruit roll-ups, and get to know one another. We then hopped in the van and headed out for Portola Redwood State Park! The drive was non-stop views. From golden fields, to rolling hills, to winding roads through towering trees, California wasted no time in showing this gang what it’s all about. With the windows down and the sun golden we pulled up to camp and hunkered down for an awesome first meal, some practice setting up tents, and plenty of icebreaker games. 

By the time we woke the next morning, it was hard to believe we were already Pacifica bound! We met up with our surf guides and received an awesome lesson on all things ocean, currents, and surf 101. Tommy was an awesome help to the guides, being the first to volunteer to demo pop-ups and other surf skills! When we hit the water, the chilly temps gave us all a bit of a surprise on such a sunny day, but not one person let it hold them back. CeCe was up and riding waves before half of us had even made it all the way into the water, and continued to catch killer waves for our entire time in the ocean. One of the surf instructors brought Patrick out to the bigger waves further out, and he truly held his own! 

A killer day of surfing under our belts, it was off to the next adventure–Yosemite! The van drive gave us a fun opportunity to compile group playlists, share some car-ride treats, and continue getting to know one another! The friendships these kids had created even by the end of this first day was incredible. When they tumbled out of the van here at camp in Yosemite, it was like listening to the laughter of old friends. Our Leaders of the Day (LODs) CeCe and Patrick led an awesome MoonUp, where we got to center after a long day and share with one another our goals and inspiration for the trip. 

Here at Yosemite our campsite has the perfect circle of trees for our very own hammock village, which has become our favorite spot for Moonup, hanging out between activities, and record-length games of Mafia. William, Patrick and John have created a triple decker hammock set-up where they are sure to be found in any free time. 

For our first day here at Yosemite we tackled the Sentinel Dome hike. Hiking to the top of the dome really took our breaths away, with snowcapped mountains, El Capitan and Half Dome all visible from the peak. Keeley and Tommy really impressed us with their attitude on the hike, generating so much positivity for the group and truly augmenting everyone’s enjoyment of an already incredible experience. Ginny, Lily and Sophie led the pack the entire way, demonstrating awesome leadership and keeping us on the correct trails by looking on with Parker at the map. As we made our way down, we stopped at Glacier Point to get one more look at the incredible views. We saw a deer right on the trail with us, and found an even better vantage point for checking out Half Dome. We could even see Vernal Falls down below, the location of our next hike! A park ranger at Glacier Point was showing us a real bear suit, which William and Lulu were sure to put on, making us all laugh. 

After an incredible first day in Yosemite, Sophie, John and Keeley made us an awesome meal of ‘breakfast for dinner’, which Sophie closed out by creating a show stopper of a giant pancake. Maggie and Tommy, our awesome LODs for the day, led a Moonup in which we got to get deep with one another–discussing our dreams for the future–but also got to get silly, and in moments we could not stop laughing. This evening of both genuine connection and all-encompassing fun really summed up the last three days for us here in California, and made us realize how much we have to look forward to in the weeks ahead. 

We feel so lucky to have these ten amazing students with us here, and to embark on so many adventures with them! We can’t wait to keep you updated along the way, and feel so grateful to you all for sharing such incredible young people with us this summer!

Until next time!


Students

  • Sophie
  • Keeley
  • Patrick
  • Cece
  • Mary Kate
  • Tommy
  • Lily
  • Ginny
  • William
  • John
  • Maggie

Staff