July 11, 2018
Thank you for allowing us to get to know your sons and daughters over the past two weeks. The time has truly flown by and we loved every minute of it! We knew this group was going to click from the very first day of the trip, doing service work. They have only grown closer since then, laughing together during each activity, sharing during nightly moonup and building each other up everyday. On our last day in Hawaii, as we hiked down a steep hill to the beautiful Waip’io Valley, Maddie stopped periodically to take in the mossy cliffs and cascading waterfalls, noting “I just can’t believe it’s our last day here”.
Once in the valley, we walked on black sandy beaches and swam in the ocean surrounded by incredible views. Stratton called the group over, through busting out laughter, when a passing horse tried to take a bite of our lunch! Patrick offered encouraging words to motivate the group on the challenging hike back, greeting each hiker with cheers and high fives when they reached the top.
Our banquet celebration was held at Ultimate Burger, an iconic local burger joint. We relished each other’s stories from the past two weeks, reminiscing about the funniest or most poignant parts of the trip. At the end of the banquet, students received “Moonies” awards, recognizing what makes each one of them so awesome and unique.
At our last moonup , we sat in a circle for almost three hours, talking, sharing, laughing and crying. Sarah Carr opened with an activity that allowed group members to reflect on what means the most to them. Madison went deeper with questions that prompted individuals to speak about their personal growth through this moondance experience, whether it was flying alone for the first time, learning to unplug and live in the moment, or stepping outside their comfort zone to try something completely new. The group gathered closer and immersed themselves completely in the closing moments as Duncan shared a personal story to end the evening.
On travel day, Kiley and Lexie wore their Hawaiian shirts into town, Brandt looked for souvenirs to bring back home to his family and everyone bid farewell to the quaint town of Kona. The difference in the group of strangers that started this journey and the group of friends that ended it were evident at the airport when students exchanged hugs and contact information. Mary Frances said “I’m going to miss my new little family” and Izzy remarked “I miss you guys already and we haven’t even left yet!”
With everyone officially on their planes and homeward bound, we share a moment of gratitude for this special group of students. We will miss Lillie’s infectious laugh and the seamless teamwork that created a lasting bond between students. Our time with this group was exceptional and lifechanging. We are going to miss everyone so much.
July 9, 2018
Well, our crew is officially SCUBA certified!! The group did an amazing job practicing skills in the ocean and observing wildlife along the coast. They had two beach dives at Kailua Bay, where Lillie pointed out an eel and Lexie swam alongside a sea turtle. Brandt had fun trying to communicate under water by using hand signals and throwing up the Shaka signal to everyone he saw.
Our scuba instructor, Carlos was SO impressed with all our students, saying that they were one of the best groups he has ever worked with! He was especially impressed with Lexie, who went around to her fellow divers under water, asking about their air supply and making sure everybody was okay. She was basically a pro!
A couple of us are even advanced certified! Kiley and Patrick spent the past couple days advancing their open water diving education by learning and practicing more challenging boat dives. They were able to dive down to 100 feet. They did an underwater experiment where they brought an egg on their deep dive, and watched the effects when they cracked it. What happened was crazy! Although the shell cracked, the egg white and yolk stayed completely intact, and floated together. Kiley and Patrick had so much fun discovering the wonders and mysteries of underwater properties! Patrick enjoyed a nap at the bow of the boat, letting the motion of the ocean lull him to sleep.
On our final day of the certification process, the open water divers and the advanced students were able to come together for a boat day. On the boat ride out, we rode alongside a beautiful tiger shark, and Izzy freaked out since seeing a shark was #1 on her goals list. Maddie relaxed at the front of the boat, as her feet dangled until we all got surprised by a giant wave that splashed everyone!
Under water, Lillie found a way to make O-bubbles! Mary Frances pointed out the sea urchins everywhere. Kiley found a lobster and Maddie spotted an eel. Between dives, Patrick spotted a monk seal! Which was crazy since this species is incredibly endangered, there are only 5 left on the island!
After the dives were over, the kids took off their wetsuits and hopped off the boat, into the Pacific, to cool off. Stratton and Patrick did cool jumps off the back as the other kids cheered for them!
At night, we’ve been enjoying our time at our beautiful campsite. For dinner one night, the kids enjoyed buffalo chicken sliders. We then played a game of charades and had Moonup. Stratton asked us about our perfect day and Lexie asked us to explain something random that makes us happy.
After a hearty meal of quesadillas and chips with “cowboy caviar” (corn & bean dip) We decided that one day of July 4th celebrations just wasn’t enough, so we spent that night playing with sparklers on the beach! The students had so much fun trying to spell words with the sparklers. Our Moonup was on the beach where Patrick asked us about a time that we felt accomplished and Maddie asked us about the greatest thing we’ve worked for.
That’s all for now! Thank you for sharing your amazing kiddos with us this summer! Can’t wait to tell you more about our trip!
July 6, 2018
Wow, where to begin… these past few days have been crazy! After an amazing time in Kauai, we headed to the big island for new adventures. On Tuesday, we broke in our new campsite with pepperoni pizza and a rousing game of mafia and headed to bed for some much needed rest after a busy travel day. The next morning the leaders surprised the kids with a Fourth of July breakfast to kick off a day full of activities. “Party in the USA” was blaring while the kids ate stacks of chocolate chip pancakes with bacon on the side, and got festive with face paint and red, white & blue accessories. After our yummy Fourth of July breakfast, we hit the road for a beautiful day hike in Polulu where a rocky steep trail led us to a beautiful beach surrounded by forests. Once arrived at the destination, the group played the NOLS leadership grid game where we got the chance to learn about each others leadership styles. This gave the students the opportunity to learn more about themselves, their role in our team and how they can best use their skills to be strong leaders. Brandt found out he was a spontaneous motivator which means his outgoing enthusiasm is a beneficial quality in his leadership style.
Mary Frances and Kiley found themselves in the relationship master box, because their communication and thoughtfulness towards others feelings is what sets them apart as leaders. Stratton and Lillie associated with the strong qualities of the Driver leadership role, such as decisiveness and logical thinking that help move the group forward. Patrick took lots of time to think about where he belonged on the grid before he very intentionally placed himself in the architect analyst group, which was appropriate since this sector is known for their purposeful thought process and deliberate decision making. After our hike and picnic, we stopped at a thrift store and then headed back to the campsite for a cookout. Lexie, Lillie, Patrick and Izzy bought cool Hawaiian shirts to wear to our cookout. Maddie helped cook Mac and cheese, while Brandt cooked up some hotdogs and hamburgers for an all around American meal. We even enjoyed some watermelon! After dinner, the kids piled into the car towards a mystery destination. They all freaked out with excitement when we pulled up to a shaved ice shop in Kona, while a July 4th parade marched by. We enjoyed our delicious and fruity treats we watching a colorful fireworks show by the sea. That night, the LODs, Patrick and Lexi, asked some meaningful questions in order for everyone to get to know each other better. Patrick asked us to share something about ourselves that many people do not know, while Lexi asked us to share why we decided to take the jump and go on this Moondance trip. After an extremely long and fun day, the group sang a “goodnight, I love you” song that has become a nightly tradition and headed to bed.
On Thursday we began our journey the get scuba certified! Patrick and Kiley spent some time reviewing skills in order to get their advanced scuba certification, while the rest of the group learned how to put gear together and took our first breaths underwater! We spent our late afternoon roaming the streets of Kona and exploring the local markets, where fresh fruit and handmade jewelry is sold. After dinner, we hit the docks to board the boat for a manta-rays night snorkel adventure! The group was amazed as we held onto a surf board and floated above these amazing creatures. They came right below our boards and did summersaults just inches from us! Mary Frances had a blast and was thrilled to conquer her fear of fish. On the relaxing boat ride back, Lillie pointed out the bioluminescence living in the water. They lit up with the movement of the water, throughout the wake of the boat. We all sat by the stern, heads resting on the edge, mesmerized by the glowing water.
We can’t wait to see what these next few days have in store. Stay tuned for more stories from our awesome adventure!
July 2, 2018
We are only three days into our trip and we are already having a blast!
On the first full day, we woke up and had toasted bagels and cream cheese made by Kiley and Patrick. We spent the majority of the day at the Waipa Foundation, where the students helped clean the beaches and tend to a pineapple farm (where we even got to taste the white pineapple that we helped with!) while learning more about Hawaiian culture. For lunch, we had chicken Caesar wraps, which Brandt gave a rating a 9/10 (he rates all our meals!) The highlight of the day was when our guide, Michael surprised us by showing us a fresh water creek on our walk from the pineapple farm. We jumped into the very cool and very refreshing river. Michael gave us a plant that the Hawaiians call “natural shampoo” and the kids put some in their hair. It smelled like lavender and pine! After an awesome day, the group wound down with some chicken and cheese quesadillas for dinner (8.5/10 from food connoisseur Brandt) with chips, salsa and homemade guacamole (solid 10/10 on the scale) and a Moonup led by LOD Mary Frances, where she asked what everyone was most afraid of when coming on this trip.
The next morning started off strong with chocolate chip muffins and scrambled eggs prepared by Lillie! We then got the chance to surf some gnarly waves with a scenic view of the massive moss-covered cliffs. The students rode into the shore against a blue-sky backdrop with colors so vivid, it almost looked like a green screen! Our surf instructors noted how impressed they were the students’ natural skills. Lexie and Izzy were especially killing it! After the students had mastered the surf lessons, they chilled out on the beach with some sub sandwiches. We ended the day with an awesome camp fire, where we roasted hot dogs with baked beans and Mac and cheese on the side! We also toasted marshmallows for s’mores while telling campfire stories and trying to figure a riddle told by Lillie that stumped us all!
Our third full day got an early start as we embarked on a sea kayaking adventure. While kayaking the Na Pali Coast, we encountered both a sea turtle and a pod of over a hundred dolphins! Stratton, shocked and amazed, stopped and watched in awe of these amazing animals in their natural habitat. Maddie kept us all entertained during the trip with fun games like “20 questions.” We stopped for lunch on a beach and Lillie picked up an aloe plant to bring back on her kayak, to share with the students after spending all day in the sun! We ended the day with an Italian dinner of spaghetti and rolls and a Moonup on the beach where we discussed the favorite aspects of our hometowns.
It’s already been such an amazing 3 days and we can’t wait to see what’s in store next!