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Costa Rica 1 • June 11-June 24, 2019

Final Update!!!

June 24, 2019

How can it already be over?!

It seems like 5 hours ago we were greeting all of our precious kids at the SJO airport, not sending them home! The past two weeks have been a thrilling and laughter-filled whirlwind, and we know that these kids are itching to share all of the wonderful adventures that we have conquered together- not to mention the incredible friendships that forged and solidified so quickly.


Since writing last, the group made its mark on the quaint beach towns of Puerto Viejo and Cahuita! After saying “adios” to the Pacuare, we were ready to embrace the Caribbean lifestyle and see what the coast had to offer. We spent our first days playing in the ocean, relaxing on the black sand beach of Playa Negra, and wildlife spotting in Cahuita National Park, but the real action came in the form of SURFING lessons! We first needed to load up on cone pizza and ice cream to fuel the afternoon’s activities (thanks Juan Carlos!) and cool off with a little retail therapy in some of Puerto Viejo’s local vendors. Lily lucked out and found a puca shell necklace that mirrored the surfer lifestyle that we were all about to dive into! The afternoon was spent in the sun as the group learned surfing technique and how to master the waves under the instruction of our amazing outfitters. Leiden, Jack and Robyn amazed everyone with their skills, and by the end of the day could have been mistaken with professionals, getting constant 10/10s from the instructors! In between surfing rounds, the boys took to the black sand beach to get down and dirty; Will dug a hole that we could stand upright in and the group buried JP in the sand. After an amazing afternoon shredding the gnar and hanging out on the beach, it was time to unwind with delicious Caribbean cuisine and unlimited fruit punch. Kate and Grayson, our LODs for the day, were able to tie the perfect bow on the day by encouraging everyone to give compliments to each other at Moonup, and we went to bed ready to spend our final day on the water as a family.


An early thunderstorm looked like it might push back the fun for our next morning, but we had that special pura vida mojo working for us and hit the beach for one of the most gorgeous days yet. After spending our final hours in Puerto Viejo perfecting our surfing skills, our instructors surprised us with a mound of fresh Costa Rican fruit (mangoes, bananas, piñas, oh my!) and Juan Carlos prepared us the ultimate celebratory feast of chicken burritos and nachos. Fueled up for a long car ride ahead, we grabbed Mary Sue (our beloved speaker) and sang along together for the journey back to San Jose.


Our final banquet could not have been a more perfect ending to a truly life changing trip together. We headed into the city for one last dinner together, and on the way were surprised to find a massive festival being thrown in our honor (a group can dream right!) Eleanor and Sydney kept the music going during dinner time by playing the maracas and singing along with the band, and Ward made sure to enjoy some of the fresh guava juice! Even though we walked away stuffed to the brim, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to bake some delicious treats back at our apartments (shout-out to Abby for the suggestion and the icing!). We topped off the night with the first annual CRV paper plate awards, and no one was surprised that Josh won the “most likely to be the next country music star” award. We naturally had to listen to more Thomas Rhett on the way to the airport this morning!


On behalf of the three of us and the entire Moondance family, we want to say thank you to all of the families for sharing their kids with us for the past two weeks. Your children are truly special, and the truest testament to that is that we are already wondering how we are going to survive without them this summer! We have witnessed incredible growth in this group in such a short amount of time, and cannot wait to see how their friendships continue to flourish as they disperse across the country. We absolutely adore each and every single member of this group and know they will do amazing things in the future. Pura vida everyone, over and out CRV1!


Sara Chandler, Walker, and Lucy

Laughs and Fun Afloat the River!

June 21, 2019

PURA VIDA from the world famous Pacuare River! It’s hard to believe that we have completed another incredible section in the beautiful Costa Rica, and the group could not be more excited to head to the Caribbean and catch some waves in our final days together.

We left our service project in Mollejones with full hearts (and stomachs) ready to fully embrace the river rat lifestyle. After stocking up on some of our favorite new snacks and receiving some musical inspiration from our DJs Eleanor and Abby (and our speaker Mary Sue), we arrived to the Pacuare put-in and met our guides for the two-day river journey: Fernando, Abel, and of course our beloved Juan Carlos! Geared up and briefed on the history of the river (learning it is the number 5 whitewater destination on the planet!) we divided into our boats and headed out to get acquainted with the Class II and III rapids for the day. Not only was the morning filled with adventure and laughter, but we also had the incredible opportunity to experience the lush beauty of Costa Rican rainforest from a completely new perspective. This first day of rafting was an inviting taste of what was to come downstream, and we soon arrived at our first campsite settled along the riverbank and nestled in the trees. We devoured a delicious lunch of burrito fixin’s and took the afternoon to relax in the tiger nest’s hammocks. Leiden and Josh impressed us all with their rainbow block building skills (maybe bringing some construction skills back from Mollejones?) and Kate took us all down in a round of tongues. The group rounded out this perfect day with another delicious meal (Grayson was sure to give the day’s food a huge Nug at Moonup) and Will entertained everyone with a few ghost stories to round out the night. We headed into the evening ready to crash in our cozy tents and dream of the class III and IV rapids headed our way!

Yesterday we woke up itching to get back in the water. Filling up on some pancakes and the famously fresh fruit of Costa Rica, we grabbed our paddles by the t-grips and said goodbye to the tiger’s nest. JP and Sydney immediately took charge in their boat and embodied the spirit of the Pacuare with their leadership. As the trip progressed, we encountered increasingly breathtaking views: waterfalls, wildlife, and several swimming spots in between action-packed sections! Arguably the group’s favorite day of the trip so far, our second day on the Pacuare, filled with unending thrills and stunning views, was one not to be forgotten. We later arrived at our second camp and unwound with cookies, ultimate frisbee, soccer, and cards. Ward was sure to partake in the camp’s ample supply of bananas, and Robyn and Lily inspired us all to crack a book and relax in the sun. Once again we ended the day feeling full, content, a little giggly, and in utter awe of all of the amazing things experienced on the trip so far.

With that being said, we are off to hang ten and explore some of the wildlife (did someone say SLOTH sanctuary??) that the Caribbean coast has to offer. ¡Hasta luego familias! Pura Vida!Sara Chandler, Walker, and Lucy

Service and Smiles in Costa Rica!

June 19, 2019

Hola everyone!

After a beautiful 3 day hike through the rain forest, we finally arrived in the beautiful town of Mollejones. The town only has 214 people, but they make up for this small population with their warm hospitality. We felt welcomed as soon as we walked into town, and everyone was so generous with showing us their culture and way of life.

We started our community service project where we helped renovate a house and built furniture for a small family. Abby was so helpful in translating instructions from our foreman Fabian and relaying them to the rest of the group. Lily and Kate did an incredible job painting both the inside and the outside of the house, which really gave the house a home-like feel. Leiden had a positive attitude that kept everyone motivated and she helped create a bunk bed frame for the two children in the house. Robyn and Josh built an impressive new wall with our project manager Mauricio. Grayson and JP were the real bash brothers when it came to hammering, crushing any nail in sight on the outside walls of the house. Will was a natural carpenter, and helped out with the hammer and saw wherever was needed throughout the project. Everyone worked so hard and it was rewarding to see our hard work benefit a wonderful family.

We met people both young and old who were excited to include us in their day to day life. Eleanor played incredible soccer with the local children and impressed them with her skills. We also spent one afternoon baking traditional Costa Rican bread and talking to an 82-year-old woman who has spent her whole life in Mollejones. It was so inspiring to hear about the traditions of Mollejones and how the legacy of this wonderful town is in great hands with the future generations. The schoolchildren also prepared a culture show for us that included traditional singing and dancing. Ward embraced the new culture and quickly volunteered to dance a traditional dance with the children of Mollejones. We weren’t done there though, as we wanted to share some of our culture as well Sydney taught everyone swing dancing and choreographed a dance for us to present to the locals. The dance was a hit, and a great way to end a fun night of sharing cultures.

We are so excited to begin whitewater rafting tomorrow before we begin to make our way to the Caribbean for some surfing!

Adios. Pura Vida!

Walker, Lucy and Sara Chandler

Welcome to the Jungle!

June 15, 2019

Hola from Mollejones!


We began our journey in the beautiful country of Costa Rica with some canyoneering and ziplining in Turrialba. We jumped into our first activity (literally)! We were able to enjoy the beauty that the rainforest had to offer from the ground, as we repelled down waterfalls, and from above, as we ziplined through the trees. Our first leaders of the day (LOD), Grayson and Abby, really set the mood for the trip by showing no fear and little hesitation as we conquered the rain forest.


Having our first activity under our belt, the group was more than ready to begin our three-day trek to Mollejones. We geared up for our first day of hiking with some good ole pancakes, yogurt and granola, and some fresh Costa Rican fruit. We began the journey to our starting point with some morning jams on our speaker (Mary Sue) to pump us up for the journey we had ahead of us. Straight out of the gate, Will set the pace for us following closely behind our guides, Juan Carlos and Miso. As our first destination got closer, Leiden was sure to continue to motivate our crew by sprinkling some inspiration upon each of us. Upon arriving at our campsite after the first day of hiking, the energy of the group was anything but low. The group enjoyed an exciting game of mini World Cup with Ward and Will coming out victorious, and Abby and Eleanor coming in a close second! As the World Cup game came to an end our lovely cook crew, Grayson, Sydney, Kate and JP got busy peeling some potatoes for some mashed potatoes, which were thoroughly enjoyed by the group to say the least.


As our second day of hiking began, Juan Carlos told us that we were going to have an adventure day where we could swim and enjoy lots of downhill through the rain forest, and he was not wrong! The group enjoyed a long swim break during lunch before reaching our campsite. Once again, the energy was not lacking even after a long day of hiking. The kids went straight to the soccer field where Robyn and Josh show cased their impressive soccer skills! Our last day of hiking was bittersweet, filled with more swimming during lunch and lots of cow encounters. Lily really took charge and pushed us through the final up hills before we reached our final destination of Mollejones.


We are now kicking our feet up and enjoying the vast views of green mountain tops after our three-day trek from Turrialba. We are feeling extra grateful for the views and all of the beauty that Costa Rica has to offer. And we leaders are even more thankful to be able to share it with your incredible kids. All of their zest for adventure has made these first few days so special, so we thank you. Now onto the next journey, community service! We are so excited to work with the families of Mollejones and learn even more about this incredible place.


Until next time! Pura Vida!

Lucy, Sara Chandler, and Walker


P.S. Happy Father’s Day to all of our fathers, we are so thankful for you all and appreciate all you do for us!



Hey mom, dad & Lizzie! It is so beautiful here. We just hiked more than 20 miles! Happy Father’s Day dad! I love you all so much-Leiden


Hi mom & dad, I’m having so much fun! Happy Father’s Day!-Lily


Hey y’all! I miss you and I’m having so much fun! Happy Father’s Day!- Kate


Hi mom & dad! Happy Father’s Day! I’m having fun! -Sydney


Hey mom and dad! I miss you guys so much, but I’m having a ton of fun! Happy Father’s Day, dad! Love you! -Robyn


Hi Madre, padre, Ella, Lila, Lucy and monkey! I miss y’all! I’m having a lot of fun, tell the animals I miss them. Happy Father’s Day, padre. -Abby


I miss you and cant wait to see you. P.S. you were right when you said I needed hiking boots. -Grayson


It’s great! <3 happy Father’s Day I love you, miss you-Josh


Hey family! Having fun here. Happy Father’s Day! -Jack


Hey family I’m having fun and eating a bunch! Happy Father’s Day, Walter! Love you -Eleanor


Hola Madre and Padre! I’m having a lot of fun in Costa Rica!love you! -Will


Hi mom and dad! I am having so much fun in Costa Rica thanks for sending me. Happy Father’s Day dad I love you so much. See you soon! -Ward

Safe Arrival!

June 11, 2019

Hola Costa Rica Families!


We have just heard from the Costa Rica leaders and all students have arrived safely in San Jose. We are so excited for them to begin their adventure!


-Moondance HQ


  • Abby
  • Eleanor
  • Grayson
  • Ian
  • Jack
  • Josh
  • Kate
  • Will
  • Ward
  • Sydney
  • Robyn
  • Lily
  • Leiden