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Mountains to Sea 3 • July 17-July 30, 2018

Final Update!

July 31, 2018

Hello my fellow readers!!

I am so grateful I was able to spend time with your sweet kids for 2 weeks- I learned SO much and am indebted to their adventurous, curious spirits they added a fun and lighthearted dynamic to our session.

Our incredible second surfing session (the best waves of the leaders’ sessions throughout the summer) was the perfect way to end our Charleston adventure.

After a quick shower stop, we made our way to Charlotte, NC for the final 2 days. We stopped a Chick-fil-A (a new restaurant for both Hunter and William) and had some awesome car jams on our way! We arrived at our campsite before dinner time, so we set up camp and had a surprise for the kids. They had an “Iron Chef” competition, in which the groups had to create dinner using any ingredients we had left in our UHaul. The girls made a chicken fried noodle dish (scrambled eggs, ramen noodles, chicken flavoring) and chocolate peanut butter covered graham crackers covered with pretzel pieces. The boys made mashed potatoes and a “chili” that consisted of spaghetti sauce, maple syrup, eggs and soy sauce. The boys also made a warm s’mores pile that was gooey and delicious! The girls won, but it was a tiebreaker for the winning recipe! After Moonup, the group headed to bed.

The next morning, the group headed to the US National Whitewater Center, where the group rock climbed and bouldered (rock climbed without a harness on a smaller, but more difficult rock face). Next, we headed to Hawk Island to do the 100-foot free fall, zip lines and ropes courses (some ropes courses were over the whitewater) and we got to see white water rafters, kayakers and paddle boarders go over the rapids!

We headed to a quick lunch at Moe’s and then to a car wash to clean out, vacuum and wipe down the van and the Uhaul. Next, we surprised the kids with a run to Goodwill for the funkiest clothes they could find for our banquet. We had SO many laughs at everyone’s outfits and took a few pictures before heading to banquet- which was at a world class restaurant- Cracker Barrel. The outfits and party buns definitely caught other patrons attention, but we rocked our outfits confidently and had a great final dinner!

This morning was tiring for sure, but the students quickly packed all of their miscellaneous Items into their duffels and headed to the airport. Our group became so close throughout these two weeks, so saying goodbye was hard!

I loved watching your kids solve conflicts, communicate with each other on cook and cleaning crews, and watched as our 14 strangers soon became a family.


To the parents: thank you so much for allowing your rockstar kids to come on this trip. They are capable, independent young men and women and learned so much about themselves on this trip!


To William: boy, did you keep us on our toes. Your joy and hilarious demeanor brought so much laughter and fun to our group. Thank you for always lightening the mood, but also ensuring others felt welcomed and had a few Swedish Fish and cherry licorice strings to snack on. You made our group so entertaining and I am so glad you were able to learn new skills with a fabulous attitude this trip!

To Frannie: you are a joyful girl who is such a delight to be around! I watched your self confidence skyrocket when you caught your first wave on the surfboard and am so proud of your relentless desire to learn new skills and challenge yourself. Remember, your kind heart is so valuable to the world- keep on spreading your sunshine!

To Conrad: you were such a treat to get to know! I’m so glad you were able to join our group! I’m so proud of you for challenging yourself surfing and rock climbing- you achieved so much in this short period of time! I loved your witty banter and hearing about stories from home. I’m also proud of you for checking yourself before saying a complaint- you are growing so much! Perspective can change everything!!

To Ana V: to the bacon cheddah, you made our trip SO fun with all of the car dance parties, the magic of the burger hat and your consistent encouragement. You are such a warm presence, and people flock to you because you make them feel loved and valued! We were so lucky to have you on our trip and know you are going to change lives with your positive demeanor and joyful attitude!

To Hunter: aye blessup brotha!! I knew from the minute I met you and William in the airport that you would be our friendly entertainers of the trip (and boy was I right). I so appreciated your ability to lighten a situation with humor, but also your ability to have meaningful conversations with both students and other leaders. I recognized your maturity when you often offered to help load the Uhaul or volunteered to help make breakfast- and I so appreciated it. You are a kind and intelligent young man who brings joy to everyone you encounter.

…….aaaaaaaaand BLESSUP

to Anna B- girl, you made our van trips SO fun with your Fergalicious raps and your high energy dance parties, you made our van rides the best!! Keep on spreading your sunshine- the world needs a whole bunch of it!! I so appreciated your positive attitude and your encouragement to others while backpacking and rock climbing.

To Ben: wow what a trip we had!! I am so glad you came on our trip and were able to try so many new activities. I’m so proud of you for committing to getting up on the surfboard! I know the first day was tough and had rough waves, but you absolutely shined on the second day of surfing!! I saw you grin from ear to ear and knew we had a mini grom (small surfer dude) on our hands! Thank you for keeping our group entertained and remember how much your perspective can change your situation!

To Allie: to the girl who can impersonate many people and accents, you were a trip! I so appreciated the second to last night when you sat in the van with me and gave me an entertaining show with your accents. Keep on being sweet and spreading laughter. You are capable of great things when you put your mind to it!

To max: surfer dude Max, I am so glad you came on this trip and could help represent VA with me! You were so fun to be around and always had a smirk that made you look like you were up to something good. I so appreciated our long talk in the rocking chairs, and know you are going to achieve big things! I’m so excited for you to go to surf camp and hopefully learn something new!

To Clarke: sweet, sweet Clarke with the long southern drawl, you were an absolute gem this trip! You were so gracious when other people did you a favor and were quick to jump in and help when you saw fit! I am so glad I got to know you and hear about cross country and your family. You are strong and capable of so much and I can’t wait to see where this next year takes you!

To Reid: to the guy who was an absolute trooper with all of his bug bites, thank you so much for bringing your full self to our trip. You were eager to help and so kind to all those you encountered. I’m so proud of you for catching some big waves surfing and can’t wait to see what this next year brings!


With so much love and gratitude,

Ruth, Connor and Haleigh

Hang Ten! Surfing in Charleston!

July 29, 2018

What’s up dudes?!


Nug the (surfer) bug here and ready to tell ya’ll about the gnar the group and I shredded in Charleston! After roaming around downtown Charleston and some fun sea kayaking, we were ready to see what else this beautiful city had to offer! I was blown away by the kid’s amazing energy throughout our first day of surfing!! We ran back and forth from the community room to our U-Haul to get everything we needed for breakfast!( HUGE shoutout to all the facilities at James Island County Park- we’ve learned to appreciate a roof over our heads! ) Cheesy eggs were on the menu for B-Fast which gave everyone the protein we would need for our jam-packed day ahead of us.


The leaders made sure that surfing was still on for the day by calling Jenny with Shaka Surf School. When she gave us the “all clear” we piled into our trusty van and headed to the beach. When we stepped foot on the sand our jaws dropped at the sight of the big waves crashing across the horizon. The swells were at chest height! The group listened closely as our guides talked to us about safety and what to do in case we find ourselves in a sticky situation. We also learned the basic rules of surfing that are practiced all over the world! Afterwards we did yoga stretches to warm up our paddling muscles, as well as practiced “popping up” on a surf boards we drew in the sand. Hunter made everyone laugh with his yoga poses! The weather was looking good as we carried our boards to the water’s edge.


We were in a perfect position to catch some “gnarly waves” as our guide liked to say. It was a lot of the kids’ first time ever surfing, which made a few folks a little uneasy. But with the help of our guides and their friends in the group, nerves were put at ease. Max was the first to snag an awesome wave! I was so impressed by his rad skills! Soon after, I saw Reid paddling hard for a wave that he was in line for- when he stood up everyone cheered him on! I love how our group has been so encouraging to each other and showing support. Ana Vetter was hootin and hollerin as she caught a wave and rode it all the way to the shore. Frannie and Ben were both trying to perfect their strokes and foot placement every wave that came their way.


After pushing ourselves in the ocean we headed over to Folly River for some paddle boarding. Beforehand we enjoyed peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches in the parking lot, a group wide favorite! William volunteered his spoon to help serve the fluff so that he could lick it afterwards! The sun was shining and that meant reapplying of sunscreen. Ruth, the mom of the group, was always rubbing sunscreen on people’s neck and shoulders! Our guides Big John and Al were so helpful with getting our gear situated so they fit each person properly. The group was very intrigued when Al talked to us about the barnacles and how they help purify the water of unwanted bacteria. We listened to the safety discussion and how we need to wear shoes to protect our feet from those sharp shells.


We all carried our boards to the put in ramp which was impressive in itself because of how heavy the boards are! We then began our paddling adventure. The winds were not strong and we were paddling with the current. After about 15 minutes of acing our strokes, we were finally able to jump into the water. Clarke and Conrad both did some cool spin moves off their board when they wanted to cool off.


Different from all the other sessions, we paddled over to a small island where we played in the “plough mud”, the same stuff in a nice spa! We all loved sinking deep into the mud- it went all the way past Ben’s knees! There was a mud fight beginning but that was quickly dialed down by the leaders! When we were ready to paddle back to the dock we all ran into the water and scrubbed our mud masks off our faces, arms and legs and everywhere else we were covered in mud.


After paddle boarding, the leaders surprised the group with delicious frozen yogurt! It was the perfect treat after a hot on the water. Back at the campsite everyone took showers and had some time before dinner to relax, visit the Camp store, and do laundry.


On our final morning in Charleston, the group woke up extra-early to see the sunrise at the beach. It was a full moon and we could still see it over the pier! Even though it was a bit cloudy the sky was showing beautiful pastel colors that lit up the entire horizon line. After walking down the beach in search of sharks teeth we gathered our things and headed back to pack up camp.


Our second day of surfing was a lot different than the first because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the water was glassy. Everyone was so excited to get back into the ocean to surf the waves. Frannie and Ben had mastered the pop up technique and landed back to back waves! I would look to the right and left of the water and would see people getting up on their own without any help from the guides!


After surfing we were able to go back to the campground to take showers before beginning our travel day to Charlotte where our adventure began.


Our 2 weeks have flown by with all the fun we are having. The kids have made comments that they “never want to leave” and they “can’t wait for next summer”. I am sad the trip is coming to an end but I am just so grateful for being able to join in with this awesome group.


See you later dudes!


Nug the Bug


Joke by Ana Vetter: “How does a surfer say goodbye? They wave.”



Ben- “I had a lot of fun surfing and I want to do it with all of you!”


Clarke- “Surfing was a lot of fun! Love you guys, see ya’ll soon!”


Ana Vetter- “Hi family, I’m having so much fun, and I saw a jellyfish… stay tuned for the story!! ????”


Frannie- “hey Mom, the first day we went surfing I didn’t really land any of the waves but the second day I got the hang of it and nailed over 6 awesome waves- I loved it!”


William- “Dear family, I had a lot of fun surfing. I hit a couple waves and it was awesome!! I also sank in Plough mud with stand up paddle boarding! Can’t wait to see you guys, love ya’ll!”


Conrad- “Hello, had a fun experience doing all the activities- we went surfing for 2 days and also stand up paddle boarding! I’ll tell you all about it when I get home, seeing you in a couple days. Love you guys!”


Anna B- “Hey ya’ll! Had fun shredding the gnar today surfing! I’ve had so much fun and made a lot of new friends! I can’t wait to see ya’ll soon! Love you! Tell Will I said HEY!”


Hunter- “Shredded the gnar like a savage, it was far out brah! Cool beans, love you!”


Max- “I had fun surfing and I can’t wait to be home.”


Allie- “Hey y’all. Can’t wait to see everybody. Had so much fun paddleboarding/surfing. Damo would be impressed. Love y’all and see y’all in T- 2 days ????”


Reid- “Hi guys. Today we went surfing and I had so much fun. I was surprised that I was able to get up a lot. I can’t wait to see y’all again soon.”

Charleston, Fun!

July 27, 2018

Why hello everybody!

Wow. What a past two days the group has had. Where to even begin? After finishing on a chilly note in North Carolina, everyone has really seemed to embrace the warmer weather in Charleston. Yesterday, Frannie, Reid, and Ana Vet kick started the morning by preparing some delicious cheesy hash-browns. It was the perfect amount of energy for a long day at the beach. Everybody grabbed their swim trunks and sandy shoes as it was time to depart for Kiawah Island. The boat ride there was stunning. Chopping through waves, everybody got a glance of a gorgeous view of Charleston, the furthest reaches of the Atlantic Ocean, and even spotted a couple dolphins. Ben shared his vast knowledge of sharks along the way. Meanwhile, Hunter and Will had no hesitation to call out to every boat to say hello.

Once everybody arrived to the beach, the group got to explore before diving into the water. Our guides, Kevin and Katie showed us some very intriguing shark teeth and fossils that ranged to be millions of years old! (They were literally right under the sand we were walking on). The ocean water felt amazing. Max kept the mood very alive by swimming underneath everybody, pretending to be a fish. Meanwhile, Reid and Conrad kept everybody laughing hysterically. Connor and Ruth found tons of shark teeth and Haleigh engaged in many intense rounds of chicken fights. The weather was projected to be very stormy, however the sun held up all day long and it ended up being a gorgeous day at the beach!

Despite how much everyone played in the water, the group still couldn’t stay away from the ocean. The second half of the day called for some paddling! Each person chose either a paddle board, a canoe, or a kayak and headed upstream. Anna B. and Ana Vet. shared a paddle board and took turns kicking their legs in the back to generate some powerful thrust for their board. (Both of their legs were numb by the end of the day). Clarke kept the energy so positive and Allie had a manatee swim right beneath her boat! Max was also able to do some insane wheelies with his paddle board. On the way back to the campsite, the group had to make a run to Costco to make some last minute purchases for dinner. It was during this time when everyone decided to have a spontaneous dance party in the parking lot. Anna B., Ana Vet, Frannie, and Conrad busted some impressive dance moves which got the energy rolling. By the end of the day the group was starving. Thankfully, Frannie made some unbelievably good chicken burgers. Reid and Ana Vet also kept things healthy by preparing a very nutritious salad to go along with it.

The next morning of sea kayaking was a little more challenging, but the payoff was so worth it. Will and Hunter prepared some much needed biscuits and sausage (or jimmies as they like to call them) for breakfast. The group charged upstream once again to see what they could find. Along the way, Clarke and Frannie kept the paddling energy high as they were joking around and laughing the entire way in their tandem kayak. Reid, Hunter, Will, and Max could not get enough swim time as they plunged in the water every chance they could get. Ben, Conrad, and Allie could not wait to see dolphins and were always the first to spot one when they swam up. After an amazing morning of dolphin site-seeing, the group turned back and floated downstream. Before making it all the way back, the group tried to challenge themselves by seeing if everyone could stand up in their kayak without tipping over. Thankfully, it was a success and each person was able to make it back to shore safely.

Paddling worked up another serious appetite for everyone. However, after some hearty Mac and cheese, the group was ready for the next big activity of the day – town visit to Charleston. When first arriving to the city, it was obvious that everyone had to get ice cream to start things off. Anna B. easily won best order for gourmet rolled ice cream (it looked magnificent). After that, everyone floated around King Street to see what would catch their eye. The group checked out a variety of stores ranging from outfitters to coffee shops to local grocery stores (all of the guys just had to see if they could find fluff marshmallow spread anywhere). A few hours in Charleston resulted in everyone craving pizza. They all headed to an incredible local pizza joint called D’Allesandro’s. Everyone ordered a variety of exotic pizza that perfectly ended another long day in Charleston. Towards the end, Clarke grabbed some fake tattoos from the back of the restaurant for Allie. Before long, everybody started to cover their body with temporary ink. Seeing everybody running around with a bunch of pizza tattoos might have been one of the biggest highlights of the day.All in all, the group could not have asked for a better two days in Charleston. Today marks the first day of surfing on Folly Beach, and everybody is so excited!

Till next time!

Nug the bug

Shoutouts from the kids:

Anna B: This trip is over the top! Hope the beach house is going well. Good luck on the road Will! Love and miss you guys.

Ana V: Hey family! Trip has been hands down amaze! If I could use one word to describe the trip it would be #savage (you understand) Love y’all!

P.s. yes I just said “y’all”

Clarke: Hey fam! I’m having such a great time! Can’t wait to see y’all. Have a safe surgery Scooter! (Give him some love for me). Clay – have a great time at Camp! I loved seeing the dolphins while we were kayaking today! Love y’all

Frannie: Hey Mom! How is life in Winston?! I’m having such a fun time and I cannot wait to see you in a few days! How is grandma doing? Tell all of my friends I say hello! Love ya!

Allie: HaLLo!! Can’t wait to see y’all! Today we went shopping!! Ruth and I saw dolphins. One of them flipped there tail up. (mer- I know your jealous..) Pulled a MAJOR mer move. Hope coopy is having fun. I’m sure hazel and Mabel are looking for me. Miss all of y’all!!Allie 🙂

Μαx: Hi how’s it goin? I’ve had a lot of fun and I get to go surfing tomorrow! Love you all!

Conrad: Hey guys! Got to see a lot of dolphins today! Trip has been a blast and I can’t wait to see you all in a few days!

Ben: Hi guys I’m having so much fun! So pumped to go surfing tomorrow! See ya soon!

Hunter: Hey guys what’s poppin? I kayaked today and got to see Charleston. Had so much fun and can’t wait for surfing!

Will: Hey everybody! I had a lot of fun kayaking today. We swam a lot and got to see a lot of dolphins. Had the best waffle ice cream in Charleston! Happy official 20th anniversary! Can’t wait to see you guys and tell you all my stories!

Reid: I am having so much fun. We went kayaking and saw dolphins in the lake. I can’t wait to see you later. And I hope Drew is having fun.

Moving from the Mountains and Heading to the Sea!

July 25, 2018

Hey there readers!


Nug the bug here- I am so excited to tell you about the great heights reached by our group yesterday! After a very fun day of duckies and zip lining, everyone was ready to travel back to Pisgah National Forest. The car ride was very “hype” which means awesome according to Hunter. “DJ Ruth” (as the kids call her) kept the group’s energy levels high with upbeat throwbacks that everyone sang along to. Anna B and Ana V knew every word to the songs “Promiscuous” and “Fergalicious”!! They make long car rides so much more fun! Allie and Clarke requested so many fun songs which everyone sang and danced along to.


Once we got to our campsite the group started setting up their tents and getting dinner started. Our cook crew was Ana V, Hunter and Frannie who worked together to create philly cheese steaks on hoagie rolls! Frannie sautéed the peppers and onions after Hunter and Ana V sliced them into perfect strips. They were a huge hit with everybody, especially Ben who LOVES vegetables!! He asked for all the leftovers. Moonup tonight was filled with lots of laughs while talking about each other’s embarrassing moments, which only brought the group closer together!


The next day the group was off to Looking Glass for some rock climbing! It was a bright and beautiful summer day with a chance for rain later in the afternoon. Our guides Rick and Cody were very intentional about teaching our group good safety protocols to practice while climbing. After instructions were given, people split up among the different climbs that were set up- some being more challenging than others. Ben, Anna B and Max were the first climbers and their belayers were Conrad, Ana V and Hunter. Cody taught us the PBUS (Pull Break Under Slide) belaying method which took the group some practice, but they soon got the hang of it! Rick set Ruth up on a personal tether to the anchor at the top of the climb, so she could take awesome action shots of everybody making their moves to the top. She said her favorite part of the day was watching their expressions when they looked out at the amazing view they CLIMBED to see!


Everyone was so focused on climbing all the routes they had to be convinced by the leaders to eat lunch! After being fueled by their chicken salad sandwiches, they went right back to climbing and belaying each other. William grabbed his pita to-go in order to get more climbs in. Not long after lunch the afternoon rain clouds were beginning to form above Pisgah… When the rains came, we quickly packed up all of our gear and began our hike back to the van. It was very muddy, and everyone was soaking wet! Haleigh and Ruth kept everyone entertained with their loud singing of various songs. There was an awesome waterfall on the side of the trail that the group decided to venture to and everyone went and rinsed the mud off their legs and shoes. The water was SO cold!!! We all went underneath the waterfall together and squealed with laughter as the chilly water landed on us.


After our spontaneous waterfall adventure, we made our way to Sliding Rock for a natural slip and slide! The water was even colder than the waterfall. Hunter, Reid, Max, Ben and Conrad all went down the rock in a line holding each other’s arms. Anna and Ana slid into a little divot of rushing cold water before the final drop. We knew it was time to get going when everyone was shivering because they were so cold!


After changing into dry clothes at the campground we made our way to Dolly’s Dairy Bar for a cold sweet treat. Apparently, the group was having a pretty “chill” day! The hardest choice of the day was which flavor to try from the extensive menu. After devouring the delicious ice cream, we played group games in the parking lot. We got a lot of honks from cars entering and exiting Pisgah, like they wanted to join in!!


Our day was topped off with a dinner party at Sycamore Flats picnic area because it was pouring down rain. We made friends with dogs and their owners while the cook crew made supper. Clarke was the master pasta cooker because of her perfect stirring skills! The kids loved crunching on dry noodles – though I don’t see what the appeal was! We were so hungry after all the climbing and sliding, so the spaghetti hit the spot!


The next day we began our travel day to Charleston! Everyone was very excited about the long car ride because of the opportunities to sleep and jam to music. Ruth took the first leg of the drive to our local lunch spot in Clinton, SC! The yummy burgers and fried chicken were so good, and the people were so nice. When we arrived at our campsite, the kids were so impressed with how nice the facilities were and so excited to take a good shower. While the cook crew got dinner together, a group of us went on a walk to the nearby dog park within the campground. I loved watching Reid and Hunter run around with a little dog all over the park. All the dogs went right up to Ben and started licking him all over! We got a call saying dinner was ready, so we said goodbye to our four legged friends and walked back to enjoy a delicious quinoa meal with a bunch of additives to add a little flavor.


Our long day was coming to an end as the LODs Ana V and Ben prepared us for our beach and sea kayaking day. They chose beautiful quotes about being themselves and having fun no matter what the circumstances. The group all answered the question of the night: “What are you most passionate about”. I loved hearing about what brought each individual the most joy in their life. It has been a terrific trip so far but the group is stoked for more Charleston adventures!


Talk to ya’ll soon!

North Carolina Fun!

July 23, 2018

Hello my fellow readers!

It’s Nug the Bug, reporting about the last 2 days of our trip! After hiking, we drove to Benton, TN and our cook crew made an incredible dinner of barbecue chicken, green beans and corn- Haleigh’s favorite! Frannie, Hunter and Conrad were eager to help and made an incredible, satisfying and nutritious meal after a difficult 3 days of backpacking. At our new campsite, we ran across many forms of wildlife which got Max and William investigating it all. After a powerful Moonup, our group went to sleep.

The next day was absolutely stunning- the sun was shining, the skies were blue with white, fluffy clouds and the spirits were high for white water rafting on the Ocoee River. Reid and Max took the front seats on one of the rafts and were completely drenched! The front of the boat hits the big rapids first, so their adventurous spirits were in their prime element! They were having an absolute blast. Reid almost fell out of the boat because he was too busy posing for photos and forgot to paddle!

The Ocoee River is spilt into many sections, and our group was fortunate enough to raft the upper and middle section of the river.  Part of the Ocoee River was engineered to be the slalom kayak venue for 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. We hit the rapids with enthusiasm and fervor as our guides yelled strokes to ensure our raft did not flip- boy was it fun!! After a quick lunch break, our group completed the second half of the rafting section which had tons of rapids and drops. William was grinning from ear to ear and cheering as we overcame difficult rapids and even taught our guide our mantra for MTS3! We paddled 10 miles of the Ocoee that day! Our tired crew changed and got a snack before heading to the next day’s adventure.

We had a fun car jam sesh on our drive, fueled by Anna B. and Ana V.’s awesome song requests that made everyone sing their hearts out! DJ Ruth played practically every song the kids requested and kept their tired bodies entertained. After arriving at our new campsite, Connor made delicious fajitas with chicken, peppers, onions, beans and rice. We were very happy with his culinary skills. Our group had our first showers of the trip, and after 5 days, we were so excited to feel clean! Allie and Frannie were especially eager to shower, and Clarke said she was going to “double up on shampoo because she could!” Our Moonup ended with a hilarious game of telephone, in which William always adds the word “spaghetti” to the sentence.

The next morning, the group made cheesy eggs to fuel themselves for a big day of duckies and the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) ropes course and zip line. Duckies are personal inflatable kayaks that feel similar to a white water raft. Hunter and Max went down some of the rapids backwards and fell/ jumped in at least a dozen times. At one point, Ruth and Allie showed great teamwork by getting each other unstuck from a little rock. They celebrated the victory by jumping in the water! Frannie and Ben also joined the party, and all four of them went swimming. After getting in their boats, the crew continued to paddle with an eager spirit. Clarke said she liked duckies because she had the autonomy to choose where she went, which is different from a guided white water rafting tour. Ana V. kept the group entertained by keeping up great conversation, even while paddling some class 2 rapids! Ben and Conrad were speed demons and were often at the front of the fleet, helping guide others down the rapids.

The final rapid is called Nantahala Falls, a class 3 rapid that our group “scoped” out and were taught how to navigate before attempting the whitewater. Almost everyone made it down the rapid (including Haleigh, who has unsuccessfully attempted this twice before) and those who went swimming had an adrenaline rush for sure! The group laughed at pictures of Connor, Ben and Allie, who made hilarious faces paddling down the Falls. After a quick lunch of pizza bagels (an infamous recipe brought to us by the one and only Ruth), the group headed to the ropes course for zip lines, ropes courses and a rock-wall. Some of these sections use an exorbitant amount of arm and core strength, and started to give participants calluses. Hunter and William kept Haleigh entertained and provided comedic relief on the course. After doing each section multiple times, the group headed to the General store for ice cream. Then, they departed from the NOC to their next campsite in Brevard, NC.

This group is so fun! They keep the leaders on their toes, but offer so much entertainment and joy to those around them. These kids are challenging themselves, learning the value and beauty of working hard for goals they want to achieve and are learning so much more than the hard skills. The leaders love watching them become independent individuals and can’t wait for the immense growth they will have in the second half of the trip!!

With so much joy and many more giggles,

Nug the Bug


Shout outs from the kids:

William- I hope visiting day went well with Bennett! I’m having so much fun! We went duckying – it was a bunch of fun! I hope grandpa is doing better! Love, William

Anna B- this trip is amazing and I’m having so much fun and have made a lot of friends! Hope the beach is going well. Tell pepper, will and Sadie I said hello! Love and miss y’all!

Clarke- I’m having a fun time! Love and miss you guys- sending you air hugs! Duckying was a lot of fun! Can’t wait to see you soon! Xoxo, Clarke

Conrad- to mom and dad- I love you and miss you!

Allie- I hope Mabel and Hazel aren’t too desperate for treats! I’m having fun- I hope Cooper is having fun on his trip. Miss y’all! I hope Natalie likes her boot Camp! Can’t wait to see you! Love, Allie

Frannie- hey mom! What’s up? I’m having a great time and I miss you and love you lots!

Max- I’m having a great time! I went down some of the rapids backwards, and fell out of my ducky a few times, but still had a lot of fun. Love y’all!

Hunter- what’s poppin? Duckying was life changing. Please schedule lessons with Kayla and Adam! Miss y’all (I’m a southern boy now!!)

Reid- I’m having lots of fun and I hope Drew is having a great time at camp! I just found out that tacocat backwards is tacocat. White water rafting was exhilarating and I can’t wait for Charleston! Love y’all!

Ana V-hey mom! Our trip is going great! I made a ton of new friends, but I really miss Winston. The car trips have been #lit and white water rafting was dopppppe. Miss you!! Love, Chiquita

Ben- I’m having tons of fun! White water rafting was very fun and I fell out of my raft duckying into very cold water! The high ropes course was really easy! Say hi to cam and jake for me, and make sure Wrigley doesn’t miss me too much!

We can’t forget the leaders- they miss their families as well!!

Ruth- mom, dad and Annie! I cannot believe it is already the third session of my first Moondance summer! I am ending it on a great note with an awesome group of kids. I miss and love y’all so much. To momma- I can’t wait for our adventures in Nashville!

Haleigh- hi momma and Dad, Lindsay and Kylie! I miss y’all and can’t wait to bear hug you in the airport!!! Today, I conquered the Nantahala Falls and didn’t fall in #thirdtimesacharm !!!! We are rock climbing tomorrow, which is my new favorite hobby and then going to Sliding Rock, a natural waterfall rock slide. See you humans so soon!!!!!!!

Connor- love you mom, dad, Olivia and Lucy! Duckying today on the Nantahala river was awesome!

Backpacking was Incredible!!

July 21, 2018

Hello my fellow readers!!

This is Nug the Bug, an observer and on your children’s Mountains to Sea trip. What an awesome group of kids!! We started at the Charlotte airport, where we met our 11 new friends. Conrad and Ben were the first to arrive and kept us entertained with stories about their hometown and kept us on our toes as we answered their eager questions about the trip. After that, Anna B. and Clarke began to form friendships by starting a game of spoons on the airport floor. After playing games and getting to know each other at the airport, it was time to head out to the group’s first campsite.

Even though it was the first night, there was still much to be done. Right off the bat, Ruth and Connor taught everybody how to set up a tent correctly and how to get their proper gear ready for backpacking. Reid was already familiar with setting up tents in Boy Scouts and did not hesitate to help everybody with theirs. Once the campsite was set up and everyone had organized their gear for backpacking, it was time to celebrate with endless games of “man-hunt.” Max dominated the man-hunt playing field and included everyone by making sure each person knew how to play the game. Frannie found the best hiding spot which made the game even more fun and intense. Many rounds later, Haleigh came in and surprised the group with pizza! There was no question everyone had worked up a big appetite, and every slice of pizza vanished in about five minutes. The group finished their first night with a daily, family meeting called “MoonUp”, and afterwards everyone played cards together in their tent. All in all, it was a very successful first day for every single person.

The next day marked the group’s first excursion – a three day backpacking trip to the summit of Mount Mitchell. Everybody stuffed their backpack and set off for the Pisgah National Forest. This was the first backpacking trip for almost everybody in our group, but Clarke and Hunter made sure to keep everyone’s spirits high the entire time. The hike was not nearly as hard with Clarke’s positive energy and Hunter’s hilarious jokes. Ben, Anna B., and Max were the group’s first cook crew and made fantastic chicken alfredo with a whisper light stove. Right when the air started to get cold, everybody circled around and enjoyed hot apple cider and hot chocolate. It was the perfect way to enjoy MoonUp and end a perfect day.

Once the group had conquered the first part of their hike, they set their focus on reaching the summit. The second day backpacking was an early morning, but Clarke, Reid, and Will helped prepare delicious oatmeal that gave everyone just the right amount of energy to reach the peak. Along the hike, the group passed the time in various ways ranging from riddles to the “trail is lava” (where everyone would hop along flat rocks through the trail). Ana Vetter showed remarkable determination in reaching the top and was able to push through every step. Before the group even realized it, everybody had reached the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River! Ruth suggested more exploring and everybody went to discover a very interesting museum about Mount Mitchell while we were there. Afterwards, the group made it back down to the campsite just in time for more games of manhunt and cards. Allie and Conrad made every card game so entertaining that the whole group ended up playing all the way until dinner. This night was much more chilly than our first, but some hot stew and chicken noodle soup seemed to warm everyone up very quickly.

Backpacking was such a great start to the trip and sparked such a fun energy in this group. Everybody even opted to hike an extra half mile on our last day!

Today, the group finished white water rafting, and now everyone is getting ready for duckies on the Nanny tomorrow!

More updates to come… Till next time!

Nug the bug

All is Well in the Mountains

July 17, 2018

Hello 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
  • Ben
  • Conrad
  • Allie
  • Clarke
  • William
  • Max
  • Hunter
  • Ana
  • Reid
  • Frannie