July 26, 2019
We are sad to say goodbye but it’s been an awesome two weeks. We spent our last morning at Buenaventura on an adventure waterfall tour transforming our bodies into avatars with mineral-enriched blue clay. We woke up early to another amazing breakfast of oatmeal, homemade cinnamon rolls, and a banana chocolate smoothie prepared by our amazing cook, Tamara. We then started our hike led by Charlie H up to a waterfall. Once we reached the top, we enjoyed the waterfall and completely covered our bodies in the “miracle clay.” Sarah showed her amazing artistic skills by painting war stripes on Grant in orange clay! Everyone was in good spirits for our hike back down. Harlow then let us do a tasting of the dark chocolate he makes and then we all became Chocolate Ambassadors for life! We then made the hike down to the bridge to say goodbye for the last time and get in our buggies for the short ride. We then headed to start our whitewater journey for the next two days!
Mary Blake shared some hilarious stories at breakfast as we prepared our bags for our rafting journey. We then loaded up the van and headed to the Pacuare. Everyone laughed and sang along with Sage as we were nearing the river and the excitement was through the roof! We met our rafting guides and began our safety talks before we hit the river for the next few days. Lilly T quickly made a move to the front of her raft and led the group all day. The rafting guides prepared an amazing lunch for the group and while we were waiting, Rose led us through another amazing game of Big Booty. After Big Booty, Charlie S showed the whole group his amazing rock skipping skills and everyone else quickly jumped in and had a great time awaiting our sandwich bar lunch. We then hit the river for a short raft to our campsite for the night. Once we got to the campsite, Lily J quickly fell in love with the hammocks and started the first of many games of Mafia and Signs. George told more of his stories and kept everyone laughing all day. After enjoying many, many games of mafia, we had a delicious dinner prepared by our rafting guides of chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggies. Charlie S and Sage led a very thoughtful Moonup to end the night of rafting. After a long, well-deserved slumber, we fueled up on a breakfast of pancakes before we hit the river for the second half of our raft down the Pacuare. Morgan immediately put everyone in her raft in good spirits as we hit the class two and three rapids. The class four rapids started off well until Sam fell out on one of them! Fortunately, all was well as Crawford was there to rescue him once he came near the raft with a smile on his face! The whole group went swimming on some flat water and laughed as they floated down the river. We ended our rafting journey with another great lunch by the rafting team and started the journey back for our last night.
We walked into room twenty to have our last Moonup together and everyone had brought their mattresses in and made the most epic megabed. After reminiscing on the best moments of the trip and reading a list of funny quotes we had compiled, everyone went sleep for our early wakeup call this morning. Thank you so much for trusting us with your kids this summer. This was truly a special group and we will cherish these friendships!
All our best,
Gillie, Findley, and Liz
July 23, 2019
The Costa Rica section of our trip is off to an awesome start with an action-packed few first days! After a long travel day, we were greeted outside the San Jose airport by our beloved bus driver, Michael, who welcomed us with some boxed dinners. We all piled in the girls room for Moonup lead by Lily J and Charlie S. We reminisced on funny memories from Belize and favorite moments of the trip so far.
We had an early wake up call for a day of zip-lining and surfing. Our hotel provided us with a yummy breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and just about every fruit imaginable. Needless to say, we were fueled and ready for the day. We kickstarted zip-lining with a spontaneous game of big booty which dwindled down to an inevitable “veggie-off” tiebreaker between Rose and Grant. Grant had everyone on the ground crying laughing at his impression of a “constipated cucumber” and won the game. Everyone fearlessly zoomed through our ten-line course through the dense Costa Rican jungle where we spotted some vibrant tree frogs. Sam bravely rode one of the longest zip-lines upside down the whole way, coming up with a red face, a big smile, and a pretty awesome GoPro video. We had a buffet-style lunch of fresh, traditional Costa Rican food and then loaded up the van to head to Uvita where we would be staying that night.
We followed the coast to the “whale’s tale” beach in Uvita and spotted a sloth in a tree on the way! After a quick turnaround to change into swimsuits, we walked to the beautiful, black-sand beach to meet our surfing instructors. They provided us with a quick demo and some tips and then we were all in the water. We have a group of naturals when it comes to surfing. Lilly T. lived out her year-long dream of learning to surf and stood up on her first wave! George already seemed like a pro on the surfboard, walking up the board and doing 180 twist jumps. Sage caught the biggest wave of the day, riding that wave like a pro! Mary Blake and Crawford pointed out a major “WOW moment” during the most beautiful sunset any of us had ever seen. The entire sky was bright pink as we walked back to our hotel. We celebrated our activity-filled day with pizza and had Moonup by the pool. Our thoughtful LOD’s, George and Morgan, decided to start the conversion of what community service means to us and everyone offered their ideas. Everyone headed to bed to get some well-deserved rest after a long day of adventures.
We woke up early to get some surfing in before heading to El Brujo (wizard in Spanish), the town where we would start community to service. It was amazing what improvement just one day of surfing made for everyone in the group with Rose effortlessly catching every wave and I even saw Sage ride one in doing head stand. Everyone worked up an appetite surfing, so we feasted on a family-style breakfast of eggs, rice n beans, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and sweet plantains. We loaded up the bus and were off to El Brujo!
After a scenic drive through the mountains and cloud-forests of Costa Rica, we arrived at the community center of El Brujo where we were greeted with a fresh and delicious lunch. After lunch, we hiked up to the house where we would be working and began work on building a greenhouse! We divided into two work groups, one delivering trees to families in the area and the other began sifting piles of dirt for the greenhouse. Charlie H. and George kept us entertained while sifting with their renditions of songs off the Moana soundtrack. After making some serious progress on the greenhouse, we hiked three miles to the jungle lodge where we would stay during our time in El Brujo. We walked a short walk to Tres Semillas (three seeds), an organic farm with over 200 fruits and vegetables, where we would eat all of our incredible meals during our community service. Our chef, Tamara, hosted a cooking class where we learned how to make Salvadorian papusas as an appetizer for dinner. We then had yet another delicious dinner of rice, papusas, chicken, and salad. After dinner, we walked back to the lodge and had Moonup in his temple-meets-yoga studio in the jungle. Sarah pointed out how zen everyone was after and we headed off to get some sleep for another big day.
We had an early wake up again for our first full day of service. Tamara prepared a huge breakfast of eggs, rice and beans, many many fruits, and a mango-passion fruit smoothie. We set off on our hike to community service with happy tummies and lots of energy. During the final stretch of our hike uphill we all sat down to take a water break. Morale was high but everyone was feeling a little worn out, so Grant gave us an entertaining pep-talk that motivated everyone to get to the top. Everyone worked hard sifting soil, mixing cement, and building our greenhouse while taking occasional breaks for fresh juice and pineapple. After a productive morning of service, we walked down to the community center to have a delicious lunch prepared by the women’s group of El Brujo. We all said thank you and started on our way back, but first Charlie S. got us all to spontaneously swim in the beautiful river “Rio de la El Brujo”. After this much needed diversion, we headed to Tamara’s for the farm tour. Where to begin? Tamara bit by bit showed us all of the 5 billion different fruits and vegetables she grows, we tried the sugar cane, tropical bananas, miracle berries, coconut water, and everything in between. During the tour, we had the honor of meeting panchito, Tamara’s pet/wild pig, and he immediately became a fan favorite for the rest of our stay. To top it all off, Morgan, Rose, Sam, and Charlie H. led the charge in grinding up sugar cane into a delicious tropical juice. After an excellent night’s sleep in our tents right on the edge of the jungle, we got up bright and early to climb back up the mountain for our last day of service.
Our last day of service was spent filling garden beds with soil and planting various vegetables. It was so rewarding seeing all of our hard work come to fruition with the completion of the greenhouses! After some lemonade and Costa Rican cookies, we walked down to the community center for a game of soccer. Our LOD’s, Mary Blake and Charlie H. were our team captains and picked their teams, Los Ganadores and Los Conojos. Sam and Grant both scored two goals and Crawford showed off some major soccer skills as the runner for her team. We called the game as it started pouring rain and gathered back at the community center for ice cream. We hiked back to Tamara’s for a yummy lunch of homemade pizza’s and a fresh garden salad before showering off. We spent the rest of the day taking a chocolate making class taught by Tamara where we made our own brownies from scratch all the way from cocoa beans. We then contributed paintings to the walls of Tamara’s house which Moondance has been painting for the passed fifteen years. Morgan and Sarah demonstrated some excellent art skills by creating a new Moondance logo for our group’s mural. Afterwards we had our last dinner at Tres Semillas of Costa Rican style chicken soup and biscuits and enjoyed our brownies we made. With full stomachs, we walked back to our lodge to have our Moonup around a bonfire with a surprise of s’mores!
We are now settling down and ready to get some sleep for our waterfall tour and long drive to Turrialba for rafting tomorrow. We are so sad that we are nearing the end but could not be more excited for our adventures in the upcoming days. We could not have imagined a better group and feel so lucky to have gotten to know your children.
Gillie, Findley, and Liz
July 19, 2019
We are having the BEST time in Belize. Thank you all for giving us the most amazing group of kids.
Everyone arrived safely on our first day with luggage in hand, ready for the island! We began our journey with a quick car ride to the marina where we had a picnic-style lunch and then boarded the “Muloc” boat for our two-hour ride to Long Caye. It was a beautiful day, and everyone was ready to jump in the water when we arrived. After a quick, refreshing swim, we were welcomed with a dinner of chicken and rice by the one and only Chef Martha who would be living with us throughout our time on Long Caye. By dinner time, everyone had their own nickname. Sam and Sage were already deemed mom and dad and George was the uncle of the family. We had our first Moonup up in the crow’s nest of our lodge featuring some tunage by Findley with his guitar. Everyone was tired from the day of travel and headed off to bed to get some rest for the first day of scuba diving.
We woke up in good spirits for our first day of PADI certification. Excitement flooded the dining room as we fueled up on eggs, bacon, cantaloupe, fried jacks, and juice. Crawford headed to the dock early with Gillie and Liz to start her advanced certification. Everyone else met our instructors on the dock where we would be learning to set up our tanks and begin learning skills. We divided into two groups, each with a dive instructor and a dive master, and were off! Day one of certification was all about learning the ropes of the scuba equipment and some of the skills that could be practiced in shallow water. The instructors were impressed with the group’s ability to learn the skills so quickly. The following days of scuba consisted of deeper dives exploring the beautiful reefs and seeing various vibrant sea creatures. Some highlights while diving were spotting some reef sharks, a pod of dolphins, and the large spotted eagle rays. Grant was a natural “dolphin”, as the instructors called him, and was very helpful in showing everyone how to properly skin dive. As we would return from our dives very tired and hungry, Rose and Charlie H. established themselves as the go to meal helpers, always insisting on gathering up plates and cups at the end of meals, getting people drinks, and generally just being as helpful to Martha our cook as possible. Our Moonups these two nights consisted of long talks out on the moonlit dock, as well as George serenading us with the guitar and with stories. Two nights ago, we had such an incredible full moon reflecting off the water and a cool breeze that Morgan and many of the kids chose to sleep out in some of the hammocks by the beach. During these days, the dive instructors threw a lot at us, but everyone had a fantastic adventuresome attitude, and we all ended up getting certified! In celebration, we all stayed up a little later that night on the dock and in the crow’s nest, where Sarah recounted the entire plot of “Emperor’s New Groove” and left us all dying to watch.
The following morning, after Sam and Lilly T. co-led the charge for a beautiful sunrise on the dock, we all took our snorkels to the incredible half-moon caye island, where we swam among the coral reef and saw booby birds, iguanas, a shark, and a barracuda, and were treated to fresh coconuts right out of the tree thanks to our guides. Before heading back, we were treated to an impromptu flip contest from Lily J., Sage, Liz, and Gillie from the dock of half moon. In the afternoon, we did the NOLS leadership grid to figure out what everyone’s leadership style was, and played a little beach volleyball, where Charlie S. showed off his skills and energy leading his team. After sadly saying goodbye to all our Long Caye friends this morning, we headed back across the water to Belize City and went to the airport for our flight to Costa Rica. While waiting for our flight, we hung out and played lots of group games, including “families”, in which Mary Blake ran circles round all of us. We are excited to see what Costa Rica brings to our group!
Thank you again for sharing your wonderful children with us, we’re having a blast and can’t wait to tell you more!
Dear Dad + Mom (and Molly),
Hi everyone, I hope y’all are having a great time in Colorado, Belize was AMAZING. Scuba diving was the bomb, it was a very exciting experience and I’m glad I got to do it. We are on our way to Costa Rica right now and I’m really excited to spend another week with these awesome people. My leaders are the best and are so nice and welcoming. Well I hope y’all have a fun trip. LOVE YOU (say hi to Charlie for me) miss you guys!!! 🙂
Dear mom and dad
Hey guys I’m have such a great time! Belize was so much fun and we are in our way to Costa Rica right now. I hope California was super fun! Miss y’all so much but I miss Bailey and laguna more lol. Give them some treats for me! Ok bye love you!!
Hi mom and dad
I got scuba certified. It was pretty dope. I hope y’all have fun in Malibu. Anyway, I’ll see you soon. Bye
Hi mom, I am having a great time in Belize. Scuba diving was so much fun and everyone is so nice. I am now certified yay. I am about to leave for Costa Rica, but I am happy and healthy and I miss you so much. Please take care of Happy. I love you
Hey mom dad and whoever else reads this! I’m having a great time here. I love everyone, it’s a great group. I got scuba certified it was super cool and a great experience out of my comfort zone. We are in the airport going to Costa Rica in a bit and I’m exited.
Hey mom and dad, I’m having the best time! Everything here has been absolutely amazing, we saw some huge sharks and we got scuba certified! The water and islands here are so beautiful. I’ve made a ton of new friends and I’m having the best time! I miss y’all. Bye!
I have loved every second of the trip so far, and I am so excited for Costa Rica! I love the people in my group and my leaders, and the sweet people at the island we stayed at in Belize made us the best food, you know how the food is important. I got scuba certified and it was sooooo fun, I really want to do it next time in the Bahamas. I have had the best time so far and you don’t need to worry about me I have been taking my vitamins, and I’m feeling 100 percent, it was just the first day. Love you and miss you! Hope your having a good relaxing time without us!
I am having so much fun! In Belize we stayed on this island that was just us and the water was so blue. I got scuba certified and now I love diving. We saw an 8 ft shark in the water on our first dive. Last night we slept in hammocks right by the beach. The food was cooked by this lady named Martha and it tasted just like the food from the Dominican. We have pineapples and sweet fried plantains and rice and beans. We are about to go to Costa Rica and I’m so excited. Send this to Georgie!!
Hey mom and dad,
I’m having so much fun. The scuba diving in Belize was so incredible, and I got certified. We stayed on this private island and the water was so clear and blue, it looked like the water in Turks. We are going to Costa Rica today and I’m very excited. Tell the dogs I say hi. Love yall,
I’m having fun. Belize was so amazing.
From, Charlie S
Hey mom and dad,
I’m having fun and miss you a lot. I got scuba certified and doing well. Can’t want see you and the dogs. Love you.
From Charlie H
Got scuba certified and it was pretty sick. I got corn rows and there pretty dope. Hope litchfield isn’t too boring. See you soon
From, Sam K
Hey mom and dad,
I’m having so much fun in Belize. I got scuba certified and got cornrows:) hope you are having the best time in Italy and see you soon.
From, Grant M.
July 13, 2019
All students have safely arrived into Belize City, Belize.
We can’t wait to see where this adventure takes them!