July 3, 2018
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela
Jack and I truly can’t believe how our time has flown by with our amazing kids. Our time in the Pacific Northwest has come to an end, but the memories and friends we have made will last a lifetime. These finals days spent together was the perfect ending to unbelievable summer, and we could not have asked for anything more.
The past few days were filled with laughs and soaking up the last moments together. On Sunday evening we traveled back to Washington. The kids were excited to make dinner because we played a game of Iron Chef. The crew was broken into two groups: Boys v Girls. Jack and I had the pleasure of being the judges. Sati and Carolyn recreated Waffle House hash browns for an appetizer. Rainey, Mckenzie and Bela made the main course, which was spaghetti tortillas. Henry and Alex made chicken quesadillas, while Daven and Will made brown sugar crepes for dessert. After much deliberation, the boys were the winners of Iron Chef. Once we were done with dinner we played our favorite card game, Kemps, for a solid two hours. We had a heartfelt moonup reflecting on our favorite memories from the trip.
On Monday we headed to our last campsite. We spent the afternoon packing and then we went to get ice cream for a treat, which was so good! After ice cream, we went to Goodwill to pick out outrageous outfits for banquet. Banquet was held at a pizza parlor, in which we splurged over 4 large pizzas. Our last moonup was filled with many tears along with endless laughter.
As trip leaders we cannot thank all the parents enough for sending your kids on this trip and trusting us with your most prized possessions. We feel confident that this trip was as incredible for them as it was for us! Jack and I hope to see their familiar faces on Moondance trips in the future!
Until next time,
Kelly Nelson and Jack Alam
July 1, 2018
Greetings from the Deschutes!
We have spent the past two days rafting the Deschutes River. As our trip comes to an end, the kids took full advantage of being together for our last group activity. Our rafting trip started off with Bela and Carolyn as leaders of the day. Many students were exhausted from climbing, but Bela and Carolyn pumped the crew up to spend a day on the river. They encouraged the group to help the guides prepare for our day. The group pumped up boats and helped carry them to the water. With everyone’s hard work we were on the river in no time. We floated down the river telling stories and playing games until lunch. For lunch we had delicious sandwiches with fresh veggies. After lunch and a little more paddling, we stopped at a local rock spot called “jump rock”. Rainey, Mckenzie, Alex and Henry were thrilled to jump off the 20 foot rock into the river. Our afternoon paddle was filled with amazing views of basalt rock towers. To end our paddling for the day we were able to swim down a Class III rapid called Buckskin Mary. Our campsite was next to the river with incredible rocky cliffs on either side. We enjoyed a pasta primavera dinner with angel fruit cake for dessert made by Daven, Mckenzie, and Alex. The highlight of the night was Sati playing the guitar and singing for all of us. She is an extremely talented singer and everyone enjoyed seeing her artistic side for the first time. Before Moonup, we played an intense game of mafia. Everyone fell asleep looking at the calm starry sky and listening to the river flow.
The second day of rafting started off bright and early. Our leaders of the day, Will and Henry, woke up enthusiastic and ready to raft. We were on the river early and ready to crush some gnarly Class III and IV rapids. Many students had the opportunity to “ride the bull,” which was sitting on the front of the raft through rapids. We were done rafting by lunch and ready to reflect on the past three weeks together.
Here are a few shoutouts from our group:
Caro: hey fam bam, all is swell I loved rafting. See you soon fat heads;)
Sati: hey squad! Climbing and rafting were AMAZINGGG. Can’t wait to see y’all, LOVE YOU SOO MUCH
Will: hey fam, climbing has been my favorite activity and can’t wait to see y’all.
Henry: hey family, I miss you all but I’m having a great time. I’m doing great and can’t wait to tell y’all all about it. Sea y’all soon, love, Henry.
Bela: hey fam, hope all is good at home. Can’t wait to see y’all!!
Alex: Hey family. Love you guys. I cannot wait to see you all. Rock climbing was crazy.
Daven: What’s up y’all? Rock climbing was so much fun, it actually pushed me way out of my comfort zone, and it was really nerve racking but fun. Love y’all and see y’all soon!
Rainey: Hello fam squad this trip has been so much fun and I’m so sad that it’s almost over but I can’t wait to see y’all in a couple days! Love y’all xoxo, Rainey
McKenzie: Hey guys! I’m having so much fun and miss you all lots. I have discovered that climbing rocks is kinda freaky but other than that I love it all. Anyways, can’t wait to see everyone in Wilmington:) love u, mack
Jack and I could not be more heartbroken to say goodbye to our kids. We are so proud of each and every student for overcoming their fears this summer and living in the moment. These kids have all became leaders over the past three weeks. They have worked extremely hard to accomplish their goals and it is safe to say that each student is leaving this trip with 10 life long friends.
Kelly and Jack
June 30, 2018
“I feel like I can do anything now” -McKenzie (after completing the Monkey’s Face)
The past three days of climbing have been truly incredible! Our climbing adventures took us to Smith Rock State Park in Oregon. The campsite had unbelievable views of Smith Rock and Crooked River. The students were thrilled to meet climbers and bikers from around the world!
Our first day in Oregon was very sunny so we decided to cool off at a local waterfall near our campsite. Sati, Carolyn, and Bela soaked up the summer rays, while Daven and Will took GoPro videos of themselves jumping into the water. We ended the day by watching the sunset together on top of a rock wall that overlooked the Crooked River.
Sati and Rainey were our Leaders of the day, and they did an excellent job of pumping up the group about climbing. The guides, Taylor and Gabe, taught the students how to belay, tie climbing knots, and the basics of top rope climbing. With superb communication the group was belaying each other in no time. Taylor and Gabe were impressed with our group dynamic and athleticism of the students. Carolyn conquered her fear of heights by trying 3 different routes. Later in the afternoon we moved to a different section of park and rappelled down the side of a rock wall to get to our new climbing destination. Henry impressed the group with his perseverance to climb every route offered. After a long day of climbing our group worked up an appetite and we feasted on chicken curry made by Alex, Daven, and Mckenzie.
Owen from Moondance HQ joined us for the second day of rock climbing. Our kids were enthusiastic to put their new climbing skills to work. We went to a new section of the Smith Rock called Spider-Man where the routes were longer and more technical. Daven and Will completely crushed the morning climbs. Henry stepped up as a leader by cheering on every student while they were climbing. In the afternoon, Alex tried an extremely difficult climb. With determination and perseverance, he completed the route with encouragement of the entire group. It was truly a WOW movement! After 8 and half hours of climbing the group traveled to Bend for victory milkshakes. When we got back from our town visit, Owen surprised our group with pizza!
Our last day of climbing took place at the famous section of Smith Rock called Monkey’s Face. The climb began with a 20-foot traverse dangling 200 feet above the ground. From the traverse, we climbed out of the monkey’s mouth and then up the monkey’s face. Once at the top, we repelled 200 feet down on our own belay device! Will was the first volunteer to go and he conquered the climb with grace. Rainey was hesitating to go at first, but with the encouragement from her buddy, McKenzie, she faced fear and crushed the climb! Bela originally was not going to participate in the climb today due to her fear of heights. However, Bela decided to only attempt the traverse. The group was yelling “Bela! Bela! Bela!” With Bela new found confidence she decided to do the climb and then the rappel! She dominated and it was the epitome of a perfect WOW moment! Jack and I are incredibly proud of our kids for pushing themselves mentally and physically these past few days. We continually feel blessed to have the opportunity to spend three weeks these kids.
We are off to raft the Deschutes!
Kelly and Jack
June 25, 2018
Our group has finished 3 amazing days of sea kayaking! We paddled over 25 miles! The group was excited to wave goodbye to the mountains and wave hello to the Pacific Ocean. Our first day on San Juan our students explored Friday Harbor and prepped for sea kayaking. We had breakfast burritos for dinner. Our group made friends with our campsite neighbors and we all enjoyed s’mores together that evening.
The following morning the students were up early and we headed into Friday Harbor to meet with our guides. We split into teams of two for the kayaks and headed out into the Pacific. While paddling, we had views of the snow capped mountains in Canada peaking out behind the low grey clouds. When we got to our destination, Jones Island, the group enjoyed some time to relax while Henry, Will, Daven, and Jack played a game of ultimate frisbee. The group then had a delicious Mexican dinner cooked by the guides, and a sunset hike followed by Moonup around a fire. The following morning we were up and ready to take on our 11 mile paddle to our next campsite. The weather was perfect as the sun was up and the water was like glass. During one of our breaks, Carolyn, Alex, and Sati were the only ones brave enough to try a bite of the edible kelp that Carolyn said tasted like edamame. Although it was a challenging paddle, we had beautiful views and were surrounded by bald eagles, harbor seals, and even a few sea otters spotted by Bela’s sharp eye. We stopped for lunch on a small uninhabited island where Kelly, Rainey, and Mckenzie laid out on the rocks.
We set up camp on Stuart Island and splurged on a hearty meal of pesto pasta. Later the group explored the old school house on the island and played knockout during the sunset on the school basketball hoop led by Daven’s high energy. After some more s’mores and some conversation around the fire the group went to bed full and happy. Today was the final day of kayaking and although it was difficult paddling across the channel to our destination, we enjoyed another beautiful weather day. The sun was out and warming us, while low fog cloaked Vancouver Island in the distance, embodying the true feel of the Pacific Northwest. After over 25 miles of kayaking, we were sad to say goodbye to our guides, and also to San Juan Island but we are so excited for rock climbing at the famous Smith Rock! Kelly and I are constantly impressed with how close this group has become and the energy they bring to each activity, every day.
We are off to Oregon,
Jack and Kelly
June 21, 2018
We have officially finished the backpacking section of our trip! Jack and I are extremely proud of our students for hiking over 35 miles in the North Cascades. Our students’ positive attitudes have been a joy to witness as everyone exemplified incredible perseverance on our more difficult hikes. We were fortunate enough to enjoy beautiful, sunny weather all 6 days of backpacking!
One of the highlights of our trip was being able to summit Desolation Peak. We woke up at midnight to complete our 13.6 mile hike. Henry pumped up the group during breakfast with his positive spirit and excitement for the hike. Sati continued to motivate the group during the tough ascend up the mountain. At the top of Desolation we were thrilled to be surrounded by snow capped peaks. After taking many pictures, everyone enjoyed a two hour nap on the top of Desolation. Before descending, the students enjoyed a surprise treat: M&M’s – a surprise addition for our backpacking adventure. When we made it back to the campsite Daven encouraged everyone to go swimming in the lake. After we swam, everyone enjoyed chocolate chip pancakes made by the talented chef, Carolyn.
Over the past week our students were taught how to cook in the backcountry. Alex and and veteran Moodancer McKenzie were extremely helpful with preparing meals for the group. Some of our favorites on the trail were backcountry pizza, pad thai, and southwest mac and cheese! Will mentioned that pad thai was his new favorite meal. Bela insisted that we make a backcountry cookbook.
Rainey turned 15 on the second to last day of hiking and everyone was excited to celebrate! She was especially delighted that we packed her favorite new snack, and had a such a great day. When we get back to the front country we are going to have a real birthday party consisting of cookie cake!
Here are a few shoutouts from our group:
Sati: I’m having a blast and made some friends. LOVE Y’ALL MORE THAN YOU KNOW
Carolyn: hola familia, all is well here. miss you lots<3 xoxo ur fav caro
William : hey family by now I have just finished hiking and James is probably heading to Alaska. Happy Father’s Day, thanks dad for sending me on this adventure. Miss y’all.
Henry: Hello family. I love you all. We all grew super close in only 3 days and we look out for each other. Love -Henry
Daven: What’s up family! So far our trip has been awesome. I’ve already seen three of the coolest views in my life in the span of one week. All of the other kids on the trip are super cool too. I miss y’all a lot but I’m having so much fun. Love you guys and see you in two weeks! -Daven
Mckenzie: hey guys! Our trip has been amazing so far and I have seen some of the most amazing views. Love you guys and can’t wait to tell you all about my trip:) <33 Mack
Rainey: Hey dad, mom and Guy!!! I am having so much fun in Washington. Everyone in my group is so funny and nice and Jack and Kelly are hilarious and kind as well. Miss and love y’all so much! Xoxo, Rainey
Bela: Hey family! Everyone here is super nice and the leaders are great. Anyway, happy father’s days and happy birthday Day dad! Love you!!
Alex: Hey guys. I’m having fun on this trip and I’ve made new friends, but I’m most excited to tell you guys about all that I’ve learned. I’ll see you guys soon. I love you. Aidan too.
All of our students wish their fathers a happy belated Father’s Day!
We are off to sea kayak the San Juan Islands,
Kelly and Jack
June 13, 2018
Hello Pacific Northwest Families!
We’ve heard from our leaders and the group has arrived safely in Seattle. They are headed to their first campsite! Stay tuned for more news from their adventures.