July 29, 2019
We are writing to you with tears in our eyes as our California journey has come to a close. It has been such an indescribable journey, and we feel so grateful to have shared these past two weeks with the most special group we could ask for. But first, let’s rewind to our last couple of days together!
After our great final morning on Lake Tahoe, we hit the road to our final destination and a campsite favorite – half moon bay! On our final long van ride together, we played all of our favorite jams and sang as loud as we could to the lyrics of our trip’s theme songs. In true CAL C fashion, we made a couple of stops along the way, including the thrift store! The kids pranced down the halls, scouring for the most hilarious combination of clothes and accessories. Some runway favorites were Carson’s glittery heels, Leela’s kids fish floaty and Hawaiian theme, Andy’s massive shoes, and Henry’s outfit complete from head to toe. Maddie snuck away to Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries for our last cooking night together, and she and George surprised the kids with a hibachi-style dinner full of chicken fried rice, sautéed steak and shrimp, teriyaki vegetables, pork pot stickers, and “yum yum” sauce! We all feasted together in our family-style circle at our campsite, ending the meal with our favorite treat – Oreos! With our tummies filled to the brim, we were energized to switch into organization-mode by cleaning the van, uhaul, tents, and supplies. Morgan, Elisabeth, and Leela were the organization queens, doing an impeccable job and having so much fun while doing so, leaving us with the most spotless van we had ever seen! We ended the evening with Moonup on our favorite beach spot where LODs Charlie and Henry invited us to answer our most hilarious question yet, and we left the beach with the infinite echoes of our laughter.
We began our final activity-packed day together with fuel from a delicious leader-led breakfast by George and Maddie, thanking the kids for all of their hard work over the past two weeks and giving them a well deserved break from cook crew! After a banging meal of scrambled and fried eggs, sausage, fruit, and blueberry muffins (shout-out to Mr. Clean!), we finished up the rest of our cleaning and organizing and were ready to spend as much time as possible together. Our adventurous kids decided that they hadn’t seen enough of California and unanimously opted to take a trip down the pacific coast highway and find a great beach to explore, which is exactly what we did! We ended up passing a beautiful mountainous trail on the road, so we took a quick pit stop to take in the stunning scenery at the top. We then spent the afternoon hanging out on Monterrey State Beach, where Ian made everyone cry laughing, Bella and Sophie bravely got into the chilly water, and Jake, Holt, and Charlie took a beach jog down the coast.
We then voted on our banquet meal with the winner being Italian by a landslide! On our drive back to Pacifica, we stopped in Santa Cruz to enjoy a special dinner filled with a variety of pastas, vegetables, garlic bread, and pizza! We spent the night laughing at “Doctor” Jake, Henry, and Charlie’s pizza dough masterpieces, Morgan and Elisabeth’s synopsis of their favorite TV shows and mermaid phase, and Spike’s (our stuffed animal hedgehog) majestical photo shoot. Of course, we ended the night with ice cream, walking through downtown Santa Cruz for the best spot, giggling with our cones with smiles (and ice cream!) plastered on our faces. As tradition has it, George and Maddie presented the kids with “paper plate” awards, giving out superlatives that matched all of the incredible personalities we have gotten to know the past 2 weeks. After arriving back at half moon bay, Elisabeth and Bella led our final Moonup together, where we gave out our last nugs of the session and talked about what we learned from the trip and how we would apply it to our lives back home. Maddie closed with a passage about happiness and gratitude, and George said some final words on how proud we are of this group, encouraging them to take what they have learned about themselves, others, and the world around them and carry those feelings with them back home. When we all rose to get into a big group hug, we knew how hard it would be to say goodbye. Charlie even said he was already having withdrawals from his friends that he made!
We all slept in a big circle outside for one last night under the stars together, giggling and tearing up while reminiscing on some of our most memorable experiences with one another. This final trip has been indescribably special to us. This group helped us learn so much about ourselves and each other, and we were pushed to become our truest and best selves. We feel so proud and humbled we are to have had them on this journey with us. Watching these kids flourish with laughter, encouragement, friendship, and personal growth has been such an honor to be a part of, and we could not be more thankful to have been touched by such a phenomenal group of kids. We know that they will all do such incredible things in the future, and cannot wait to see where their next journey lays.
Again, thank you so much for sharing your exceptional kids with us for the past two weeks. We wish this trip was infinitely longer, but we are filled to the brim with gratitude for getting to know their impeccable personalities. They are truly so special and we feel so lucky to have had them impact our lives! We wish you all a great rest of the summer and look forward to keeping in touch!
With so much love,
Maddie + George
July 28, 2019
Hello from the sunny shores of Lake Tahoe!!
We are coming off possibly the best two days of the trip and have all fallen in love with this beautiful place! Our adventures began by taking a surprise stop on our way out of Yosemite. We drove to Wild Willy’s Hot Springs in the morning to warm us up before the sun’s rays were too strong. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, we knew this place would be special as we were greeted by a friendly face! Kyle, an eight-time Moondance Leader, happened to be there and ran up to the van telling us about his time with Moondance. He even led the California trip a long, long time ago when the trip was offered for the first time! Kyle offered advice on his favorite hot spring in the area before he went on his way. This chance encounter showed how strong the Moondance family is as went bumped into him over 2,000 miles from our base in Nashville, and we truly felt this presence. We began our short hike to the springs and were stunned by the views when we arrived. There was almost a 360-degree view of mountains surrounding us, many still capped with snow. The hot water was so soothing and the views were so breathtaking that Andy hung back by the springs with Maddie to appreciate everything a little longer after the rest of the group had already hiked back to the van. Then, we loaded up the van and headed out for Lake Tahoe!
After the last night’s cookout, the group wanted to further test their newfound cooking abilities. We decided this would be a great time to do an Iron Chef competition, and after a grocery store stop in Tahoe to buy ingredients, hilarity ensued. The two teams of six wined and dined, and razzled and dazzled the two judges: Maddie and George! Elisabeth kicked off the festivities serving Shirley Temples with pineapple juice, while her teammates Charlie and Sophie prepared edamame and pot stickers as appetizers. Other highlights included Henry’s taxi driver skit turned into an impromptu “carpool karaoke”, Leela’s curry dish, Carson’s lemon pepper chicken with asparagus and Ian’s world famous garlic mashed potatoes. One of the groups had a cake ready as dessert, and went exactly as you would expect…ending with a cake fight and lots of icing in Maddie and George’s faces! After cleaning up, our LODs, Bella and Elisabeth, led a very thoughtful Moonup starting by asking “What piece of advice would you give to someone?” and ending by everyone going around saying funny stories and nice things about the person next to them. It is apparent that this group has grown so close together in the past few days, as the “nug jug” time where we shout-out others for doing something nice that day has gotten longer and longer each night. Afterwards, we retreated to our tents with our stuffed cake-bellies and got some much-needed sleep!!
Our next day in Tahoe was so perfect, it is difficult to put into words. We started the morning completely hyped up for kayaking after driving down the perimeter of the stunning lake. Once we arrived in Emerald Bay, we took advantage of the cozy cove and began our kayaking adventure, enveloped by the mountainous views that surrounded us. The guides explained a ton of things lake’s history to us, and even included a detailed story of Tahoe Tessie, the lake’s most feared creature! Luckily, we didn’t have any encounters with the beast. We paddled up to the island in the middle of the bay and got to explore the old tea house where the iron chef judges, Maddie and George, came up with a winner from the previous night – team Asian Fun Time! They excitedly celebrated and as their prize, got to pick out a treat at our next food stop. On the way back to shore, Holt’s boat surged ahead and won the kayak race! The kayaking guides even took the time to come up to us and tell us what a great group we have – it was such a nice complement and we couldn’t agree more!
After kayaking, we began our adventure for our 3-part surprise for the kids! For the first stop, we drove up the north side coast of the lake to one of the most special places we’ve ever been to – Bonsai rock! When we first arrived, all of our jaws dropped in awe. We were greeted by an insanely cool rock formation in the lake, surrounded by the clearest light blue water – we felt like we were in a tropical paradise! We excitedly hiked down and immediately hopped into the inviting water, swimming and climbing from rock to rock. We were incredibly proud and impressed by the group’s caution and intuitive nature as they checked themselves and their friends to make sure they were being safe while having fun. We saw incredible teamwork and support fold before our eyes as they explored everything the rocks and water had to offer, and spent hours swimming, jumping, and laughing, all the while taking in the exceptional beauty that surrounded us. Charlie and Jake found an awesome cave in the rock’s formation, and Leela’s fish floaty became the best accessory in the water.
As we sadly said goodbye to the greatest discovery, Maddie and George hyped the group up for stop number 2: In-N-Out for dinner! We headed into neighboring Carson City (after attempting to find a T-shirt for our sweet Carson!) and pulled in with growling stomachs and excitement for our local food stop. Everyone chowed down on burgers, fries, and creamy milkshakes, putting us in a total food coma. Charlie complemented the burgers, but his heart still lays with Big Macs! After rolling back to the van, we took a short drive to stop number 3, Cave Rock! We had been planning to go back to Bonsai for sunset, but our awesome kayak guide suggested this to us instead – and boy, was it worth it! We got one of the very limited parking spots, and knew it was fate to conclude our perfect day. We hiked up to an insanely cool rock formation directly overlooking the entire lake. After Holt took some great sunset pics, we all sat on top of the rocks and absorbed the beautiful sight in front of us. We had an entire panoramic view of the calm lake and the sun setting, tucking itself behind the mountains. Andy told us a beautiful saying that his Grandmother had passed along to him, and we silently took in the sight before us. In our walk back, we all pretended to take a mental picture of the sunset and how we felt in that moment to remind ourselves of it forever. At Moonup, Morgan and Ian asked us what our favorite part of the trip was, and a ton of answers included something from today. George and Maddie even agreed that it was their favorite day of the entire summer.
The next morning we packed up our campsite in Tahoe, sad to be leaving but excited for our egg breakfast and for paddle-boarding! The guides warned us of cold water, but they didn’t know that we were on a lucky streak! The water ended up being cool on a warm, sunny day and so refreshing! Leela was as brave as ever and the first one to test the waters, letting us know how great it felt. Then, the group began pushing each other in the water in the most polite way we’ve ever seen: always asking for the others consent before trying to flip their board! Ian treacherously circled the group and you knew you were going to get wet whenever he approached! Bella, Morgan, and Sophie took the relaxing route and tanned on their boards, while Holt showed off his headstand abilities. Charlie hilariously “kidnapped” everyone napping and tied their boards to his as he proudly paddled off with his unknowing prisoners. It was such a blast, and afterwards we were ready to hit the road to our final destination.
We are so impressed with this group and proud of how much they’ve accomplished. They have grown exponentially as individuals and as a group, and it has been so awesome to witness how they value one another and support each other in everything they do. It tears our hearts to think that we will be apart in just a few days; the closeness of a group like this is so rare to find and we are so grateful to have been a part of that. We can’t believe that we’re headed towards our final leg of the trip, but are so excited to return back to Half Moon Bay and continue our adventure and tell y’all all about it!
George & Maddie
July 26, 2019
We’ve just come off such a high from four incredible days in Yosemite National Park! When we arrived at our beautiful campsite, Oh Ridge, we were welcomed by a stunning sunset as the backdrop for our delicious southwestern Mac and cheese dinner made by Sophie, Andy, and Leela with a side of a tuna salad (don’t worry, it was just chicken much to the group’s delight!) At Moonup led by Carson and Andy, they revealed that the group had used their sleuthing skills to find out the mystery of Maddie’s “omphalophobia” (we’ll save you the Google and tell you it’s a fear of bellybuttons). After many laughs, we snuggled into our sleeping bags for a great night’s sleep.
The next morning, we had an awesome treat – sleeping in! Our cook crew arose with excitement as George had a great vision in mind – to make the perfect Davis Wraps! For those of you who don’t know, Davis Wraps are a Moondance delicacy – tortillas loaded with peanut butter, Nutella, peaches, berries, bananas, granola, honey, and cinnamon, all folded into a burrito and toasted perfectly on the griddle. Bella and Holt took everyone’s orders and loaded up the toppings while Henry fired them up, pretending they were working at Chipotle. Several kids said it was the best thing they had ever eaten (so add them to the breakfast rotation parents!!)
We then set off into the valley for a beautiful day of hiking. The steep incline of Dog Lake Trail brought us to a stunning view of the lake, where we sat by the water and chowed down on sandwiches, hummus, and loads of grapes. Charlie’s excitement for hiking kept morale high, and everyone pushed on through and had a blast on the trail! Bella and Sophie thrived as the group’s photographers, capturing special moments of beautiful scenery and fun group pictures. Our LODs, Leela and Ian, read the group well and knew exactly what they needed after a successful day of hiking – milkshakes! On our return to the campsite, we stopped at the local cafe for some yummy cold cookies and cream milkshakes – the perfect treat for the day! For the rest of the evening, we got to hang out with another Cali group by the beautiful June Lake, relaxing on the beach, throwing the football, and making tons of fun bracelets, all the while having some awesome and memorable conversations with one another.
On dinner crew, Ian was our expert chef and gave us some awesome tips for our personal pita pizzas, while Elisabeth was the pizza topping queen and Jake made some delicious grilled veggies on the side. And for our grand finale, George made his famous “bear s’mores” – giant fluffy marshmallows, countless Hershey’s chocolate bars, and graham crackers for sprinkling and dipping all goo-ed up in a skillet made for the perfect camping dessert! Under an impeccable sunset, Andy was the photographer of the night and captured some insane sunset pics, while also becoming the star subject of a few pictures dipping graham crackers into the bear s’mores. At Moonup, LODs Leela and Ian ask us all about something weird that we do that no one knows about. Answers included strange sleeping rituals, walking on cracks evenly, online shopping and not buying anything, and singing in the shower! To end such a rest day, we all laid on our backs, taking a moment of reflection while looking up at the star-filled sky.
After. A great night’s sleep, we woke up excited to head into Yosemite for the second day, this time to go climbing in Tuolomne Meadows! Much to our group’s delight, our boulder of the day was called Puppy Dome! As LOD, Holt was going absolutely wild, getting everyone so pumped and excited to climb and passing our high fives all around. After the outfitters taught us the ins and outs of climbing and all the safety protocols, Bella was the first one to bravely climb and made it all the way to the top! Elisabeth showed off her skills when she tied the figure 8 knot by herself before the instructor could finish explaining how, and Morgan and Leela were the belaying experts. Charlie and Ian crushed their climbs, conquering their fear of heights. We were so proud of how each of the kids carried themselves up on the rock, motivating one another and watching their self-confidence flourish.
Due to an afternoon rainstorm (our first one of the entire summer!), we pushed our cookout dinner to the next night but enjoyed a burrito feast with one another for dinner. Sophie opened Moonup with an awesome quote from The Office, and Holt asked everyone what their spirit animal was – some favorites were a kangaroo, a monkey, and a sloth! Our nug jug was our longest one yet, and we gave thanks for everything and everyone that had impacted our day in the smallest ways. It was so meaningful, and we ended in a great big group hug, ready to get some sleep!
After such a great first day of climbing, everyone awoke with excitement for day number two. This time, we climbed Pothole Dome, named for all of the large cave-like holes in the rock that we all enjoyed cooling down in, spending time reflecting with the beautiful view of the mountains. Andy stopped us all at one point, wanting to take a moment to appreciate the beautiful scenery around us and remembered to give nugs to it later at Moonup. Ian’s self-confidence flourished as he climbed even higher than the previous day despite his fear of heights. Leela took “repelfies” (repel selfies) on her GoPro as she repelled down her climb, which were absolutely hilarious! After a great last day of climbing, we thanked our guides and headed on our way. Since we had a free afternoon, we decided to take the kids to Devil’s Postpile Monument in Mammoth, and it was such a huge hit! The views were unreal – surrounded by the most beautiful mountains, we walked to the cool monument and stood in awe at its structure – the hexagonal rock formation formed by fire and ice was unlike anything we had ever seen. It was a great afternoon, and we had the best time laughing with one another and taking in all of the beauty around us. We ended the night with the best dinner ever – a cookout! Our dinner crew of Ian, Bella, Elisabeth, and Morgan made us a feast with burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, a fruit salad, Mac and cheese, baked beans, and sweet corn! It was a great conclusion to our day, and with bellies full to the brim, we all hibernated into bed for our last night at our favorite campsite, and luckily the only bears we saw were Morgan’s bear hugs!
We can’t believe that this trip is coming to a close so soon. Over the past 10 days, our group has gotten closer by the day. Their resiliency continues to impress us each moment we spend with them, and this group is truly such a special one. They have filled every moment with so much laughter, and we are so proud of how much they’ve grown throughout these past few days. While we are saddened by the approaching departure day, we are going to live up these next few days to the fullest! We are currently headed to Lake Tahoe for some exciting days on the water and can’t wait to tell y’all all about them!
Talk to y’all soon!
Maddie + George
P.S. Bella gives a special shoutout to her mom for a very happy birthday!
July 22, 2019
What is up, our loyal followers!!
We just finished a thrilling two-day rafting section on the American River! We’re so excited to fill you in on everything you missed the past two days. Grab your coffee and sit somewhere comfortable – it’s a lot!
Let’s rewind all the way back to leaving Pacifica… We hopped into the van and began our first long road trip with the group! At Moondance we are huge advocates of planning ahead and being prepared, so we had everyone add their favorite songs to the playlist well before we started the drive. Remember how we said we are going to talk about dancing a lot? Well, this long ride was Morgan’s time to shine. She had secretly been hiding her incredible dance moves the first few days of the trip. But on this ride, she pulled out move after move entertaining the group and encouraging everyone to step up their dance game.
After a few hours singing in the van, we arrived to our next camp to a fun surprise: the Cal 3B Moondance Group in a campsite near us!! The kids all got to mingle and share stories that had happened since they last saw each other in the airport. The other group excitedly told us about their time rafting and which rapids were their favorites! For dinner, Ian, Carson, and Henry whipped up some pad Thai with stir fry vegetables! Ian taught us all how to properly slice up an onion and peppers while Carson crafted the perfect peanut-soy sauce. It was so delicious and families around us complemented our cooking skills!
After dinner, we heard excited screaming coming from near the other Moondance group. We ignored the screams at first, but they began getting closer and closer to our campsite and impossible to ignore any longer. All of a sudden, a whirlwind of older Moondance kids from the Yosemite trip surprised us and blew through our campground! We jumped up and down hugging our new friends, and all gathered around to hear tales of their recent summit of Mt. Shasta. They moved on to set up their campsite, and we began Moonup led by our LOD’s Charlie and Sophie! The question was “What would you bring if you could only take three things with you to a deserted island?” Our #unplugged lifestyle must be growing on the group because no one said an iPhone or any form of electronics!! While most people focused on tools for survival, Charlie was the most practical and said he would bring a boat, an engine, and gasoline (“I’m getting off that island!”). This had us all laughing as we headed off to bed under the beautiful stars.
We woke up the next morning to another special surprise – Jake’s 14th birthday!! We were all amped to have a celebratory day, so we made our famous Egg Moon Muffins for breakfast! Charlie and Holt toasted the English muffins and cooked the bacon, while Sophie dazzled us with her egg-cooking skills. She made us all scrambled eggs but also took requests, making a few fried eggs for the sophisticated egg-eaters of the group. Maddie and George brought out sprinkle donut holes afterwards to Jake and the group’s delight. Morgan and Elisabeth were SO thoughtful and gave Jake a card and t-shirt they made that had been signed by everyone on trip. Then, we set out for our first day of rafting!
Our incredible rafting guides first prepped us with a safety lesson and some colorful equipment! Snuggly buckled into our orange life jackets and bright blue helmets, we were ready to conquer the river! Henry warned everyone of the dangerous Ice Weasels, telling cautionary tales of brave rafters who were attacked by these fabled creatures. Fortunately, we had no Ice Weasel encounters this day! It was a rip roarin’ blast riding down these rapids!! Henry and Sophie sat in the front calling out creative, funny chants to help everyone paddle in sync. Our knowledgeable guides told us about each rapid as we approached them, but Ian was skeptical of the guides when they would tell us the rapids’ names. So we came up with our own names for the rapids including the “chillin’ chinchilla” and “the washing machine”. Next, the rafting guides made us an amazing riverside sandwich bar, and we struggled to fit back into our life jackets after a very filling lunch! Later on in the calmer sections, almost everyone got in the river. Some voluntarily jumped, and some got in with a supportive push from a friend! Elisabeth somehow dodged all this mayhem and revealed with a sheepish grin that she never got in the river after she was safely ashore.
We went back to the campsite and enjoyed showers and downtime in the late afternoon. Everyone sat around talking about their first impressions of each other, while Bella weaved friendship bracelets for the group! We had a surprise birthday party with streamers, confetti, party hats, and balloons, while our rafting guides prepared a delicious dinner of chicken, pasta, and salad. For dessert, we surprised the group with an ice cream bar consisting of a variety of flavors, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and various toppings! The guides thoughtfully brought out brownies as well, and Carson brilliantly combined the two desserts, everyone following her lead and putting warm brownies on top of the ice cream. By Jake’s request, we also had Piña Colada mix with pineapple slices to finish off the meal!
With stuffed bellies, we sluggishly made our way back to our camp for Moonup led by the LOD’s, Elisabeth and Holt. Holt, the biggest patriot of our group, wore his iconic American flag bucket hat and carried a miniature American flag into Moonup where he led us off with a quote from Ronald Reagan! Elisabeth then asked the group “What is something people wouldn’t know about you by just looking at you?” Jake humorously said “my name”, while Andy lectured about his general disdain for crowds, accurately pointing out what a huge disadvantage being in a crowd is if a zombie apocalypse were to suddenly break out. After we sent our “nuggies” for the day up into the sky, we headed off to bed. This time, we laid out a tarp to sleep on so that we could fully enjoy the beautiful California stars!
We woke up early to a mouth-watering breakfast of eggs, bacon, and potatoes provided by our rafting guides. Then, we packed up our tents and said goodbye to our campground as we headed off for day two of rafting! It was even better than the first day – we started out with a series of class 3 rapids, rolling through one after the other. The groups perfected their strokes and paddled strongly through the waves, and our experienced guides even took us “surfing,” where we all hopped in the front of the boat and nose-dived into the wave, riding it! After another delicious riverside lunch, we spent the afternoon on calmer water, swimming downstream and were thankful for the cool water on the hot day – even Elisabeth got in! We all boat hopped onto each other’s rafts, playing fun games and doing fun tricks courtesy of our guides. One of our favorites was “blind riding” the river, where we closed our eyes down the rapid and took in all of the sounds. It was so relaxing and was awesome to only focus on certain senses! At the end of the day, we all showered off and compared our Chaco tans, with Leela coming out as the champion!
Right now, we are loading up the van and driving towards Yosemite for the next four nights! We are so excited for the hikes, climbs, and adventures ahead and can’t wait to tell you all about them in a few days! We are absolutely loving this group and are having so much fun getting to know them more and more every single day. Each of them adds so much to the group, and we are so pumped to have such awesome personalities with us this trip. Stay tuned for more adventures coming soon!!
George and Maddie
July 20, 2019
Hello friends and family!!
This is the first of many trip updates from our adventures in California! You will read countless stories of us dancing, having the best weeks of our lives, and dancing some more – so buckle in, we’re glad to have you along for the ride!!
We breezed through airport day, got to meet our twelve new best friends, and promptly loaded up the van and U-Haul (which the group named “Bonquiqui”) to start our drive towards Point Reyes! Everyone was SO energetic about starting the trip and we wasted no time getting to know one another. After some delicious pizza (Charlie’s “everything” was a favorite!) and learning to set up tents, we managed to learn so much about our group while hanging out in our new campground. Carson quickly professed her love for crocs, while Charlie excitedly explained why Big Macs are his favorite food to eat. We already found our stylish members of the group, with Andy sporting some light up gloves and Henry’s colorful fanny pack and bucket hat. Our first Moonup together was already so memorable – the kids quickly came up with a creative way to open our “nug jug” with a fun dance and closing with sending our nuggies up into the star-lit sky. We talked about why we all came to Moondance and what we hope to gain from the trip, and as leaders, we could already tell what an incredible group this was going to be.
After a great night’s sleep in our comfy tents, our awesome first cook crew was amped to make some killer pancakes to start the day. Learning the ropes of cooking on our camping stoves, Carson, Elisabeth, and Henry all encouraged each other and worked so well as a team to make the perfect pancakes!! Our first Leaders of the Day (renamed Liz of the Day in honor of an incredible role model to us!) Morgan and Henry started the day off strong sporting their LOD glasses with a motivating quote that led into our first song of the van ride. Carson came up with our “knuckle buckle” chant to say when we’re all buckled in our seatbelts, and we were off for our day of exploration!
We had an incredible hike along the Point Reyes National Seashore and stumbled upon some awesome sand dunes, spending the afternoon playing, jumping, and relaxing on the beach. After hours of burying people in the sand and starting some great beach football games, we hiked back with a sweet Italian family whom we made friends with and all gave nugs to later that night. Carson amped us up on the ride back, knowing every word to all the songs that played through the van’s speakers! We rode back through San Francisco and to our next campsite at Half Moon Bay. The chicken quesadillas with grilled peppers and beans were a huge hit among the group made by our stellar cook crew of Andy, Sophie, and Holt. After dinner, we all enjoyed our first night on the beach while George watched the sunset with Morgan, Elisabeth, Bella, and Sophie, and quickly grabbed the rest of the group to catch the last bits of the beautiful horizon. The LODs decided to hold Moonup at the beautiful spot and came up with a hilarious story to open the nug jug and closed with a pyramid-making contest which had us all tumbling on the sand laughing. On our walk back to our tents, George and Maddie, aka Coach and Mad-Dog, suddenly told the kids to sprint into the van, where we had a dance party to the group’s favorite songs and passed around Oreos as a surprise dessert. It was such a great end to an incredible day, and we all did a “moon dance” under the full moon before heading to bed, ready to get some sleep!
We woke up the next morning ready to catch some waves! We had an amazing first day of surfing – it was raining on our drive until we went through a long tunnel and it was magically beautiful and sunny when we emerged on the other side!! This sudden change in the weather put us all in a great mood for the day. We pulled on our wetsuits and started practice with our outfitters, learning all of the paddles and hand signals before hitting the water. Everyone did so well taking in all of the instruction and absolutely excelled on their boards! For never surfing before, Ian and Bella thrived and stood up so many times and were total naturals! The waves were perfect to practice on and everyone had an absolute blast. We headed back to our campsite for a free afternoon of beach time! Holt and Elisabeth emerged as the friendship bracelet masters, and Charlie set a new world record for digging the deepest hole in the sand! We had so much fun relaxing and tossing the football around on a great beach walk and making some awesome memories. Once the sun began to set, we headed back to warm up with some toasty hot chocolate and Leela decorated the u-haul with some of our group’s hilarious inside jokes before Moonup led by our LODs, Bella and Jake, where they asked us if we could fill up a pool with one thing, what it would be. Answers included jell-o (Jake), orbees (Leela), Big Macs (Charlie), and lots of chocolate (Sophie)! The night ended with a piggy back race and another van jam session to “Freaky Friday” in preparation for our themed spirit day the following day, where we dress as other people on our trip!
We woke for another awesome day of surfing, and everyone went fearlessly into the big waves to challenge their skills and stand up even more times than before! Leela, Andy, and Ian were the most persistent, facing the waves and enjoying all the ocean had to offer. We finished up with happy smiles on our faces and enjoyed lunch by the beach, gearing up for our van ride to our next campsite. Before heading out, we all changed into our theme for the day – Freaky Friday! We all swapped clothes and looked absolutely hilarious – Maddie sported George’s classic outfit of camo crocs, hiking pants, his sun hoodie, and bucket hat while Jake rocked Bella’s bright pink shorts and tank top. We hopped in the car in our newly swapped outfits, giggling and excited for our drive.
We are currently heading onto our next adventure on the American River for our next two days of white water rafting and could not be more excited!! As leaders, we are absolutely blown away by how close this group has already gotten in the span of a few days. We are absolutely loving their insightful and hysterical personalities, and we have already shared endless laughs together. We can already tell what a special group this is and cannot wait for all of the adventures to come! Thank you so much for sharing these incredible kids with us this summer!!
Maddie & George
Some notable quotes from the kids on our first day!!
Ian: “Its only our first day? But we’re already having so much fun!”
Carson: “I want to do this next year. It’s so fun I love it!”
Everyone to each other before bed: “I love you, goodnight!!” on the first night!!
Shout-outs to home:
Andy: Having a great time! Def coming back. Love you and bixies.
Bella: Hey guys! I am having a great time. Tomorrow we are going white water rafting. Love you and see you guys soon!
Carson: Hey mom and dad! I miss y’all and love you. I’m having so so much fun. Definitely going back next year.
Charlie: Hi mom and dad and Nora!
Elisabeth: Hey fam! It’s so pretty here. Love surfing the water is so pretty!
Henry: Hellooo mom and dad! Having a great time love you guys so much definitely going back next year.
Holt: Hey mom and dad, love and miss both of y’all, make sure to feed the dogs and cat and I’m having tons of fun
Ian: I am having a great time in Cali and camping is so fun miss you!
Jake: Hi mom and dad, Moondance is better than home
Leela: Hi mom. I think it’s great. You wouldn’t agree. Love you. Helen-oops in the woods can’t mail you stuff.
Morgan: Hey mom and dad! I miss you and love you! Tell everyone I say hi. See you soon!
Sophie: Hi mom, dad, and Ava! I’m having a lot of fun and miss you guys! Love you!
July 16, 2019
All students have arrived in California and the group is ready to embark on the next big adventure.
More to come!