Field Notes

Croatia 2 • June 12-June 25, 2018

Final Update!

July 12, 2018

Welcome to our season finale, the final curtain call of Croatia 2! We find our crew in their final campsite destination: The beautiful salty waters of Zaton Bay. Several activities await our courageous young adventures, so strap in and hold on tight. First up: Lopud Island.We hopped on an early morning ferry in Dubrovnik to land us at our magical destination of Lopud Island. As far as travel goes, we have learned none are as fine as a ferry ride across the Adriatic on a beautiful July morning. Riley and Riley (better known by their producing name “Riley Squared”) thoroughly loved the ride managing to be some of the few to stay awake the entire time to take in the beautiful views passing us by. Map Master Ben Barlow was also captivated, enjoying the history and geographical landscapes around us. In store for us on the island… One. More. Hike. We took it in stride and came to the top panoramic view with jaws dropped all around. Worth it? No doubt. On the way down, we stopped by a local farm house for one of the most delicious lunches ever devoured by mankind. Beef soup, fried zucchini, bread and olive oil, chicken, potatoes, and cake too? Enough to put Martin to sleep after successfully eating every morsel in sight. We made it back to our precious Zaton Bay campsite with some time to spare, enough that Graham and Martin could show off her soccer skills to everyone in sight, while Colin took this chance to fully take on cultural immersion and make friends with the locals. For Ellie, it was just enough time to take a long, leisurely swim across the Bay. We came back together for a big meal of Mac+Cheese, then settled in for our next big day of sea kayaking and our TOWN DAY!!What sea adventure would be complete without a rope swing? None, thank you for asking, and this one was no exception. The entire team tackled the rope swing with grace, or at the very least with confidence, and Christian even managed to do a full three swings in one before he let go! Our next stop was the beach for some snoozing time, but not before mischievous Cade and company made sure everybody got their full dose of salt by flipping all kayaks in sight. Splashing fight ensued, naturally, and with laughs all around we made our way to lunch and our visit to Old Town Dubrovnik!Everybody thoroughly enjoyed their entry back into civilization, purchasing gelato and strolling the streets farrrrr older than our country. Lyles in particular was taken by the beauty and history held within its timeless stone walls. Alden went on a family shopping spree, getting souvenirs for the family and herself some bracelets that, when put together, more or less spell out her name. Our final stop was dinner at Tabasco Pizza Parlor. But wait, what’s that? You didn’t think we forgot today was Chase Browne’s birthday did you?!?! Her pizza certainly didn’t as it came out with a loud Happy Birthday song and candles interspersed around the four-cheese topping. I think i speak for everyone when i say these final days were ones for the books.It’s hard to believe our time together is finished. We’ve come an awful long way, growing as individuals plenty and learning even more about each other. Like the sage Winnie the Pooh once said, “How lucky i am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Thank you for everything kids. This has been a trip of a lifetime and we cannot wait to see where your lives take y’all next. Until next time, Croatia 2: Out.


Conquering the Paklenicas!

July 9, 2018

And we’re back. Ladies and gents, boys and girls, thanks for tuning in again to Croatia Session 2! In tonight’s episode, catch our group of audacious teens trading in their hiking boots for climbing shoes and kayak paddles as we take on first the rock walls of Paklenica, then water sports.

We had many first-timers, but that proved to be no setback whatsoever on the rock faces. Riley led the charge, scaling the wall faster than most of us had been hiking. Everybody proved adept at the activity, with 100% completions on every route we faced. As for Christian and Chase, the biggest kudos of the day go out to them, anybody walking by would think they were born for heights at the rate they were taking on their fear of climbing. We couldn’t be prouder of the group and their encouragement of the entire team. Another day, another big success.

Next up, Zrmanja River. We packed up the van and drove off for misty surprise of our river campsite, leaving the craggy peaks of the Paklenica Mountains in our dust. We get to our campsite and are greeted with jaw-dropping views. Our home for the next two nights is absolutely beautiful, a rolling grass meadow siting right on a 10 foot waterfall on the riverbank. We set up camp and immediately treated ourselves to a refreshing swim. Martin led the charge, jumping straight off the waterfall (safely, I might add) into the turquoise-blue water below. The rest of the group followed and spent a fantastic afternoon in the river water. We eventually pulled ourselves back onto land just in time for an absolutely delectable BBQ cookout dinner.

Before bed, we couldn’t resist taking advantage of the big, flat, grassy hill we now called home. It was time for Moondance Croatia’s first annual Ultimate Frisbee Competition. Team Captains were LOD’s Colin and Ellie. Ellie in particular really took the team captain role to the heart, rallying the team for a game where everybody left everything they had on the field. Granted, we lost 5-0 to Colin’s team. But who’s counting, right? Quick game highlights: impressive snags by Ben resulted in several close-but-not-quite goals. Lyles decided now was a good time to show everybody she was gifted by the frisbee gods with magnetic hands. Don’t think she dropped a single pass. Alas, it was a game for the ages.

We woke up bright and early for our day on the river. Every 2-person group picked their steed of choice, then headed off to take on the mighty river. Christian and Riley O’Neal were a dynamic duo, going backwards down every roaring rapid. Christian would even hop out to join other boats, pulling people in, much to the dismay of Riley. A beautiful rolling end to the trip, left the group once again in awe of this beautiful country as well as worn out! Graham couldn’t make it back home, as she led the charge on a power nap. After some much needed and deserved rest, Cade helped us get the fire going and we enjoyed a beautiful night under stars, playing campfire music and making every last moment together count.

Our breakfast in the morning was something out of a movie, plates overflowing with pancakes, eggs, homemade toast, and Nutella. Alden stuffed herself full, claiming never to want to eat anything else in her life. Sadly, our time at the river camp had come to an end, but as we pack up our bags, we looked forward to our final days together and taking on the city of Dubrovnik! Stay tuned for more!


Emerged from the Paklenica Mountains!

July 5, 2018

Dobar dan!! Moondance checking in from Croatia! We are sore, and sunburnt, but this group has done it with a smile. Backpacking the Paklenica Mountains has been an overwhelming success. The aches and pains from trekking up and down the mountain the past five days pale in comparison to the sense of accomplishment that is radiating out of every member of our gang here. We are batting 100% completion at both summits this week and walked away today knowing we are stronger than the group that showed up a few days ago.

To start us off, I’d be remissed if I did not give thanks where thanks was due. Ellie and Colin stepped up immediately on the trail as the Map Masters of the group, taking charge and guiding us up the tricky uphill route to our destination—Mario’s Cabin. The miles (kilometers, rather #euro) were tough and would have worn down less-determined groups. Not us, though. Nugs go out to Ben for his constant source of entertainment on the trail. For the exhausted hiker, we could not have asked for a better distraction. Coupled with Chase’s perpetual optimism, we reached our campsite in no time. Served up for dinner was a delicious meal of Goulash, with a special side dish made of snails that Cade tackled with a vengeance. A great day in the books, we headed off for a well-deserved sleep.

The next several days went by almost in a blur. Alden took charge and led the way up to our highest summit of the trip, finding a hiking spirit that surprised even her and inspiring everyone else to finish strong. Martin and Lyles also stepped up leading by example, shouldering the group backpacks at every opportunity and never failing to find a time to help somebody else out.

Beyond our successful summits, our time off was spent equally exciting, if not even more memorable by the laughs and activities. Riley O. decided to spread some St. Louis pride and taught cheer routines to all in attendance. Christian followed this up by moving the whole group at attention and in Benedictine Cadet fashion at perfect stride. Riley K. picked up the circle game “Signs” like a natural, using her spirit animal of a Lion to consistently win rounds.

4th of July was no less exciting. Even in the backcountry of Croatia, we could not be deprived of our American pride. Intensely competitive activities started at high noon, consisting of but not limited to a belly flop competition, American jeopardy, and of course, a three-legged race. Graham pushed through as the underdog of the century, proving that height is but a number and speaking of numbers, she was Number 1! The conclusion was a competitive rap off celebrating our beloved USA and a surprise treat of Ice. Cold. Coca-Colas. Cheers to us and cheers to the red, white, and blue 😀

 

Happy 4th from Croatia and to all a good night. Next up, rock-climbing and white-water kayaking. We’ll be back with more stories soon. Croatia: Out.

 

SHOUTOUTS!!!

Graham: Hey mommy and daddy I love and miss y’all so much! Give Oscar some cheese for me

Cade: having so much fun!

Ellie: Hi mom, dad, bubby, and helen! Croatia is absolutely amazing! We are having a blast and I can’t wait to see you soon. Much love, xoxo

Ben: Hello Mother, Father, Brothers, I’m having a blast. Croatia is pretty chill, and I’m out here hanging out and soaking up a lot of culture and history.

-With much love  Benjamin Taylor Barlow

Riley O- Hi family!!! Croatia is amazing!! I’m having the best time! Miss and love y’all!

Alden- Hi mom dad and Maddie!! Miss and love y’all. Hope you’re having fun in Atlanta. I’m having lots of fun!!

Riley K- Hey everyone! Miss y’all so much! I’m having so much fun here and the views are amazing! Lots of love xx

Christian Elizalde- Hey dad mom and Big Mike, Croatia is great and we have seen awesome views.  Love you

Dear Suddath Fam,

Croatia has been a blast thus far.  Hope you guys are having just as much fun at Wimbledon! Love and miss you guys! Colin Suddath

Lyles Addy- hello family!! I am having the best time here and I can’t wait to tell y’all all about it!! Hope the beach is good…love you!!

Chase- hey guys!!! love y’all and I’m having so much fun here thank you!!!!

Martin – Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having such a great time here and I’m learning so much about myself. Thank you for this awesome opportunity and I hope Haley is feeling better.


Swimming and Sunsets

July 1, 2018

Hello from Croatia! We have all made it safely to Zagreb and couldn’t be more ecstatic to get this session started. We welcomed this jet lagged crew with energy and open arms, as we made our way from the airport to the small town of Korana.

As we set up camp, the group got to know one another, and we could already tell a special bond was forming. Everyone learned how to set up tents and even in the pouring rain, laughs and smiles prevailed. Lyles was ahead of the game and helped others set up their tents after she quickly finished her own. Searching for cover and a special place to have our first Moonup, Christian scouted out a teepee that excited the whole group. We got an early night sleep, looking forward to our day ahead exploring the Plitvice Lakes National Parks.

Even with an early wakeup call this group was up and at em. A great Croatian breakfast energized us all and we were ready for what lay ahead. With the sun shining there are few words to describe the beauty of the Plitvice Lakes. Our first LODs (leaders of the day), Martin and Riley K, helped keep everyone close and the conversation flowing. The clear glowing waters of Plitvice were picturesque and we cannot wait to share the photos taken. Each place we went Ben struck a different pose, some would even venture to say he is the model of our crew. After a lunch in the park, we hopped in the van to travel to our new campsite in the quaint town of Starigrad. With Cade as the DJ, we got some much needed rest, anticipating what excitement this location would bring.

We had a quiet afternoon filled with ERS, led by Alden and many a game of Mafia. Ellie was the star accuser, but little did the rest of the group know she was the true mafia. The boys played frisbee and Colin learned a new throw that he is mastering. Chase is teaching everyone all the Croatian she knows and cannot wait to learn more as the weeks progress. We finished up a dinner of chicken fried rice and with some convincing from the kids, headed into town for a treat and a late afternoon swim. Graham hopped in the icy Adriatic with no hesitations and the rest followed right as the sun began to set. Riley O might have been the last one to dunk her head, but that didn’t stop her from waiting until the last second to get out of the salty sea. Finishing the night with a watercolor sunset floating in the middle of the Adriatic was perfect way to end our first full day. It is a night we will all remember for many years to come. As we pack our backpacks and head for the mountain, we are all anxiously awaiting what adventures our next section will bring.


Safe and Sound in Zagreb!

June 29, 2018

Hey Croatia families!

All students have arrived safely in Zagreb and the trip is underway! Be on the lookout for more updates to come.

-Moondance HQ


Students

  • Lyles
  • Ben
  • Graham
  • Chase
  • Ellie
  • Christian
  • Martin
  • Cade
  • Riley
  • Riley
  • Alden
  • Colin

Staff