July 12, 2018
We cannot Belize that this trip has come to an end! These last two weeks were filled with many laughs, funny inside jokes, unforgettable memories, and special friendships that we know will last a lifetime. The kids have all departed from the Belize City airport and they are headed home. Our final Moonup last night was bitter sweet- we gazed at the brightly lit sky and enjoyed the last few moments together, while we talked about our vivid memories we made together. Abby and King were our last LODs and they asked the group “What will you miss the most about Moondance? What will you miss, specifically, about being apart of this BCR family? What did you learn while you were on this trip?” Everyone had very inspiring and mature answers to all of these questions, and they shared what their biggest take aways were from this trip. To close Moonup, the LODs read an inspirational quote by a Oliver Wendell Holmes, that said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” This quote perfectly demonstrates that these kids will always hold these new memories and new friendships with them, even after the conclusion of the trip. Every one of the kids had something strong to bring to the table, which created a trip of a lifetime! Nick proved to be a strong leader from the beginning and was able to bring the group together to create a strong group dynamic. Sally kept the group morale high and showed us how to live optimistically, by always focusing on the positive. Margaret, with the voice of an angel, sang for us during several Moonups and played her Ukulele so beautifully. Reece showed to have a big, caring heart, because he was always willing to provide help to anyone in the group. Livy silently led her peers by being gentle and kind to all. King had a thirst for knowledge and made everyone feel important. Ally laughed and laughed and had the ability to brighten any room with her positive energy. Ben was quick to step up and take on a leadership role, by always offering to help out even before being asked. Wilson was vivacious, provided us many laughs, and faced each new activity with a light hearted attitude. Fiona, being one of the oldest, had a mature presence and was well-respected by every group member. William was self aware throughout the trip and constantly showed he had a very caring character. Abby was a people person and formed bonds with every group member, because she made people feel loved and important. Gibbs remained easy going throughout every new challenge we faced as a group, and he had the ability to get along with anyone. Each kid taught us something different over the course of these amazing two weeks, and we are so grateful that we had the opportunity to form bonds with them. They have formed strong bonds with each other and have already made plans to visit each other’s hometowns. Thank you so much for allowing us to grow with these kids and get to know them on a deeper level. This trip has truly been a trip of a lifetime!
All our best,
Brooks, Lilly, Tejas
July 11, 2018
We can’t believe that this last hello has come so quickly! As we wrap up our time here on Long Caye in Belize we have chatted about the wonders and excitement of the trip as a whole. We made it to Belize safely and with everyone’s passports and belongings accounted for. When we got to the airport, Ben helped to throw everyone’s bags in the back of a pickup truck and we headed to our hotel. We woke up early and boarded a 25 foot boat in a harbor right next to the hotel. The boat ride was long and bumpy and even a little wet. We cruised through barrier islands and mangrove forests and then open ocean until we reached our new home on Long Caye. William was absolutely soaked by the end of the ride and somehow Fiona ended up completely dry. It seemed they unknowingly chose more (or less) favorable sides of the boat. Those who needed to got to dry off and we had a delicious lunch of chicken tostadas. Then, to diving of course! The water here is crystal clear and the sand is white. The boat took us a little ways off the island to shallow water where we completed our confined water dives. This consisted of various skills such as removing our masks and clearing the water out, sharing air with our buddies, and using a compass to navigate under the surface. Abby immediately took to SCUBA and was a natural! She was also a huge force in encouraging Sally to be bold and continue to dive even when she was fearful. We had to take a swim test to assure the instructors that we were comfortable in the water. Obviously, Livy smoked us during the 200 meter freestyle and we ended up in the dust (or bubbles). After a couple of days of confined dives we finally got to explore the depths. Everyone was thrilled to experience the deeper waters. We jumped in and deflated our BCDs to practice more skills 25 feet down. Then our dive masters took us for a little fun dive and we got to see turtles, barracudas, and all sorts of other colorful fish. The last day of diving we plunged into the water to travel 60 feet below the surface. We swam over the drop off and began to descend down the reef. We saw eel and lobster and took silly photos of each other under water with Ally’s GoPro. Right after the fun dive we had the option to go back down or tan on the dock, and of course, Nick was eager to take on another dive and explore the depths of the ocean. During this dive we swam with an 8 foot reef shark! Upon surfacing and talking about all the sea life we just saw, Wilson showed his love for the waters of Belize when he told us that he would return to Long Caye one day so his family could also experience this awe-inspiring island with him. That afternoon, we took a tour around the island using the local beach cruisers utilizing the highway of boardwalks interspersed throughout the island, connecting one end to the next. We walked to a dock on the back side of the island where Reece performed back flip after back flip and we cheered along as if every new flip was the first we saw. The last day was bitter sweet as we grasped every last moment we would share together. We woke up a little later for a nice breakfast of flour tortillas, chicken, and beans. A Belizian classic! Shortly after, we hopped on the boat and boated to a nearby island called Half Moon Caye. Gibbs loved exploring this island and laying in the shallow waters protected by the reef. The locals chopped us open numerous coconuts and Margaret was eager to drink from the fresh fruit and was the first to split it open and scrape out the meat for us to snack on. We snorkeled around and watched the conk scuttle around the surface and even saw a couple of rays. We headed in for lunch and ate goldfish on the dock. After lunch, Lilly and Brooks went with the boys to fish a little ways off of the shore. We threw in our lines and immediately began catching fish. It seemed that King had three best luck as he caught fish after fish. First, he caught a little nurse shark! Followed by a spotted eel! Finally, to our disbelief he caught a beautiful barracuda. We erupted in applause at the catch hi of these exotic animals and we cut the lines to let them go back to their homes.This was such a wonderful end to an amazing trip. We now sit with the salty breeze on our faces reflecting on the times we’ve shared together. This group has become a family over the course of this trip and supplied us with endless laugh. We as leaders have truly learned what it looks like for teenagers to live in the moment. They seized every opportunity. Our last Moonup was full of tears and star gazing. A night we will all remember forever. We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing group!
July 5, 2018
¡¡Hola!! We have emerged from the jungle and finished our two day rafting journey down the Pacuare River. Last time we said hello we were enjoying the mountains in Buenaventura and working with the El Brujo community. We wrapped up our stay there with a morning hike, where we got to see an aerial view of the entire community from the side of the mountain. Accompanied by our guides, Ben as Leader of the Day, took the lead as we trekked through the jungle to a to true Costa Rican gem- Tucan Rock. This waterfall was a hidden paradise practically untouched since the era of the indigenous people. After a few moments of awe-stricken silence, Wilson and William led the charge into the crystal clear body of water. After splashing around and exploring the various nooks and crannies, our guides brought out another surprise for us. Each of us were given a ball of blue clay that had been mined from the mountain itself. The clay, as we were told, is one of the most naturally cleansing substances that has both exfoliating and rejuvenating properties. We commenced the “avatar” transformation and smeared our bodies from head to toe with the blue clay, careful to cover every spot. After our transformation into our blue counterparts, we were given orange clay and paint brushes to draw designs that would personalize and personify our avatars. King really had a wonder for this and helped to paint designs on others to make them look even more alien like. We then laid out in the sun and let the clay dry on our bodies before rubbing it off, thus returning us to our human forms- but not without making our skin silky smooth. Fiona was baffled by the smoothness of her skin and declared that she would be bringing a jar of it back home.
After returning from our hike we said our last goodbyes to our lovely hosts, we headed back down the mountain on our four-by-fours, once again taking the time to appreciate the beautiful countryside.
The next day we headed to the volcanic mountain town of Turrialba where we would begin the rafting portion of our trip. We met our three world-class raft guides at the bank of the Pacuare and split up into our three raft groups. After a thorough safety demonstration, we were off. We hit Class 3 rapid to warm up and get our paddling form down. Abby and Gibbs fearlessly sat at the front of one boat and lead the boat down the first few rapids. We all were silent for the first few minutes, taken aback by the awesome beauty of the pristine rainforest. As we paddled downstream through choppy waters our guides took the time to take a few detours along the way. First, we stopped at Jumping Rock, a high boulder that we all took a plunge off into the river. Nick offered to be first, wasting no time demonstrating the proper way to cannonball into the depths of the Pacuare. The river naturally took us all downstream and brought us to our next stop just a short swim away. The guides took us up a small creek to a deep pool that had been naturally carved out by centuries of water flowing through the rock bottom. Some took turns going down a natural slide into the pool while others attempted swimming to bottom (no one was able to touch it!). Reece was obviously the first down the natural water slide and everyone quickly followed suit. When we got to camp that night, we hiked up some natural stairs and were shocked to find a hidden oasis of tiny bungalows scattered among the hill. Sally was thrilled and kept referring to this scene as something from a travel magazine. We took a rainy walk to a small waterfall where we safely climbed up to jump into the water six feet below. Ally was the bravest and quickly climbed to the top and we cheered as she plunged into the white water below. This was the highlight of the day and we splashed around until we decided to go back to camp to snuggle into dry clothes.
We ended the day with a solid Moonup commenced by a tear-jerking rendition of “Let It Be” sung by Margaret. The next morning, we ate a hearty breakfast and loaded up on our rafts. We immediately started hitting Class 3 rapids in preparation for a day full of hardcore rafting. Soon enough we hit our first Class 4 rapid: the Rodeo. All three rafts conquered the rapid with professional ease. Even the guides were baffled by the skill level of our white-water warriors! The rest of the day was filled with Class 3’s followed by Class 4 rapids and immersive tours of the surrounding jungle. Livy turned out to be a natural and strong paddler and easily conquered the waves. After taking on the final bend of the river we were excited to see our bus driver. We pulled up on the bank, changed into warm clothes, and headed to our hotel to get some rest for our next day travel. We’re on the way to the airport now as we contemplate what natural wonders await us in Belize.
We have been thinking of our families back home and we wanted to send a little message to you all! Until next time, adios!
Hey Mom and Dad! Costa Rica was a blast and I am looking forward to going to Belize. See you soon! -William
Hey family! I miss y’all so much and I’m having so much fun here!!! Love you guys!Happy Birthday Ms. McChesney love you! -Margaret
Hey family! I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see you! I’m having a good time and an amazing experience! Tell Molly and Harley hey for me! See you in a week! Love y’all! – Abby
Hi mom I miss and love y’all but I’m having so much fun here! Happy birthday!- Ally
Hi family! I’m having such a good time here. I miss you guys! – Fiona
Hey family! I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see you when I get home. I’m having an amazing time. (Happy 17th Birthday William) LOVE YOU -Sally
What up gang! My week is for sure better than yours! I love y’all. -THICC NICK
Hi Family! Having a blast, can’t wait to see y’all In a bit. -Reece
Hey guys, Costa Rica is great – Gibbs
Hi family! I am having an amazing time. I miss you lots and can’t wait to see you! -Livy
Hello mom and dad I’am having a lot of fun. Hope y’all are having fun in California and Happy Anniversary. – King
Hello family, Costa rica is great and fun. I am having a great time with all my new friends. I hope all is well in Nola.
Fosters, all is great here in Costa Rica. We are headed to Belize soon. I have made a lot of new friends. I hope y’all are enjoying the beach. Happy 4th! Can’t wait to see y’all soon. Missing you all.
July 2, 2018
This is our first hello of many coming to you from Costa Rica! The first day couldn’t have gone better as we gradually gathered in an upstairs cafe in the airport. We had a nice lunch at a local restaurant including the last chicken fingers we will eat for a couple of weeks. Reece helped to lug the extra Moondance bags from the van to the hotel when we arrived. Then, we ate a pizza dinner and snuggled into clean sheets after the long day of travel.
Our first full day began with a delicious breakfast of local fruits and fresh pastries, followed by a bus ride to our first adventure. We elected Nick and Fiona as the first leaders of the day (LOD), because we knew that they could keep the group morale high throughout the day. We stopped for a zip lining journey, where we saw breathtaking views of the jungle from above, bringing out our inner Tarzan. Ben especially loved zip lining, as he was brave enough to be the first to zip line upside down, followed by the rest of the group. We later raced down the fourth longest zip line in the world! After our first traditional Costa Rican lunch of chicken, rice, beans, and plantains, we continued our journey to Uvita Beach for surfing lessons. The kids were eager to jump into the ocean and catch their first wave. Ally proved to be a pro at surfing, being the first one up on the board and one of the last to put her board down. Although Wilson had never surfed before, he caught on quickly and was able to stand up on his first wave! We laughed and played in the waves as the parrots flew around in the trees near the shoreline. When we got back to the hotel we couldn’t resist jumping in the pool. Gibbs insisted that we play Marco Polo. We played a few rounds and were grateful for the entertainment. After we were showered and clean, we gathered for dinner and I know that Abby was simply grateful for the warm shower. Day two of surfing was sunny and beautiful. Group morale was high and we surfed through the waves and basked in the sun. William particularly loved the “party wave” when we would all scream “PARTY WAVE!” and catch the same enormous swell. The kids were resilient and even though the waves were huge they stayed out all morning perfecting their skills as surfers. We went home to shower and hop in the van to head to the El Brujo community for service.
We had to take little trucks to the area where our camp was located. In the long ride through the mountains of Costa Rica, Margaret lead us through a game of ghost. We came upon a river and unloaded our bags to then cross a bridge to enter the camp. Tamara and Harlow were waiting for us with an amazing meal of fried rice and salad. The farm where we stayed is owned by the two siblings. They grow everything they eat on the property that includes 150 different fruit trees! We got to plant some espavé trees, that will eventually replace the many trees that were taken by Hurricane Nate in 2017. After the kids worked hard to replant these baby trees, we enjoyed warm chicken and yucca soup that Tamara made fresh from her garden. The next morning, we woke up to the sun shining and the striking mountain backdrop and we knew that it would be a great day! We hiked to the El Brujo community that morning for community service, passing by cows and jumping over streams along the way there. Once we arrived to the town, we divided into three groups to complete different tasks- we painted the recycling center, demolished the aged kitchen, and cleaned up the soccer field. King worked tirelessly to rake grass from the center of the soccer field, so that we could later play a soccer game with the local children of El Brujo. We walked back to camp and had a taco lunch that was so delicious. Tamara gave us a tour of her farm and let us try crazy fruits like the passion fruit, cacao, and Costa Rican lime. She even chopped open some coconuts and let us drink out of them through bamboo straws. Sally was completely infatuated with the fresh coconut water and we took some awesome photos! We got to press sugar cane and make pure sugar cane syrup. Next, we roasted and peeled cacao beans, grinded them up, and mixed them into a batter to bake as brownies. Livy loved learning how to make chocolate as she explained that she enjoys baking at home. Our last night here was sentimental as we painted on the walls of the home. We are looking forward to going on our last adventure here in the valley tomorrow morning and heading forward on this journey. ¡¡Hasta Luego!!
Lilly, Brooks, Tejas
June 28, 2018
Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We just got word from the leaders that all students have arrived and the trip is now underway! We can’t wait to hear from them soon.