Field Notes

Belize + Costa Rica 1A • June 12-June 25, 2018

We can't Belize the group is up in the air!

June 25, 2018

Sadly, this is our final hello!

All of the kids have departed from San Jose and are headed your way. The goodbyes were long and sad. 🙁 There were many tears amongst the laughs. We are so grateful to all of you for letting your children join us in Belize and Costa Rica this summer. This was truly such a special group of people. Everyone brought something different to the table which created a banquet for kings.

By the second day of the trip the kids were meshing like they had been friends for years. Kelli kept the group motivated, and her smile lit up the room. Hudson silently lead by example and was always willing to help out with anything that needed to be done. Kellen entertained us with stories and bright ideas. Luke was level headed and well-respected by every group member. Joseph provided constant laughter and positive reinforcement for those who needed it. Autumn laughed and laughed and alleviated seemingly tense situations. Elizabeth, being one of the oldest, had a motherly presence about her and always knew what to say.  Andrew’s boldness was inspiring. He is beyond his years. Ward was a light for the group – always ready for our next adventure. Lauren was calm and collected, especially when stepping beyond her comfort zone. Lela had a soft spoken nature that was very soothing to us all. Jane brought life to the group with silly stories. Mary Kate’s jovial spirit taught us all how to selflessly give.

These children changed our outlook on life and each taught us something different. We loved hearing about their future plans to visit each other’s home towns. The bonds we made will last forever. Again, thank you all so much for letting us grow with them. From scuba to service, we continued to learn about each other. We could have not have asked for a better group and we love them all very much. I can’t wait for them to greet y’all in the airport. They will have so much to tell y’all! Thanks again.

Best,

Lucas, Lilly, Brooks


Coming to you live, fresh off of the Pacuare River!

June 25, 2018

When we last checked in with all of you we were wrapping up our time in the community we were serving. The morning we left, we hiked over the mountain near our little homes and into a narrow valley. There we found a waterfall and splashed around in the chilly water. Harlow, our guide, gave us each a ball of greenish-blue clay. We took them and rubbed the mud all over ourselves. When I say all over, I mean all. over. It was spread onto our faces and our tummies and even our hair! We found orange clay after that and painted designs on top of the dried blue clay. Our inner Avatar was truly brought out. Lauren especially loved drawing tribal designs and looked like a jungle warrior once the clay had dried. We looked like crazy tribal people and we loved it. We rubbed off the dried clay and washed in the water. Our skin felt softer than ever – the rejuvenating clay really worked.

We hiked back to change into dry clothes and say goodbye to Harlow’s home. Across the bridge and through the jungle we went as we headed to the river to raft. We arrived late in the night to town. We ate at a sushi restaurant across from our bed and breakfast. Jane had the order of the night with a pizza, which looked incredible. We rested well that night and headed to the Pacuare River for our two days of rafting! The kids were excited to get on the river through the jungle! We began with some beginner rapids and then stopped to jump off a rock into the frigid Pacuare River. Andrew was the first to jump off while the rest followed! Mary Kate took some great footage on her go pro as she held on tightly to her helmet strap while she leaped in! We then hopped back on the raft for some more river fun. We stopped to hike up a stream where we went down a hidden waterfall slide into a swimming hole! Joseph recorded the most slides! He couldn’t get enough of it!

Down the river we went again arriving shortly at a water slide lodge where we would be staying the night. This place was beautiful- it was a hidden paradise in the jungle overlooking the river from the top of a hill. The group was fired up to stay there! We stuffed our stomachs with some tacos for lunch after a short rafting day. Our rafting guides took us on a short hike that led us to a beautiful waterfall, tucked away in the jungle, where the kids were able to jump off the rocks and swim in the refreshing stream water. Kelli conquered her fear by jumping off the rock into the pool of water! Everyone really enjoyed the hike to the waterfall, especially Ward, who leapt off the rock into the water over and over again. Later in the afternoon we were preoccupied with Spoons and other fun card games. Hudson proved to be a pro at cards and beat all of us every time! Lela loved playing Spoons and as we played card tournaments, she was always one of the last players in the game!  Between card games, Kellen, the storyteller, entertained the group with fascinating stories, both funny and scary.

After hours of cards and stories, our rafting guides made us hot chocolate to go with a delicious dinner. Later that night, we played one last game of Family and Elizabeth crushed the game and won at the very end using the name of “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” After we had many laughs while playing our favorite group game, we settled down to get a good nights sleep before our big rafting day. The next morning we taped Autumn’s flip flops to her feet with shiny silver duct tape and a big smile! It became the newest fashion statement of the trip! And to say the least her footwear was more than secure on the water. We got moving quickly and before long we were rafting the Class III and IV rapids, with amazing views of the foggy covered jungle on either side of us. Luke was very brave and he “rode the bull,” which in rafting terms meant he sat on the front of the raft while we paddled through a section of rapids. As we rafted, we saw Tuscan and Tiger herons, many waterfalls, and breathtaking mountainous views throughout the surrounding jungle. We finished off our 20 mile white water rafting section with sore arms and big smiles! After saying “Adios” to our brave rafting guides, we journeyed to our final stop before settling in for the night. Our bus driver, David, took us to a fruit market and the kids were able to try over 10 different local fruits and snacks! It was such an unexpected treat along the way! Today marks our final banquet dinner before we send the kids back your way. We are very thankful for such an amazing group of kids, and cannot Belize that these two weeks have already come to a close!


Catching Waves on the Costa Rican Coast!

June 23, 2018

Hello again! We have now emerged from the jungles of Costa Rica! Our flight here from Belize was short and easy. We read books, ate Pringles, and played a game fittingly called “Family.” We made it to our hotel for the night and slept soundly – we were all tired from the long day of travel. We had a nice breakfast of fruit of pastries and got on the road for our surfing excursion.

The van rolled through the mountains for a ways and then the scenery opened up to reveal the beautiful  coastline. That afternoon we put on our swimsuits and rash guards and walked to the beach. Our surf instructors were waiting for us and Andrew spearheaded a little swim before the lessons. The water was refreshing and the waves were perfect. Luke tirelessly fought the waves while trying to stand on his board. His persistence was impressive and it paid off. Autumn caught on quickly and was one of the last girls out in the water! The afternoon surfing came to a close with the whole group pleasantly worn out. We ate a healthy meal and called it a day. We rose early the next morning for another surf session! Everyone really crafted their surfing skills and began consistently crushing the Costa Rican waves! Hudson showed awesome improvement while on the board and turned into a pro!

Next we headed back to the mountains for our another leg exciting adventure! Joseph, as usual, was the bus ride entertainer keeping everyone laughing the whole time! This section of our trip is the service portion, which all the kids were very excited about. We ate at a camp where all the food is grown right in the backyard – it was delicious. Over 200 fruits and vegetables, you name it, are freshly grown on the property! The kids absolutely loved it! Jane and Kellen really branched out of their food comfort zone and really enjoyed the organic food offered! Our service began that afternoon when we moved and replanted young trees to areas around the river in where Hurricane Nate unfortunately destroyed the area. All the kids were engaged and worked exceptionally hard!

The next day was extremely exciting and full of service. We woke up early and headed to a local community. These service activities included cleaning up the soccer field that the local children play on, painting walls, and pouring concrete for the soccer bleachers. Lauren showed outstanding work ethic while raking, and Ward exemplified his artistic side through painting. The whole group really worked hard and enjoyed helping the community. We then played soccer with all the local kids on the field that we had worked so hard on! Our group had such an incredible time playing with the children. It was a lot of fun to see them interact! Lela had all the kids smiling while they kicked the ball around! Kelli’s smile was contagious to all the kids as well while she pushed the kids around in the wheel barrow! We then gave the donations to all the children which was an absolute joy to see! These children were so grateful and felt so loved. Elizabeth and Mary Kate colored with the children with their new coloring books!

We all felt very humbled and joyful after spending time serving this community! Our afternoon consisted of taking a tour of the farm and then making chocolate brownies with chocolate made from beans grown on the farm! The kids loved exploring the farm and trying all the different fruits. We also extracted liquid sugar from sugar cane and cheered to a glass! We finished off the day with a delicious homemade pizza; the kids were all very excited! Our group continues to grow, forming bonds that will long-outlast the time on this trip.  The group is really looking forward to embarking on our white water rafting journey on the Pacuare River. And we can’t wait to share that experience with ya’ll too!

Much love,

Brooks, Lucas, and Lilly


You'd better Belize it!

June 18, 2018

Hello Families! Lilly, Brooks, and Lucas here.

 

Everything is going swimmingly here in Belize! When the plane landed we gathered our luggage and headed to the port. There, we boarded a boat and took a two-hour long journey across the Caribbean Sea. By the time our new home was in sight we were soaked! We have now spent five nights on Long Caye. We have made this island our home and have hung our hammocks throughout the palms. The equivalent to a squirrel here is a crab and the water is crystal clear. On the first day, Lauren and Kelli were the first to jump off the dock into the turquoise water. Everyone followed suit and we laughed and laid out to dry ourselves on the dock. The weather was good to us and we have been wearing plenty of sunscreen! That afternoon we set out for our first confined dive which took place in shallow water to practice some skills. Jane took to scuba naturally and was filled with wonder for the life in the sea. For dinner, we got to sit down with the whole group as we enjoyed a classic Belizean dish of chicken, rice, and beans.

 

We slept hard and woke up for our first full day of diving. We practiced skill after skill and our instructors affirmed us in our capabilities. Hudson was brave when taking her mask on and off underwater and mastered the task. After the long days of lessons everyone was ready to hang around in dry clothes. In our down time, Ward entertained us with soft melodies with his guitar. Luke was always ready to play a game of Signs while Kellen would rally the troops for some sort of card game. Joseph even split open a coconut and let everyone have a piece. It was the perfect afternoon snack! Meanwhile, Mary Kate, Autumn, Kellen, and Andrew conquered the depths of the ocean where they faced sharks, barracudas, turtles, sting rays, and lion fish from 100 feet below. After hours of knowledge review lessons, 8 breathtaking dives, and countless scuba diving skills they received their well deserved advanced scuba certification. On the last afternoon of scuba we went 50 ft down to check out a huge reef to finalize our open water certification. That evening we came together with the advanced students and chatted about the world under the surface. Today, we got to sleep in an extra hour and woke up thinking of our dads! Happy belated Father’s day to all!

 

Our last day in Belize has been bitter sweet. We hopped on a boat that took us to a nearby island called Half Moon Caye. We explored the jungles and saw hermit crabs as big as our fists! We also got to see the indigenous red footed booby. The boat took us a little ways off the reef and we were eager to snorkel around. After exploring the patches of reef we headed back to our eco lodge for lunch. We had Elizabeth’s favorite lunch of chicken tacos. She is always willing to try new foods and encourages others to do the same. We had the opportunity to go fishing off the shore. A small group got on the small boat and of course Lela, being the adventurer that she is, led the charge. They caught fish after fish and Lucas got tons of great pictures! Showers were nice and refreshing today as we gather our belongings and pack for Costa Rica. We are watching the waves on the shore and letting the salty air blow on our faces for our last evening in Belize. This group is amazing and we are all learning so much from one another. We are thrilled for them to tell of their adventures back at home. In the meantime, the kids wanted to send a little message to the dads today so we wrote down our thoughts.

 

Kelli- happy Father’s Day dad having tons of fun! See you and mom soon! Thanks for sending me on this amazing trip! Love you both so so so much!,

 

Autumn-hey Steve, happy Father’s Day and love you so much. I’ll see y’all soon! Oh and don’t forget to tell bobo and cash and LUKE that I miss them!! Oh and tell mom I miss her too! I can’t wait to come home and eat food and shower and sleep in my own stuff!! Also I can’t wait to tube and jet ski like the usual! By the way thanks for letting me come on this trip it’s realllllly fun! Oh and I also got my advanced certification and saw 4 sharks and a cute turtle that followed us around. Oh and we saw an eagle ray that got really close to us, which was super cool. Anyways have fun on your day and love you and miss you!

 

Elizabeth- happy Father’s Day bro!!! I’m having so much fun with my group and im so thankful to be here too. I love you!!!

 

Hudson- Happy Father’s Day dad!!! Thank you for this opportunity and I’m having a blast! Love you!!!

 

Mary Kate- Happy Father’s Day! I miss you so much and I hope you enjoyed Father’s Day today. Thank you for letting me go on this trip because this is one of the best experiences ever and I can’t wait to come home and see you and tell you about my experiences so far. I love you so much and thank you for being my father. <3

 

Jane- Happy Father’s Day Dad!!!!! Thank you so much for this trip, I’m having SO much fun with my group & leaders! I got certified to scuba yesterday and I had so much fun through out the process! I love and miss you and Mom so much and I can’t wait to tell y’all all about my trip when I get home!

 

Lauren- Hey dad, just wanted to wish you a happy Father’s Day, I love u so much!!! I’m having so much fun here at Moondance with some amazing counselors and friends. Love u dad. Tell the rest of the fam I say hi and love them all!

 

Lela- happy Father’s Day dad!!! I am having so much fun and am so thankful to be here. I have met some pretty amazing people! See y’all soon!

 

Luke – Happy Father’s Day! I am having an awesome time at camp. I’m sorry I can’t be there today to be with you. I am certified in scuba! We did four dives, it was awesome. The reef dive was amazing. I love you sorry I can’t be home. Everyone here is awesome and fun. We leave to Costa Rica tomorrow. It will be super cool to surf. It’s been awesome so far can’t wait to talk to you more when I get home. Bye, love you.

 

Joseph-Hey Dad, Happy Father’s Day. Thanks for sending me on this trip. It’s really fun. Have a good Father’s Day.

 

Andrew-Hey Dad, Happy Father’s Day. I am having a great time here in Belize. Tell Mom I am good. Love you so much.

 

Kellen- Happy Father’s Day Dad! I’m having a great time in Belize. I’m thinking of you today and hoping you have a great day.

 

Ward- Hey Dad Happy Father’s Day. I miss you and love you. Thank you so much for allowing me to be here.


All students have arrived!

June 12, 2018

Hello Belize + Costa Rica families!

All students (and bags) have arrived in Belize City and the trip is on its way! More updates to come, so be on the lookout!

-Moondance HQ


Students

  • Joseph
  • Andrew
  • Ward
  • Kelli
  • Autumn
  • Elizabeth
  • Lela
  • Jane
  • Kellen
  • Mary
  • Luke
  • Hudson
  • Lauren

Staff