July 28, 2019
Wow, we cannot believe how quickly this last session flew by. It was an unbelievable trip filled with amazing people and experiences. A big shout out to our diving instructors, Julio and Jullario, who made our last 5 days on Long Caye such an unforgettable experience.
The journey to Long Caye started with a fluid airport day filled with our favorite games of Categories and Spit. Our LOD’s, Mills and Emily were essential to our success. They kept our rambunctious group mobile and focused on the task at hand. It was a quick drive from the airport to the hotel where we took in some much needed rest and relaxation before the beginning of our Scuba adventure.
The next morning, we awoke at the break of dawn to catch our ferry from Belize City to Long Caye. Our traditional Belizean breakfast of potatoes, sausage, and boiled eggs awaited us on the ground floor where we filled our bellies and watched the sun rise over the Carribean. Alexandra astounded us all with her rendition of “Stay with Me” on the piano of the lobby. She quickly attracted several audience members. The boat ride was long but beautiful. The crystal clear blue water never ceases to amaze us all. The music was also on point and kept us jamming throughout the ride. This musical energy was due to our ever-faithful DJs, Ellie and Emerson. They never fail to get the group jamming and always know how to pump up a crowd whenever and wherever!
Once we settled into the Calypso Lodge, we reconvened with our dive instructors to begin Scuba class. The first task on the list was the swim test. Knox and Thomas once again showed the group how they are part fish by absolutely crushing the swim. We then spent the rest of the afternoon becoming comfortable with our new scuba tools. During this first lesson, Preston impressed everyone with his extensive knowledge of the gear and protocol. We ended our first day of Scuba with an amazing dinner of chicken wings, rice, and salad prepared by Mama Marta. We then went to sleep knowing we were safely in one of the best dive sites in the world.
The next morning, the intensity of scuba class really picked up. The group entered the ocean for the first time fully equipped with their BCD’s, regulators, and air tanks. Pearl led the class through the skills and shined as one of the most comfortable students under the water. We all completed two confined water dives this day and became one step closer to our Scuba certification.
On day 3 of our stay on Long Caye we entered the open sea and completed not one but two open water dives. On the first dive, Jack spotted a nurse shark and everyone in his dive group enjoyed one of the coolest sights to see under the sea. The second dive was one to remember as well! Known as, “Aquarium,” this reef had some of the most tropical fish that you can ever imagine! Let’s not forget the sea turtles and mana ray sightings!!
The next day on Long Caye was another one to be remembered. Today, we set off for our next two open water dives. Long Caye Reef was the first and, most likely, the most exciting dive yet! Total, we counted over twelve shark sightings in this one dive!! The second dive of the day was a drift dive. The group drifted down the colorful reef wall spotting eels, barracuda, and tons of other tropical sea-life. After, a delicious dinner, we had one large group dance party on the beach where Knox and Mills impressed the group by showing off their dance moves.
Caroline and William were our LOD’s on our last day, leading us through our final day on Long Cay. In the early morning, we ventured to Half Moon Island where we spent time watching the native red-footed boobie birds and massive hermit crabs. The water activities continued as we snorkeled around this stunning island. Everyone was intrigued as they watched the extremely large lobsters lurking under the coral. After an amazing quesadilla lunch, we divided into two fishing groups. The girls went first, catching different types of fish every minute. In fact, they even caught a shark and unbelievably large moray eel!! Caroline and Alexandra showed an extreme proficiency in their new passion of fishing. Of course, Mills did not fail to generate laughter throughout the boy’s fishing adventure.
The last night was a hard one! As we reminisced on our long-lasting memories there were plenty of tears and laughs. Parents, we could not have asked for a greater way to end our time in Belize and Costa Rica! This has been an incredible group of students who have made lifelong friends and memories.
With sincere gratitude,
Clay and Chris
July 21, 2019
Pura Vida Everyone!!
We can’t even begin to describe how great the last few days have been! Your children have become an inseparable group forming lifelong friendships. We just emerged from our week in the Costa Rican jungle and are currently making our way to our much-anticipated SCUBA experience on Long Caye, Belize. We had a few moments of free time in the airport so we figured we would send out a few shout outs!!!!
Ellie – “Dear Mom, Dad and Katie. Love you all. Hope you had a nice time in Maine.”
Caroline – “Hey Fam!!! Miss y’all and hope everyone is doing great.
p.s. Andrew I bought you the best gift ever
Mills – “Dear Mom, camp is so much fun and I’ve met a lot of people. We have done so many activities and we are about to go on a plane to Scuba dive!”
Preston – “Hello!!”
Emily – “Hi Mom and Dad. I’m having fun. Love you. Miss you.”
Pearl – “Hey Mom and Dad. I miss you guys!”
Thomas and William – “Hey this is William and Thomas. I hope your trip to Colorado was fun. How did Andrew like the hot air balloon and Rockies game? Love y’all.”
Alexandra – “Can you guys buy some frozen grapes for when I get back?!”
Knox – “Hope you guys had fun in Italy. I’m having an incredible time. I can’t wait to see you. Love you”
Jack – “Hey this is Jack. Wanted to let you know I’m having a great time in Costa Rica.”
Emerson – “Hey mom and Dad. This is the best trip ever. I miss you. I hope you’re having a good trip. I can’t wait to tell y’all about it. Love you”
Now for the recap of white-water rafting!
We began our river journey by getting a restful night of sleep. We awoke refreshed and eager for the next leg of our action-packed adventure. The hotel then served us a delicious breakfast of juice, eggs, fruit, and rice/beans. Everyone wanted to fuel up as much as possible, so all the tasty food was gone within moments. William was one of the LOD’s this day, so he then went to everyone in the group to make sure all duffels and daypacks were ready to go. His leadership skills were on point!! As always, David was waiting out front and ready to go. We quickly packed up our gear and moved out!
George, our rafting guide and Pacuare River expert, joined us for our quick bus ride to the river and gave us a thorough safety briefing. We moved from road to trail as we descended into the river valley. During our ride, Knox kept the morale high and music flowing as the selected Sergeant Vibe Master. His energy always keeps the group on tract and full of happy campers. When we finally reached the Pacuare, the kids could barely contain their excitement. Everyone quickly disembarked from the bus with rain jackets, water bottles, daypacks, and sunscreen. It was a rainy day, but we all knew the clouds would not dampen our spirits once we saw the breathtaking mountainous scenery and beautiful jungle greenery.
We split the group into three boats. Chris, William, Pearl, Emily, and Jack occupied the first boat, “Pegasus.” Blue Morpho had the amazing crew of Ellie, Mills, Preston, Emerson, and Alexandra. Los Castigadores led the pack with Clay, Caroline, Thomas, and Knox. Once we were all briefed on raft commands and gear protocol our boats left the rocky beachhead and began floating downriver. Emily sat at the front of Pegasus and soon proved her worth with powerful paddling. The Pegasus crew accepted her as their leader after her experience became visible during our first rapid. Mills cracked jokes for the whole river to enjoy and spurred laughs within all three rafts!
After a morning of crashing the water with our paddles, we broke for lunch. We found a small rocky beach across from not one but two waterfalls and enjoyed sandwiches, pineapple, and chips with salsa. Thomas wowed the entire group with his outstanding rock skipping skills. We laughed, danced, and played category games for a while until our food digested. Afterwards, we returned to our boats and rafted our final stretch before camp.
Our campsite for the night seemed to be straight out of the movie Tarzan. We were all assigned small open aired bungalows that allowed us to hear pleasant jungle noises throughout the night. We spent the remainder of the afternoon playing our new favorite card game Spit, shown to us by Alexandra. Caroline also started a new friendship bracelet factory. By the end of the trip, we will most definitely all be wearing her colorful creations. Preston became the king of hammocks and spent the afternoon chilling and conversing with his new amigos.
It was without a doubt one of the most beautiful and enjoyable days of the trip so far. We capped the day off with a well-cooked dinner of chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Once we were all filled to the brim, everyone soon entered into much deserved food comas for the rest of the evening.
The next day we all awoke with the jungle. Before anyone could even think about breakfast, Jack was back near the hammocks grinding away at games of Spit. Our guides treated us to a delightful breakfast and we were soon on our way down the river. Pearl showed off her paddling skills by leading the Pegasus down the last class 4 rapid. Her leadership and experience were essential to the crew’s wellbeing when the raft went down these thrilling rapids! She kept the group calm and focused as the guide deftly maneuvered around them. We finished whitewater rafting by swimming beside our rafts as they made their way through a valley between two mountains. Above the water everyone was awed by the overhanging trees and by the antiquated bridges left behind from previous expeditions in the area. This massive canyon was an unforgettable and unexplainable sight!!
The group left the Pacuare River elated by their once-in-a-lifetime experience on Costa Rica’s most popular rapids. We said our final goodbyes to our whitewater guides and soon found ourselves, once again, riding in our dependable bus. Everyone took catnaps during the beginning of our ride. However, our vibes soon returned after a pit stop at a quaint roadside fruit stand. The rest of the trip was filled with singing lead by our resident lyricist Ellie who surprised us by knowing every single word of ‘Love Song’ by Taylor Swift. While Ellie was filling the bus with her songs, Emerson was showing everyone how to party through her dance moves. The entire bus quickly joined her by initiating the classic and always appropriate ‘wave.’ The bus ride seemed to last only a few minutes as we filled the Costa Rican mountain range with song, laughter, and dance.
Our San Jose lodging welcomed us back with a lovely dinner of chicken, rice, beans, and salad. We all then went to bed excited for what’s to come in Belize and thankful for our unbelievable Costa Rican experiences.
Next, stop island life!!!
July 18, 2019
Hola Los Padres,
Just wanted to update you after three successful days in the jungle! We have already made lasting memories and the group is already inseparable for it did not take long for these guys to break the ice! Let’s begin by recapping on a successful three days in the jungle.
After a groovin’ bus ride from the beach, we said a short farewell to our favorite bus driver David and set out for the jungle! Everyone loved the scenic ride through the mountains in our very own Costa Rican style taxis. Pearl was in awe as we passed through each rural town seeing that farmers allow the horses and cattle roam freely. After the bumpy, yet, exciting ride, our group arrived in a small community in full spirit and eager to start our service project! Before starting, the local women prepared a very fulfilling Costa Rican style lunch that would fuel us for our afternoon of hard work.
Our knowledgeable outfitter, Harlow, prepped us with a plan for the project. Everyone was excited to hear that we were making an entire produce garden that would provide sustainability for some of the members in the community! Once reaching our work spot, the entire group took an initiative to volunteer for a job. Over the next couple days, Emerson and Alexandra were not afraid to break a sweat as they willingly took on several different jobs from mixing and laying cement to producing fine soil for the base layer of the garden. Caroline showed a relentless spirit in her contribution to sifting over seven bags of dirt to provide fertilizer for the garden. Meanwhile, several other members orchestrated the layout of the garden and eventually dug trenches for the cement surrounding. Overall, this first day of service overreached expectations, as each student did not fail to work efficiently and take on many hard tasks!!
We then made the beautiful trek back to Harlow’s luxurious home where we would be staying for the next two nights. After our refreshing and much needed showers, we walked over to Tamara’s house for a cooking class and dinner! Each of us were excited to learn how to make the Central American inspired flatbread pupusas. William got very involved in the cooking, making multiple pupusas each with different shapes and base ingredients. Following a tasty dinner, we gathered for Moonup in the treetops of the upper deck in Harlow’s exotic home. Our Leaders of the Day, Jack and Emily, proposed quite an intriguing question that led to a long humorous discussion.
The next morning, we rose with the sun ready for another rewarding day of community service! Tamara started us off right with a great breakfast consisting of a fruit smoothie, eggs, pancakes, and an endless choice of fresh fruit. By the time we reached our project location, everyone knew exactly what to do and we got straight to work! Jack, Knox, and William assisted Chris in planting fruit trees along the house while another group continued to make fertilizer with the help of some friendly local children. Later, everyone took part in moving cement blocks and we truly learned that teamwork makes the dream work!! Pearl and Emily both were fully involved, lending a hand whenever and wherever needed. Not to mention, Preston also worked very hard shoveling dirt and carrying multiple cement blocks showing off his strength!
After completing a strenuous, yet extremely worthwhile community service project, we continued the activities with a game of fútbol joined by tons of local children! Ellie volunteered to be goalkeeper which she excelled in showing off her competitive nature as she demanded instructions from backfield! The intensity was heightened when Thomas scored an incredible goal over the goalie, Sebastian’s, head!! After a great game, Harlow surprised us with chocolate chip ice cream while we shared laughs with many of our new local friends. During our walk back for lunch we couldn’t help but dance as we jammed to some catchy pop tunes! Tamara won over the group as she had pizza ready for us when we arrived at her house.
Later that day, Tamara gave us a farm tour where we each got to sample several tropical fruits! The most exciting part of the tour was meeting her peccary or wild pig native to Central America. Going by the name of Monchitto, the group loved getting to know this friendly and energetic pig that Tamara domesticated. At the end of the tour the boys had a blast churning sugar cane and making a tasty juice out of it!
To end our action-packed day, we partook in a chocolate making class! Alexandra and Knox displayed great interest in the class as they both helped grind and stir the cocoa beans. As a reward for everyone’s handwork, we were able to make a batch of very scrumptious brownies! After a long day, the group was happy to come back to enjoy Moonup around a campfire! As always, Mills did not fail to have the group laughing as we roasted marshmallows and indulged in s’mores!
The next morning was one for the books! After a delicious breakfast at Tamara’s, we headed up the mountain to embark in our waterfall tour. By the time we reached the majestic waterfall, everyone was excited to take a dip while Harlow prepared the ‘blue clay’ for our natural spa treatment. Emerson and Ellie quickly covered their whole bodies with the clay and shortly after the twins (William and Thomas) and Mills took turns painting tribal symbols across their peer’s faces. Within minutes our group looked like actual Avatars!!
It has been a great couple of days with each of your children and we are extremely enthusiastic as we continue to watch them form such an outstanding group dynamic! More to come after our next adventure down the Pacuare River through the jungle!!
Chris and Clay
July 16, 2019
BCR 3B has landed and is happy to report a couple of fantastic first days! We have enjoyed getting to know your kids so much. They truly are a rambunctious and adventurous bunch. Our airport day was seamless as our group formed at the San Jose airport. Alexandra was the first to arrive and she quickly impressed us with her confidence by immediately introducing herself to every new adventurer. As we waited for planes to land, we played numerous intense games of BS, Spit, and Egyptian Rat Slap. Knox blew out the competition by becoming the undefeated champion of BS. After the final members of our group reached Costa Rica, we stepped outside of the airport to meet our energetic bus driver David and he greeted us with a generous “Pura Vida!” Then Thomas took command by leading our bag loading assembly line. Even though he had to heave every single bag, he still had enough energy to be cheerful during our short bus ride to our hotel for the evening.
After we checked in, it did not take long for the kids to find the pool. Everyone soon made their way to the hot tub where we played a much-anticipated Name Game. Emily broke the ice by being the first to memorize everyone’s names. Once we all became familiar, Caroline initiated a game of Marco/Polo that lasted until dinner. We marked the end of our amazing first day with a dinner of chicken, vegetables, rice, and salad. Afterward, our first Moonup was filled with effortless conversation. Preston and Alexandra were designated as BCR 3B’s first ever leaders of the da because of their great attitudes throughout our airport experience. We then hit the hay for some much-needed rest before our early morning and action-packed day.
The next day we met David and our bus in order to venture towards ziplining in Los Suenos. The drive wasn’t short, but we filled it with music and singing. Ellie and Emerson kept the vibes flowing by picking songs and leading us all through the lyrics. Once we made it to Los Suenos, Gary, our canopy guide, made sure we had all the proper equipment and training. The group could barely contain their excitement as we rode the tractor up a huge mountainside to reach our starting point. We rose and rose until we were well above the trees. Preston took the initiative to lead the students down the 12 zip lines. Mills impressed us all by choosing to ride upside down during the 6th line. After an unbelievable time, we then made it back to sea level safely. David was waiting for us with our faithful bus to take us to Uvita for an afternoon of surfing.
The beach was breathtakingly beautiful, but the surfing was even better. William caught the first wave of the day and continued to catch waves throughout the entire 2-hour session. He astounded the local surf instructor and received a few shakas from some bystanders. Pearl might have found her new passion as she caught her first wave ever and weaved her way through the surf. We were lucky to spend a couple of hours in the water, but it wasn’t enough. After the lesson, we made our way back to Nido del Halcon where the kids quickly found another pool to keep swimming. Jack then lead everyone in a game of categories that kept the laughs rolling until a beautiful Costa Rican sunset.
We all got plenty of rest as we eagerly awaited the next section of our adventure. The next morning we all packed into the bus to head to El Brujo and begin community service. More to come soon!!
July 13, 2019
All students have safely arrived in Costa Rica and the trip is on its way.
We can’t wait to hear more!