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Big Wild 3A • July 16-July 29, 2019

Fond Farewell!

July 29, 2019

Hello for the last time to all of the Big Wild parents!

To start, thank you all so much for sending your kids with us this summer. We truly had a trip of a lifetime with them and cannot believe how fast the trip flew by!

After we finished our rafting section, we traveled to Three Island Crossing Park in Idaho after filling up on ice cream at Ice Cream Alley. Reid and Anna E. could not believe the ridiculous size of the ice cream scoops; yet, the size of the scoops did not keep them from finishing it all! At our campsite, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of hotdogs, broccoli, and potatoes prepared by professional potato cutter, Will (LOD), Michael, and Anna M. After dinner, we had a hilarious Moonup led by our LODS, Campbell and Will, that allowed our group to get to know each other on a whole new level.

The next morning, we loaded up the van and made our way back to Jackson. Upon arriving, we hit the car wash and we scrubbed the van head-to-toe. Michael and Annie took charge and made sure there wasn’t a speck of dirt left on the van. We then made our way to our campsite for lunch before heading to the showers. The kids were stoked to finally be clean. Once we were all clean as a whistle, our crew headed to town for “town day”. The kids found many souvenirs including friendship bracelets and tons of Jackson Hole paraphernalia. Dani and Phillip even bought the leaders matching t-shirts to show off at Banquet! However, Trey got the prize for the best souvenir: a miniature music box that played “Yellow Submarine”. It is safe to say that it was the song of the trip!

After town, we made our way to our Final Banquet where we stuffed ourselves with a Mexican feast. Once we were completely satisfied, we headed back to our campsite for our final Moonup led by LODs, Bess and Kris. It was a special last Moonup by the river. The LODs picked a more serious question that allowed us all to open up a bit more. It was really neat to end the trip this way, and we were super impressed by how much the kids opened up. We ended Moonup on a silly note with a final “Veggie Off”, which Campbell and Eleanor won.

This morning was a difficult goodbye for all. We are looking forward to staying in touch with your wonderful children, and we are so grateful to have spent the end of the summer with them. Thanks again for sharing your kids with us on Big Wild!


Eleanor and Chappell

Rafting on the River!

July 27, 2019

Hey there from Idaho!

Our team just said farewell to the river and is now on the way back to Jackson! The past four days were full of sunshine and splashing on the Salmon River.

After our long drive from Jackson to Idaho, we settled into our campsite with a lovely lakeside view. We all were pretty wiped from the drive, so we hit the hay early to prepare for our rafting trip. The next morning we woke up ready for the river and traveled to our put-in where we met our guides and hit the rapids. It took no time for everyone to jump right into the water with the sunny weather. After a few hours on the river, we stopped for lunch at a nice beach where LOD, Anna E., took charge and helped the guides prepare a beautiful sandwich bar for everyone. The “trust game” was introduced after lunch on the rafts which was a huge hit especially for champions, Annie and Michael. There was also a competitive race between rafts to see who could get to camp first by paddling faster. Boat 1, with Will as the cheerleader and Reid as the comedian, paddled their way to victory. The kids were mesmerized by the beach we got to call home for the night. Three levels of beach with a swimming hole and an incredible view of the mountains made the perfect campsite for night one on the river. What made the evening even better were the juicy cheeseburgers and scrumptious chocolate cake for dinner! Everyone was grinning ear to ear as we finished the day with Moonup in the sand and happy bellies.

The following morning we had a feast of hot chocolate, pancakes, eggs, and bacon to start the second day of rafting off with a bang. Trey, LOD, was deemed the “pancake flipping master” and his hard work was appreciated by all. After a delicious breakfast, our crew loaded up the rafts ready for a full day of rapids. We had two class IV rapids which we got to scout out before heading into. The rest of the rapids were tame enough for the kids to “ride the bull”. Dani and Phillip were pros at riding it and staying on through the wild splashes. For lunch, we pulled onto a beach and enjoyed taco salad and lemonade before heading back on the river. Post lunch, we had a splash war between rafts with Kris and Campbell as the splash masters. Then, we rowed our way into camp for the night. We finished the day with a yummy spaghetti dinner prepared by LODs, Trey and Dani. Yet, Trey’s real specialty was the peach and blackberry cobbler with fresh blackberries picked by Bess. After dinner, the boys had an intense game of football but included Anna M and Eleanor. Kris had a game winning play, but Anna M definitely won MVP. We finished day up with a Moonup before sleeping outside on the sand.

For the last day of rafting, we were fortunate to wake up to the smell of French toast and sausage. Before hitting the river, LODs, Reid and Anna M, took one for the team by getting groovy and helping the guides. A few minutes after leaving camp, we went cliff jumping, a crowd favorite for sure. It was awesome to see all the kids try it out even if they had a fear of heights. After cliff jumping, we continued our journey down river and eventually hit the meeting point of the Snake and Salmon Rivers. Before stopping for lunch, Campbell led the crew in a swim break down a milder rapid to cool off. After lunch, we paddled the last few miles to our campsite. Along the way, Michael and Dani led a mind twisting game of “Psychiatrist”, while Bess stumped everyone with the “sheep game” on the other raft. Speaking of sheep, Will then pointed out a family of bighorn sheep which was our first big wildlife sighting of the trip. However, once we got to camp, we saw lots of turkeys and deer who shared the beach with us. We were fortunate enough to camp at a nature conservancy called “China Beach” for the last night of our rafting trip. At the conservancy, there was an orchard that allowed us to gorge ourselves with apricots, blackberries, and plums galore. It was awesome to see Philip and Anna E have apricots for the first time and witness Annie, a fruit hater, even try a plum! The kids were amazed by the fact that fruit could taste like candy. After an afternoon of fruit picking, we had a fiesta with fajitas on the beach to celebrate our last night on the river. It was a crowd favorite to say the least. Following our last Moonup on the beach, we ended the day with some scrumptious s’mores.

This morning we finished up our rafting section by motoring to our take-out. Now, we are headed back to Jackson to finish up the remainder of our Big Wild trip! It is crazy how fast it has gone by, and we have had a blast these past two weeks with your amazing children. Thank you for sharing them with us this summer! Stay on the lookout for our final update in a couple of days!

Until then,

Eleanor and Chappell

Rocks Rock!

July 23, 2019

Hello from Jackson!!

It has been a fun filled past few days here in Jackson rock climbing and exploring the surrounding area. We cannot believe we are halfway through our trip already! Our crew has had a blast adventuring together out here in the big wild and getting to know each other even better.

After we exited the Winds, we had a well-earned feast of burgers and ice cream after showering off all the dirt from our backpacking trip. The kids were beaming with excitement when they got their burgers and gobbled them down without hesitation. Kris and Bess even found our little friend, Paul, a friend who we now call Dave. (Both Paul and Dave are little animal figurines). Everyone was stoked to have now two little pals to carry around with us.

Once our tummies were full, we made the journey back to Jackson for some grocery shopping and the rodeo! At the grocery, competitive streaks were flying between the kids to see who could complete their list first. Team Trout (Philip, Anna E., and Trey) took the victory and won the golden prize of Sour Patch Kids for completing their list first. After the grocery, we made our way to the campsite to set up camp and grill some hotdogs, potatoes, and broccoli. Cook crew, led by Trey (LOD), did a fine job of seasoning the veggies which made them a huge hit. We then loaded up the van and made our way to the Jackson rodeo! We all got to channel our inner cowboy and cowgirl while watching lassoing and bull riding as the sun set over the Tetons. Michael and Phillip even got up and sang “Don’t Stop Believin’” with great gusto to try to win a prize. We all were proud of their effort to say the least. After the rodeo, we went back to our campsite for Moonup led by LODs, Anna M and Trey, which ended in a hilarious “moo off”. Everyone went to bed giggling and eager to climb the next day.

The following morning we fueled our bodies with eggs and bacon before heading to climbing. Once we arrived, we were lucky enough to take the gondola up the mountain. What a view of the Tetons we had while learning how to climb! In the morning, we learned how to tie knots and belay each other. Anna M and Annie were a power duo at belaying each other while Campbell and Reid were pros at tying the “figure 8 knot”. After some lessons, the kids put their knowledge to the test with climbing multi-pitch climbs. Dani (LOD) was the group cheerleader singing her rope mates up the rocks. Although the climbs were challenging, the kids did them with ease. As a reward for their great work the guides let them rappel off the rocks they had climbed before heading back for the day.Once we got back to camp, LOD, Will, whipped up our lovely chicken pad Thai for dinner with the help of cook crew. After we ate, the whole crew had a blast washing dishes, and many of them even said it was the highlight of their day during Moonup. We ended the day watching the glorious sun set over the mountains before heading to our tents to get some rest for the last day of climbing.

The next morning, we had a pancake party for Dani’s birthday! Banana, chocolate chip, and blueberry pancakes galore to give these pro climbers the energy they needed to complete the challenging rock walls of the day. After our pancake party, we headed to Grand Teton National Park to go on a short hike to “Boulder City” where we were able to climb various challenging walls and boulders. Once we arrived, our LOD, Bess, gave a great lesson on belaying which gave everyone the knowledge they needed to belay their friends. Will and Reid were a belay/climb dream team cheering each other up the tougher walls and successfully climbing them. Our other LOD, Phillip, impressed everyone (including the guides) with his stellar climbing skills and was the only one to complete every single wall. It was really fun to see all of the kids push themselves on these walls, especially Anna E and Campbell who were hesitant towards the beginning but ended up climbing like they had been doing it for years. They were some of the most challenging walls that the guides take groups out on, and the kids crushed them!

After climbing most of the day, we took the kids for a well-deserved ice cream trip into town for Dani’s birthday. The birthday girl had a huge cone of blackberry sorbet to celebrate her 15th! We then headed back to the campsite for more birthday festivities. To cool off from the summer heat, we decided to find a creek at the campsite. While Annie convinced the girls to take a group polar plunge with Eleanor, the boys had an AP Geology lesson with Chappell. Kris and Michael could not stop talking about the rocks by the creek and all of Chappell’s geology knowledge. The creek was the highlight of the day for sure! After we dried off from the creek, we continued the birthday fiesta with quesadillas, chips, salsa, and guacamole. With full bellies, we had a fun Moonup which ended with Trey winning a “veggie off” by acting like a lazy Lima bean the best. We then prepared for our long drive to Idaho the next morning before heading to sleep.

We now are off to Idaho to raft the Salmon River to conclude our trip! Keep an eye out for an update in a few days.

Until next time,

Eleanor and Chappell

Adventure in the Wind River Range!

July 20, 2019

Hey there from Sedgewick Meadows!

Our Big Wild group just finished up our three-day journey into the backwoods of the beautiful Wind River Range! It was a full three days of backpacking, fishing, and exploring all of the wonders the Winds have to offer.

After airport day, our crew hit the road to Pinedale, Wyoming for a pizza dinner before setting up camp by Soda Lake. Once camp was set up for the night, we took a stroll to the lake for our first Moonup, which is our nightly debrief of the day and a time where the group grows closer as a family. On our stroll, we encountered some friends who mooed and walked with us to the lake. The cows joined us during Moonup with a nice moo every now and then. After Moonup, everyone got some well-deserved rest before hitting the trail the next morning.

For the first day of backpacking, we started the day off right with a hearty breakfast of eggs and sausage before learning how to pack a backpack. The kids were pros at packing a pack, and we hit the trail in no time. Our Leaders of the Day, Annie and Michael, did a great job at not only guiding us to our campsite but also checking on the group making sure everyone had enough water. The expressions on the kids’ faces when we made it out of the woods and into the meadow were priceless. They couldn’t believe we were really camping at such a beautiful spot with a river running through it. It took them no time to explore the river and start swimming and fishing. Will and Bess set up an Eno fort which was also a huge hit. After a few hours of play, the group started getting a little hungry so Annie, Anna M., and Dani started to whip up some sizzling fajitas for the crew. They were a hit to say the least! After dinner, Michael took clean crew to a whole new level. He made cleaning fun by showing everyone how to dig the “greatest, most efficient sump hole ever” where we could dump our dirty water. A huge thanks to Michael for taking initiative to clean up properly! We then had our first Moonup in Sedgewick Meadows followed by a sunset fishing session.

The following morning we munched hard on some sweet burritos before making our way to Soda Pop Lake for lake fishing. LOD, Philip, led the short hike to Soda Pop pointing out the various peaks along the way which got the group excited for more hiking the following day. Once we arrived at Soda Pop, Annie and Trey suggested everyone polar plunge. Shrieks of chilly filled the mountain air after most of the crew jumped in. We then ate a tasty lunch before fishing the lake. Reid and Kris became pros almost immediately showing the rest of the group how it is done. After some time at Soda Pop, we headed back to camp hungry for a delicious dinner. Campbell, LOD, took charge of our crowd favorite stir fry dinner with the help of Anna E and Bess. Everyone’s bellies were thankful for the meal. Following dinner, we had Moonup in the Eno fort which made it even more magical. Following Moonup, we had one big veggie off which left everyone rolling on the ground laughing. There was great effort from all but Will, Reid, and Michael took it to a whole new level. Before bed, we all watched the sky turning pink behind the mountains together.

The last day of backpacking was a big one! We started the day off by introducing our little friend, Paul the Dinosaur, who would be making the trek up to Crows Nest with us that day. LOD, Anna E, had the special privilege of taking care of Paul for the hike and got some killer pictures of Paul on top of rocks on the way up. The hike was a challenging one, but we knew all of the kids could do it. We were so proud of all of them for pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone to make it up to witness an incredible view of the Winds. At the top, the kids took plenty of pictures of what they had just accomplished and enjoyed lunch with a view. What really made them shout for joy was raining gummy worms that we gave out as a surprise for the hard work they had done. After we stuffed ourselves with gummy worms, we made the treat back to camp for the afternoon during which Reid, Trey, and Kris caught lots of Brook trout. It was exciting for everyone to see all of the fish fly out of the water, and it inspired first time fishers, Dani and Anna M to try it out for themselves. As a break from fishing, we had a yummy spaghetti dinner together as a our last meal in the Winds. After we ate, Campbell lost her last baby tooth which got us all excited for a possible visit from the Wind River Range tooth fairy! Following dinner, we had our final Moonup in the Winds during which we discussed how Moondance is different than things we have done in the past. Before enjoying our last sunset together in Sedgewick Meadows, Philip and Will led a group of us to a cool rock face where Bess and Philip, climbing pros, showed the group how you would climb the rock inspiring us for the rock climbing to come. We then headed back to camp to take in the incredible sunset glow of Sedgwick Meadows one last time before hitting the hay.

Now, we are on our way back to Jackson to begin climbing tomorrow! Thank you all for sharing your amazing children with us on Big Wild this summer. We’ve had a blast with them already and cannot wait to see what the rest of the trip brings!

Until next time,

Eleanor and Chappell

Safe Arrival in Jackson!

July 16, 2019

Hi Big Wild Families!

All students have arrived in Jackson and the group is headed to their campsite for the night! We are so excited for them to begin their adventure!

Stay Tuned!

-Moondance HQ


  • Anna
  • Anna
  • Annie
  • Bess
  • Campbell
  • Dani
  • Kris
  • Michael
  • Phillip
  • Reid
  • Trey
  • Will