Field Notes

South Africa 1A • June 13-June 29, 2017

Final Farewell from South Africa

June 30, 2017

Hello to all!! 

Hard to believe that our trip flew by this fast. It seems like just yesterday we were all meeting at the Atlanta airport to begin our adventures. However, at the same time it feels like we have all been friends for months if not years. It’s amazing how experiencing some of these incredible adventures together can create such a strong bond so quickly. 

Mozambique was good to us for our final stretch of the trip. Our time there was full of warm weather, delicious food, crashing waves, and loads of sea creatures. All of our finger crossing paid off and on our first ocean safari we got the unparalleled opportunity to swim with a whale shark. Elizabeth and Kate swallowed many mouthfuls of salt water through their snorkels because of their uncontrollable laughter upon seeing the whale shark so close to them. It was also the first time this particular whale shark had been seen and identified in the ocean which was an added bonus. In addition, we saw many other sea creatures during our time scuba diving, that is if Eli’s fins weren’t blocking your view seeing as he was notorious for hitting people with them. It was many people’s first time scuba diving and they rocked it! Abby White provided a good laugh to the group as she tried to put her legs through the arm holes of her wet suit, but once situated right she rocked the reef. Others, like Melita, Alex, and Abby R. were seasoned veterans having scuba dived before and were like little fish under water. During our free time we played many games of kickball, where Caroline “big foot” Hereford led the Snail team to victory with her booming kicks. We also visited the local market where Briggs taught us all a lesson on bargaining as we watched him work each vendor to purchase the perfect wooden instrument. 
 
After our time at Mozambique had come to an end we hopped on back over to South Africa, our home away from home. We spent our last two nights as Ukutula, an incredible Lion Reserve. We began our last day playing with 4 month old baby lions who were absolutely precious. If TSA would allow it I think everyone would have brought back one of these precious cubs in their bags. Martha Ann had a way with the lions and played a game of hide and go seek with a few of them. Parker fearlessly led the way on our lion walk as we were within arms reach of three fully grown lions. We were left speechless from our time at Ukutula and it was the perfect way to end our trip. 
 
The airport was a sad time as we all had to say goodbye to friends we had grown so close to. If only our trip could have been a little longer. We made all the kids promise to stay in touch and we are so pumped to see the big things they do in life because they’re all such incredible people. We feel lucky to have gotten to spend the last 17 days in the South African bush with each of them, so thanks to all the parents for letting us have this privilege. Hoping all our paths cross again sometime soon.
 
Missing everyone already!!! 
 
-Stew and Liz 

The Big FIVE!

June 23, 2017

Hey folks and greetings from Inhambane, Mozambique! 

   So far, our trip has progressed to an amazing level of fun that has been absolutely jam packed with incredible sights and adventures. Our safari experience in Marataba was unrivaled as we were lucky enough to observe some of the world’s most incredible animals in their natural habitats. Our group watched as Abby R went berserk any time a baby animal crossed our path. She was particularly enthralled during our encounter with multiple families of warthogs, which are cuter than they get credit for. Kate put her safari skills to work from the scouting seat on our jeep as we weaved our way through the South African bush. She was able to apply some of the knowledge that we learned from our amazing guides, Ryan, Andrew, and Stephanie, in identifying animals as well as their tracks with overflowing enthusiasm. 

   When it came to our amazing campout underneath the starry sky of the Southern Hemisphere, Caroline and Melita dominated their role in watching over the campsite throughout the night. They succeeded in keeping the group entertained, safe, and excited for the duration of the campout. We also enjoyed a tasty, traditional south African braii (cookout) that was prepared by our very own Briggs, who now goes by the title of “master braiier” due to his success on the grill. It was tough to say goodbye to our temporary home in the monkey camp, but the future proved to be bright and filled with excitement. 

    After the conclusion of our safari portion, we moved on to the Bushveld Mission Children’s Home that supports over 65 amazing children. Our group began this service portion of our trip with physical upgrades to the home, itself. Elizabeth in particular made substantial improvements throughout its inside while helping give the walls a fresh coat of paint. She did so with a perpetual smile and good attitude. Next, we moved on to paint signs for the doors of the kids’ rooms. This was a massive group effort and had everyone putting their artistic skills to work. Lastly, we also helped with installing a new sink in the kitchen. Eli led the charge with the sledgehammer busting the concrete holding the old sink in place before replacing it with the new one. All of these were small little projects that left a big impact on the home. After we finished our work, the children returned from school and Martha Ann broke the ice with a great deal of bold enthusiasm, warming the little ones up to the idea of becoming our friends. Soon after, the kids created unbreakable bonds with each and every Moondancer. Parker (aka spider man) constantly had a minimum of 5 kids hanging from his limbs as they screamed with excitement. Abby W had a new hairdo within minutes of playing with the kiddos as they were mesmerized by her long luscious brown hair. Alex was learning all the latest South African dance moves from the girls, her closest pal Laila in particular, and even showing off some of her own as well. The stories go on about the special connections each Moondancer had with the kids of the home, but to sum it all up it truly was two of the most joy-filled days of our trip thus far. Tears were shed and notes were exchanged as we boarded the bus after our last day and had to say goodbye to our new friends. They have left a special mark on our hearts and hopefully we have done the same to them. 

Today we had a little change of scenery as we traveled across the border to Mozambique where the second half of our trip awaits us. Within an hour of arriving, we were already swimming in the water. There’s a high likelihood that we may even grow our own pair of gills before our time here is finished considering the amount of time we’ll be in the water over the next few days. Everyone is eager to get their fins on and begin scuba diving and exploring all the incredible life beneath the ocean surface. 

What an incredible trip it’s been thus far and it only keeps getting better with each passing day!!! Stay tuned for more adventures to come!!

-Stew and Liz 
Shoutouts: 

Hey mom,dad, Campbell and baker,

I’m having such an incredible time here in South Africa. We saw 4 out of the big 5 and saw lions ten feet away from us. We rode elephants and played with them. Happy belated Father’s Day dad. Thanks for being an awesome dad. 

Love y’all and see y’all soon,

Parker

Hey newt and beef miss and love y’all! also happy belated bday and Father’s Day dad love u so much -Caroline 

Hey fam!! I am having a blast and never want to leave!! I miss y’all and love y’all so much! I hope dad liked his Father’s Day video it was so funny. Again I can’t wait to see y’all but I honestly wanna stay here forever! Love y’all

Alex 

Hey Mom and Rob!!! Love and miss you so much! Give Cosmo lots of hugs and kisses from me…and ran too. I never want to leave!!! Love you and miss you so much. 

Melita

Hey fam! I’m having an amazing time here and I wish y’all could be here to see all the amazing things we’ve been able to do! James…please don’t let me come home to see you in the hospital for something dumb lol. Love and miss y’all so much! Give sutter some love for me! 

Martha Ann 

Hey! I miss and love you guys so much, but I have been having the time of my life in Africa. I can’t wait to come back home and fill you in. I’ve also have written down some good possible dog names, so maybe don’t get too settled on one yet. I hope everything is great back at home. 

Love-Briggs 

Hey mom and dad!!! I miss y’all so so much but I am having the best time in Africa, y’all would love it here! I hope you had a good Father’s Day dad!! Give sam and jack a treat for me! I can’t wait to see y’all but don’t want to leave! Love you to the moon and back! Don’t let bass get in too much trouble <3

Love Kate 

Hey mom and dad!! South Africa has been so fun, and I’m having the best time!! I wish y’all were here to experience it with me. I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to tell y’all all about it!! Happy belated Father’s Day dad!! I love y’all!!! 

-Elizabeth

Hey Dad, Chloe, and Mom,

 I’m having such a good time in Africa. I’ve met and made such great friends on this trip. Dad happy belated Father’s Day!!! Hopefully you and Chloe had fun without me. You guys wouldn’t believe all the amazing things I’ve seen on this trip, I’m truly speechless. Again miss y’all so much and see you soon.

-Abby W

Mom and dad! Love and miss y’all so much but I am having a lot of fun. Africa is so cool! Love and miss you too Mg 😉 give Cali and teddy kisses from me! Happy birthday mom love you so much and happy belated Father’s Day dad! Can’t wait to tell y’all all about it! Love y’all so much!

– Abby R

Hey mom and dad! I’m on the plane right now headed to the beach. I’m having a great time but being with so many girls is really reminding me how great woodberry is. I’m making lots of new friends and can’t wait to come home and play some baseball! I hope all is well in Chicago and that mason hasn’t broken anything at camp yet. Sorry I couldn’t wish dad a happy Father’s Day but I hope he had a great day. Lots of love and see y’all soon!

-Eli


Elephants, oh my!

June 16, 2017

Hello to all back home!

 Well, we did it. We survived the much anticipated 16 hour flight yesterday and we owe it all to the countless movies we watched, the ever so delicious airline food, and the good pals we had to keep us company. Upon arrival in Johannesburg, we shuttled over to our first hotel for the night where we enjoyed our first meal of everyone’s favorite comfort food: pizza! There were many conversations had over dinner getting to know one another and our group is really starting to become a close knit crew after only a few short days. 

Our two first “Leaders of the Day”, Kate and Eli woke us up for our big day today. They were chosen last night in our Moonup to be our first LODs because of their constant positivity and radiant joy they both embody. Throughout the day, they were continually asking how they could help and keeping the group morale high, so they’ve set a high bar for our LODs to come. Today, we left our hotel to travel to the town of Bela Bela for our time at a place called Adventures with Elephants. Our road trip was chock full of many road games, including the impossible riddle given by Briggs that Elizabeth so cleverly solved after a good 30 minutes of struggling. When we arrived at Adventures with Elephants we had no idea of the experience we were about to have. To begin, we were introduced to the 5 elephants, which each had their own unique personalities and stories. We were taught about their incredible senses of smell and memory by Alex, Martha Ann, and Caroline who removed their shoes for the elephants to return to them based on their individual smells. We learned about their playfulness by passing a soccer ball back and forth with them. We discovered their humor by watching them “drink water” which they didn’t really drink at all but rather just sprayed all over us, leaving Abby R. and Melita soaked at the front of the group. At least we don’t have to take showers again tonight! To end this incredible experience, we all got to take a ride on the elephants. Sitting atop elephants while surrounded by friends, we looked out over the vastness of the incredible South African plains as the sun was setting and it was a sight we will never forget. Parker’s smile in particular will be hard to forget as he paraded around the Bush on his own personal elephant in our second tour. 

Now, we have made our way to the Monkey Campsite in the NJ Moore game reserve with an incredible setup and wildlife surrounding. Our Moonup tonight was entertaining as always as we huddled around a crackling campfire. It featured hilarious stories- one of which nearly knocked Abby W. off her chair. We can tell that we are in for an incredible time here exploring the South African Bush!!!

Stay tuned for more updates in the future!!!!!

Stew and Liz Cox


All Arrived!

June 14, 2017

Hi South Africa Families,

We’ve spoken with the leaders, and everyone’s arrived in Johannesburg. We’re excited for the adventure to begin! Stay tuned…

-The Moondance Administrative Team

 


Students

  • Parker
  • Briggs
  • Elizabeth
  • Kate
  • Alex
  • Eli
  • Caroline
  • Martha Ann
  • Melita
  • Abby
  • Abby

Staff