July 12, 2019
Why oh why are these trips so short?
It pains me to type out this final trip update from our awesome crew, but unfortunately time flies when you’re having a ball and not worrying about the time. I would like to start this update by firstly thanking all the amazing kids we got the pleasure of knowing and all their parents for sharing them with us these past two weeks. This trip would not have had its flare and excitement without them being a part of our grand adventure across this breathtaking state. From the highest peaks of Lake Tahoe to the sand shores of Half Moon Bay, we giggled, we sang, we reminisced, and we loved each other’s company each step of the way. This trip truly was the trip of a lifetime because of these marvelous young adults.
From our hike across the Golden Gate Bridge, we traveled to our last campsite right on the beach. As soon as the tents were put up, only after a long jam sesh in the van of course, Josh and Izzy excitedly gathered everyone together to hit the beach and play by the ocean. Josh, Smith, James, Thatcher and Izzy played “Run Away From the Wave” on the slope of the beach, while the rest of the gang enjoyed Cheez-Its and took in some hot California sun rays.
The first day of surfing was then finally among us! All the kids agreed that this was the activity they were most looking forward too, and it definitely met their expectations. Our guides were amazing and made sure every single one of us learned to ride a wave. Everyone did so great, they were so impressed! They especially loved Smith’s humor and Izzy and Ellen’s knowledge of the sport. That afternoon we decided to skip the packed lunches that everyone kept telling us they were extremely sick of (warning do not feed them sandwiches for a couple of weeks) and pulled out the old Coleman Backcountry Stove for some beach side quesadillas. Anna and Riley enthusiastically volunteered to make everyone a personalized dilla, but yet, what would ya know, more than half of the group begged us to get out sandwich stuff! After enjoying a long and relaxed lunch, the kids were able to take the afternoon to reflect on the trip. Anna and Riley, and also Smith and Matthew, even opted out of this alone time and insisted that they stay together and not be separated until they had to! That night we did our favorite thing to do as leaders with the kids: Iron Chef! We divided the kids into two teams and had a cooking competition, with the secret and necessary ingredient of chickpeas. We even had to separate our all-star cook crew members Izzy and Matthew into separate teams to make it more fair. The meals were judged on a few aspects, including taste, presentation, aroma, kitchen cleanliness, and entertainment (our favorite). Thatcher brought on the entertainment for his group by showing us a magic trick and dealing us a few games of Blackjack, while Matthew and Smith performed a little something for us on the guitar. James even took it to the next level by filling up our water bottles and offering to wait on our every need. After devouring two DELICIOUS meals by both teams, we had to go with team “Taco Seasoning,” mostly because of Josh’s amazing guacamole appetizer and homemade chips. The winning team won a serious sugar rush thanks to sour patch kids and soda, which Ellen has been craving since day one! We of course couldn’t stop there, so we made sure everyone was rewarded for their hard work with a homemade cookie in a skillet.
The next morning, we had our second day of surfing, and wow they were already pros after one day, it was crazy! Everyone was invited to paddle out further, and one by one they tackled every wave. Before surfing, we took a little trip to a local thrift shop to do a little shopping for our Banquet dinner that night. Thatcher found the most perfect shirt that had his nickname from the trip on it, Josh found a leather jacket to match Smith’s swag, and the girls all got Hawaiian shirts and shell necklaces to match for the night. After the long day of surfing, our bellies were definitely in need of some Mexican food, and we went big that’s for sure! Lily showed us all up though with her humongous smothered burrito she ate! After filling our bellies to the brim, our appetites weren’t finished yet as we blasted music to the Baskin Robbins down the street. That night we shared such a special last Moonup. Eva Rose sang a beautiful song with Thatcher playing harmonica and Annabel playing her guitar in the background, the whole group was speechless.
We’re sitting in the airport now and we are already feeling so lonely just sitting here without everyone around us. We will miss everyone so much and never forget the memories and the adventures we all shared this incredible two weeks in California.
With so much love from your leaders,
Lauren, Tommy, and Annabel
July 10, 2019
Alluring California! How Could You Be So Divine!
Hello to all again! With only so few days left on our trip, the group is already feeling the timer start to tick before we unfortunately have to leave this beautiful state. Thatcher and Josh have already started brainstorming ideas to convince their parents to stay longer by pooling their money for a hotel room in San Francisco and exploring more of what California has to offer.
Our journey to Point Reyes was an entertaining one. After playing a couple rounds of the alphabet game, Izzy had the heartwarming idea to give out positive affirmations to each other. Everyone went around giving amazing compliments to one another. They were all talking over the other to get out what they wanted to say. It was so amazing to listen to! When we arrived at our new campsite, we all enjoyed our favorite appetizer so far, chips and queso, and treated ourselves to a shower. Finally! We made a wonderful dinner of personal pizzas on pita bread. The appetite on this group has amazed us to say the least! LODs Lily and Thatcher asked the group at Moonup what everyone’s favorite part of the trip was so far, and boy did we all feel the end coming way too fast after that.
The next day was probably our favorite to date. We woke them up with our “good morning” playlist blasting on the speaker and got our day off to an exhilarating start. After a long family breakfast, we set out for the beach! We walked about two miles on a beach path in Point Reyes. Matthew couldn’t believe how beautiful it was, and he pointed out exactly where on the rolling hills he wanted to build his future house. Suddenly, the fog cleared and before our eyes was the most beautiful, untouched shoreline. Josh, James, Matthew, Izzy, and Annabel ventured down the beach and found a seal flipping around in the waves. Curious of its audience, the friendly seal came up to the sand and followed them as they walked along the shore. They then stumbled upon a giant crab scurrying in and out of the water. Unfortunately, it was quickly snatched up by a seagull they named Frederick. They quickly ran back to the rest of the group to tell them about the incredible animal encounters. Everyone then enjoyed a wonderful picnic lunch. Some played soccer and others napped. Josh was the only one brave enough to jump into the cold ocean water. Smith, on the other hand, decided to bury his whole body under the sand to keep warm. Even after hours on the sand, we all were very reluctant to leave our secret beach haven. We made our way back up the path with the help of some killer tunes coming from the speaker. Then, we stopped at a nearby town for homemade ice cream cones. Amped up on sugar, Riley and Anna showed off some wild dance moves in the van-ride back. At the campsite, everyone played an intense game of volleyball. We then enjoyed a yummy curry dinner and finished it off with some PBJs for dessert. Once again, we love this group’s appetite! During Moonup led by Ellen and James, we went around listing three things we cannot live without and every single person said their family (shoutout to y’all!). Then Eva Rose capped off the night with a small song for us. The kids moved all their tents right up next to each other so they could all talk before falling asleep.
Our last morning in Point Reyes was upon us, and we drove away blasting all our trip favorites. We stopped in town to pick up some trinkets and candies from an old-fashioned toy shop. Matthew couldn’t contain his excitement. Izzy bought an Açaí Bowl that she has been dreaming about all trip at a local juice place down the street. We also explored a cool surf shop. When we got to San Francisco, we hopped out of the van and walked across the foggy Golden Gate Bridge. Ellen led us in sing along songs across the whole bridge. We also had a little surprise in store for them after the hike. We took them to a historical and scenic place on the coast for a picnic lunch that everyone loved exploring, especially Thatcher! After a short drive along the beautiful Pacific coast, we have made it to our final campsite 🙁
Although we are so excited for surfing, we are all sentimental already. Don’t make us send them back!
Lauren, Annabel, Tommy
July 7, 2019
Cali B back again to update y’all on our AMAZING last four days in California!
When we arrived at our new campsite, just outside of Yosemite, we were immediately amazed by the 360 views that surrounded us. We were also occupied by the amount of deer and wildlife that we were about to be able to live with and next to these next few days. It is absolutely beautiful here, it just might be our new favorite! We also drove into another surprise that surely excited all of us when we saw the other Moondance California groups! Dressed to the nines in our new getup from our old mountain town visit and blasting Smith’s favorite sing along song “Stacey’s Mom,” Cali B made a name for ourselves and arrived in style!
It was clear to see just how much everyone has grown that first night. James and Thatcher proved to us and themselves what great campers they were when they set up their tent in under five minutes, and then continued to offer their help to everyone else. After set up, we took advantage of “golden hour” and had a laughter-filled photoshoot in our silly outfits. Thanks to Matthew, I was able to rock his new stuffed animal snake as a scarf for all the pictures! As the sun went down over the snow-covered mountains in the distance, the chill began to set in. But we did not fear because Izzy surprised the group and made us a fire with amazing skill! That night we gathered around the fire for our agreed upon favorite Moonup yet, with LODs Josh and Lily leading the group.
Happy Fourth of July! We woke up to the sun the morning of the fourth and had such a slow and relaxing morning. We specifically listened to USA themed music as we ate pancakes and learned the art of bracelet making from Ellen, who graciously let every single person use the string she brought. Thatcher and I chose Panther’s colors of course, meanwhile Smith made a point to make his bracelet Falcon’s colors. Riley made a point to tell us how content she felt just sitting there with all of us talking and enjoying the company of so many great people. We all completely agreed. On our way to our hike for the day, we surprised them with loads of America themed props and decorations to ensure we looked as tacky as we could on this Fourth of July! After entering Yosemite, we hiked up to the most beautiful, untouched alpine lake, but before the hike we enjoyed a picnic on a giant rock that the kids loved exploring. They walked up so high on the rock that they could almost reach the point where rock climbers were starting to climb! The view was impeccable. That night we celebrated the night right, cooking up burgers and devouring watermelon alongside our new friends from the other California groups! To top off such a great day, we treated ourselves with everyone’s favorite, s’mores!! With extremely full bellies, we sat together before going to bed under the star covered night sky as it opened up all around us.
Just like that our new activity rock climbing was quickly here! We walked up to such a cool overlook as our guides set up multiple climbing routes. Everyone tried, and exceeded in rock climbing! Lily, James, and Izzy really took advantage of this opportunity to climb in Yosemite and climbed EVERY SINGLE ROUTE! I swear we would look away for one second and they would already be at the top of the rock. Shout out to Thatcher in particular for facing his biggest fear and successfully reaching the top of one of the highest routes! Everyone was so excited to watch him do this and cheer him on in celebration when he got down. We then headed to a local gift shop to get some souvenirs from our three days in Yosemite and fresh, sweet cherries at a local booth. Izzy bought herself the cutest bear onesie that she is still rocking right now a day later! With tired and sore muscles, we took the second afternoon after climbing to swim and pass the football at another beautiful lake. We also played some games, Haybarn being an easy crowd favorite. Ellen and Riley went head-to-head in a “veggie off” where they had to compete to see who could act the most like a sassy asparagus. It had everyone in such a fit of laughter, we couldn’t even pick a winner. A heated soccer match also broke out between the boys vs. the girls (the girls won!). For dinner, Izzy and Lily made the group the most delicious stir-fry we have ever had! They used their amazing creativity to throw together a stir-fry sauce with coconut milk, soy sauce, sriracha, and peanut butter. Josh one-uped all of us though when he covered his entire plate in sriracha and impressively finished it all. After dinner, we noticed something beautiful past the trees and ran up the hill to discover the burning red sunset in the sky in front of us, taking it in together in silence.
This morning we enjoyed another amazing breakfast. SO much bacon and avocado, such delicacies when it comes to camping! Anna was one of few to take advantage of the avocado and made a mouth-watering breakfast bagel. Eva Rose had also shared with us her interest in astrology, so we all went around and read our horoscopes for the day. Whether we believe in their truth or not, they sure were entertaining to read about each other!
We are now headed to Point Reyes, and with a stop in California’s Capital Sacramento and In-n-out planned, they couldn’t be more excited! The group has bonded so much since the first day in Yosemite and just half way through, we can’t imagine how close we’ll all feel after the rest of the trip.
Ta-ta for now!
Lauren, Annabel, Tommy
July 3, 2019
California B coming to you live on the road towards Yosemite! We just had the most amazing few days on Lake Tahoe. Us leaders are amazed at how quickly our group has become a close family.
No one could hold in their excitement as the winding roads opened up onto a beautiful view of Lake Tahoe surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Once we pulled into our campsite, everyone quickly hopped out of the van to claim a good tree to hang up their Eno hammocks. Not wanting to be apart, we were somehow able to crisscross about eight of them on four neighboring trees. We spent the next hour talking and laughing uncontrollably in our Eno setup. The cook crew (Izzy, Anna, and Smith) showed us their insane cooking skills as they prepared an amazing taco dinner. It was so tasty that everyone went up for seconds, and we even whipped up some post-dinner quesadillas to satisfy their astonishingly large appetites. That night, we circled together for another great Moonup led by the LODs, Izzy and Thatcher. We went around the circle describing what makes us feel most alive. Our hearts melted when Matthew and Anna said being with friends and family, not having to worrying about anything but the present moment. We all agreed that being with each other these last few days has definitely made us feel that way. Hearts and bellies full, we all snuggled into our Enos under the tall pine trees for a long slumber.
The next morning we woke up and made an amazing breakfast called “Davis Wraps.” Each kid personalized and grilled their own tortilla with peanut butter, Nutella, honey, granola, and bananas. Josh said they were the best things he’s ever had! Later, we hopped into our kayaks and paddled off onto the beautiful crystal-clear lake water. The guides explained to us the reason behind the remarkable depths and clarity of Lake Tahoe. They also pointed out nearby Osprey nests and waterfalls in the surrounding mountains. We stopped for a picnic lunch on a nearby beach and finished our day of kayaking with a very competitive race. Matthew and Josh came in first with James and Smith in a quick second place. After getting back to the campsite, we hiked along the ridgeline down to the beach. Riley and Lily couldn’t get over how beautiful the blue water looked from above. Once we got down to the beach, everyone immediately jumped into it for a refreshing swim. We then walked back up to the campsite for some well-deserved showers. As we snacked on chips and salsa, Anna entertained the group by teaching an inchworm how to do tricks. Izzy pointed out the mesmerizing, but slightly discomforting, pattern of bark on the trees. For dinner, Thatcher, James, and Ellen made a killer pasta which everyone LOVED. It was truly delicious. With very full bellies, we walked up to a beautiful lookout spot where we sat and watched the sun set over Lake Tahoe in the distance. We huddled together, keeping warm from the wind, as the sky turned from blue to orange to pink. LODs Eva Rose and Matthew led Moonup that night. We were all full of smiles as we shared the happiest moment of our lives so far. Then, we climbed back down to our tents and fell into another deep sleep.
We had trouble getting out of our cozy, warm sleeping bags the next morning. Finally, we stumbled out and made a yummy breakfast of egg, ham, and cheese sandwiches. We spent the whole morning on the lake stand up paddle boarding and then ate another great lunch on the beach. We stopped for some insane ice cream sandwiches to cap off our time in Lake Tahoe. We are now headed to Yosemite! On the way, we just happened to stumble upon a wild, old mountain town and spontaneously stopped to explore the local market! Let’s just say we got back into the van again with some crazy things including fourteen matching pinky rings, a stuffed-animal snake, raccoon socks, and an old leather biking jacket.
We can’t even describe how much love we have for this group! The trip is flying by a little too fast, but we are SO excited to see them kill it on the rock walls in Yosemite! Until next time, Annabel, Lauren, Tommy
Hi Momi and Popi! I miss y’all and love y’all so much. We have rafted and kayaked and paddle boarded in Lake Tahoe. We are in the car right now going to Yosemite. I am having a TON of fun! Tell Oli that I miss him. -Eva Rose
Hi Mom and Dad! Miss y’all so much and I hope I don’t miss much at home. I’m excited for July 4th and will be thinking about y’all. Tell Brody and Jaden I’m looking forward to hang with them. Love you -Josh
Love u Dad mom say hi to all the cats. -Matthew (Hale)
Love u mom and dad. Miss you! Say hi to all the dogs! -Thatcher
Hello mom and dad! I am having so much fun and making new friends. Our counselors are so fun! Thank you for sending me to camp. I’m very grateful! Love you! -Riley
Love you mom and dad and I miss you guys so much! I’m having so much fun here! Love, Lily <3
Hey fam! Miss you guys. Kinda miss David’s airplane talks, but tell Lily I miss her. Love you! -Anna
Hi y’all I miss Duke and Cali is fun -Smith
Hey Muminkska and papa! I am having so much fun in Cali. It is so pretty. Thank you guys so much for sending me here because this is the most fun I have ever had and California is sooo pretty. Love and miss y’all and can’t wait to see y’all. -Izzy
Miss and love you mom and dad. I am having lots of fun! tell Bee, Ginger, Blue I miss them! -Ellen
Hey Mama and Dad I miss you so much. This has been a great time. Tell Carter Crow I said hi broski! -James
July 3, 2019
These past three days have flown by already. Time really does fly by when you’re having fun and this group is SO MUCH FUN. From night one the kids meshed together so well, we seriously already feel like a family. Arrival day can be very overwhelming, but you wouldn’t ever be able to tell by looking at them. The rafting guides were even stunned when we told them it was our first day together! Leaving the airport, we also noticed just how mature they were, individually and as a group. James constantly offered his help to everyone walking their big duffels from baggage claim, even kids in the other California groups. And after a long, tiring day of traveling, they all set up their tents like pros, without asking for help and just working together after we demonstrated how to do it. We kicked off the first night after that with pizza and a tarp sleepover under the stars!
We celebrated our first morning with pancakes. SO MANY PANCAKES. Izzy, Anna, and Smith were first up for cook crew after telling us how much they loved to cook. Before pancakes, Josh told us he actually woke up an hour before everyone and did some meditation, something we all decided we wanted to try as a group! LODs for our first day of rafting were James and Riley, and they successfully pumped us up for the day with a quote and “WOW moment” of how clear and bright the stars were in the night sky the first night. Once at the rafting center, Kiki and Mikey, our guides for the next two days, divided us into teams and we hit the water. The American River is so beautiful! Us leaders surprised the kids with water guns and I swear we spent more time shooting each other with river water than paddling in it (Sorry Kiki and Mikey). After a scenic lunch spread on the side of the river, our glorious guides introduced us to the cookie challenge. I can’t wait for all the parents to see the pictures I got of this! Ellen, Matthew, and Izzy successfully got the peanut butter covered cookie from their forehead to their mouth without their hands, and Eva Rose was the sole person to be able to get the cookie in their mouth using jelly. Her face and many others were completely covered in PB and J the rest of the rafting day! That afternoon before dinner was incredibly relaxing. Annabel brought out her guitar and Eva Rose helped her tune it so we could all try to learn to play a little, Anna and Riley joined me in a little yoga sesh, and Izzy, Ellen, James, and Thatcher made a DIY fishing rod with string and can pieces. That night we devoured the delicious steak and pasta the guides prepared for us, and had brownies to top it off! After a great Moonup led by our awesome LODs, they named the new LODs for the next day, Izzy and Thatcher!
Our next morning we woke up to the smell of hot chocolate and COFFEE. Everyone was so ready to eat that they cleaned the campsite and took down tents so quickly and well as a team, we were seriously amazed. Fueling up for the day was important because we were soon back out on the American River, but with even more and harder rapids this time! Lily, Anna, and Riley all got turns “riding the bull” at the front of the raft through some rapids, and Smith got to sit in the back and learn all about steering and controlling a raft. Thatcher, who has rocked Annabel’s yellow sunglasses all day these past two days, showed us all how to make the perfect PB&J. We all practiced for longer than we are proud of and definitely mastered it, and man were we full! It was so worth it though because we all got to experience Josh’s first time trying a PB&J sandwich (he loved it of course because how could you not with Thatcher’s skills). The rest of the rafting for the day was so relaxing, we all got to lay back and get some tan time in. We are sad to say that we are finished rafting and are already heading to our next adventure. But the sadness quickly faded when we stopped at a local ice cream shop on our beautiful drive through Lake Tahoe roads! We are now definitely a little sugared up and extremely excited for what lies ahead these next couple of days on the lake.
We are having so much fun and just wanted to really thank you parents for sending all these amazing kids to come hang out with us for these two weeks, they already mean the world to us!
Lauren, Annabel, and Tommy
June 29, 2019
Hi California Families!
The group has arrived in San Francisco and is off on their adventure! We are so excited for them to explore the Golden State! Stay tuned for more on their adventures.