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Mystery Trip 1 • June 30-July 13, 2018

Final Goodbye from Mystery Inc.!

July 14, 2018



After a once in a lifetime night in Croatia for their World Cup semifinal win, we made our way to the last stop in our trip, Venice! We got up early, ate a good and filling breakfast, and hopped in the vans for the last time with our guides, Luka and Bine. Once we crossed the long bridge to Venice, we hopped onto the public transportation (which are all boats in the city due there being no streets!) and made our way to our hostel. Grady, Luke, and Joey made sure to soak in the beautiful views of the city and let the wind flow through their hair at the front of the boat. After dropping our bags off in the rooms, Mystery Inc. crossed the major canal to the historic Piazza San Marco. Lina, AC, and Henry led the way through the winding, skinny alleyways with that infectious excitement of theirs. Everyone was blown away at how beautiful all of the buildings and shops were. Though we had plenty of ice cream throughout the trip, the gelato in Venice is unmatched and boy was everyone excited! Ella and Cal finally got some amazing mint gelato, fulfilling a trip-long desire. We snaked our way back to the famous Rialto Bridge and found some truly unique shops for souvenirs. Anna and Cardy led the group into a little shop on the bridge and got some awesome hand-bound leather journals to pour their thoughts into. After we all picked up some gifts for ourselves and our families, we made our way back to Piazza San Marco to ride the world famous gondolas! Livvy and George got some amazing pictures of the Bridge of Sighs and the winding canals that make Venice so unique, as well as of her fellow group members having a blast. On our way back to the hostel, Sam made sure to stop at the shops lining the edge of San Marco and get an awesome t-shirt to commemorate our town day. The sun began to set over the city, soaking the city in a beautiful shade of red and setting the tone for what was an unforgettable final Moonup, led by our LODs Luke and AC. Moonups are at the core of what makes Moondance such an awesome experience, but it’s the final Moonup that truly sticks with us and solidifies our relationships with each other. We talked and laughed about our favorite moments of the trip, such as the pure joy of canyoning or the awesome views in the mountains. But the next part was what truly capped our two week experience. The group went around, person by person, and spent time listing out the ways that person made an impact on the group and our lives. It’s moments like these that make being a Moondance leader the most rewarding job in the world. Listening to the outpouring of love and appreciation from everybody truly brought our group even closer then we had already become. After some tears, hugs, and laughs, we made our way back to the hostel to get some much-needed sleep before our flight home.


We can’t believe that our Mystery Trip has come to an end, but we could not be more pleased with how amazing the past two weeks have been. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for sharing your incredible kids with Moondance this summer! Zadnjič se oprosti!


Hoke Smith

More Mystery Trip Fun!!

July 12, 2018

What up y’all. The LITs have successfully conquered another day in stunning Slovenia. We started the day with what many considered to be the best thing they have ever done in their life: Canyoning. It consisted of jumping, sliding, and repelling down the Soča Canyon. We had an absolute blast! Then we feasted on one of the largest lunches any of us had ever seen, we ordered close to eight large pizzas, pastas, and many other delicious things. After recovering from the food coma this meal put us in, we strapped on our harnesses and went rock climbing. Luke and Grady lead the way by being the first two to reach the top of the route. Meanwhile, Henry, George, and Ella chatted under the Slovenian sun. We then headed back to our campsite for dinner, but most of us were still full from lunch and were physically unable to eat. So, naturally, what one does when they are unable to eat, they go to Italy to get gelato. So that is exactly what we did! We drove right across the Slovenian/ Italian border to enjoy some yummy gelato and take in the sights of a small Italian town. After a music-filled car ride back to the campsite, Anna and Ella lead a carefully crafted Moonup, and sent the LITs to bed exhausted and reflective of their days in Slovenia.The next day we woke up to the sounds of Morgan walking around camp moaning “ I don’t know what time it is, but I think we should get up”. So, we did just that, got up, quickly packed, and ate a well-balanced breakfast of carbs. Then we hopped in the vans with Bine and Luka and began our journey to the caves. In the caves, we listen to our riveting guide David (pronounced “David”) discuss the formation of the cave. After two hours in the dark, we re-emerged, and ate lunch. We then got back into the vans and headed towards Croatia. We stopped quickly at a small, Slovenian, coastal town to walk around and experience the town. We then arrived at our hotel for dinner and for a quick shower, to then turn around and head out the door to explore our new Croatian paradise, which we would extend into the next day. During our exploration, we got gelato, while others just walked around and tried to digest all of the food we had eaten in the past few day. There definitely has been no lack of yummy food! We finished the night off with a Moonup, led by Joey and Lina, full of silly stories and group laughs. After Moonup we all hung out and talked because it finally sunk in that we only have a few more days left in our European nirvana.On our final day before heading to Venice, we woke up fairly early to go sea kayaking, where we paddled through the fjords of Croatia and saw many mussel and oyster farms. After that, we enjoyed a delicious, home-cooked, traditional Croatian meal for lunch. We then headed for the beach, some took naps, while others swam. Ann Chapman and Cal were the first to jump into the beautiful blue waters of Croatia, while Henry, Sam, Livvy, Cardy, and Luke took naps. Joey and Hoke were quick to follow Ann Chapman and Cal’s lead. After getting some salt in our hair, and some color in our skin (both good and bad), we went back home to our hotel to shower up and eat dinner. Then what happened next is something none of us will ever forget, we got to watch Croatia win the World Cup semi- finals and move onto the finals with the citizens of Croatia. As I am writing this now, I am listening to the celebrations in the streets and the genuine happiness and pride associated with this win. And with that, we all go to be with happy hearts and fulfilled dreams of experiencing the World Cup first hand.

-The Mystery kids

Trekking Success!

July 8, 2018

Hey Everyone!

We started our 4-day trekking adventure with a day hike in Triglav National Park. Despite the clouds, we summited a peak and had lunch in a cozy, warm hut. We came back to our hostel, played some ping pong, and had a great Moonup at the lake again.

On day 2 of trekking, we woke up and drove to the supermarket, where we bought chocolate and other goodies. These were very useful on our five hour hike to a mountain hut. With a beautiful lake and surrounding mountains, it made for a great Moonup. We then bonded over chocolate and good conversations led by Henry, on our private top floor.

On day 3, we woke to a wonderful breakfast of tea, eggs, and bread. We then departed for our trek back to the vans. Ann Chapman and Lina sang a mix of songs on the trail during the downhill trek. After pancakes at a mountain hut and great views, we arrived at our final destination. After a brief storm, we drove to Northern Slovenia and our new hotel in a quaint town. We had an amazing dinner and played games all together in our humble abode.

On day 4, we slept in, then headed out for a day hike through beautiful waterfalls with crystal clear blue waters. We stopped at a mountain hut and had some hand pressed juices (blueberry, pine, marabella, mint,elderberry). From then on, we had a border collie join us for the rest of our hike. Led by George, the group was able to climb to the top of a waterfall and see the incredible views around us. After our hike we swam in a freezing yet beautiful lake in Italy, with Luke leading the way into the water.

On day 5, we went for a short day hike in Triglav National Park. We scrambled and crossed a glacier at the base of the Julian Alps. There we came across a meadow before reaching a peak and taking in the views. Anna took on the hike with a smile on her face and Livvy shared Nutella along the way. After having an incredible lunch we went for a freezing cold swim in the crystal clear waters of Soca River. After our swim we arrived at our amazing campsite filled with games, tents, and great food. Cardy scraped her knee when we arrived but she took it like a champ. Ella played volleyball and was excelled at ultimate frisbee. LODs Grady and George created a heartfelt Moonup that let our group grow closer.

On day 6 we started our day with a tour of a fortress that survived both World Wars. Then we went on a short hike to view a French fort that was bombed during World War II. We then stopped for a quick lunch before meeting our rafting guides and driving to the river. We suited up in wetsuits, life jackets, and helmets before setting out. Rafting on crystal clear waters we swam, jumped off rocks, and floated along the river. With our two boats side by side, Cal never failed to splash us. Sam slid down our makeshift slide that we made in the first half of the rafting adventure. Joey led the way and jumped off a large rock into the cool waters.

We’re having such a great time in Slovenia and are excited for Croatia!


Kmalu se spet slišiva! (Talk to you soon!)

Mystery Kids

Greetings from Slovenia!

July 3, 2018

Terminology disclaimer:

LOD: leaders of the day

LIT: leaders in training

Oi from Slovenia! We’re off to a great start!The beginning of our trip began with the group meeting at the Atlanta airport. After the LITs greeted each other, we departed to the international terminals to board our flight to Venice!

After a grueling nine hour flight, the kiddos got to the baggage claim and quickly discovered the destination of the trip: Slovenia! The group met our two tour guides, Bine and Luka. We then took a two hour drive to get into the heart of Slovenia, the capital, Ljubljana. Everyone slept throughout the car ride, and we were all very excited when we got to the capital.

We got out of the cars and took a tour around the city, our guides giving us lots of information of their beautiful country! We passed over rivers, through the town square, and ate an authentic Slovenian meal. After eating, we departed to Bled, our first official stop on the trip. We checked into the hotel and then went swimming in the majestic Lake Bled, whose blue waters amazed us with its beauty. After swimming, we gave the LITs time to spend on their own before dinner. Most used the time to try and find a way into the hotel’s hot tub, with no success. We then ate a delicious dinner, did Moon up in a nearby park, and promptly went to bed.

The next day, the LITs woke up ready to take on the day. After eating yet another amazing meal, we collected our things and headed to our new residency. The day started with kayaking on the lake next to the hostel, and resting on a sandy area for a little bit, while also playing games and trying to catch fish. Afterwards, we paddled back across the lake, admiring the stunning views of the mountains surrounding the lake.

The group then ate soup and sausage at the hostel, sharing the dining hall with the other hostel patrons. After lunch, the LITs got back in the vans to go rock climbing! We climbed in the secluded area with a beautiful backdrop of the forest around them. After everyone had a chance to climb, the group packed into the vans and headed back to hostel for dinner. We all headed outside to hang out and play ping pong, and to our surprise Hayes, the owner and founder of Moondance, showed up! We talked with him about our time here, the future of the trip, and about all the things we are so excited to do! After getting some ice cream from the hostel freezer, the group did Moon up next the tranquil waters. The group then went to bed, excited about what is to come…

Hey Mom and Dad (and Jane and Virginia! The mystery trip is amazing!!!! Slovenia has a lot more to offer than you would think for a country the size of New Jersey! I’m so excited and love all the people on my trip and can’t wait to tell y’all all about it! We are about to start our backpacking part of the trip which should be amazing and I will take a lot of pictures. Tell Cody I miss him and make sure to give him plenty of treats! See y’all in 2 weeks! (P.S. please turn my debit card on for Slovenia) -George

Hey mom and dad. I miss y’all and hope everything is good at home. I’m having an awesome time and can’t wait to tell you all about it. I’ll see you in 2 weeks 🙂 ps- I never would of guessed Slovenia haha-love Anna

Thanks for sending me on this mystery trip, Slovenia is beautiful and I was genuinely surprised. Can’t wait for the rest of the trip. Love you. – Henry Lazarus Hey Mom and Sis! Thank you so much for sending me on this trip! Slovenia has been absolutely beautiful so far and I’m sure it’ll only get better. Love y’all! -Joey

Hi mom and dad! Looks like dad was right about the location – guess there’s a first time for everything (what was that drive by truckers song?). Slovenia is awesome. Miss you guys – Grady

Hey fam! Hope Nashville is good, I’m having an amazing time in Slovenia! The mountains are incredible and my group is great. Thanks so much for sending me on the mystery trip, love you so much!!! -Anne Chapman

Hey mom and dad I hope y’all are having a great time in Colorado!!! Thank you so much for letting me go on the Mystery trip it’s been great, I have an amazing group and awesome leaders. Love y’all!!! -Luke

Hello, it’s been great in Slovenia, I’m still not sure where it is or what’s happening but it’s still awesome. Love y’all. Cal Leopard

Hey mom and dad! Thanks for sending me on this double mystery trip. I can’t wait to keep exploring Slovenia (it’s beautiful!) and to visit Venice again for our town day. Have a great 4th! Love y’all so much! -Ella

Hi mom and dad!! I’m having so much fun on the mystery trip in Slovenia! It’s so amazing here and I can’t wait to see more of the country! Hope your enjoying your summer! Love you!! -Lina

Hey fam!! Slovenia is incredible!! Can’t wait to tell y’all all about it :)Happy 4th! Love y’all lots!! -Cardy

Hey Mom, Dad, and Michael- Miss you guys but Slovenia is super amazing and beautiful!! Love you! -Livvy

Hi Mom, Dad, Jeff, Sophie, Owen, Woody, Elizabeth, and Leah! I miss you guys a lot and I’m having so much fun here!!! See you soon!-Sam

You’ll be hearing from us soon!-Morgan, Hoke, and the LITs


  • Ella
  • Luke
  • Livvy
  • Henry
  • Cal
  • George
  • Lina
  • Cardy
  • Anna
  • Grady
  • Sam
  • Ann
  • Joey