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Maui 2A • June 30-July 13, 2017

Goodbye...for now!

July 13, 2017

We cannot believe the kiddos fly home tonight 🙁 Saying goodbye a few hours ago was one of the hardest goodbyes we have ever experienced. The friendships made on this trip are truly authentic and lifelong, so we know this goodbye is only temporary! Your kids are responsible, passionate, caring, witty, kind, and FUN. They woke up every morning and went to bed every night with contagious smiles that radiated throughout Maui.

This morning we enjoyed breakfast at IHOP because we cleaned up camp in record timing! IHOP had some crazy items on the menu this morning: Anna McLaughlin ordered the best cupcake pancakes, Nolan devoured strawberry and banana cream pancakes, and Louise and Lily Allen demolished chocolate chip pancakes. After breakfast, we went to two car washes to clean our van. Cammie got down and dirty with the vacuum, and Gibbs and Maggie scrubbed the outside with soap. While at the car wash, Claude and Emma initiated a dance party to make cleaning easier. We dreaded washing the van for about a week, but the dance party and the positive attitudes made the daunting task bearable.

Anna McCall and Ellie led cook crew during lunch today; they satisfied everyone’s appetite with tasty mac and cheese before we headed to the airport. Everyone is safely in flight now, and we are praying for a safe arrival back home. Your kids exemplify what it means to be a Moondance student, and they have made this second trip unforgettable. They have made an impact not only on each other but also on us as leaders. Though they may be six or seven years younger than us, we looked to them for encouragement and advice throughout the trip. They are world changers, and we cannot wait to see where their life journey takes them. Thank you, again, for sharing them with us this summer. We are looking forward to staying in touch with them for years to come!

One Big Family

July 12, 2017

We just wrapped up our last Moonup, and tears were shed! We feel like we arrived on Maui yesterday. At Moonup tonight we laughed about how awkward we all were on the first day, and now we all can’t stand the thought of leaving each other tomorrow night.

The past three days have been the service portion of our trip. On Saturday, we snorkeled at Ulua Beach with Hawaii Wildlife Fund where we learned about the native species on Maui. Maggie, Emma, and Claude had an octopus ink on them! The kids said the ink was the weirdest thing they’ve ever seen. On Sunday, we participated in manual labor at Uncle Oliver’s in the valley.  Nolan and Anna McLaughlin initiated a mud fight in a swamp behind Uncle’s house and eventually the whole team was covered head to toe in mud. The pictures from the mud fight are amazing! On our last day of service, we helped Hawaii Wildlife Fund with a research project on Hawksbill turtles. Louise, Lily Allen, and Cammie snorkeled through a coral archway twelve feet underwater.

This morning, we went stand up paddle boarding at Makena Beach Landing. Gibbs won the paddle boarding race by a long shot and left us all to eat his bubbles. This afternoon, we spent our last day on the beach. Everyone soaked up the sun and body surfed for the last time. After the beach, we went to Goodwill to thrift shop for clothes to wear to our banquet dinner tonight. Dressed in ridiculously tacky outfits, we made our way to Serpicos Pizza for our last big meal. We all are sleeping outside tonight under the stars. The Maui stars are absolutely surreal.

We are such a tight knit group of friends, and it’s going to be so hard to say goodbye tomorrow. Ellie and Anna McCall were chosen as the last pair of LODs for tomorrow. We are looking forward to their contagious smiles and positive spirits! These kids are amazing– thank you for sharing them with us these past two weeks!!!

Let the good times roll!

July 7, 2017

On Wednesday and Thursday, our group went windsurfing at Kanaha Beach Park. The kids did an amazing job challenging themselves and keeping a positive mindset. Windsurfing is definitely not one of our easiest activities, but our group had the best time trying and trying again! After windsurfing on Wednesday, we hosted a cookout at a small beach park. Everyone enjoyed Will’s tasty burgers and juicy watermelon. We had Moonup overlooking the beach while we watched the sunset. We lit sparklers that were left over from July 4th and took pictures that we will all keep forever.

After windsurfing on Thursday, we made tacos at our campsite before heading to Lahaina for our town day. The kids were able to wash their clothes at a laundromat and spend the afternoon walking around local shops. We enjoyed dinner at a rooftop restaurant and then treated ourselves to dessert because it was hot and who doesn’t love a good scoop of homemade Hawaiian ice cream?! We have had so much fun being together this past week. All of the kids and the leaders cannot stop smiling and laughing. We are so blessed to have each other to share these sweet memories with! It is currently Friday morning, and we are headed to rappel down waterfalls. I passed my phone around the car this morning so that the kids could give y’all a shout out! Here is what they came up with… 🙂

Claude-  Hey mom, I have been having a blast in Maui. We have done so much fun activities. Cannot wait to tell you about them. P.S. I sent a post card to our address but it is meant for gran gran. Love you.

Nolan- Hey mom and dad. I am having so much fun in Maui. Thank you for allowing me and paying for me to go on this great trip. Thank you love you.

Maggie- Hey mom and dad! I miss y’all so much! It is so amazing here and I am having so much fun! It is so so pretty. My counselor and group is awesome. We went on an amazing hike with the coolest view. Mom you would have loved it. We have done so many fun things but my favorite thing was probably going out on the boat and snorkeling around Maui. Tell everyone I say hi! Miss and love y’all!

Cammie- Hey mom and dad!! Happy birthday mom!!! We were able to write these on your exact bday 🙂 Sad I can’t be with you on your big day but sending you a big hug from Maui!! I’m having so much fun!! We’ve done so many fun activities but my favorite has been surfing!! And we went on the prettiest hike y’all would’ve loved it! Can’t wait to tell y’all all about it! I love and miss y’all so much!! You too smiles!!

Anna McLaughlin- Hey mom and dad!! I miss y’all! I hope y’all had so much fun in Cincinnati and Indiana. So sad I couldn’t see the cousins, but I hope y’all had so much fun. I am having a blast! I love it here. It is beautifullllllll!!!!!!! Thank you so much for letting me come here it is honestly life changing and I love everyone including our counselors. I hope Jack and Maggie are good too. Oh, and the turtles ;)!! Love and miss y’all so much! See y’all soon:))

Ellie- Hey mom and dad! I’m having so much fun and I’ve been journaling everyday so I can tell y’all everything we have done! Tell Benjamin I said hey. Miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all!!

Gibbs – Hey mom and dad, I’m having a great time in Maui, thank y’all so much for sending me. My group and counselors are great, and I love y’all.

Anna- Hey mom and dad!! Maui is beautiful and I’m having such an amazing time! I love love love my group and leaders and I can’t imagine leaving them:( We have done so many fun activities and we have had many fun van rides hahahahah, anyways thank you so so much for letting me come on this amazing trip! I love and miss y’all so so much!! Say hi to the rat for me!!

Emma-Hey mom and dad!! This trip has been incredible. I have loved all of our activities! I really loved snorkeling and surfing! The island is so beautiful! I cannot wait to tell you all about this amazing trip! We have grown so close with our leaders and our group! It will be really hard to leave them! I hope that you all had a fun trip at the beach! Sending lots of love and can’t wait to see you!!! Love you!

Lily Allen- Hey mom and dad Maui is fantastic I never want to leave. Our counselors are so fun and our group is the best. I hope y’all are having fun. Can’t wait to see y’all. Love you lots.

Louise Mercer – Hey mom and dad (and Marge), Maui is beautiful! I love it. The water is pretty. We went on the really long hike but we made it to the top and we were in the clouds. It was cool. Also we have done lots of rely coooool snorkeling. And I got good GoPro vids. Also, yesterday was our town day and Lily and I got hair wraps and braids. Hope y’all are having fun at home with the cats. Love y’all.

Surfin' USA!

July 5, 2017

Happy belated Fourth of July!! The past two days have flown by! The kids are all happy and healthy and loving every minute. On Monday, we had the best time surfing. Being the natural surfer that he is, Nolan was immediately given a shorter board and rode the waves all by himself. Louise, Claude, Cammie, and Maggie hopped up on their board on their first wave into shore! Gibbs mastered a 180-degree twist by his third time catching a wave, and Ellie and Anna McL double teamed the waves as they rode side by side. Needless to say, the kids made their leaders look incredibly clumsy :). On Tuesday, we went snorkeling at Molokini Crater to celebrate the Fourth of July. Hayes Hitchens, Moondance President + Founder, joined us on our snorkeling tour! We had SO MUCH fun. Emma and Anna McCall were the first ones in and the last ones out. We all had the best time looking at huge sea turtles, colorful fish, and intimidating eels. At the end of our snorkeling tour, we all participated in a dive contest off the side of the boat. All the girls did backflips, and the boys attempted but most ended with a front or back buster. Last night, we made tacos and nachos and treated ourselves to red, white, and blue cupcakes. We have some pretty talented chefs with us in Maui, especially Lily, our kitchen connoisseur. Our activity today does not start until noon, so the kids are enjoying some extra time to sleep this morning. They all say hello and that they miss you all!!! 

The Fun has Just Begun!

July 3, 2017

Everyone has arrived on Maui safely and is ready to have the trip of a lifetime!

We are so excited about the next two weeks with your kids: they are amazing. Each day has been filled with thrilling adventures and lifelong memories, and it’s only day three. After everyone arrived on Friday afternoon, we picked up pizza from a local restaurant and took it back to our campground in Makawao. Once we were all stuffed with pizza, Will taught us a lesson on how to set up our tents before we tried ourselves. A torrential downpour began while we were setting up the tents, but every child kept a smile on his or her face despite the rain and wind. Friday night before bed, we introduced the kids to Moonup, our nightly tradition of gathering together as a group and reflecting on our day, and gave them an opportunity to learn each other’s names. Anna McC and Nolan were selected as our first pair of Leaders of the Day (LODs). As LODs, the pair leads cook crew, tells the group what to pack for the day, and makes sure the group morale stays positive throughout the day. Every day, two new people serve as the LODs.

On Saturday, we went to a beach park in the morning and zip-lining in the afternoon. At the beach, Claude spotted a Hawaiian monk seal, and Cammie and Maggie were two of the first students to see a Hawaiian green sea turtle! At the zip-lining ranch, the students showed us what it meant to “zip fast.” They all propelled through the air as fast as lightning. This morning, we went kayaking near the south end of Maui. We played a version of football while we were kayaking, and it ended with most of us sore from laughter. Lily and Louise accidentally flipped their kayak over when they reached over to retrieve the ball. After we played “football,” we anchored our boats and went snorkeling for the first time since we’ve been here. Ellie and Anna McL mastered their first time snorkeling like champions! We all saw the most beautiful sea turtles, sea urchins, and native fish around the coral reef. This afternoon we visited another beach park where we body surfed for about four hours. We had too much fun getting covered in sand and swallowing salt water. The whole group is getting along great and everyone seems to be having the best time. After Moonup tonight, the LODs from today chose Emma and Gibbs for our LODs tomorrow. We are so excited to see what the next few days hold! Everyone is healthy and headed to bed for the night. 🙂 

Touched Down, Maui!

July 1, 2017

Hi Maui Families!

We heard from our leaders in Maui and everyone arrived safely on the island. Stay tuned for more posts about the adventure ahead!

-The Moondance Team


  • Lily
  • Maggie
  • Cammie
  • Gibbs
  • Emma
  • Anna
  • Anna
  • Louise
  • Nolan
  • Claude
  • Ellie