July 31, 2017
Dear Moondance family,
Wow what an incredible past 2 weeks it has been. We can’t believe that it’s already over. This group has been absolutely amazing and have been such a joy to be able to get to know. These children really are so caring and unique and all are so full of adventure. We feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people. Thanks for making this such an awesome summer!
Our first day of surfing could not have been better. Everyone was so excited and did not let the cold water bring them down. The LODs for the day were Eileen and Tommy. What a great duo and having it be Eileen’s birthday made it even more fun. Both helped the group to remain energetic and positive. That morning we ate donuts to begin the celebrations for Eileen and I think Jamie ate the most donuts I have ever seen someone eat. It was very impressive! After breakfast we headed to Pacifica Beach for some awesome waves. Annie and Claire helped to lead the pack by catching some waves right off the bat. The guides were so impressed with how quickly the group picked it up! They were naturals. After surfing we into Half Moon Bay the town and shopped around. Camille M. and Lizzie pranked Jack and put a gold fish in his water bottle. He drank some of his water without even noticing it! It was awesome and made us all die laughing! That night we had an intense Iron Chef show down and Cooper, Mack, Camille C, Cece, Claire, and Michael’s team won in a close battle. They created delicious hash brown chicken sandwiches, but there compliments and back rubs to the judges is really what sent them over the top. Cooper and Michael’s culinary skills also really helped to benefit their team.
Our final day together could not have been more perfect. We surfed in the morning with perfect weather and lots of smiling faces. Our LODs for the last day was Cooper and Camille M. They were awesome leaders to end with and both were so confident and positive. Connor was such a good sport and never complained even when he fell off his board. His great attitude was an awesome addition to our day. After surfing we cleaned the van and uhaul and the kids were an awesome help. Cece and Michael especially were helpful in vacuuming and washing the pots. Each made it fun for all of us and did an awesome job. Finishing the day off we headed to the thrift store where everyone bought there craziest outfits. Cooper, Mack, and Jamie’s outfit out shined everyone by dressing as the girls. They went all out and had everyone laughing the whole night. Annie’a outfit was also amazing and she dressed up as Jack – they looked scary similar. We had a great final meal at Tres Amigos, which was very bitter sweet.
This group really has gotten so close and has felt just like family. Everyone is so loving and full of joy. We got so lucky to have such a great group of kids and can’t thank y’all enough for giving us the chance to get to know them. We hope y’all have a great rest of your summer!
Jack, Mary Hill, and Sarah
July 29, 2017
Greetings from Half Moon Bay!
What a special past few days these have been! Yesterday, we spent the day hiking around Point Reyes National Seashore to the beach for a relaxing afternoon of playing by the water and building sand castles. Connor and Eileen led the group in some epic sand castle designs, building a mermaid tail on top of Eileen. And Annie and Mack also got the whole group to do a polar plunge with some much needed sun basking to warm up afterwards. Cooper helped us finish the night off by building us a fire for s’mores with some good bonding and smiles all around.
Today we are celebrating our one and only, Michael’s birthday! We woke Michael up in his tent with a birthday song, ice cream sandwiches, donuts and watermelon to follow for a celebratory breakfast. Tommy and Jamie were super helpful in leading the entire group to break down camp and get the van cleaned and Uhaul packed for leaving our campsite afterwards. We then headed to the Golden Gate Bridge where we all embarked on a walk across it. Cece and Liz led the group across in high spirits not letting the fog bring us down in the slightest! Afterwards we headed to In-N-Out for our traditional meal there. We munched on some delicious burgers and fries with some soda on the side before heading to the beach town of Sausalito for some exploring. Claire and Camille helped lead the group around the town finding some great ice cream spots and even a funky sock shop to get some gifts for family and friends.
We are now headed to Half Moon Bay for our surfing section of the trip and couldn’t be more stoked.
Off to continue on the birthday marathon with Eileen’s birthday tomorrow…
Happy trails and celebratin’,
Sarah, Jack, and Mary Hill
July 26, 2017
Greetings from the Moondance van!
We just finished an absolutely stunning hike up to Vernal Falls down in the valley and are now en route to Point Reyes National Seashore. We have had an awesome past few days rock climbing and hiking in Yosemite National Park.
Our first day in Yosemite was spent in Tuolumne Meadows hiking up to the top of Lembert Dome. Our LODs for the day, Michael and Annie, did a great job leading the group up with enthusiasm. We then spent the late afternoon swimming on the shores of June Lake at our campsite. Cece and Camille led the group in a polar plunge run into the cool waters, and rallied everyone to play some card games in the sand afterwards. We finished the day with some delicious Pad Thai and Moonup under the stars.
The next two days in Yosemite were spent rock climbing in Tuolumne Meadows. Our guides from Yosemite Mountaineering School helped everyone learn the ropes of rock climbing, repelling and even how to climb up cracks. Claire and Mack impressed everyone with their enthusiasm for climbing, and also their proficient nature in the technical skills needed to successfully climb up the rocks. Connor was not only a stellar climber, but also a super supportive belayer-both physically and mentally.
Liz was the queen of crack climbing as she sped up the rocks with no fear and lots of skilled confidence. Cook crew treated us to some delicious BBQ quesadillas and red chicken curry those two nights. Cooper and Tommy were super helpful in the kitchen making the chicken curry, a definite meal favorite among the group. This morning, we made our way up the trails to the majestic Vernal Falls. Jamie and Eileen led the group under rainbows up the stone stairs along the misty trail leading up to the top of the waterfall. We made a lunch stop to make some hearty sandwiches and get some souvenirs at the Village Store in Yosemite Valley before heading to our next campsite.
As leaders, we are so grateful to be leading such a dynamic and passionate group of young individuals, and we are ecstatic about what the rest of the trip has to hold!
Sarah, Jack, and Mary Hill
July 22, 2017
Greetings from the ultimate road trip!
We are en route to Yosemite National Park, and couldn’t be more excited! We just had an awesome two days rafting the whitewater rapids of the American River and sleeping under the stars at Camp Lotus.
Our first afternoon at Camp Lotus was spent swimming off the beach at our campsite. Michael led everyone on a swim down a little current in the river; it was a blast. Mack, Jamie and Lizzie treated us to some delicious hot dogs and mac’n’cheese for dinner, and Camille N.L. and Connor (our LODs for the day) led us in a great Moonup. They had some really insightful questions regarding a most fearful experience in life thus far, and then asked what everyone’s best experience in life has been to end on a high note! Everyone had really thoughtful answers to give, and as leaders we were humbled by everyone’s sense of maturity and listening skills.
Our first day on the rapids was awesome! We hit some Class III rapids with power and enthusiasm. Cooper and Tommy led one raft in the front two seats with their proficiency and strength, while also taking on the splash zone for most of the rapids. Eileen and Mary Hill took a little hike along the river after helping to push the raft off of a rock, and got to jump in a rapid off of a rock to swim to the boat afterwards! We were then treated to some delicious lunch and dinner by our Outfitters, and Claire was super helpful in helping to clean dishes after a yummy supper. Annie and Camille M. were the queens of the game Blazo that everyone took a hand at last night where two people each stand on a tin holding an end of rope and trying to get the other person off of it by pulling their end. Today, we rafted some more Class III rapids, and Sarah’s raft took over another boat on the river in an epic splash fight! We fueled up with some filling sandwiches and frozen yogurt before hitting the road with Jack as the chauffeur.
Off to listen to some good ole road trip tunes!
Sarah, Jack, and Mary Hill
July 21, 2017
Dear Moondance family,
What an amazing start to our adventure! They were packed with so much fun and great energy. After picking the kids up from the airport we headed to Lake Tahoe. The kids were excited for the nice change in temperature with it being in the 70s with a nice wind to keep us cool. The next morning we woke up to go kayaking on the lake. Our Leaders of the Day (LODs) were Lizzie and Cooper. They were the perfect duo by already having a moondance trip under their belts to help lead the way and set the tone for the rest of the trip! Their encouragement and confidence was contagious and created an awesome atmosphere. Camille M and Claire picked up kayaking so quickly and lead the pack the whole time with huge smiles on their faces… the guides could not get over this was their first time. At lunch we could not get Jamie and Tommy out of the water, and they eventually got everyone to join in! Their contagious laughter and enthusiasm helped to keep everyone else upbeat. Once we got done kayaking we went to the beach close to our camp site and it was a perfect way to end to a great day. After dinner Mack had everyone rolling over laughing making us go to bed with smiles on our faces.
Today we hit the lake again and had a nice relaxing morning paddle boarding. The weather was amazing again and helped us to take in the beauty of the mountains surrounding us. The LODs for today are Cece (Camille Chiller) and Connor another awesome pair! They had been so helpful yesterday and it continued even more today. Both of them are so positive and energetic it helps to keep everyone in great spirits. Michael by far beat all of us and was such a natural at it but was patient enough to wait for all of us stragglers. Annie lead the group in swimming even though everyone was a little hesitant about the cold water. Her confidence though helped to inspire us and push aside our fears. Eileen has felt like our little helper today and always seems to be there to help out whenever we need someone. It’s incredible! Although Eileen has been so helpful, the group as a whole really has been such a huge help to us and have been so enthusiastic and fun! The past 2 days truly have been great and the group is already starting to feel like one big family. We cannot get over how great these kids are and easygoing they have been. Thank you for sharing them with us!
Jack, Mary Hill, and Sarah