August 1, 2017
Hello Moondance family!
Well, we here in California truly can’t believe our trip has come to a close. These past two weeks have been unforgettable, all thanks to these 12 incredible students. From Caroline and Tyler’s never-ending hugs at the airport, to everyone’s teary farewells, it was clear that this trip really left a mark on all of us.
Before it all ended, though, we had two incredible final days! Friday, we drove to Point Reyes National seashore, one of the most beautiful drives in all of our trekking across California. With the sun setting and Jack’s perfect music selections we had both the scenery and the soundtrack for an unforgettable drive. To top it all off, that night we gathered round the campfire for a cookout! Between cheeseburgers and ice cream sundaes, it was a memorable meal to be sure. Lucy’s excitement for ice cream and cookies was unparalleled, but definitely spoke for all of us. Taylor and George were incredibly helpful with everything at camp, from set up, to cooking, to cleaning–helping out with an awesome attitude as they so often do!
The next morning, we drove through the golden rolling hills and pastures that make Point Reyes so special and made our way to the Tule Elk Reserve. During the hike, elk were everywhere! Tyler and Ava were especially amazed by the opportunity to be so close to creatures of such awe-inspiring size. We were the first ones on the trail that morning, meaning we had the scenery, early morning sun, and peaceful hike all to ourselves.
After an awesome morning, it was time to hit the city! The Golden Gate Bridge was our next destination, and it didn’t disappoint. Brookie and Gracey were especially excited to see such an iconic engineering marvel, and we were all in awe of its size. In true San Francisco style, the top of the bridge was cloaked in a veil of fog, and it couldn’t have been a more classic view of the city.
After the Golden Gate Bridge, we had a surprise planned for the students–an afternoon in Sausalito!! Kemp and Harley had tons of fun running around looking for souvenirs, and all the girls loved the candy store. We found some great t-shirts and stickers and then hit the road for Half Moon Bay!
Pulling in to Half Moon Bay for one last surfing sesh the next day, spirits were high. It was time for Parker, Lulu and I’s favorite meal of the trip–Iron Chef! We split the students in two teams, armed them with every ingredient remaining from our two weeks, and Lucy, Gracey, and the boys’ cooked up the winning meal!
The next morning, we hit the water for one last surf session! Maggie and Tyler did especially well, and Harley blew us away as per usual! With just one more night left together, we decided to make it special. We headed to the thrift store to pick out some wacky outfits for dinner and then headed to a Mexican restaurant! The group could not have been decked out in funnier clothes, and they topped it all off with plenty of temporary tattoos. That night’s Moonup was extra special, and we all got the chance to reflect on our favorite memories and everything that made this trip so special.
We are so grateful to have had this trip with these students, and to all of you families for sharing these amazing young people with us. The time we got to spend with them and the memories we got to make are why we do what we do, and we can truly say we have the best job in the world thanks to these kids. To our amazing students–we miss you already and can’t wait to see all the incredible things you do next! We love you!!
Charlotte, Lulu and Parker
July 29, 2017
Dear Moondance family,
The past two days, your kids have taken on the American River rafting like true pros. Their fearlessness is something that continues to amaze me everyday, even though most of them have never been rafting before!
We arrived at Camp Lotus to the sun beating down on us, so we grabbed our books and crazy creeks and headed to the river. Taylor and Lucy swam in the rapids by the river and their laughter filled the air, while the rest of us hung out on the rocks reading our books. Parker wowed us all with his rock skipping skills and taught the rest of us his techniques. Maggie was quick to pick it up and amazed me the next two days when we stopped for lunch during rafting.
On our first day of rafting, I had the pleasure of being in the same boat as Brookie, Kemp, Harley, Maggie, Lucy, and Taylor. They were all in and eager to hit the higher class rapids. Their enthusiasm and determination made it such a fun day for everyone. With Kemp and Harley at the front, we were prepared for anything that came at us- even those sneak attacks from the other boats! After a nice lunch set up by our outfitters, we headed back on the water for some higher class rapids to finish off the day. Everyone was a bit sun tired and in need of a treat, so before heading back to camp, we took the kids for a frozen yogurt run! Some (Gracey) were so happy that they said they felt like they might cry! It was the perfect way to end the first day of rafting and get us excited for another, although a bit tougher, day out on the water.
Our second morning at Camp Lotus was exciting to say the least. If the kids could pack up our campsite in 30 minutes, Parker said he would wear a skirt all day on the water. Spoiler Alert: The kids succeeded and Parker rocked the skirt and life jacket look all day as promised. In a new boat, this time with Tyler, Jack, George, Ava, Gracey, and Caroline, I knew it was going to be another amazing day to culminate our American River adventures. We tackled all class 3 and 3+ rapids without hesitation making the most of our last day.
We are now settling in at Olema and excited to explore Point Reyes amidst the glorious golden hills and then head to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge! What an incredible time it has been getting to know your kids thus far. I feel so lucky to be able to spend a few more days with them soaking up all of their life and laughter!
Lulu, Charlotte, and Parker
July 27, 2017
Hello Moondance Family!
We write to you fresh off yet another incredible three days, hardly able to believe yet another section of our trip has whizzed by! From the stunning mountainscapes surrounding our paddle seshes to the leisurely mornings of pancakes, Lake Tahoe has been so very good to us!
We began our time in Tahoe with a day kayaking on the water! From the get-go these students showed some serious paddling prowess. Gracey and Tyler were especially impressive, showing some serious dedication preparing for the paddle off-race! They had synchronization down to a tee and the speed to match, but the victory was snatched from them at the last moment by Parker and Brookie! Amidst all the racing we enjoyed an incredible day of paddling the lake, exploring Fennet Island, and lunching on the beach!
After a beautiful day of paddling, we explored all there was to see at D.L. Bliss State Park. We checked on Hanging Rock, and then hiked to an incredible spot overlooking the entire park and surrounding mountains. As we explored the incredible environments surrounding our campsite, Taylor and George paved the way for some awesome insightful conversations. From talking dream jobs to learning about one another’s lives back home these hours spent exploring gave us such a fun opportunity to get to know each other even better. Meanwhile, Maggie and Caroline blazed the trail ahead, helping us select the perfect route to best experience all D.L. Bliss had to offer.
Tuesday we hit the lake yet again, this time on paddle boards! Kemp, Jack, and Harley kept us all on our toes, hilariously transforming into paddle board pirates, and Tyler avenged her kayak race loss by winning the SUP race. George and Brookie showed some particular aptitude for stand up paddling, tackling the wind and choppy water with ease and skill. The incredible views around every corner kept us happily paddling all morning long, and tired us out perfectly for a relaxing lunch and lounge on the beach afterward.
With such an incredible morning under our belts it was hard to believe Tahoe still had more in store for us, but it definitely did. In the afternoon we hiked to Maggie’s Peak, finding an incredible alpine lake tucked away at the top. Ava jumped straight in and swam all the way across, several others soon following suit.
As we packed up camp at Lake Tahoe Wednesday morning we were all so happy to spend a leisurely day making pancakes, hanging out in hammocks, and making our way to Camp Lotus and the American River. As per usual, Lucy and Gracey had us laughing all morning long, their stories and unmatched senses of humor leaving us all laughing as hard as only a day of Moondance can. And no day here is left without its surprises–the gang could not have been more thrilled when we topped off when we pulled in to In-N-Out for a surprise lunch!
Having now arrived at Camp Lotus, we spent a leisurely afternoon getting a taste of what the river here has in store for us. Believing we couldn’t be more excited than we already were for rafting, the refreshing river temps and incredible scenery here have shown us what an incredible treat Lotus has in store. Until then, all the best from all of us here in California!!
Charlotte, Lulu, and Parker
July 24, 2017
Hello friends and family of these awesome kids!
It’s been a blast getting to know your wonderful and adventurous sons and daughters! As we head to Lake Tahoe, we think back on the past three days in awe of the energy each and every one of your kids brought to both two days of rock climbing in Tuolumne and the hard, but beautiful Vernal Falls hike in Yosemite valley.
On our first day of rock climbing, we were blessed with beautiful weather and cloudless blue sky. Between Tyler’s perseverance and Brookie’s fearlessness on the rock face, it’s safe to say our group is filled to the brim with courage. We are particularly inspired by George tackling his fear of heights and approaching our first day of rock climbing with enthusiasm. After lunch, we headed back to Oh Ridge, our campsite on the magical June Lake, for an afternoon of swimming and relaxation. Harley, Ava, and Jack swam across the lake in the blink of an eye despite the nippy waters while the rest of us on the beach enjoyed a spontaneous dance party mainly based off the soundtrack to all three High School Musical movies! Caroline’s impressive dance moves encouraged the rest of us to go all out and be our silly selves!
Day 2 of rock climbing was no different. The kids arrived with just as much, even more, enthusiasm as the first day! Lucy wowed us all by staying in the splits for a while on the rock face and then continuing to make it to the top. Taylor was a speed demon- we barely had time to take photos before she made it to the top! Gracey showed us all that taking your time and sticking with it still gets you to the top. Upon finishing our final day of rock climbing, we ventured back to the lake to enjoy our final afternoon at Oh Ridge and then went back to camp for some refreshing watermelon and a yummy dinner of spaghetti and garlic bread. Kemp and Ava, our LODs, lead a great Moonup to close another great day in Cali! Under their leadership, we spoke of our favorite Moondance memories thus far, only reminding us of how many priceless memories we have yet to make!
This morning was an early one, but the kids were helpful and speedy as we ate breakfast and packed up camp before one of our favorite activities of the trip, the Vernal Falls hike in Yosemite valley. After a car ride of Earth, Wind, and Fire to get us ready to hike, we were off! Blessed with another day of great weather, we enjoyed the feeling the mist of the waterfall as we hiked alongside the vibrant rainbows. We enjoyed a nice snack and water break at the vista point before heading back down the mountain and off to Tahoe. While the others charged down, Maggie, Brookie, and Lucy, and Lulu shared stories and enjoyed the beautiful views of Yosemite valley. After lunch and a trip to the gift shop, we packed into the van and are on our way to Lake Tahoe to embark on our next round of adventures!
Everyone sends a huge hug and all of their love!
Lulu, Parker, and Charlotte
July 21, 2017
Hello Moondance Family!
Hard to believe that we are already three days in to an incredible trip here in California!! From the moment these twelve students stepped off of their planes we knew that we were in for a special trip. We hadn’t even left baggage claim before the group was overflowing with excitement–watching these kids in the airport you would have thought they had known each other for a lifetime.
Those fast friendships have made every moment of the last three days so priceless. Our time together began at Half Moon Bay, where the students learned to set up tents on scenic bluffs overlooking the waves. After, we ran around on the beach, threw a football, and were even shocked to see every student take a dunk in the icy ocean! Despite the cold temps Ava stayed in practically until the sun went down. Then we circled round for a dinner of pizzas on the sand, an unbeatable start to two weeks of getting to share each meal together. Kemp made us laugh with his goofy riddles, and with the ocean right at our feet there were seals and other sea creatures being sighted all dinner. Finally, we held our first Moonup still peacefully collected in the sand, the sun setting in fluorescent shades of pink.
The next morning we packed up and headed towards Pacifica beach for our first day of surfing! Tyler and George set an awesome tone for the day by leading the way as our trip’s first Leaders of the Day (LODs)! They led us in a morning huddle, and then with wetsuits on and spirits high we hit the water! We could not have been more grateful for the sunny weather and ample waves. Harley, already a pro, got to go out to the bigger waves with instructor Joey and gave us plenty to aspire to! Meanwhile, Gracey blew everyone away by catching tons of waves despite this being her very first time surfing!
After surfing we piled in to the van to head for Yosemite. Everyone made the van ride fly by, singing along to every song as Lulu masterfully DJ’d. As we rolled into Yosemite for the evening, the snow along the mountain peaks was hard to believe after the blazing temps we’d felt just hours before. California has already found countless ways to surprise this crew!
Thursday, we set in to Tuolumne for our first hike! As we hiked towards Dog Lake, we knew that we were ready for a challenge and decided to tackle the entire trail to the peak of Lembert Dome! By the time we reached the top, it felt like all of Yosemite was unfolding beneath us. The views were enough to take our breaths away, as was the altitude! George and Brookie really stole the show at Lembert Dome by setting their fears of heights aside and fearlessly making it all the way to the top of the teetering vista point.
On our way down, Jack led the way—just like he had the whole hike long. His speed and boundless enthusiasm kept everyone’s energy high. Meanwhile, Taylor and Lucy has us all laughing as they prompted countless hiking sing-alongs—from the Mulan soundtrack to Alicia Keys, we covered it all. After our steep climb, arriving at Dog Lake could not have been more refreshing. The Alpine lake, nestled among the trees, made for the perfect end to our day. As we swam out, it was hard to believe this incredible view was just the one of many incredible spots we’d seen in only three days. After the lake, Caroline and Maggie found us to the perfect spot in the sun to dry off, a small meadow overlooking the mountains all around.
After these last few days together, we can only imagine how incredible the remaining time of our two weeks will be. As we sit around camp here at Yosemite, the chatter of excitement for rock climbing, rafting, and more keeps all of us eagerly awaiting the next adventure. Parker, Lulu and I could not be more thankful to share California and its countless adventures with these incredible students—nor could we more grateful to your families for sharing such an incredible group of young people with us!
Until next time!
Charlotte, Lulu, and Parker