June 27, 2018
“We do not take risks to escape from life; we take risks so that life does not escape from us” -Unknown
Bula from under the sea. We are happy to announce we have had a very eventful and fun couple of days back in Pacific Harbor with our newly certified divers. The first day of scuba consisted of hanging in the pool and learning the detailed and important aspects of the certification. Although it was a long and rainy day, the kids did not complain once and said it only made them more excited to get into the ocean. As the 4 days progressed, we saw so much growth in the kids as they overcame their nerves and stepped out of their comfort zone to thrive as certified, independent divers.
On day 2, the kids had their first opportunity to officially work their magic in the water. Everyone strapped on their (very tight) wetsuits and BCD’s to head out for two 40 ft dives. Although everyone was pretty nervous for their first ocean, we could see the adrenaline and excitement in their eyes. Andrea, being her brave and strong self she’s been for the past 2 weeks, was the first to hop in and let everyone know the water felt great. She made sure everyone felt comforted in the water and was ready to have an unbelievable time. Once we all were deep into the ocean, we all felt completely safe and comforted by the bright coral reefs and beautiful fishies. Maddie and William became instant pros at diving. Their underwater dance parties kept the dives interesting and made everyone laugh.
The third day was the last day of skill-practice for the kids’ certification. Everyone aced the test, even though some of the skills were a little nerve racking for them. Lillie Sweet was particularly awesome to watch this day, because she conquered her fear of taking off her mask completely then putting it back on, all at 40 feet under the sea! She totally rocked it even though she previously thought she would never be able to. On one of our dives, the whole group saw so many sharks! While we kept our distance from them, they were truly magnificent to observe. Our group went into the dive with some extreme fear of sharks, but after diving with them, everyone, especially Jake, was in awe of their magnificence and wanted to keep diving with them. Jake was determined to get great pictures for everyone back home! Evie also loved the sharks, enough so that she said she may want to be a professional diver in the future. After the first time, she could not get enough. She was neutrally buoyant and streamlined the whole time, it was incredible to see her grow as a diver. Kathryn also could not contain her excitement about her new found love of diving. Hearing her say “I wish I could stay under for longer” each time she came up was truly incredible and helped the group stay more positive each day.
This section of the trip was a time of tremendous growth for the group, both in the ocean, and with each other. While watching the kids overcome their fears of the ocean and blossom into accomplished divers was impressive, watching the group dynamics evolve as the kids matured personally and socially was equally awe-inspiring. Julia and Nico played a large role in this transformation, facilitating one of the most deep and meaningful Moonups we’ve ever had. The level of maturity they brought to the Moonup circle encouraged the entire group to open up and share things that cemented the group together for the long term. Maggie made sure to get everyone to play games after Moonup one last time and wanted everyone to have one great last night together. We are very thankful for her contribution to the group dynamic as a whole.
In addition to the Moonups, our consistent family-style meals played a large role in strengthening the bonds between the group. While each meal was uniquely awesome, our breakfast on the 26th, Claude’s birthday, stood out as one of the best. Starting the morning with some early morning tunes and cake set the tone for an awesome day. Claude’s energy and enthusiasm for his birthday infected the entire group and kept everyone positive in light of inclement weather.
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered” Nelson Mandela
Tonight was a hard goodbye as our group departed Nadi with Kyle. All of the memories and friendships made on this trip were truly special. We want to thank the parents for allowing your kid to spend the summer with us at Moondance. We have watched them grow over the past few weeks in such a positive direction. Each and every one of these children brought something crucial to the Moondance table. A theme we talked about several times over the course of the trip was that this is THEIR trip. As a leader, we can be there to create a safe environment, lay the foundation, and create the blueprint for the trip, but ultimately it comes down to how the group will come together. Whether that was making a decision over something like what we were cooking for dinner or a scuba diving route, the decisions were up to them. This is the reason each of our students grew. They made decisions based off of not just their needs but the needs of the group. When a group is able to do this, they can accomplish anything!!
Thank you for allowing us to spend time with your wonderful children, and for sending them with us!! We LOVE your little humans!!!
With love and gratitude,
Michael, Brit, and Kyle
June 22, 2018
Greetings from Fiji! Upon arriving in this tropical paradise, we’ve had many fun experiences! The food has been incredible, the waves have been rolling, and the sunsets have looked like something out of a postcard. Our group is truly living the Fiji dream.
Everyone caught up with a little extra sleep the first morning at camp before catching the surf at high tide. Lillie Sweet snapped some epic GoPro footage of everyone while surfing, and she has been taking great photos. Although it was a lot of the kids’ first time surfing, they all looked like pros. Kathryn was up again and again catching any wave she could and riding them all the way to the shore. Nico and William lasted the longest in the water; it was almost impossible to get them out. We were very proud of the group. After a delicious lunch, we had a free afternoon and we spent it well. Andrea and Jake kayaked just off the shore of our camp and jumped in the crystal clear water to experience snorkeling for the first time. They were both hooked right away. Much of the group meditated with some beach-side yoga led by a professional instructor! After a long day of “S-cubed” (sun salt and sand) everyone was pretty worn out- but not too worn out for a great dinner buffet.
After dinner, LOD’s Maddie and Nico facilitated a very deep and meaningful moonup, and their line of questioning led to the group sharing deep personal experiences. It was so special watching the kids reach out to support one another like best friends, when they were complete strangers a mere week ago.
After a full day of surfing, everyone slept like a rock, which energized us the next day for an incredible boat trip to a lush Fijian island, followed by another surf session.
The boat trip to the island was simply magical, and we all remarked with gratitude that “this is a very unique gift we’ve been given” as we skimmed across the glass-calm ocean. Evie was enthralled with the flying fishing leaping in front of the boat, and she drew everyone’s attention to them. Many had never seen a flying fish before, and everyone was so thankful for Evie’s keen eye in pointing them out.
Once we arrived at the island, a steep hike awaited us. Maggie was instrumental in telling jokes and offering words of encouragement to keep everyone’s spirits high on the climb. Once we reached the top, we were met with panoramic views of the Fijian reef lines, the open ocean, and other islands. Breathtaking is an understatement.
After climbing back down to sea level, we were treated to a beach-side BBQ, Fijian style. While eating, Claude kept us all laughing with stories from BBQ’s at home, and continued to motivate the group by leading a group cleanup after lunch. After cleaning up, we sunk our teeth into some beach volleyball. Everyone had an absolute blast bumping, setting, and spiking under the Fijian sun, however, Maddie stood out as a volleyball extraordinaire. The only thing was she was playing soccer style, using her feet and head (totally legal) to return Jake’s flaming fast spikes. At the end of the day, the high swing was open and Julia was the first to catch it. Everyone ended up revolving around Julia and the swing, her bubbly personality is so contagious and the rest of the group can’t help but want to be around her 24/7.
The past two days surfing, boat riding, kayaking, and exploring more and more of the Pacific have been so incredible. Watching each one of your children grow every day through adventure and exploration is something so special and all we could ever ask for in a Moondance trip. As we head back to Pacific Harbor for our last leg of the trip, we are excited for the Fiji 1B family to grow closer and closer.
Vinaka for your children!!!!
Kyle, Michael, and Brit
June 19, 2018
“Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the stars and the mountains above. Let them look at the water and the trees and flowers on earth. Then they will begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.” David Polis
Wow, the past four days have been chock full of service, adventure, and good times! While we’ve been incredibly busy working here in the village. Even getting here was an adventure, but you know what they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination. We made it to the village by rafting down the “River of Eden,” with crystal clear water and towering canyon walls on either side. The Fijians refer to it as “the green canyon,” an expression that couldn’t be more spot on.
Starting with an early 5 o’clock wake up, LODs (leader of the days) William and Julia were whipping it up in the kitchen. We had scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit. Once our bags were all packed up, we were on the way to the ”Green Canyon”. With lush forests and grand mountains on either side we discovered another magical side of Fiji.
The final river rapid led us to the village, where we were warmly greeted by the Chief in a welcoming ceremony. Evie’s quick wit and humorous attitude made her an instant favorite at the ceremony. We were graciously offered a large village home to sleep in during our time here. Everyone slept very well under our mosquito nets the first night in our new home.
The village has been such an incredible experience. We’ve been standing under waterfalls, diving into many new traditions, and making friends from all along the way.
For our first day of service, Andrea kept us positive with an early morning workout after our rooster alarm clockbegan clucking at 6am. We walked to the nearby school, and Lillie Sweet put the team on her back (literally) by helping carry a lot of the packed lunch and bottled waters.
Kathryn took the lead of transporting a large pile of wood down to the village. Along the way she kept up conversation with everyone which led to people forgetting that the were actually doing work. Time flies when you’re having fun! Jake could have easily been mistaken as an adopted villager, as they all kept welcoming him into their homes from the start. Almost every minute of the day you could spot at least 3 different kids hanging off of Jake!
William stood out as a hard worker during the days of service, helping fill waters to ensure everyone was properly hydrated. Watching him put the needs of the group first by treating water, waking up early to cook breakfast, and leading the morning huddle was incredibly inspiring, and played a large role in helping the group grow together on the whole. Claude has kept the entire group entertained. He’s been chasing chickens around and starting fun group games.
On our final day of community service, Maddie made friends with every single kid in the school. The Fijian kids could not stop playing with Maddie’s long hair – they all loved it. Nico and Maggie on this last day of community service pulled the group together as LODs. They both have been perfect in taking the leadership role and it is evident that they shine in that environment. Nico gave a quick speech to the whole school while handing out donations, and everyone was extremely grateful for our time spent with the school. Maggie also grew as a public speaker by getting the attention of the group and sharing the schedule of the day for everyone the final morning. We have loved watching her grow so much in just one day through her role as LOD.
We leave the village with heavy hearts and full spirits, feeling extremely grateful and full of love and compassion. Watching each of your children grow through the people of the village and the people of the group in just four days has been nothing short of humbling and exciting. We are sure they will take home everything they have learned and share with their friends and families back home. Our next adventure brings us to surfing and we cannot wait to see what the next journey holds for our Fiji family.
Bula and venaka,c. C
Kyle, Michael, and Brit
Shout outs 🙂
Andrea- I’m having so much fun, miss and love y’all!
Claude- Hey, we just finished service and I miss you. I love you
Lillie Sweet- having a blast! Miss y’all and love y’all! xoxo, Lil
Jake Wolf- Happy late Father’s Day. Hope Aspen is fun. Miss y’all love y’all. Can not wait to see y’all.
William Dunn- it’s been amazing can’t wait to see y’all
Julia- Hey! I am having so much fun in Fiji!! Love & miss y’all!
Kathryn- Hey! I am loving Fiji it’s so much fun!! Happy late Father’s Day! Love y’all
Maddie- Hey, having so much fun, love you <3
Maggie- I’m having so much fun in Fiji!! Love and miss you guys so much!
Nico- I’m having so much fun in Fiji. I miss y’all so much, can’t wait to see y’all. Love you!
Evie- Miss ya’ll! Happy late Father’s Day!
June 14, 2018
Bula from Fiji Family 1B!
We have had an exciting past couple of days, starting with hanging all together in LAX. We were first greeted with Maddie and Andrea’s positive attitude and then went on to meet Nico and Jake who all crushed it in a big game of Look Up, Look Down. Once everyone made it safely, the bonding started immediately. Everyone did an awesome job traveling across the international date line for the first time and we are now settled into Fiji time.
For our first few hours, we stopped to have a hearty breakfast by the hotel pool! William was one of the first to go down the slide and had a great time. After we settled in, we broke out frisbee to get everyone pumped up. Kathryn and Claude led the charge to the beach, and everyone was over the moon to see the beach in Fiji for the first time ever! Evie taught everyone her favorite game, Birdie on a perch, which was quickly became a family favorite, and everyone wanted to play it again and again. Julia and Lillie Sweet showed the whole group some awesome yoga poses, which I’m sure will be a hit the rest of the trip. In preparing for the service portion of the trip, Maggie’s humility and vibrant ideas have helped the entire group prepare to commit to the service whole heartedly.
Today, we start our first activity, rafting into the village where we will begin our community service projects. We are so excited to begin our service portion of the trip! Everyone received their “swag bags” last night, so we will have some incredible new shirts to wear for the next few weeks!
We are so incredibly excited to have each one of your kids in our Fiji 1B family, and we look forward to our many adventures in the days to come.
Brit, Michael, and Kyle
June 13, 2018
Bula Fiji Families!
We’ve heard from our leaders, and the group has arrived safely in Fiji. We can’t wait to hear about their adventures.