August 1, 2018
Hello friends, family, and followers!
I am writing one last time from the San Francisco airport with tears in my eyes. As I reflect on this trip I am overwhelmed at what an amazing experience this has been! Each and every one of the students has a special place in our hearts and we are so grateful for our time together! I am amazed by all the smart, caring, enthusiastic students we have gotten to know and love and I feel so honored to have been their leader! We are so sad to see this adventure come to a close, but look forward to continuing the friendships made for years to come!
The last few days have been a whirlwind of laughter and fun as we soaked up every ounce of time we had left together! After our time at Point Reyes National Seashore, we headed into San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge! The students opted to do a short hike on Mt Tamalpais, which overlooks to entire bay area. We hiked to the top of the mountain where we all enjoyed taking pictures and taking in the beautiful San Francisco skyline! Next, we headed to Half Moon Bay. On the way, the students picked teams for our Top Chef competition and began brainstorming what incredible meals they were going to make! We made a brief stop at the grocery store and allotted each team a small budget, then headed to the campsite for the intense competition. It was so much fun getting to watch everyone apply the new cooking skills they learned on the trip and really get creative with their dishes. We were so impressed by all of the meals! Sailor, Brooke, Mason, and Spence made an incredible meal of stuffed mushrooms, pork tenderloin and asparagus, and s’mores casserole for dessert! It was delicious! Asher, Olivia, Boots, and Clark made jalapeno poppers, shrimp pasta, and coke floats and homemade rice krispies for dessert. All the meals were delicious however one team had to win Genevieve, Will, Brooks, and Reagan were victorious with their meal of buffalo chicken dip, barbecue chicken sliders, and strawberries n cream for dessert! We were so impressed by all the meals prepared! After dinner, we headed to the beach for an intense game of ultimate Frisbee while the sunset! We had a great moonup on the beach and then returned to our tents to get some rest before our last day together.
We woke up bright and early the next day full of excitement to go surfing again! We ate a quick breakfast and headed to Pacifica beach to meet our guides! It was so fun to see how much the students had grown and bonded compared to our first day of surfing together! The waves were pretty gnarly but everyone did an awesome job getting up! Sailor and Asher saw dolphins and got to ride a wave with one- it was incredible! After a full morning of surfing, we headed to the thrift shop to buy some goofy outfits for our banquet dinner! Will looked absolutely hysterical in his new gold leggings and black fur coat! We then headed back to camp for lunch and to begin packing our things in preparation for airport day. It was such a fun afternoon as everyone talked and laughed about their favorite moments of the trip! Each student took time to write a note to themselves and reflect on their trip! Following clean up, we took some much needed showers and got dressed up for banquet. We had our banquet at a local Mexican restaurant and the students were all so well behaved, we were very impressed! The leaders gave out some fun awards and we headed back to camp for our last ever moonup!
We chose to Moonup around a fire at camp and we all laughed and cried as we reflected on our time together and began saying our goodbyes! Everyone slept outside on a tarp together for our last night.
On behalf of Will, Matthew, and myself, thank you so much for sharing your children with us for a portion of their summer. We have had a blast getting to know each and every one of them! We have learned so much from them and hope they had the trip of a lifetime! Each of your children are incredibly special and we cannot wait to see the big things they will do! We feel so grateful for this experience and cannot express how honored we feel to have been their leaders! We miss them already!
Cal A, signing off one last time,
July 29, 2018
Hello followers! We have been having the time of our life out here in Cali! We just had the best time on the American River!
We arrived at our camp site, Camp Lotus, where the leaders surprised Brooke with a beautiful birthday cake! That wasn’t the only surprise though, there’s more! They also surprised the group with a birthday dinner! We had steak, asparagus, corn, green beans, and beans. Luckily, our rafting guides are hospitable people, and they allowed us to borrow their grill for the evening. Stan, Will, and Sailor assisted leaders with grilling the steaks to perfection. Meanwhile Reagan, Clark, Brooks, Mason, and Genevieve helped Lizzie prepare the side dishes for the meal. Once the birthday dinner was ready we all enjoyed our meal on a picnic table on the bank of the river under the moonlight. It was by far the best meal we have made all summer. After dinner we indulged into the wonderful birthday cake we had all been eyeing all afternoon. That night after dinner we Mooned-up under the stars and retired to our tents for some much needed rest before our big day on the river.
The next morning, we were awoken by our LODS, Stan and Mason. Everyone was in good spirits and eager to shred some rapids. After fueling up with a nutritious breakfast, we headed to our put in location where we were greeted by our guides. As always we love working with them and they thoroughly enjoy working with the kids. That day we were lucky enough to be guided by Amber and Sky. After a brief safety training, we set out along the world famous American river. The first half of the day was relatively relaxed as we encountered several class one and two rapids. Once we had worked up an appetite we pulled off to the side to have a wonderful lunch prepared by our guides. Once we had relaxed and refueled we set off to ride the rapids of the lower section. The lower section for the day was all class three rapids. A few of the favorites among the kids were hospital bar, Satan’s cesspools, and barking dog. Some of us were more eager to get splashed than the rest and really wanted to take in the action from the front of the boat: Asher, Boots, Stan, and Olivia. After successfully getting down the river without anyone falling out of the boat we arrived at our pull out location. We were met by our bus driver who had so kindly filled up a cooler with all of our favorite drinks, so we had a small celebration and enjoyed our refreshments as a group, singing songs on the way back to camp. When we arrived we were taken back by the heat, so we spontaneously decided to charge into the river and cool off. After a while of cooling down, we decided to hit the showers to clean up before our meal. That night AO prepared us tea, salad, fruit, pesto pasta, marinara pasta, chicken, steak, and brownie cake for the birthday girl! After dinner we were all exhausted from the long hot day we had just had so we Mooned-up and hit the hay. The next morning, we woke up to the smell of hot coffee next door that our guides had prepared for us. They had also prepared us OJ, southwest eggs, potatoes, fruit, sausage, and bacon. Once we were all full we headed to the guide headquarters where we hopped on a bus to drive to our put in location for the day. After a brief safety review, we once again set out to conquer some rapids. Today, all of our class three rapids were before lunch. Our brave souls for the day sitting in the front of the boat were Will, Brooke, Spence, Reagan, and Clark. Some of the most fun rapids of the day were rock garden, horse run, and trouble maker. We all survived and didn’t have anyone fall out of the boat again! After paddling all morning, we had once again worked up quite an appetite, so we pulled off to the bank to enjoy a scrumptious lunch. The second half of the day the guides let the kids apply what they had learned by allowing them to be the guide of the boat. In one boat the guides were Sailor and Will. After a full day on the river we arrived back at the guides base camp where we pulled the boats out and thanked our guides for everything they had done for us. The whole gang changed into some dry clothes, and then we hit the road again! After being on the road for quite some time we… arrived at In-&-Out Burger!!! Everyone was ecstatic to try their world famous burgers! Once we all ate more than we could handle we set our course to Point Reyes National Seashore! We had planned our day perfectly so that we could watch the most spectacular sunset ever, but once we grew closer and closer we realized that it was too foggy to see fifty feet in front of us (Point Reyes is notorious for its fog. It is one of the foggiest and windiest places in America.) Our efforts were not in vain though, along the way we saw some of California’s famous happy dairy cows and Elk!! Once we arrived at the lighthouse we had planned on going to, we were surrounded by white in every direction for as far as you could see; it was quite awesome. We also saw some deer scurrying along the sides of the cliffs. After seeing some beautiful sites, we set our course to our camp site for the evening.
The next morning, we packed up camp, and prepared to journey into San Francisco for the day!
The fun isn’t over folks! There’s more in store! Stay posted for more updates!
July 28, 2018
Hey everyone! Greetings from Lake Tahoe!
On the way to Tahoe on Sunday, we stopped at a local favorite, Walker Burger. Everyone ate their burger and ice cream in the garden underneath a beautiful blue sky. Clark started a game of kemps (card game) that got so much attention some of the other guests asked what was so fun? The LODs of the day, Brooks, and Spence lead the karaoke party in the van before driving the rest of the way to Tahoe. We were all impressed with Genevieve’s singing and knowing the notes of every song that was playing. Upon arrival, hammocks were quickly thrown up into the trees. We were all impressed with Sailor’s hammock that had a roof and netting. We ended the day with delicious spaghetti and Moonup underneath large sequoias around our campsite.
The next morning, we were up early eager to start the day kayaking. After a breakfast of hash browns and hash the LODs, Sailor and Brooks, initiated a morning huddle that got everyone pumped for the day. The clarity of the water was 75 ft, the weather could not have been better. We started at the mouth of the Emerald Bay and traveled to the beach to eat lunch and swim in the clear water. To see who the fastest kayak team was we entertained the idea of a race to shore. The race was tight, but Asher and Will won the trophy. Boots and Spence won the second race narrowly beating the undefeated team. After thanking our guides and noticing so clouds rolling in, we retired to the campsite where we played cards. After the short rain, we traveled to the beach where a gorgeous sunset welcomed us. Olivia was the designated photographer with her camera snapping every moment that she wanted to remember. No one wanted to leave the shore, so we decided to have Moonup underneath the sky that seemed to glow like fire.
Paddleboarding at Tahoe was filled with lots of laughs. The LODs, Asher and Brooke, made some pancakes and sausages that filled everyone’s bellies and seemed to jumpstart everyone’s day. A quick ride from camp and we arrived on the beach with boards waiting for us. The creativity in this group is amazing. Mason was the first to grab her paddle board and enter into the blue water. Games were instantly made up on the paddle boards including a race that became very competitive. After the boards were put up time was spent laying and swimming on the beach. The game called getting sugar cookies where one gets wet and then cover his or herself in and became very popular. Reagan made everyone laugh at her ability to run into the water at epic speed with falling. Dinner was prepared by everyone creating their own custom hotdog over the campfire. Moonup was very special especially since it was the last Moonup at Tahoe and the LODs did a great job asking questions and sharing all the nugs. We finished Moonup with a story that as told by one of the leaders that left a smile on everyone’s face.
Today is our last day here and we are so sad to leave, but excited for white water rafting! It’s hard to believe that we only have a few days left together. It has been such a joy to see all the relationships and bonds that have been created on this adventure in California. We have put together shoutouts from all the students to everyone reading this.
Spence “Having so much fun, can’t wait to see yall!”
Asher “LG, thanks for inspiring me to come on this trip! Say hi to Mazey for me! Love you, Mom and Dad
Reagan “Hey Fam! Love this adventure!”
Boots “Having an awesome time! Can’t wait to see yall!”
Genevieve “Hey fam cannot wait to see yall! The deer here walk right up to us, it’s so cool!”
Clark “Hey, mom and dad! Hope Bham is fun. I am having a great time here. I made it to the top of the mountain while rock climbing in Yosemite!
Mason “Hey mom, dad, and Smith! Happy Birthday mom! Miss Y’all so much, but I don’t want to come home. Tell Mary hey!”
Olivia “Hey! Having so much fun, but can’t wait to see yall!”
Sailor “Hey mom and dad, You’re right Lake Tahoe is amazing! See ya soon!”
Brooke “I am having a great time, and I’m excited to see Y’all, this is way better than regular camp!
Brooks “Hey! Cannot wait to see yall! I am having so much fun!”
Will “Happy Birthday Gray! Miss yall and having so much fun!”
July 22, 2018
Howdy from the West Coast! We have been having sooo much fun here in Yosemite! It is wild to think we have only been together for just a few days! This group is one of a kind and everyone has been getting along brilliantly! They have enthusiastically adopted the Moondance way remarkably fast! The kids love being unplugged, cooking, leave no trace, and they have remarkable expedition behavior.
Since you all heard from us last we have been rock climbing in Yosemite! Yosemite is known all around the world as the cradle of rock climbing. Yosemite is where the best climbers from all around come to put their skills to the test. We have come to do the same! Upon our first day of climbing many of us found it difficult to sleep because of the growing excitement to get on the rock! That morning we awoke to our leaders of the day, Boots and Mason, waking up the whole gang with huge smiles on their faces. The LODS then whipped up a delicious and nutritional breakfast for the group. They chose to make the group oatmeal, bananas, oranges, eggs, ham, and nutrition shakes. After breakfast they inspired the group with a quote from Abraham Lincoln. After we were all fueled up and fired up for our day on the rock we set sail in the mystery van to meet our guides. When we arrived we were greeted by the Yosemite Mountaineering School. As usual we were welcomed by a wonderful set of guides, Erin and Josh. YMS is known to be the best in the industry at what they do and we are more than happy to work with them. Once they distributed our climbing equipment we took a short hike to Puppy Dome where they began to teach us the proper way to use our harnesses, belay devices, and how to tie the necessary knots. After we felt confident we knew how to apply what we had learned, we set out to conquer the rock. Will, Spence, and Reagan were exceptionally anxious so they raced to the top; Spence was victorious and made it to the top first! We had a splendid day rocking out! Everyone made it to the top! Some of us easier than others, but everyone helped to encourage and motivate everyone to the top. It was inspiring to see everyone want to help each other and watch everyone succeed. Many of us had never climbed before, so it was awesome seeing everyone push themselves outside of their comfort zone and achieve something that they previously did not think was possible! I must say it is my favorite part of the trip to watch the kids learn that they are capable of much more than they previously imagined. After a full day of climbing we thanked our guides for their hard work, and we headed to the beach of June Lake where we rested our tired muscles and cooled off in the refreshing water. After spending some time recouping it was about time to start dinner so we headed back to our base camp where we gathered together cook crew and began working on a new dish this summer, chicken tetrazzini! The LODS for the day as well as Brooke and Genevieve helped me in the kitchen. Before we began cooking we prepared the kitchen for the impending weather. We were expecting the first rain drops we have had all summer! So, we went over a lesson on how to set up a tarp in the event of weather. The kids learned how to tie a clove hitch around rocks in the tarp, then they learned how to tie a bowline around the tree and adjust it to the right height. Following, we began cooking up the chicken in the kitchen. lol! We rehearsed safety protocols for the kitchen such as using pot grippers, closed toed shoes, and never sitting while cooking. Once dinner was prepared we called the group over, and our LODS introduced the meal and explained how it was made. They asked everyone if they were thankful, and then we all inhaled the scrumptious meal they had prepared. After dinner our veteran, Sailor, led our honorable sump crew up the hill to clean the dishes. Sailor was accompanied by Olivia, Clark, and Brooks. They did the best job cleaning out of anyone this summer! I was genuinely impressed when they came back with spotless dishes. Next, we circled up under the stars for Moonup. Our LODS had a great set of questions and quotes that set the tone for a great night’s rest. We closed Moonup by quietly howling at the moon which I thought was a great way to close a full day in the park. After Moonup we resided to our tents that now feel like a second home. That night we slept soundly and the crisp cool mountain air sweeping through our camp site.
The next morning, our LODS, Will and Genevieve, awoke everyone with a pleasant, “Rise and shine”. Then we began making another nutritious breakfast for the gang. That morning they decided to make everyone bacon, eggs, oatmeal, bananas, oranges, and raisin bread toast! Next we cleaned up the kitchen and got motivated for the day during the morning huddle. Our LODS gave us a wonderful quote coupled with a mini dance party! Next, we headed into Tuolumne Meadows where we met our guides for the day. That day we were lucky to have Erin and Miranda. Miranda is a legend in the climbing community. She is the Lebron James of climbing. She is the first woman to have ever solo climbed El Capitain in a single day! The kids were all very excited to work with her and learn from her. That day we were learning how to do an entirely new kind of climbing called crack climbing. Our knowledgeable guides taught us new techniques to help us achieve our goals of making it to the top. This new type of climbing was mildly more difficult than what we had done the day before which also made it more fun! Although it was more difficult everyone still made their way to the top! After climbing all afternoon we were very worn out. The LODS decided the best way to recover would be to go to the local hot springs! The hot springs were really cool I had never seen anything like it. We soaked our tired selves in the natural hot tub until we felt refreshed. By the time we arrived it was time to start dinner. Once again we decided to make a new dish this summer! The LODS choose to make ravioli with grilled cheese which turned out to be a new crowd favorite! After dinner I was once again surprised to see that the sump crew, Clark, Asher, and Reagan, had washed the dishes to perfection. Following dinner we choose to hike down to the beach of June Lake to watch the Sunset and to Moonup. We were under the dazzling night sky of Yosemite one last time. Our LODS stretched our minds with a superb quote and question. We choose to close Moonup with a moment of silence to enjoy our surroundings. After one of the best Moonups all summer we headed back to camp for a good night’s rest.
This morning we slept in more than usual which was appreciated by all. Once everyone was up and moving we began to prepare the most important meal of the day! This morning we fueled up with hash browns, eggs, oatmeal, raisin bread, bananas, oranges, and orange juice! Once everyone had their fill we quickly and efficiently broke down camp, and hit the road once again. Road trips are one of our favorite activities! They are always eventful. So far we have stopped in Bridgeport; it is a quaint town, but has a lot of history! After reading about the town for a while on informative plaques we proceeded along our route until we met our next stop, Bodie! Bodie is a famous abandoned gold mining town. We gave the kids a tour of the town and learned about all the various roles in the community, and we were able to visualize ourselves in the past by walking through the old abandoned streets. After filling our minds with loads of new knowledge we have worked up an appetite; we are now off to one of our favorite stops on the trip, Walker Burger! Walker Burger loves having Moondance. They have a lovely yard/garden in which we indulge in burgers and shakes. We can’t wait! We are almost there, and I have been requested to win a game of cards. We are signing off. Keep your eye out for more posts because there is much more fun in store! We are just getting started; the best is yet to come! Until next time friends, family, and followers!
July 20, 2018
Hello from sunny California!
It has been a whirlwind last few days since we picked up everyone from the airport! I cannot believe how quickly this group has gone from being complete strangers to family! We are already having a blast and looking forward to making many more memories!
We started our trip at Half Moon Bay and everyone learned how to set up camp and pitch tents. Sailor, as a Moondance alum, was a huge help teaching all the other students. After we set up camp, we headed to the beach for an epic game of football! Reagan and Sailor both made amazing touchdowns! Will was even brave enough to take a quick dip in the chilly Pacific! With sandy toes and happy hearts, we headed back to camp for a delicious dinner of pizza and then we settled into our tents for a goodnight’s sleep!
We woke up bright and early the next morning to get ready for surfing! We had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and fruit and learned how to pack up camp before we headed back to the beach! We met our awesome guides at Pacifica beach who taught us all the basics from how to put on a wetsuit to reading the waves. After a quick lesson on the beach we were geared up and ready to hit the waves! Everyone had an amazing attitude the whole time and impressed the guides with their perseverance! Asher and Boots rode several spectacular waves! After a fun morning, we had a picnic lunch on the beach before loading up the van to head to Yosemite! Everyone had a blast getting to know each other on the drive as we took in the beautiful, scenic view. We arrived at our campsite and everyone helped to set up camp and cook a yummy chili dinner!
The next morning, we woke up and made a delicious breakfast of pancakes and sausage! Mason and Clark were especially helpful pancake flippers! After we were all fueled up and ready for the day, we headed to the trailhead to hike to Dog Lake! The group all had great attitudes on the way up and did an amazing job encouraging one another! Brooke and Brooks both did an amazing job despite the challenge. At the top, we took a nice refreshing dip in Dog Lake and ate a picnic lunch! Spence was the first one in the water and the last one out! After our hike it started to rain so we headed back to camp to take shelter, with a quick stop for ice cream on the way. The students were all so polite in the ice cream shop and the workers complimented their great manners!
We are now back at camp, playing card games and cooking pad thai for dinner! Genevieve and Olivia are being great helpers getting the dinner under way. Got to go play spades, but check in soon for another update on all our fun adventures!
Bye for now!
July 17, 2018
We heard from Will, Lizzie, and Matthew, and the trip is off to a “golden” start! Stay tuned for more updates from the leaders over the next few days.