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Hawaiian Islands 3 • July 13-July 26, 2018

Final Aloha from Hawaiian Islands!

July 26, 2018

Wow this trip has flown by! To recap last few days of our trip: On Sunday, the kids got the chance to sea kayak the Na Pali coast, famous for its steep cliffs reaching thousands of feet high! We saw several sea turtles along the way. On Sunday night, Matthew and Anneliese made bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches. Jake helped build a fire for the group to circle around for Moonup, after eating several s’mores of course. Liesey asked us who is a role model in our lives and why we look up to them.


On Monday, we spent the day exploring hidden treasures of the island. A highlight was finding the waterfall used in the filming of Jurassic Park on our way to Wimea Canyon, otherwise known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. We stopped for lunch at a Hawaiian restaurant to taste the local food, which was delicious by the way! For dinner, Kam and Richman made everybody some delicious Mac N Cheese with chicken. During Moonup, Anna and Harold asked us about the biggest risk we’ve ever taken.


We spent all day Tuesday at the Waipa Foundation, helping facilitate the growth of a new forest, while also playing in the creek and decorating our hair with yellow flowers. We ended the day with a banquet feast at a famous burger restaurant, Bubba’s Burgers. Brooks and Cate geeked out when they found out their favorite music artist, Childish Gambino, was a regular there! At our last Moonup, each of the students wrote on a coconut, one thing they want to take with them from the trip and one thing they would like to leave behind. We set the coconuts in the middle of the circle with the positive side facing upward, symbolizing everything we’ve learned and how we have grown during the trip. On travel day, Brooks, Anna, Cate, Marcelle, Philip, Kam and Ella woke up early to watch the sunrise over the beach. Orange and pink clouds painted the sky as we all reflected on our last day together in paradise. 


It was so hard to say goodbye to this outstanding group of students, who have changed our hearts and our minds forever with their persistent positivity, overwhelming joy, and inspiring teamwork. As we sit at the airport, sending our students home through hugs and tears, we reflect on the personal growth we’ve observed and the progress we’ve made as a group.


Before coming on this trip, we often considered progress solely as big achievements and accomplished goals, those picture-perfect moments where we throw our hands in the air and celebrate how far we’ve come. We will never forget watching the kids lead their own dive and earning their scuba certification, going belly-to-belly with a magnificent manta-Ray, kayaking the Na Pali coast and finally reaching the peak of Pohulu mountain after a challenging hike. These moments will always stand out in our mind, yet they mean nothing without the punctuation of the seemingly small, less glamorous moments that add personal meaning to our experience on this trip. We will never forget Jake finding a lizard in his water bottle and still joking about it days later, Ella and Richman flipping their kayak (twice) and laughing about it for hours or the unanticipated traffic we encountered that facilitated impromptu van dance parties and ‘taking the scenic route’. We even cherish the occasional rainy days on Kauai because it was there that we found fun in the most unexpected moments. 


When we measure progress by joy and unity, we realize that we have made significant strides towards positive growth. We didn’t just see beautiful things and meet wonderful people on our Hawaiian Islands trip, we found joy in the simplest moments, stretched our boundaries unlike ever before, and lived every moment to the fullest, and THAT is progress to us.


We will miss Richman’s unforgettable laugh, Liesey’s sweet smile, Kam’s contagious positivity and Ella’s cool, calm & collected nature at all times. We can’t imagine the trip without Philip’s timely reminders, Marcelle’s constant helping hand, and Brooks’ music suggestions. We’ve learned so much from watching Anna’s ability to find humor in the simplest of moments, Cate’s ability to laugh at herself when it’s necessary and Harold’s ability to make a positive impact on everyone he comes across. And of course, we will never forget Matthews generous heart and Jake’s adventurous soul. 


Our time with this group has been nothing short of incredible and we will cherish our memories forever. They are all homeward bound. Thank you again for sharing them with us for two weeks.


Madison, Duncan & Sarah Carr

SCUBA Shoutouts!

July 23, 2018


Hey family! Hawaii is AMAZING! I got scuba certified and saw an octopus! We are now in Kauai and it’s awesome – yesterday we went surfing, and today we sea kayaked along the Na Pali coast! I am having the best time ever with the best people ever. Love y’all

XO, cate



I am officially scuba certified and can fully prepare and take down my gear all by myself. Today we went sea kayaking and the water was very blue and the cliffs were amazing. See you soon I guess bye bye 🙂



Hi family!!! I am having the best trip EVER and I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it! I’m scuba certified, and we have been snorkeling, surfing, and sea kayaking. Hawaii is amazing and so are my leaders and friends!! Love and miss y’all and can’t wait to see you!!

XOXO, liesey <3



Hi I am doing great and having fun! This is a great trip. I miss y’all and can’t wait to see you. 🙂



Sup fam (including Seth, Phin and Emily…duh), not coming home I’ve moved. No but seriously I love it here. Hawaii is the best place on earth and I love the people I’ve met. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye but I’m happy to see everyone in 4 days. I’m craving mex btw.



Hi family!!! This trip has flown by I can’t believe I see you so soon. This trip has been sooo much fun and I love everyone I’ve met and all the cool things we’ve done I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Can’t wait for Pawleys, love y’all! Sending lots of love, see you soon! P.S. happy birthday mom!!!!! Love you



What’s good family? We are on Kauai and it is so gorgeous! I love my group and camping so so so much (especially in my eno)! Do not want to leave at all but I can’t wait to see all y’all at home! When Brenda gets home tell her I love her! See ya soon!



Hello family, aloha from hawaii! It has been amazing here and I love my moondance group. Excited to come home!



Hawaii has an ocean bruh



Hi fam!! Kauai is even more beautiful than Kona which I didn’t even think was possible. I love it here and I’ve met some amazing people. Yesterday we went surfing and kayaking and I got a whole coconut and drank it at the market. I don’t want to leave, this trip has flown by but I’m excited to see you! Love you guys and see you soon <3



I’ve had a great time in Hawaii and I hope you guys had a great time in Chicago. I can’t wait to see you guys again



The new campsite is amazing. Also the amount of things I have lost have been too many to count haha! See ya soon.

Officially SCUBA Certified!!

July 22, 2018

Hello families and friends!! We are so excited to tell you what we’ve been up to. On our 4th full day together, the kids spent one more day in the pool learning their final skills and getting time to play around the pool practicing free diving and buoyancy skills. For lunch, us leaders surprised the students with a stop at a local street taco stand! We then got the chance to visit the market, where Kam bought a coconut to drink out of and Ella bought a Maui golden pineapple! Anneliese, Cate, Marcelle, Kam and all the leaders coincidentally bought matching colorful beaded necklaces! For dinner, we continued the Mexican themed food trend with chicken and cheese quesadillas and guacamole, which Richman said was the highlight of his day. On our drive back to our campsite, we saw a family of goats run alongside the road which made us all laugh.

On Wednesday morning, Cate and Marcelle made some AMAZING scrambled eggs that the rest of the kids raved about. Kam came out of her tent holding a Grateful Dead book and squealing in excitement. She had just read about the band’s experience scuba diving at Jacks Diving Locker: the same place that WE have been diving!! This was pretty cool for all of us. We spent the day on the boat, scuba diving and completing our certifications! So exciting. Harold pointed out the Golden Arches under water, Matthew spotted out an octopus and Marcelle saw multiple eels! The instructors held a mini ceremony for the newly certified divers, while all the students enjoyed some gelato.

On Thursday morning, the kids woke up and celebrated the first annual Moondance Poi Day, a holiday we created in which we celebrate all things Hawaiian. The kids suited up in all their fun purchases from the market and we embarked on a hiking journey at Waipi’O valley, a treasure of the Big Island. We ate sandwiches on the beach and the kids used mud as face paint while we all watched the long and beautiful waterfalls in the distance and listened to the waves crash into the shore. The kids sang high school musical classics for motivation, as they marched back up the mountain. Once at the top, Brooks and Anna did push-ups to finish up the impromptu workout!

On Friday, we packed up our bags and traveled to the magnificent island of Kauai! We set up our new little home in a forest near a white sand beach, perfect for watching sunrises. Upon arrival, Jake exclaimed “this campsite is perfect”. We spent Saturday at Hanalei Bay, learning how to surf and taking in all the breathtaking views that Kauai has to offer. For dinner, Philip and Brooks made some angel hair pasta with mushrooms and Alfredo sauce, while Matthew cooked some delicious garlic toast for everyone. Our Moonup this night was especially moving. Harold and Kam prompted everyone to talk about the hardest thing they have ever gone through. We ended Moonup with a group hug and lots of “I love you’s”. Everyday, we are impressed by the growth of this outstanding group of individuals. Thank you so much for sending your kiddos with us this summer! We can’t wait to explore Hawaii with them for another amazing week!

Student Shout outs!

July 18, 2018

Here are some student shout outs from our Island hoppers!

Kam- Hi Mama and Dado! Hawaii has been incredible so far!! Everyone here is so awesome as well as our leaders. Last night we swam with Manta Rays and they got so close they brushed up against us. Happy anniversary! Miss you guys lots and can’t wait to play games when I’m home! Don’t worry mama, I am wearing lots of sunblock 🙂 See you on the 26th, love you guys so much!

Marcelle- What’s up mom, dad, and Sadie! love and miss y’all so much! Hawaii is so incredible I just know that you all would love it! Everyone is great and I’m doing great so don’t worry! Peace out! Shaka

Richman -Hey mom and dad, Hawaii is awesome. P.S. The incredibles 2 is my favorite movie.

Jake-Hey fam. Having a great time in Hawaii. Met some cool people and swam with Manta Rays and scuba dived. See ya.

Harold-Hey mom and pops, Hawaii is amazing! We have an awesome group of people and the activities we’re doing are stellar! My tent buddy is named Matt and he is low key funny. Hope Atlanta is cool!

Brooks- Hey mom, dad and will. Will i know mom is most likely making you read this so I wanted to say I’ll be home sooner than it feels. Love you, don’t get your head shaved till I get home. Mom I know the boys are annoying but Emily lives down the street. Emily, Phin and Seth love y’all we are getting mex when I get home.

Liesey- Hi mom dad and Mimi! I’m having the best time ever in Hawaii! We are scuba diving and hiking and all kinds of other fun things! I miss you guys so much and I can’t wait to see you soon! Xoxo

Philip-Hi mom dad and Jack, Hawaii is great I am having a great time. I can’t wait to see you all. See you soon. Kisses️ Philip.

Ella-Hi mama daddy and bb and brother,! Making friends and am scuba diving, having so much fun love y’all! Also happy happy birthday to DD! Little bit late but I hope you had an amazing birthday even though I wasn’t there. Love you mucho DD!

Anna- Hello family!!! Hawaii is incredible I’m having sooo much fun. We’ve been doing so many cool activities like scuba diving, hiking, and my personal favorite, snorkeling with Manta Rays. I have been taking so many photos and videos to show off when I get home don’t worry. Give Ollie a big hug and kiss for me, love y’all!!! P.S. happy early birthday mom! Love you

Cate-Hey mom and dad!!! And Robert! I am having the best time ever in Hawaii. My group is awesome and so are the leaders! We went on a hike with a gorgeous view on the second day and since then we have been doing so many other cool things like scuba diving. My favorite was snorkeling with Manta Rays last night, seriously the best experience ever !!! Love and miss y’all xo

Matthew-Hey mom and dad. I’m having so much fun in Hawaii especially with my great tent buddy Harold. We are about to finish scuba certification and it Is a lot of fun. I miss you guys and can’t wait to get home and start college apps.

SCUBA and Exploring from Hawaii!

July 17, 2018



Well the trip is off to an amazing start! On our first full day on the Big Island, we traveled to the beautiful Polulu overlook for a hike. During our lunch break, we did the NOLS leadership style activity, where all the students could learn about their strengths as leaders. Cate learned that she is a relationship master, meaning she always considers needs of others. Anna learned that she is the driver of a group, meaning she holds the vision of the group and motivates others. After enjoying a pasta salad lunch, we began the difficult trek up. Jake stepped up to the plate and helped the LODs, Anneliese and Matthew, lead the hike since he has so much experience with hiking. On the challenging trip up, we got a glimpse of a wild bull! Some locals told us that he was very friendly and called this mountain home. This was a WOW moment since it certainly isn’t everyday that you get to see a bull! Kam was smiling from ear to ear and exclaimed “I love moments like these!!” The kids respectfully passed the majestic animal and continued the walk. When we reached the top, the kids took a second to enjoy the breathtaking oceanic view. For as far as the eye could see, the Pacific Ocean stretched and expanded. We reflected for a moment, on how small our problems truly are. Moments such as these help give us perspective. Brooks pointed out tiny islands in the distance and Duncan showed us reefs where waves would break, in the middle of the ocean. We found a rope swing on our hike back which Matthew, Harold and Richman enjoyed. For dinner, Philip and Anna whipped us up some Mac N Cheese and hotdogs.

On the following day, we began our SCUBA certification! Everyone did a great job at listening and working hard during the skills practice portion. Our SCUBA instructors, Juan Carlos, Billy, and Susan said that this is the only group all summer who was able to complete 3 modules in just 1 day! This put our group ahead and allowed them to ocean dive the following day! Annaliese even lead a scuba study group in the van ride and Kam took time to practice skills on her own. That night, Jake and Brooks claimed the roles of cook crew and made a delicious vegetable stir fry with white rice and soy sauce. During Moonup, everybody munched on chocolate chip cookies as Marcelle asked us to share our most memorable dream and Jake asked us to do our best celebrity impressions. Marcelle made everybody laugh with her impressive and accurate Shakira impression!

Our third day was packed full of amazing ‘firsts’. The kids scuba dove in the ocean for the first time. Ella did a backflip under the water! Kam and Philip pointed out a sea turtle and moray eel. We made sub sandwiches for lunch as everyone shared their adventure of breathing underwater. We’ve been so impressed by all the students during this scuba experience. For dinner, we enjoyed pizza on the lawn, where the students laughed ridiculously over silly games like “Duck Duck Goose”.

Our Manta Ray snorkel experience was out of this world! Before we even entered the water, we saw Manta Rays swimming alongside the boat. Once we entered the water, 8 Manta Rays had gathered under the glowing lights! These beautiful 15-foot creatures dove and dodged each other underneath our board, doing summersaults. At one point, we were swimming close to 5 different Manta Rays. We could hear Jake exclaiming through his snorkel, “THIS IS SO COOL!!” Matthew remarked that he couldn’t decide which he liked better – Scuba Diving or Manta Ray Snorkel… because “they were both SO awesome.” On the drive back to our campsite, the leaders surprised the students with sweet treats like ice cream sandwiches and skittles!

Our LODs, Ella and Richman, lead Moonup and asked us about the coolest place we’ve ever traveled and where we feel most at home.

We already see so much potential in this group! We have watched Harold step into a leadership role, seen Jake begin looking for ways to help others out, watched Richman make jokes that left the others belly laughing and observed Anneliese forming new friendships. We can’t wait to see what the next few days have in store! We will check in soon 🙂


Madison, Duncan & Sarah Carr

Group has Arrived Safely on the Big Island!

July 14, 2018

Aloha Families!

We heard from our leaders, and the trip is off to a great start! Stay tuned for more updates from the leaders over the next few days.

  • Moondance HQ


  • Anna
  • Philip
  • Brooks
  • Jake
  • Marcelle
  • Kam
  • Richman
  • Cate
  • Anneliese
  • Ella
  • Matthew
  • Harold