Trip Updates

California 1B • June 12-June 25, 2019

Goodbye For Now California!

June 25, 2019

 

Well, well, well,

It pains me to write this final trip update as our marvelous and exciting adventure comes to a close. We can’t thank the parents enough for allowing us to get to know your wonderful kids these last two weeks! The Jackie Chan Clan will forever be a part of us and we will not forget the remarkable moments we all shared together. For our final trip activity we began our first day of surfing by starting with a delicious spread of bagels by the beach of Half Moon Bay. The group’s favorite topping (Nutella) was quickly gobbled up with Richard and Baker licking the last bits left from the tub. From Half Moon Bay, we traveled to Pacifica Beach to meet our awesome guides who hyped us up for a killer day on the waves. Nan was particularly happy because her wet suit matched her turquoise painted toe nails. Our guides taught the students all about how to properly catch a wave, how to read tides/swells and how to handle beach currents before going out.

After our surfing 101 instruction the group eagerly grabbed their long soft top surf boards and darted for the frigid Pacific water. Everyone on the first day rode a wave into shore! Some students had previous experience with surfing and helped others who weren’t as experienced to keep trying no matter what! By the end of our first surfing session everyone was stoked that they were all officially surfers and caught some great waves.

After surfing, Dillon had the fabulous idea of having cheese quesadillas for lunch on the beach by our campsite with sour cream and salsa on the side for excellent dipping sauces! With the rest of the day free after surfing, the LODs (Richard and Anabel) decided we would chill out by the beach and play by the crashing waves. Kate rallied most of the group to play a game of football in the sand where Michael threw the winning touchdown to Anabel to end a tightly matched game. Michael, Nan, Richard, Dillon, Henry and Nan loved playing “Run Away from the Wave” where they ran down and up the sloped beach as the waves crashed ashore. Michael created a new game for the group called Wave Runner where you would run and jump into the wave before it crashed that some loved to play as well.

Between playing games on the beach William and the leaders enjoyed reading and relaxing by the ocean for an hour while Baker, Madison, Liv and Anabel tanned beside them. For dinner, the leaders decided to create an Iron Chef competition with what food we had left from the trip to find out who could prepare the best meal with the given ingredients! The students were divided into two teams and given the necessary tools and food to make their dish, as well as the necessary secret ingredient: Cream of Mushroom Soup. After being allotted 45 minutes to prepare a meal, the two teams presented their meal. Team 1 (Anabel, William, Madison, Baker, and Henry) made a salad with carrots alongside a chicken Alfredo and soft taco with onions and chicken. Team 2 (Kate, Michael, Richard, Dillon, and Liv) made a cream of mushroom hot sauce/dipping sauce with a platter of grilled tortilla chips and pizza quesadillas. Both teams made AMAZING culinary treats, but what really won the judges hearts was Team 2’s presentation and hilarious skit before the meal.

At Moonup, Baker and Liv gazed in awe at the starlit sky and reminisced over how every night has given them a beautiful spectacle. Anabel and Richard’s Moonup question consisted of two questions asking what everyone’s Spirt Animal was and what they’ve learned about themselves from their trip. Kate was deemed a bulldog or a turtle, because of her outer shell that we got to crack throughout the last two weeks. Anabel was named a Red Panda or a golden retriever, because she loves to go on walks! To start another gorgeous day in California, Anabel and Baker whipped up some scrumptious pancakes with chocolate chips and bananas to fill the group up for round 2 of surfing.

Day 2 of surfing was even better than the first. The surf guides allowed some of the group to go beyond the break of the waves to surf some of the bigger waves which Michael, Anabel and Henry embraced, spending their entire time in the water out there. After surfing for a while, some of the group decided to dock their surfboards on the beach and body surf instead. By the end of our last surf lesson it was hard to get everyone out of the water because no one wanted their favorite activity to end!

After surfing the leaders revealed the plan for our final night together which consisted of going to the thrift store and buying spunky outfits for our Mexican cuisine dinner. Everyone could not stop giggling at each other’s outfits. Liv, Baker and Anabel all bought Men’s ties to wear around their heads, William wore a decked out Hawaiian shirt, Madison bought a Cheetah print skirt, and Nan rocked a bright yellow blazer and flashy pajama shorts. Before entering the restaurant, one by one the group filed out of the van for a quick fashion show and dance party at the restaurant parking lot with Ke$ha’s infamous “Tik Tok”  playing in the background.

Burritos, chips, tacos, and nachos filled our stomachs and just to top it off, we enjoyed cookie dough and chocolate ice cream for dessert. That night, a final, long, and emotional Moonup was shared on the beach. None of us wanted it to be our last. Everyone’s favorite part was by far the personal affirmations. We went around and opened the floor to everyone to give each, separate person affirmations, and it was amazing to watch.

We also gave out some superlatives, which brought some laughter back to some emotional faces. That night, we all cuddled up on the tarp one last time for a final sleepover. We are sitting in the airport now just in shock at how much these kids have touched our lives in just two weeks. We immediately started missing them as we saw their flights take off.

 

We love you guys so much!!!

Lauren, Tommy, Annabel


Beaching it and More!

June 23, 2019

Hello!

These past two days have been some of the best yet! Although sad to depart the breathtaking beauty of Yosemite, everyone was so excited to finally be able to see the ocean! We hopped in the van and drove across the state towards the Pacific Coast. Towards the end of our long drive, the group’s sillies emerged out of nowhere. They laughed, danced, and sang at the top of their lungs with a crazy energy we did not know was humanly possible. Luckily, we made it to our campsite just in time for them to run around and let all their ya yas out. For dinner, everyone created their own personal pizzas. We enjoyed a great Moonup led by Dillon and Kate under the brightest stars we’ve seen so far. Instead of sleeping in tents, everyone snuggled up hip to hip on one big tarp in the middle of the campsite.

The next morning we slept late in our big pile of sleeping bags. Everyone filled their hungry bellies up with a big, hearty breakfast of pancakes! We got back into Jackie Chan and drove into Point Reyes where we took a beautiful hike through the nature reserve down to the beach! There, we enjoyed an amazing picnic lunch. Kate, Madison, and Dillon decided to brave the cold water and jump around in the waves. Nan, Anabel, and Tommy took a long stroll down to the end of the beach, where they stumbled upon a hidden waterfall. Richard ran around looking for crabs while Baker and Liv took advantage of the amazing sunny weather to get in a nice beach nap. But the naps did not last long: a big water fight broke out which ended with almost everyone getting into the beautiful, blue water. After hours of enjoying the sun, we finally decided it was time to pack up our bags and hike back up to the van. Everyone was very reluctant to leave the beach, but a quick stop at a local market for ice cream on the way to the campsite brought back their smiles.

We cooked up a delicious pot of Mac n cheese for dinner which everyone devoured. Each day our group gets closer and closer, and the sillies continue… Anabel performed an entertaining flash-light dance for everyone. Henry and Michael went head to head playing king of the tarp. Nan brought out some great face masks that, despite stares from neighboring campers, soothed our sun-kissed skin. Realizing the trip was reaching its last few days, Henry and Liv led a very special Moonup where we all shared our favorite parts of the trip so far. We all agreed that we never want to leave each other and might just have to stay all summer! Later, we nestled back into our sleeping bags all together on the tarp. As we gazed up at the night sky, William explained the science behind the curvature of the earth to all of us. Kate was especially interested in this as she pointed out shapes in the stars. Then, everyone gasped at the same moment as a shooting star flew across the sky.  It was such a magical moment that will never be forgotten. Tired from an action-packed day, everyone fell into a very deep slumber.

The next morning we awoke and cooked up some eggs and toast for breakfast. Everyone packed their layers, and we hopped into the van towards the Golden Gate Bridge! Driving in, we could barely see the bridge with all the fog. But we were able to get out of the van and walk across over to the other side right as the fog cleared. The kids were quick to point out Alcatraz and other sites along the San Francisco skyline. They are such a smart bunch it amazes us every day! Then, we surprised the kids with a spontaneous stop to the famous In-N-Out for lunch. Bellies full of double cheeseburgers and chocolate milkshakes, we stumbled out of the restaurant and headed into the town of Sausalito to explore. Everyone made sure to buy as many t-shirts and souvenirs as possible so to never forget their time in Northern California.

Currently, we are driving south along the Pacific Coast, amazed at the beautiful big waves we soon will be surfing! We are so grateful for such a great group of kids and are making sure to live up these last few days with them!

Annabel, Lauren, Tommy


Dancing Our Way Through California!

June 20, 2019

Hey, us again!

 

We are driving out of Yosemite right now and our hearts (and bellies) couldn’t be more full. These last few days of the trip have made us so much closer and so much sadder to think about leaving each other. We left Lake Tahoe and drove to our new campsite near Yosemite, and after a long drive, the kids decided it was time to open the mystery box! The mystery box is something us leaders wrapped up for them to decide to open whenever they thought the moment was right, and since they correctly assumed that it must be some sort of candy, they all decided to open it before the car ride ahead of us. We blasted the Greatest Showman soundtrack and sang at the top of our lungs as the sun set behind the mountains we drove past. That drive with them was actually so much fun, and it’s those little, unexpected things that make this group so special!

The next morning we slept in a little bit and cook crew made the group’s favorite breakfast to date: crepes! It was such a wonderful day. We were able to pick a trail for the morning to explore with the help of Michael’s enthusiasm for using the paper map over our GPS. Dillon was quick to scope out the somewhat hidden trailhead, and LODs Madison and Liv were incredible leaders during the hike, setting the pace and always ensuring we moved as a group. After a short hike with a surprisingly beautiful waterfall view, we hopped back into Jackie Chan the Big White Van and headed for a nearby lake, that the locals actually consider “mini Lake Tahoe,” to eat lunch and go for a swim. Fearless Nan was first to get in the water, encouraging the rest of the group to live in that moment with her.

The hot day called for an ice cream stop, obviously, so we headed to a local shop after lunch an afternoon of swimming. Henry ate his orange sherbet ice cream in record time and basically clung to the freezer glass longing for more, and Kate, aka “Katorade,” wore her chocolate ice cream mustache for the rest of the night. The cook crew for the night made us a delicious Pad Thai dish, which was Anabel and Baker’s first time learning to use the Coleman Backcountry Stove and they did fantastic job! Full and satisfied, everyone cuddled up on a tarp and neighboring Eno hammocks to have a family outdoor sleepover, which has now become tradition to do every night possible, soaking up every minute we can under the stars!

The next morning was our first day of rock climbing! Richard finally got his blueberry bagels he has been talking about since morning one, then we headed towards Yosemite for the first time. The first view of the rocks smacked us in the face as we drove out of a tunnel. It was the most magnificent thing any of us have ever seen! Our guides Greg and Miranda got us settled into our climbing shoes, harnesses, and helmets for two days of climbing, and we were immediately able to name William, Kate, and Henry “rock scramblers.” They each did every route, and with such ease and speed it was amazing to watch!

The night before rock climbing, at Moonup, the LODs asked “What is the most exciting or interesting thing that no one knows about you?” After the two days of rock climbing Yosemite we all later agreed that this Moondance trip experience is going to be that thing that they will look back at when they are older as that interesting and exciting thing about them. The last night of rock climbing was celebrated with a cookout: Richard-requested Takis, burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, and s’mores! We played music from the van and ate, sang, and danced for hours. We even got to meet the other Moondance California group at a neighboring campsite and initiated a heated dance battle that left everyone in fits of laughter (we were the obvious winners).

Our Moonup that night was silly and long. Kate and Dillon could not stop laughing, and ironically enough they were both named LODs for the next day together. We knew we were in for another day full of laughter and high energy!

Our last drive through the Yosemite tunnel was a breathtaking one. We were able to hike for half a day in the park one last time, and now we’re headed for our next adventure. We will miss it here so much! This trip is speeding by and we all agree that it needs to slow down. For now, and for as long as we can, we are living in this moment together, and enjoying every second of it!

 

Much love from California B,

Lauren, Annabel, Tommy


The Amazing Lake Tahoe!

June 16, 2019

Hello again!

The past few days have been filled with lots of sun and laughter! After hopping off our rafts on the American River, we quickly hit the road towards Lake Tahoe. The kids were very energetic and talkative in the car-ride, sharing stories and singing along to our new Cali playlist made up of all their favorite songs. The singing and chatter fell silent when the road suddenly opened up into a jaw-dropping view of the beautiful Lake Tahoe. The views continued to amaze us as we entered our campsite. It had amazing views of the lake in the distance and a perfect tree setup for William and Michael to set up their enos for another night of sleeping under the stars! We climbed up a nearby ridgeline and discovered a beautiful place on the rocks to watch the sunset over Lake Tahoe below. We attempted to take a moment of silence to look at the view, but this quickly fell into a fit of giggles when Richard squealed at a little bug. The LODs, Nan and Henry, found a perfect place to circle up for Moonup under the light of a full moon. The Moonup brought us leaders tears of both laughter and love as we all shared our favorite moments of the day. The “nugs” or affirmations the kids gave each other were plentiful. The kids were so animated and excited sharing one nug after another that we had to step in because we thought we would be there all night! As everyone snuggled into our tents and enos, Lauren, Tommy, and I smiled thinking about how the group is really coming together.

The next morning, Nan and I woke up early and walked up to our big rock to watch the pink sunrise over Lake Tahoe. Not much later, everyone else slowly rose from their tents with sleepyheads and joined us for a big pancake breakfast (with lots of Nutella of course). It proved to be their favorite meal yet, as most went back for seconds and even thirds. We then headed down to the lake to meet our guides for Sea Kayaking. We got there a little early and played a round of “Big Booty,”  a new favorite game for the group. Then, we hopped into our kayaks for the day! Everyone was amazed by the crystal-clear lake water, and they searched hard to find the mythical waterbabies that the guides warned us about. We stopped for lunch on a beautiful shore, enjoyed some yummy sandwiches, and took a quick walk up to a nearby waterfall. On our kayak back from lunch, we learned about osprey nests and saw a sunken shipwreck underwater, which Madison was able to capture with her impressive GoPro skills. We got back from kayaking early in the day and decided to take a quick hike down to a beach near our campsite. There, we relaxed by the water for a little bit and took in the amazing views of the mountains across the water. Then, we made our way back to the campsite on the hill, and Henry had the brilliant idea of serving apples and Nutella as an appetizer. For dinner, the cook crew prepared another amazing dinner. Dillon (Dill Pickle) amazed us with her cooking skills as she cut up some healthy veggies to hide in a very delicious pasta that everyone devoured. Liv, in a very goofy mood, rolled around laughing at literally everything there is to laugh at. This then caused the rest of the group to burst into laughs over her laughing. Then, we made our way back up to our favorite spot for one more beautiful cotton-candy sunset. As the sun went down behind the snow-peaked mountains, we enjoyed another Moonup filled with laughs. The LODs, Anabel and William, posed the question to the group: What is the weirdest, yet tastiest food combination you’ve eaten? Our favorite answers were Baker’s chicken nugget and milkshake combo and Kate’s surprising squirrel and ranch combo. We also exploded into laughs when Michael, listing three things on his bucket list, said he has always wanted to scare someone by jumping out of a ginormous, human-sized cake. After a big cinnamon roll hug, we all snuggled into another wonderful sleep in our favorite campsite yet.

In the morning the kids were extremely helpful taking down tents and offering to carry gear and food back to the van. We enjoyed some yummy oatmeal (with more Nutella) and drove back down to the lake for some stand-up paddle boarding. Anabel, Madison, and Baker proved to be pros as they balanced on the boards while showing off impressive yoga poses and backbends. We spent the whole morning paddle boarding and swimming in the cold lake water before enjoying one last lunch on Lake Tahoe!

We are now currently in the car singing along to tunes from The Greatest Showman and Moana as we make our way to Yosemite! The kids are already gasping at the unbelievable views out the van window. We can’t believe how fast the trip is going by, but we are so excited to see the kids try out rock climbing!

 

Annabel, Lauren, Tommy


Splish Splash on the American River!

June 14, 2019

Greetings from California!

 

What a crazy, amazing first few days we’ve had. Airport day was long, but it was so rewarding to be able sit down and meet all the amazing kids we get to spend these two weeks with. Henry and William were extremely helpful to all the other kids, loading up the car with everyone’s huge duffels. All of us leaders were so excited to finally have a full van with all the energy that each one of them brought. After a few hours of singing old Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber songs in the van, which the girls quickly named “Jackie Chan the Big White Van,” we arrived at our first campsite of the summer (and the kids set up their tents like seasoned pros)! At Moonup our first LODs were named: Dillon and Michael!

 

The first morning was an early one. Nan was the first one to wake up with us and took the morning to journal and look at all the turkeys that found their way towards our campsite. Michael and Dillon helped us cook our first breakfast of breakfast burritos, and then we headed out to meet our rafting guides. We were divided into three rafts: Liv, Kate, Michael, Richard, and I made up “The Dream Team”; Madison, Nan, Anabel, and leader “Tommy-boy” were on the “party boat;” and Henry, Baker, William, Dillon, and leader Annabel were the “full senders.” We got some impressive jumps from both Liv and Madison, and William, Henry, and Michael were all eager and excited to “ride the bull” on the front of the raft through rapids. The first night after rafting was a much-needed time of relaxation. Kate and the girls facilitated a crazy creek circle for us to all hang out and get to know each other in, and Anabel taught some of us her incredible bracelet making skills while Richard, Tommy-boy, and I took a much needed heat break in the shade.

 

After a very energized second Moonup, where the LODs asked us “If you were on a stranded island with only a toaster, you wished you had a million ____.” Madison very wisely answered “ways to get off the island” after a couple “Pop Tarts” and Baker’s Eggo waffle answer (the one many of us agreed with), the new LODs were assigned to Henry and Nan.

 

The last day of rafting was action-packed with 8 miles of class three rapids. We will miss our fearless guides Jonathon, Luis, and Kiki! We are now on our way to our next adventure in Lake Tahoe, and after a stop in a local ice cream shop on the way we couldn’t be more energized and excited!

 

Here are some shout-outs from the group!

 

Hey Mom and Dad,

I had a lot of fun rafting today. We are now driving to Lake Tahoe! Tell the dogs I said hi.

<3 Kate

 

Hey Mom + Dad,

I had fun rafting! I miss y’all, and tell the animals I miss them!

Baker

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

Rafting was so much fun. I love you and I miss you. The water was so cold and I got in a ton of times.

  • Henry

 

Dear Mom, Dad, and Pip;

I am having so much fun here. I have made so many friends and memories already. Please give Wally a hug for me. I love y’all so much!

<3 Nan

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am having so much fun! Tell Mallie I miss her! We went whitewater rafting and the water was 42 degrees and I got in multiple times, I am so proud of myself.

  • Dillon

 

Hey Mom & Dad,

I’m having lots of fun! We whitewater rafted and it was really fun.

Love and miss you

<3 Liv

 

Dear homies,

I am having fun and rafting was great. I kept my feet up lol. BTW I’m a ring bearer in a wedding lol

Love, Madison

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

I really miss you but I’m making lots of friends here.

Love, William

 

Hey Mom and Dad! It is sooo pretty here and we had a great two days rafting! Tell Florence I say hi. Love y’all and miss y’all.

  • Anabel

 

Dear Mom,

I am having fun and making lots of friends, I love you!

  • Richard

 

Yo Fam,

So far it has been great! Henry and Liv are getting fake married and I’m the best man! Rafting was a blast, I miss you guys and the pups!

  • Michael

 

We can’t believe the first section of the trip is already over!

Lauren, Tommy, and Annabel


Safe Arrival in San Francisco

June 12, 2019

Hi California Families,

This California group has all landed in San Francisco and this trip has officially kicked off.

More to come!

-Moondance HQ


Students

  • Anabel
  • Baker
  • Dillon
  • Henry
  • Kate
  • Liv
  • Madison
  • Michael
  • Nan
  • Richard
  • William

Staff