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Belize + Costa Rica 3A • July 14-July 27, 2018

Farewell from Costa Rica!

July 27, 2018

Today started off like many others, lots of yawns at first and then laughs and smiles. Unfortunately, this day came with a bit of sadness as it is our last day together. We sent them away and reminisced on how amazing this trip has been. We are so grateful for every student being on this trip because we needed every single one to make our group complete. Madeline was the encourager and always offered a pick-me-up to anyone who needed it. Michael’s generosity was constant throughout the trip as he was always lending a hand. Kelly took the role of being kind to everyone and never had a bad thing to say. Evelyn’s calm presence set the group at ease. Kate gave the group a laugh. Hank’s comedic entertainment always made each moment light hearted. Walker, being a great conversationalist, made everyone feel important and heard. Caitlyn’s contagious laugh wore off on her peers and she had the ability to brighten any room with her positive spirit. Chloe’s maturity and kindness always helped keep the group calm and steady. Tommy’s positivity and jolly spirit kept the group up during any situation. Cooper’s comical nature made every moment a funny one. Zander’s passion and spirit pushed the group forward. All of these qualities meshed together made the most ideal Moondance family. We have all grown so close and we know that these relationships will continue to flourish going into this school year! We want to thank you all for giving us your kids for a short time, we enjoyed it more than you know.

Rafting Rocks!

July 26, 2018

Sadly this is one of our last hellos. We have explored Costa Rica as much as we could and we have so many memories from doing so. When we last left you we were wrapping up our time at Buenaventura. We woke up in our tents and had breakfast for the last time at Three Seeds that included cinnamon rolls and oatmeal with tons of fresh toppings! Then we began our ascent to the top of a mountain. As we descended into the valley we found a waterfall! We jumped right in and splashed around in the refreshing water until we were each handed a ball of teal blue clay. Michael was the first to brave the chilly water and dunked his whole body under the waterfall. Covering ourselves from head to toe in the clay, we quickly transformed into avatars. We rubbed it onto our bodies and helped to spread it onto friends backs. While the blue clay dried on our skin we painted designs with orange clay. This truly made us look alien-like! When the clay fully dried we rubbed it off and this worked as an exfoliate. We washed the rest of the clay off in the falls and our skin had never felt so soft! This blue mineral clay acts to heal and exfoliate the skin to rejuvenate and restore. Chloe was baffled by the smoothness of her skin and declared that she would be bringing a jar of it back home, so that she could make face masks. We hiked down from the mountain feeling like new people and said goodbye to Harlow’s nook in the valley. We headed down the mountain in the four by fours, admiring the beautiful countryside one last time. Caitlyn entertained us with funny stories and her contagious laugh wore off on everyone around her, until we were all hysterically laughing during the ride.

From there, we headed straight to Turrialba for rafting! We got to the B&B and walked over to a local pizza joint where we enjoyed a late dinner. The next morning we got on the Pacuare River in our blue rafts! The rapids were small and it seemed to be a warm up for the next day to come. The guides even let us get out of the boats and walk down a trail to find a natural water slide in the rocks. We hopped back onto our boats and rafted our way to lunch. When we stopped we hiked a ways up to our camp. As we walked through the gates we were thrilled to come upon a little hill sprinkled with tiny red roofed bungalows. Kelly was the most excited about this surprise as she kept remarking how paradise-like it was. We settled in while it was raining and shared a meal of tacos and fruit. We had a free afternoon that we used for napping, playing cards, and eating cookies with hot chocolate. Zander taught us how to play the game Gin 500, and we played many rounds as it provided endless entertainment. Evelyn proved to be the master at Egyptian Ratslap and she was always one of the last ones in our card game tournaments. The rain made for a soothing afternoon and we all got to catch up on rest and reflect on the time we have spent together. The next morning we woke up to banana pancakes and orange juice. Kate was super pumped about the banana pancakes and she was raving about how delicious they were! After starting off the day right, we hiked through the jungle, across creeks and below the tree canopy’s, until we met our bus driver, who drove us to the Pejibaye River. We started our new journey at this river, due to high levels of rainfall that affected the Pacuare River. As we made our way to the Pejibaye River, Hank helped DJ by selecting some fun morning jams for the car ride. When we arrived to the river, we geared up for a full day of rafting and hopped into our blue boats. We quickly started off with Class III rapids and Walker was eager to sit in the front of the raft, as he would be splashed the most. As we made our way down the river, Madeline was taken hostage by the other raft as they pulled her into their boat, and her laughter was contagious to everyone in the boat. We took in the beautiful jungle views as we tirelessly rafted through the rapids. Cooper and Tommy set the pace and proved to be natural paddlers as they easily conquered the strong rapids. All of the kids really enjoyed the rafting portion and we were sad when our time on the river came to a close, but it was an awesome way to end such a great trip! We wanted to share with you all these shoutouts that the kids wrote before they head home.


We are good

-Your son hank


Having the time of my life. Camp is so much fun. See yah soon



I agree with tommy see y’all soon hola



One of the best trips ever, see u soon



Me ecantan Costa Rica ???????? Y este vieje es increable; see ya soon!

– Michael


Hey mom



Hi family I’m having a great time!! I have made so many new friends and we have had such a fun time! Happy birthday mom love you! See you guys soon!



Hey family I’m having a blast and I’m loving it here! See ya soon!!!!!



Hey Dad, Mom, Jane, Mary, Lucky, Sissy I miss y’all so much I am having a great time in Costa Rica and Belize I caught a shark in Belize and I have made so many new friends. Caitlyn, Evelyn, Kelly, and Chloe and Madeline and I are closer than ever this is the prettiest place I have ever been I am so happy I am here!!!!! I will see y’all soon I miss you!!!!



Hey mom,clay, and dad I miss you guys so much. I’m having such a great time and can’t wait to see you guys.



What’s up guys I am having the best time ever! I miss y’all mucho (peep my Spanish skills they have def improved) and I am such good friends with everyone here. We already finished all the scuba diving and I didn’t get eaten by a shark, and we hiked today and I didn’t even see a bat so I’m safe. Tell my friends I say hi



hola mi familia im having a cool time down here. i guess i kiNda miss yall. i shalst inform you guys of what the squad did when i arrive home ok BYE


Hola from the beautiful country of Costa Rica!

July 24, 2018

We have settled in here and have loved diving deeper and deeper into the culture with each day that passes. We slept hard after a long day of travel and woke up early at the hotel to move towards our first activity. On the way, we had to stop to snag some souvenirs of course! Kate got a hammock and a beautiful tapestry while others purchased bracelets for friends back home. Then, we arrived for ziplining! We geared up and got ready to soar through the trees. Luckily, Tommy brought the chest strap for his GoPro so he got some great videos and pictures of the canopy. After we zipped across the fourth longest zipline in the world we ate a classic lunch of chicken, plantains, rice, and beans and headed out for Uvita. At Uvita beach we grabbed our surf boards and hit the waves. The weather was nice and the clouds broke up to show us some blue sky so spirits were high. Surfing for Zander and Evelyn proved to be second nature to them as they were coasting on the waves from the beginning to the end. They were the last two to return their surf boards. Caitlyn showed admirable determination getting up on her surf board and she finished with a beaming smile. She really worked hard and was a pro on the board by the end of it. We enjoyed the water for as long as we could until we decided we needed supper. We showered off the salt water and had some delicious pasta and meatballs at the hotel that evening. The next morning we got another opportunity to surf as a group once we had fine tuned our skills. The sun was shining and the water was very refreshing! The kids showed tremendous improvement on the surf boards the second day and they all enjoyed Uvita beach. After we returned to a delicious warm breakfast of eggs, toast, rice, and beans at our hotel, we packed our bags and headed to our next adventure!

We arrived to San Isidro and began our journey into the mountains of Costa Rica. The fog was so low during this ride and it looked eery as if we were driving into the clouds! Kelly marveled at the views as we passed waterfalls and drove down into the valley. Once we arrived to Buenaventura, we told the kids that we were beginning our community service portion of the trip. They were all very excited and eager to give their donations to the kids of El Brujo. We were welcomed to Three Seeds Camp with a delicious lunch of chicken fried rice, beans, and a colorful salad bar. Chloe was very vocal about how excited she was for a fresh salad and enjoyed it the most out of everyone! All of the food at Three Seeds is grown locally in their farm; the kids were raving about the fresh meal we were welcomed with. Over 200 fruits, vegetables, and plants are grown on the property! Following lunch, we put on our garden gloves and grabbed shovels to begin the service section. We were given the task of harvesting and planting baby espavé trees, which will grow tall to replace the forest that was destroyed by Hurricane Nate in 2017. We planted at least 20 trees, and named each one of them. The next day we woke up early and had a full day of service and other exciting activities ahead of us. We were fueled for the day with a great breakfast of Yucca hash browns, chocolate chip banana bread, brightly colored fruit, and eggs. After starting the morning off right, we walked to the El Brujo community, where we worked on beautification projects in the village. On our journey to El Brujo, we enjoyed breath taking views of the river running through the mountains with the bright blue sky in the backdrop. We made it to the town and quickly began the service projects, involving, demolition of the old kitchen, painting yard tools, and clearing grass in the soccer field. Cooper and Michael were extremely hard workers today, while they cleared the field to make it possible to play soccer on the fields. They really took on the challenge of raking up grass in the hot sun and exemplified an incredible attitude during the manual labor. After the kids worked tirelessly to complete the various projects, we joined with the kids of El Brujo to play an intense game of soccer; everyone was super pumped to get to play alongside with the El Brujo kids! Walker really hit it off with the El Brujo kids while playing the soccer game. The final score was 5-3! After the fast paced game, the Moondance kids were excited to give the El Brujo kids their donations of school supplies, clothes, and sports equipment. Madeline’s contagious smile and positive nature wore off on everyone around here and she was so happy to interact with the El Brujo kids and share her school supplies with them. Hank ran the whole way back from service showing pretty impressive endurance running over 2 miles. We had tacos and salad for lunch and then rested with full bellies after the exhausting morning. In the afternoon we got to tour the farm and taste all of the fruit from the trees! We harvested some cacao and then made chocolate to put into brownies for dessert. Before the brownies we got to eat pizza and paint all over the walls of the house. We settled in for a surprise campfire and had s’mores to end the night. What kind of camping is it without a fire and s’mores right? This was a perfect end to our stay at Buenaventura and we couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful time here. We are continuing to grow as a group and have grown closer than we could have imagined! Adios for now!

Scuba Certified in Paradise!

July 20, 2018

Hello from this tropical paradise!

We have spent one long week here in Belize together and you wouldn’t believe how close we have become as a group! When we arrived in Belize City we grabbed our bags and headed to the harbor. There, we boarded a boat and took a two hour boat ride to a little island called Long Caye. We sped through mangroves and open ocean until the dock was in sight. When we arrived at our new home, we unloaded our bags and explored the island until we enjoyed our first family dinner together.

While the sun set, we sat around in a circle on the front dock for Moonup and asked everyone the question, “Why did you choose the Belize and Costa Rica service trip, and what do you hope to get out of the next two weeks?”. Hank and Kate were selected as the first Leaders of the Day (LODs), as they showed strong leadership abilities even beginning in the Belize airport, and they remained helpful throughout. The following morning, we welcomed Caitlyn and Lilly to the island and our BCR family was now complete! Everyone was eager to take their first breath underwater, so we jumped right into our scuba diving lessons.

After everyone was fitted for their BCD, mask, fins, and snorkel, we loaded up the boat, which took us to shallow water for our confined water dives. We enjoyed a hot dog lunch and Zander revealed dozens of handmade bracelets that he distributed to the group. After lunch we literally dove into more skills! The ocean is six shades of blue here and the sand is as white as snow. The kids completed their second lesson with ease and courage, and upon surfacing they were raving about how awesome it was to breath underwater- it’s a different world down under! Walker, who was the first to jump into the clear blue water, quickly mastered the mask removal and regulator recovery skills. We gathered for a fun night under the stars really getting to know each other and becoming a dynamic group with a really great group of kids. We rose early for a full day of diving.

That morning the kids spent nearly 3 hours in the water completing all of their skills for the confined water. This normally takes multiple shallow water dives to finish these lessons, but they all grasped the skills quite quickly. The dive instructors were very pleased! After the lesson, we came back to our cozy beach cabin to eat a well deserved lunch before heading back out for our first open water dive that afternoon. Cooper exemplified his quick learning ability and knowledge of all the scuba equipment by easily assembling and testing all of his gear to ready himself before the open water dive. It was very impressive – almost like he had been doing this for years! All of the kids were ecstatic after their first time diving in deeper water! They practiced skills on the ocean floor 20 feet down – and made the whole thing look easy!

After a long day of diving, the group settled into their eno’s for a late-day chill session. Tommy continued to keep everyone laughing with his outrageous stories! The man is very comical! Later that afternoon, Michael led the group on a bike journey around the island, where we explored the sandy paths through the tall palm trees. Now fully worn out, the group returned to our eco lodge and played endless card game tournaments. Caitlyn was a natural at Egyptian Rat Slap, although she had never played! Evelyn’s competitive side came out while we played “Spoons” and she was always one of the last ones in the game. We entertained ourselves with fun card games and good company until it was time for a well deserved warm dinner. Our cook made us a traditional Belizean dinner of rice, beans, chicken, and veggies.

The next day, we woke up to hop on a boat and travel to a nearby island called Half Moon Caye. There, we explored the small island and got to see the indigenous red-footed booby! We traveled through small sandy trails and saw at least a hundred red hermit crabs with white and black shells. After exploring as much as we could we got the chance to snorkel above nearby reefs. Madeline was in awe of all of the colorful fish and asked the dive masters to identify most of the ones that we saw. That afternoon a local fisherman named Reeves took us out on his boat in two separate groups. We decided to have a little competition to see which group could catch the most fish. Kelly had never been fishing before and she caught on very quickly as she caught a fish with nearly every cast! The first group caught 29 fish and we decided to call it a day. As we headed in Chloe had a line trailing behind the boat. The rod bent and she reeled in one giant fish with great tenacity. To our surprise, a huge barracuda was on the line and we all cheered as she held it! The second group caught 19 fish,  including three baby sharks! Overall, the afternoon was thrilling and full of joy. For dinner, the cook fried us the barracuda that Chloe caught and we all settled into bed content and with full bellies.

The last full day on the island was long and sweet. We got to dive 60 ft. beneath the surface and explore the depths. We saw turtles, rays, and various sizes of reef fish. The kids couldn’t stop chatting about the wonders of the sea when they surfaced and everyone was proud of themselves for diving so deep. After our fun dive we had one last dive to complete our skills. Then, we were certified! The afternoon was full of shenanigans and bike rides. We dove off of the docks and dried ourselves on the sand trying to soak up every last second in paradise. The last moonup was full of reflection on the past activities of the week. Now we are headed to Costa Rica and we couldn’t be more excited for the adventures to come!


Until next time,


Safe Arrival in Belize!

July 14, 2018

Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!

We heard from our leaders that all students arrived safely in Belize City. The trip is off to a great start! Stay tuned for more stories from their adventures.

  • Moondance HQ


  • Evelyn
  • Cooper
  • Kate
  • Hank
  • Kelly
  • Michael
  • Tommy
  • Walker
  • Zander
  • Madeline
  • Caitlyn
  • Chloe