June 26, 2018
Ciao from the airport!
As we sit here reminiscing on our trip with your amazing kids, we are filled with pride, gratitude and so much joy. This trip was hands down the most incredible Moondance trip either of us have led. Each and every one of your kids brought something to this trip that took it above and beyond any and every expectation we had coming into it, and we can not thank you enough for sharing them with us.
The last few days of the trip were absolutely incredible. Our Leaders of the Day on Saturday, Janie and Hugh, led us in a great Moonup where each person in the group described their favorite quality about the person sitting to their right in the circle. It was uplifting, meaningful, and heartfelt, and we feel that each of the kids articulated each other’s strengths so well. On Sunday we went canyoning, and this was absolutely a highlight of our trip! Bess and Sarah were extremely helpful in getting everyone in their full garb, and believe us this was a challenge: wetsuits, wethats, wetsocks, harnesses and helmets oh my! Both of these girls were also super helpful and kind in calming any nerves that group members had going into the canyoning experience. Taylor helped guide everyone up on a mini hike to the canyoning spot at the top of the river, with our canyoning experience consisting of a series of repels and slides down a beautiful river. Emerson was the first to jump into the chilly water, and was a great leader in getting the others to follow suit. James and Courtney were a power team in canyoning down a 20 meter waterfall together passing by a rainbow on the way down. And Graysen and Grace kept the energy high and everyone’s bodies warm with a mid-canyoning dance party in the water!
Yesterday we had our town day in Venice woohoo! This day was so much fun and filled with lots and lots of gelato, pizza and more pizza. Aidan was extremely helpful in helping us leaders transport all of the gear bags to our hostel – not only did he carry them, but he also took the initiative in helping to load and unload the water taxis. Courtney and Om were our Leaders of the Day for our town day to Venice, and did an absolutely excellent job in helping us leaders get everyone so excited for the day, as well as demonstrate great expedition behavior (both helped bus our banquet dinner dishes the entire night after each course!).
We would like to again express our deepest thanks and gratitude for sharing your kids with us these last two weeks. They brought so much light to both of our lives and each of the others in the group by simply surrounding them with their presence. Each of your kids are courageous, fearless and curious individuals who we know will tackle each of their future endeavors with grace and confidence. We feel so lucky to be your kids greatest cheerleaders, and so look forward to watching them grow up into the fine adults they are becoming.
With our most sincere gratitude,
Mary Hill and Reece
June 23, 2018
Ciao from the Dolomites!
What an eventful last few days we have had here in the Italian Alps. We have been rock climbing away amidst in the Cinque Torri area since we last touched base, and what a fabulous experience it has been! Aidan and Emerson started us off as the leaders of the day to begin our climbing section, and they did a great job leading the group in an entirely new outdoor pursuit for some. Hugh impressed the entire group with his eagerness and skill, as he was the first in the group to climb the rock and reach the top. James did an awesome job conquering his fear of repelling down the rock gracefully and courageously. Taylor, Janie and Courtney were the first to not only try, but excel at the multi-pitch climbing excursion we tackled on the face of a daunting yet exciting rock face. Our climbing style included clipping into pitches as we climbed higher and higher up the rock while connected to others in the group, and then repelling down the backside.
Grace and Graysen led a multi-pitch climb in the afternoon yesterday and did so proficiently AND in record time! To close the days, we have had some more serious Moonups, and Om did an excellent job at starting us off answering the questions and setting a mature, heartening, and inspiring tone with his insightful responses. We have just arrived at our hotel after completing a whopping 60 miles of trekking over the course of our trip with today being our last trekking day… WOW we are so proud of these kids. Today’s hike was a bit more challenging than anticipated with some very steep uphill climbs as well as some tricky downhill ones on the latter end. Sarah and Bess were extremely helpful in continuously motivating the group and keeping the energy high even when the times were tough. Tomorrow we will begin canyoneering, and then we are off to Venice for our town day, woohoo! What a whirlwind!
Until next time,
Mary Hill and Reece
June 20, 2018
Ciao from the Dolomites! What an eventful past few days we have had on our trek across the beautiful Italian Alps. Where to begin… We would first like to express how impressed we are with your enthusiastic, positive and willing kiddos. They have hiked over 35 miles since we last touched base with approximately half of that being an uphill trek… WOW. This experience has been definitely challenging, yet also amazingly fulfilling and exciting.
Our first day of trekking was a difficult, but stunning hike into the mountains. We were so impressed as the kids demonstrated both technical and physical rigor as they persevered up the daunting sections of the Day 1 trek. Sarah was the spontaneous motivator that held the group together and kept us going this day – offering kind words of support to each member of our group. Courtney helped us close a few nights on the guitar with Bess singing some beautiful tunes as the sun set. Some group favorites from this dynamic duo were “The Climb” and “Wagon Wheel”. Hugh and James led half of the group to victory in an orienteering game led by our outfitter guides, Luka and Mrito. The game entailed of the kids splitting into two groups and using maps to find certain points marked on them in the areas surrounding our rifugio. While on the trek, Graysen kept the group moving with her great expedition behavior sharing her delicious Jolly Ranchers on the trail. She also offered some great encouragement to the daring polar plungers who hopped in the lake mid-trek!
Janie and Taylor were excellent leaders yesterday on our most difficult trek of the trip where we hiked 4.5 hours uphill and 10 miles total. They did a great job holding the group together with their high energy and physical prowess. Further, Emerson contributed to such amazing leadership of the group as she encouraged others down the technical section of our descent of the mountain peaks that were a challenge for all.
Om and Grace were our Leaders of the Day today and what a wonderful job they did leading us through the historic WWI tunnels and trekking to our current rifugio. Aidan further contributed to today’s activity through constant encouragement and support of both his leaders and fellow peers.
And let’s not forget the absolutely amazing three course meals we have been chowing down on at the end of each day… from risotto, to German meat dishes, to tiramsu and panna cotta, we have been feasting big time after our long trek days.
Most importantly, words cannot describe how proud we are of your kids – they have emulated a sense of positivity and spirit that we have both yet to witness. Thank you thank you thank you for sending your kids on a trip with us – we feel so grateful to spend time with such wonderful souls. Ciao for now!
Reece and Mary Hill
June 15, 2018
We hope this update finds you well. What a pleasure it is to have your children in the gorgeous Italian Alps with us. We arrived in Venice yesterday morning and hopped on a bus to the stunning town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Aidan helped us jam to some great tunes on the drive up – keeping the spirits high. James and Bess led us to a great lunch spot when we arrived where we got to chow down on some yummy Italian food. We finished the day with a fabulous Moonup under the setting sun where Hugh and Graysen were named Leaders of the Day – and what great leaders they have been today. This morning we woke up to the delicious smell of fresh croissants and fruit and fueled up for the big day. Om was extremely helpful in getting everyone together and ready for our early hike.
We hiked and climbed a whooping total of 12 miles today, and each of the kids constantly impressed us with their enthusiasm and smiles through it all. Courtney was our hype woman on the trail, keeping everyone laughing and talking together. Emerson, Taylor and Grace encouraged the others as we did the Via Ferrata traversing under waterfalls and stunning canyons. Sarah learned iodine water protocol today for getting water on our hike and did an excellent job passing along the lesson to the others. After our hike Janie led us to a yummy gelato shop for a much deserved post-hike treat! Needless to say today was a hit, and we are just so pumped for all of the adventures to come! It is already evident what a wonderful and dynamic group of kids your kids are and we are just ecstatic for what is to come with them.
Mary Hill and Reece
June 14, 2018
Hi Dolomites Families!
The group has arrived in Italy and are headed to the Dolomites to start their adventure. Stay tuned for more updates!