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Costa Rica 1 • June 12-June 25, 2018

Final Trip Update from Costa Rica!

June 25, 2018

That’s a wrap! All the girls have shed their tears, exchanged their numbers, and have fled their separate ways. The goodbyes were definitely tough, but we all know, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later! Parents, be ready, the girls have a schedule of reunions to come! We could not thank you enough for sharing your wonderful girls with us. As leaders, we had the best time exploring such a beautiful country with such a fabulous group of kids.

Starting Day 1, Maeve showed up to the San Jose airport with her firecracker spirit and wild energy that persisted throughout the whole trip.

Cate showed us her adventurous side, trying so many new things (foods, activities, you name it!) and soaking up each new encounter in the beautiful country.

No matter the time of day, Emma could make anyone smile with her genuine nature and bubbly attitude.

During the two weeks, Elle never complained once and excelled in all the activities as she kept a smile on her face.

Caroline was constantly encouraging each of her peers, supporting them even in the trickiest challenges (and we sure can’t wait to get some new style tips from her fashion blog!)

Hannah’s love of nature was contagious, especially in a country with such rich wildlife. Her curiosity along each trek and trail had us all peeking in the tops or trees or in the flowing river waters, hoping to discover more little creatures on our own.

Lauren dove right into the rigorous service project, embracing the local community, and using her Spanish to get to know the families we were working with even more.

With one of the kindest hearts, Sadie found profound beauty in even the smallest moments, appreciating every second of our incredible journey.

Kate had a smile on her face every step of the way, jumping into each new adventure with a wide open mind, going with the flow even if plans took a turn on us.

Throughout the two weeks Elizabeth proved to be a strong fighter, especially after a rough fall during the hiking, and never had a frown on her face!

Alex came into the trip with an open mind and a big smile. With zero complaints and 100% positivity she kept the group in good spirits!

Last but not least, with her goofy personality and carefree demeanor, Maggie brought good vibes and laughter throughout the trip.

Thanks for such an incredible experience and of course… PURA VIDA!

Final Goodbyes from Costa Rica! Pura Vida!

June 25, 2018

Hello hello!  We are back in San Jose after two AWESOME days of surfing on the Caribbean Coast living the PURA VIDA!!  Upon arriving to the beautiful beaches of Cahuita, Juan Carlos brought us on a fascinating nature walk through one of Costa Rica’s national parks – iguanas, monkeys, sloths, oh my! Hannah had the best eye, spotting a whole family of monkeys before anyone else! During the walk, we also got to stop for a fun swim in the clear Cahuita waters. Elle, Lauren, and Sadie had a great time sifting through the sand and finding shells of all different shapes and sizes. As if it couldn’t get any better, the next morning we got to explore the local sloth sanctuary, learning all about those crazy creatures hanging all over Costa Rica.


That afternoon, the surfing adventures finally began! Elizabeth was the first to try and catch a wave, and oh boy did she ever, riding it all the way into the beach.  By the end of the second lesson, Kate and Maggie were nearly pros, mastering each wave. After the lessons, our incredible surf guides cut up some delicious pineapple, mango, and papaya which was out of this world. Cate absolutely devoured the mango, the perfect post surfing snack!


The next morning brought even more excitement… Caroline’s sweet 16! Alex, Emma and Maeve stayed up post-moonup the night before helping us blow up balloons to decorate the birthday girl’s room. Filled up with yummy birthday pancakes, we hit the waters again, for a morning of mastering surfing even more. After gliding the waves, souvenir shopping through the fun beach town, and enjoying a refreshing beach lunch, we hit the road back to San Jose. The long trip was spent with angelic singing while catching every last beautiful view out the window.


To end an incredible trip, we had an unbelievably fun meal at a local restaurant to celebrate. The girls tried a variety of different Costa Rican foods such as beef tenderloin, fish, shrimp, and pasta dishes. And since it was Caroline’s birthday we topped it all off with a delicious chocolate cake! Ending right back in the city where it all began, we spent our final moonup reflecting on our fun times and new friends. These girls can’t wait to tell you all about their crazy adventures, who knew two weeks could fly by so quickly!!


Cowabunga!!! – Ryan, Temple, Garrett

Running the River!

June 22, 2018

¡Hola! We’re back! We have been in complete paradise the last 2 days. After going through safety protocols and learning a bit about the history of the beautiful Pacuare river (one of the top 5 rivers to raft in the world!), the group jumped aboard 3 rafts and began our journey. In boat one, led by Julio the jokester, we had Alex, Elizabeth, Kate, Lauren, and Garrett. Lauren faced her fear of the rapids and crushed it paddling the second row.  Alex kept a strong and determined mindset while sat up front as one of the “captains”, as Julio liked to say.  Kate and Elizabeth had a smile on their face the entire time as they kept the crew upbeat and positive.  In boat two, led by “Costa Rica’s best” we had Maeve, Cate, Hannah, Emma, and Temple. Hannah used her strong paddling skills as she moved around the boat while Cate really enjoyed floating in the river during the calm parts.  The whitewater was no match for Maeve as she sat up front and set the rhythm for the rest of the boat.  Emma kept the boat laughing with her jokes and was eager to jump in the water.  In boat three, led by our great friend, Abel, we had Maggie, Elle, Sadie, Caroline, and Ryan.  Maggie sat up front and crushed it as she shouted P-U-R-A V-I-D-A which set the rhythm for the rest of the crew.  We spent the afternoon in the Costa Rica sunshine as we learned the flow of the absolutely gorgeous Pacuare. As we hit the class 2 and 3 rapids we looked around at the surrounding jungles, unique wildlife, and villages of the local indigenous tribes. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, at the end of our first rafting adventure we hopped off to find our INSANELY cool riverside campsite. This place simply cannot be put into words. Bungalows, outdoor showers, hammocks… our perfect Pacuare paradise!! The girls were absolutely ecstatic. As we swung in the hammocks and looked out at the most picturesque view of the Pacuare, we reminisced on the incredible memories and friendships we have made thus far. The night was topped off with some fine dining from Juan Carlos and crew – chicken, mashed yuca, rice, grilled veggies, and much more! With incredibly full stomachs and sun kissed skin, the girls slept like angels, with an extra surprise, sleep in too!  Sadie got up early the next day and enjoyed the beautiful riverside in the morning light along with Ryan and Temple.


Day two on the river brought even more adventure, now moving on up to class 4 rapids! After our favorite pancake breakfast, we jumped back into those rafts, ready to take on the day. These girls were absolute pros, and for many of them, it was their very first time rafting! All of the guides were so impressed. People were bouncing all over the place and having a blast, but even in the craziest, curviest, and wildest waters, not one girl fell out (except for Ryan)! Along the way we took a quick stop for a little hike up to a magical waterfall and swimming hole… the perfect break after a morning of tough paddling. One of our favorite rapids was called “Dos Montañas” – an incredible class four that we took on after a tasty riverside lunch.  Caroline and Elle enjoyed a couple of rapids seated in the safety kayak, with our new friend Ariel!  After whirling through this rapid’s twists and turns, we turned the corner to discover a beautiful narrow canyon where the girls all got to hop out and swim around.


After having so much fun these past couple days we were definitely sad to see our river days end, but now we’re on the move again and so so excited for our final adventure… surfing!!! Can’t wait to tell you all about it, ¡PURA VIDA and surfs up baby!


June 20, 2018

Hey there! Since our last update we’ve been trekking all over the beautiful country of Costa Rica, exploring and camping in new villages all along the way. We’ve definitely had some challenging days, and many of the girls have said that this is their first time really hiking, but they have been absolutely crushing the trail. On day 1, once we were a few miles into the trail, we took a nice lunch break of fresh guava jelly pastries and cheese croissants (lots of hiking energy from that sugar rush!). After a few miles in, the girls realized that singing was the perfect way to pass time… definitely a treat for us leaders! The rest of the afternoon brought us some steep uphill’s but once we reached our first campsite those tired legs were definitely worth it – The view of Costa Rica’s vibrant green mountains from our new home above the clouds was breathtaking.

The next morning, we woke to our guide cooking some delicious ham and cheese omelets… perfect fuel for hiking day numero dos! This hiking day was a whole new adventure. Though the girls were excited for more of a downhill trek, this trail brought its own challenges. After the morning’s rain, the trail was extra squishy, making for the perfect mud slide. The girls laughed the entire way down as they challenged each other to see would could fall the least. Our guide pulled us aside to say that he had never turned around to see that many smiling faces on any other trip that he’s led. Luckily, the muddy hike ended at a beautiful river bank where we hung out, ate lunch and swam around before traveling the rest of the way to our next campsite. To top off the wild day of fun, we got to see an incredible sunset right from our camp. Our guide even surprised us with hot chocolate!

With each new day hiking what we’ve really loved is being able to explore new villages and meet people from all over Costa Rica. On night 3 of our trek, we were welcomed with open arms by the people of Mollejones. They taught us about the history and culture of the village, then we played duck duck goose and musical chairs with the kids from the local school. They cooked us a delicious Costa Rican meal! We even got to try all sorts of new fruits along the way… fresh sugar cane cut right from the plant, slimy cacao beans (so weird but so tasty), and so much more!

After day 3, the girls enjoyed a fun competition of 2 minute shower relays! After a full night of rest , the group is ready to crush these final few miles before we get to spend a couple days on the beautiful rapids of the Pacuare River. As you can imagine, the girls are ecstatic for rafting! Catch you guys down the bottom of the river! PURA VIDA!

With all of the excitement of the past adventures, and the many ones to come, the girls wants to send a quick “Hola!” home too:


Maeve – Happy late father’s day! I’m having so much fun with my friends and leaders! See y’all soon!

Emma – I’m gonna smell bad when I come home lol. Thx for the sweet note – Miss ya!!

Elle – the views and people are so amazing here and I’m having so much fun and even though I miss yall, I do not want to come home anytime soon! Be sure to say hi to Kyla and Lola for me. Love yall!

Maggie – happy late Fathers day, Dad! Miss both y’all so much and can’t wait to tell y’all all our stores and memories!

Hannah – miss you guys so much but I miss the dogs more haha jk love you!

Alex – miss y’all so much! I’m having a lot of fun here and the views are so pretty. Love y’all and see y’all soon!

Lauren – I miss you guys more than words can explain and I love you so much!

Kate – everything here is amazing! The views, the good and the people. I miss y’all so much but I also love it here. Tell the dogs I say hi!

Cate – I miss you guys especially the dogs, we are going rafting today and I’m so excited and then surfing! I have tried so many new foods. Love you guys.

Elizabeth – I am having so much fun and I have made so many friends, I miss and love y’all!

Caroline – I have met so many amazing people and made so many memories, I can’t wait to see you and share all of my stories! Love you and miss you

Sadie – everything is amazing here!!! I miss y’all but I’m never coming home. P.s. I want foosacklys when I get home. LOVE YALL

Service, Soccer and Smiles!

June 17, 2018

¡Hola from the beautiful village of Humo de Turrialba! Where do we begin!? Since airport day we’ve been having a blast. Our day in the San Jose airport was most definitely one for the books. Awkward smiles, endless card games, and a whole lot of Pringles. Crazy to think that was just a couple days ago! Since then, the group has become closer than we ever imagined, already planning trips to visit each other’s hometowns.

We started our journey in the bustling city of San Jose. After a night of yummy pizza, the group was ready for the adventures to begin. After leaving the hotel, the next morning we jammed to music, told jokes, and saw some incredible views (driving up through the clouds!) while traveling through the colorful and vibrant mountains of Costa Rica. Finally, we reached the village of Humo de Turrialba, which we have been lucky enough to call home these past few days. After arriving, the group was eager to know what was next. We dropped off our stuff, had a delicious lunch of rice & chicken (a very typical Costa Rican meal), and met our soon to be best friend and fearless service leader, Fabian!

With Fabian, the girls quickly learned how to hammer (martillar), saw (sarruchar), and paint (pintar) – all skills that would come in handy for our upcoming projects, helping renovate houses of two local families in the community. Dads, these gals are ready to be your side kicks on that next home project… they quickly became construction pros. Alex was the master of the saw, cutting pieces for a new window frame. Caroline had a special artist’s eye, carefully painting the edges of the newly pink home. Sadie hammered away alongside our other service leader, Francisco, helping rebuild the previously rotting floor in the family’s living room. With each new job to do, Maggie and Elle put their Spanish skills to work helping translate Fabian’s instructions to the rest of the group. Finally, Hannah was named the hammer champion after successfully completing Fabians fun hammer contest.  During all of the contests and practicing of new skills, Kate H and Maeve served as enthusiastic motivators, always cheering extra loud for the group. After three days of hard work, the girls had made so much progress on the house and the families were so appreciative of their help.

Amongst all of the community service and learning, everyone has loved experiencing a brand new culture while also soaking up the incredible beauty around Humo de Turrialba. After our first work day, kids from the local school came to meet us for a pick-up soccer game. Even when the rain started to pour, the game only got more fun! The game was a perfect opportunity to put their new language skills to a test when interacting with the local students. The girls loved the game and many have said it was their favorite part of the trip thus far.

The following afternoon after a long, sweaty, and dirty day or work, Fabian showed the girls around the area of Humo de Turrialba. To our surprise, we were able to finally see the sugar cane factory that we had been smelling for days while we were hard at work. The girls were able to see how the plant was cut down and made into delicious, edible sugar. Elizabeth’s sweet tooth came in handy as she was the first to taste the delicious treat. To top the incredible experience off, from the factory we could see the entire village and surrounding jungles and rivers, a view we will certainly remember forever!

Last but not least, we spent our final day here in Humo de Turrialba completing the work we had started. The girls spent the morning polishing off each and every corner of the house. The day was full of laughter and good spirits from the endless amounts of joke told by Emma as we made finishing touches. After much hard work and some cheerful tears from Fabian, the group had successfully finished what they had started! The afternoon was celebrated with ice cream cones and a jump in the river!

We made sure to make our final meal here in Humo de Turrialba special with a delicious dinner of meat, mashed potatoes, and salad made by Cate S and Lauren. Lauren brought great entertainment as she boogied down to Tswizzle in the kitchen during cleanup. After their tummies were full and Cate S had even tried black beans for the first time (which she loved!), we reflected on our past days’ experiences during Moonup and the girls hit their sleeping bags early in preparation for the many exciting activities to come. That’s all for now, we are hitting the trails! We can’t wait to let you know what the jungle has in store. PURA VIDA!


Temple, Ryan, and Garrett

Introducing the Pura Vida Lifestyle!

June 12, 2018

Hello 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.

-Moondance HQ


  • Maggie
  • Emma
  • Lauren
  • Kate
  • Caroline
  • Elizabeth
  • Sadie
  • Alex
  • Maeve
  • Elle