July 26, 2019
Hey hey hey! Since our last update, we have been sea kayaking and explored downtown Reykjavik….this group sure does love to shop and does NOT want to leave this beautiful country.
We woke up early to some oatmeal and coco puffs, with Dru having at least three bowls. After packing up the van, the crew hit the road for our sea kayaking excursion. We arrived just after lunch and loaded our boats for the journey to the island. Will, Parker, and Emily were the first to suit up and hit the water, but Maggie and Richard were not far behind. We started with a short warm up to a small cove where Billie seemed to be very intrigued by the massive seaweed clumps floating in the water. The group progressed quickly, and John Henry took the lead.
After we arrived to our campsite, the group enjoyed taking naps and relaxing. They managed to squeeze nine people in ONE tent for a group power nap! While some slept others went to explore the island. Brantley and I woke the group up with a surprise of chocolate fudge cake and chocolate raisins!! Lilly was the first to go for the cake while Miles quickly reached for the raisins. After some much needed rest and many games of cards, dinner was ready. Emily wolfed down her curry rice and Ava even went back for seconds.
Before we did Moon Up and bed, Brantley, Richard, John Henry and I played a few games of Hearts. Richard seemed to enjoy the mentality stimulating game while others explored the grass island and soaked in the views. Will and Lilly held Moonup right by the water and ended it off by having each student tell the person to the left their best pick-up line. Dru offered his smoothest pick-up line, while Parker’s turned some heads!!
The next morning Brantley and I went to wake the kids and found that seven of them had slept in the same tent…I guess some of them were really bummed to have their last night in a tent! The group enjoyed a quick paddle back to the van where we changed out of our paddling clothes and packed the van back up.
On the way back to Reykjavik, the crew stopped by a delicious pizzeria for lunch. We ordered 10 pizzas and all of them were gone within 15 minutes!! Billie fully enjoyed the Margarita pizza, while Will wolfed down as many slices of cheese pizza, he could get his hands on. After getting back in the van, we jammed out one last time to Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band, a popular song requested by the kids.
Upon arrival at our hostel for the night, Dru, Miles, and Emily were the first ones to hop in the showers. After getting some much-needed showers, we got ready to hit the town for the evening. Lilly and Ava were eager to get some souvenirs for their family while Billie was interested by the unique architecture and could not put down his camera.
After getting a few souvenirs, we hit one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik for banquet. Breakfast and burgers were offered, and Laura Grace was eager to get her hands on some chicken and waffles. Richard absolutely LOVED his fish and chips, a dish he had been talking about since the trip had started. Will and Billie even went for some seconds!! With our belly’s full, we headed off to get our sugar fix… ice cream!! The group crushed some ice cream and went to take a few more pictures in front of Reykjavik’s famous church. Payton’s peace sign kissy face combo was a popular pose while taking pictures.
The group was tired after getting back from walking around and our LODs, Maggie and Dru, decided to make our last Moonup very reflective. After seeing this group accomplish so much, it was amazing to hear some of their answers to the question, “what was the most life changing moment during this trip.” We ended Moonup with many hugs, smiles and a few tears. The kids decided to hang out in the girls room and soak in every last little bit of each other’s presence before saying goodbye.
Today we woke the kids up early to get them packed and ready to get to the airport. After a quick breakfast, we loaded up the van and got to the Keflavik airport. Once we landed in JFK, we all said our goodbyes and had our last tears. Brantley and I were so amazed with this group and their ability to persevere and crush any task at hand. We are sad to see them go but know they have learned so much over the course of the two weeks. Thank you so much for sharing your children with us and our journey in Iceland. Iceland has been a magical experience for each student, and we know they have grown so much. We wish them all the best luck and hope to hear about all their great accomplishments to come!
Brantley and Tillman
July 24, 2019
Hello again from Iceland!
We are coming to you after some awesome days of traveling all over the country and seeing the sights.
After a restful night in the hut, we headed to go whitewater rafting. We all suited up in our long underwear and wet suits before grabbing our paddles and hitting the river. Payton could not contain her excitement for her first time to go rafting and kept scheming up ways that she could fall in to go swimming. The girls and boys boats both hit some big rapids that got everyone soaked.
Before long, we reached the jump rock. Will was the first off the boat and quickly ran up to the top of the cliff to jump off, with Emily following quickly behind. Parker had everyone laughing by doing a 360 in the air while yelling “live in the moment.” After everyone had gotten their fill of launching themselves into the water, we loaded back into the rafts for some more rapids. In the calmer water, Billy (William D.) launched an attack from the boys boat on to the girls boats, getting everyone into the water except for Laura. No matter how hard they tried, no one could get her off the boat! On the contrary, Maggie found herself in the water often, as she tried to launch counter attacks on to the boys’ boat.
All too soon, we arrived back at the rafting base, where Lilly and Ava were excited to find hot showers and saunas waiting for them! John Henry was psyched to have hot chocolate and helped some of his friends finish theirs too.
After an awesome afternoon, we loaded up into the van to head north! The crew loved listening to their favorite songs as we drove to a much more remote part of the country. When we arrived, everyone quickly set up their tents and settled into their home for the next two nights.
After spending time hanging out with one another, we ate dinner of stew and grilled cheeses before Dru and Laura, our Leaders of the Day, led a meaningful Moonup.
The next morning, we woke up to a yummy breakfast of bacon and eggs. After fueling up for the day, the crew petitioned for a chill day and short hike. We decided to hike down into the beautiful valley to see the geothermal geysers that surrounded our campsite. Richard was fascinated by the steaming areas and warm water that crisscrossed the whole area.
After walking through the hot springs, we headed up the mountain to try out sliding on the packed snow and ice. Billy was immediately a natural, sliding on his back, stomach, and bottom all the way down. Dru showcased his ability to ski down the mountain on his feet, while Miles and Lilly tried to make a train and slide down two at a time. Payton was able to perfect her form and slid the farthest out of anyone.
Once we all had our fill of sliding, we headed back to camp to play Iron Chef! Our Leaders of the Day, Parker and Emily, picked teams, and the teams quickly began discussing what they would create for their three courses. Payton and Miles quickly got to work on a tomato soup concoction, while Emily created a plate full of dips for the appetizers. For the main course, Billy came up with a decorative cucumber plate, while Richard and Maggie made ham paninis with a side of sautéed cucumbers. For the desserts, Parker made yogurt sprinkled with cookie crumbs, peanuts, and nutella, while Dru melted chocolate to drizzle over cookies and fruit, and Ava and Laura added a cookie crumble garnish. Everything that the judges were served was both creative, delicious, and filling, which made picking a winner nearly impossible!
Once we were all full from the competition, Will and Parker headed up a game of capture the flag. Richard showed off his “stealth” moves, and Billy proved that by himself he could beat a team of five people. Everyone had a blast running for the flag and trying to tag each other out. After we had run out our energy, we ate hot dogs for dinner, followed by a dessert of chocolate pudding. Once we had filled our stomachs, we headed to the nearby hot spring! Everyone enjoyed soaking in the warm water— a perfect ending to a fun filled day.
The next morning, we woke up to pancakes! After everyone had gotten their fill, we packed up camp and set off in the van to see the Golden Circle. After stopping at Gulfoss, Geysir, and Thingvellir, we headed to ice cream and milkshakes! Once we had gotten our sugar fix, we headed to our campsite where Dru headed up a game of soccer and Lilly taught us all how to make flower crowns. After we spent time relaxing in the grass, we walked over to the nearby hot tub that is built into the side of the cliffs overlooking the sea. Laura enjoyed warming up and made sure that everyone got their fair share of hot water, while Parker spent time hiking around and finding the best views. We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking before we headed for a yummy dinner of lamb and rice. We closed out our day with a funny Moonup where we talked about the superpower we wanted led by Payton and Billy.
We are now headed to our last activity of the trip— sea kayaking! We cannot believe that the trip is coming to a close, but we are so excited to get the most fun out of all of our moments left together.
Brantley and Tillman
July 21, 2019
Heyooooo! We made it after our 5 days of trekking and had a blast along the way. We are so proud of the kids as they have come together quickly and accomplished a lot along the way.
We started our first day of trekking with an easy warmup hike of 4 miles! Before we started, Brantley and I gave the group a ball of duck tape with a surprise in the middle. We told them it was their responsibility to carry it everywhere during our trip and it must be a collective group decision to open it. After deep thought, the kids came to the decision to call the ball of duck tape Sharq! We started on the hike where Billie and Richard were amazed by the undulating lava fields and green moss that covered them. We continued to trek until our first river crossing where Dru, Will, Ava and Maggie were the first ones across so they could try to warm up there feet.
After the crossing it was a short hike to our beautiful campsite. Our tents were pitched shortly and the group ran into the hut for some pre-dinner hot coco and snacks. Payton, Ava, John Henry, Miles and Richard all played cards while Maggie, Emily, Lilly, Dru decided to relax for a quick nap in their tents. Laura was eager to help cook our lamb stew, a traditional Icelandic dinner! With full stomachs the crew headed for Moonup and we closed it out by hailing Sharq and praying for an easy hike. It was off to bed to get as much rest for our first full day of trekking tomorrow.
The crew woke up to the smell of hot coco and cinnamon apple oatmeal to fuel up. Our Leaders of the Day, Miles and Laura, prepared the group with an inspirational quote and got everyone hyped up to start the day. A few river crossings later, we stopped to have lunch and lots of Icelandic chocolate! After a long day on our feet, we arrived to camp where we were greeted with warm chicken soup and hot coco! Lilly had some energy left in the tank and taught a few other students how to play Bunny Bunny, a game with lots of energy! With Moonup done and tired eyes all around, Dru was the first one in bed and Emily not short to follow.
The group slept hard and woke up to some clear skies!! Parker and Sharq, our ball of duck taped surprises, talked to the sun and rain gods and it finally came true…we got some blue skies! Billy and Payton, our LODs, got the group moving as we enjoyed getting to see some of our first glaciers! The group enjoyed the hike on some flat ground as we arrived to our lunch spot in good time. Will scarfed down his lunch in order to run around ask people to pull his finger…and I’ll let you figure out why. It was a beautiful hike the rest of the afternoon and we arrived to camp in the early afternoon to play a few games of Mafia. Zaho, our guide, prepared the group spaghetti for dinner with some of his secret recipe meat sauce on top! The group had a great Moonup as it was under a beautiful peachy red sky.
The next morning we got to sleep in an hour and hit the trail for a light day crossing the Black Desert! Our LODs, Will and Emily, started with a great quote by Thomas Edison and prepared the group mentally for one of our last days! John Henry and Laura led the hike and were the first to arrive at camp. After relaxing, we sat down and had grilled salmon, rice and salad for dinner! The entire group wolfed down their dinner and asked for more! That evening we walked to a canyon and had Moonup overlooking the deep walls full of vibrant reds and browns. We sat and enjoyed the view and headed back to camp as the sun began to duck under the mountains in the distance.
After a long night of sleep, Parker and Maggie woke up the group for a hearty breakfast and set the topic of conversation as “How to spell the word Reese’s.” The conversation lasted 20 minutes and the group derived many ways to spell the word. Anyways, it was our last day of trekking and we had 16 kilometers to cover! Lilly, Richard, Dru and Billie lead today and had some great conversations along the way. Billie and I talked of all the elves that have been living in the rocks as he is convinced they have been following him the entire time. The group rejoiced after having our last river crossing as we got closer and closer to camp! Maggie, Payton, and Emily hung back for the last few kilometers to soak in all the views and take in the last bit of trekking.
Once the group got to camp, they made a collective decision to open Sharq as they have completed the trekking portion and have accomplished so much along the way. Feeling proud, Parker started to rip away with the rest of the group eager to find out what was inside! After Maggie gave the last rip, Sharq was ripped open and he candy flew everywhere!! Starburst, Silly Straws and Gummy Worms galore!! We enjoyed the sugar and went to set up tents and relax before dinner! After our bellies were full of grilled lamb, we had Moonup and reflected on our accomplishments and looked forward to the activities to come.
This morning we slept in late and had pancakes for breakfast!! What a great way to end the trek…after all it was sunny all morning! We took down camp and started to repack our duffels as it was time to go and explore the next part of the island. The van came to pick us up and we headed to some waterfalls. Richard was the first one to fall asleep on the bus ride with Lilly and Payton following quickly behind. We stopped for some ice cream along the way to our hut for the night! That’s right, a hut for the night…BEDS!!!!
The kids have absolutely crushed the hike. Brantley and I are extremely proud of the kids for doing so well on the trail, and we have had so much fun with them! After we rest our heads tonight we will be rafting tomorrow and check back shortly after!
Brantley and Tilman
Below are some shout outs to our families back at home!
Maggie – Hey Mom and Dad, Iceland is super cool but very wet and cold. We just finished backpacking and it was very hard but I had so much fun. I miss you a lot and make sure you tell everyone hi. Even tell Maggie Larkins I miss her. LOVE YOU!!
Will – hey Mom and Dad….siblings and Ajax, Iceland is unreal. It has the coolest waterfalls you will ever see. We just finished a 6 day backpacking trip that was hard but fun. Also happy birthday Gray, hope you have the best 8th birthday ever. Love and miss you guys.
Ava – Hi Mom, Dad and Ben. Miss you guys so much but am having a great time! We just finished the hiking part and it is the most beautiful place I have ever been to. Love you guys so much and see you soon!
Parker – Dear Mom and Dad, I’m having a lot of fun here in Iceland. The views are amazing and the waterfalls are very cool. Miss you guys a lot and Jack too. See you in a couple days.
Laura Grace – Hey Mommy and Dad, I’m having so much. We just finished our beautiful hikes and can’t wait for the rest!! Love y’all
Billie – Iceland is really fun. Hope to see you soon! Thanks a lot! I have a lot of photos.
Dru – What’s Up Mom and Dad, I am having an awesome time in Iceland. We hiked 60 miles in 5 days. I have learned to appreciate the little things in life from hiking. I love everyone here and my leaders are awesome. I miss you guys so much and love you guys tons. Can’t wait to show y’all the pictures.
Payton – Hey fam! Loving Iceland! It is such a blast. I hope you had a good birthday Mom! I love you!
John Henry – Hey Mom and Dad, I love y’all so much. Iceland is so great. There are so many views. There are a lot of cool people here. Tell Maddie and Charlie and Mary Catherine I miss them. I’m so ready to see y’all.
Lilly – Hey Fam Bam, I miss y’all so much. I’m so sad I missed moms birthday, it don’t worry mom…I screamed happy birthday to you in the middle of nowhere. I’m having a blast! Hey MS! I love you!!
Richard – Hey Family, Iceland is awesome. I miss y’all. Can’t wait to show y’all the cool pictures! Love y’all.
Miles – Hey Mom and Dad, Iceland is super cool. We’ve seen a bunch of mountains and waterfalls, and just finished a 60 mile trek. It can get really wet and cold here though. Can’t wait to see y’all in a week. Love y’all.
Emily – Dear Mom and Dad, I’m having a great time here and being safe. We just finished our 60 mile hike and now going to have even more fun this week. It’s gorgeous here. Miss you and see you soon!
July 15, 2019
Hello, hello from Iceland!!
Everyone has arrived safely, and we are all already having a blast after our first days together. After arriving early in the morning, we headed straight for the Blue Lagoon. Lilly could not contain her excitement to slip into the warm, soothing waters.
We changed into our bathing suits and hit the pool. The group was excited to try out the silica face masks, and Will even made a new friend who shared the rest of her lava face masks with him. Emily was able to catch the action and fun of everyone swimming and relaxing on her Go Pro. Soon we made our way to the drink stand, with John Henry leading the charge. The whole group sipped on slushies and smoothies, and Parker even pioneered a half blueberry, half strawberry slushie. Everyone was jealous after they saw his creation. While most of the group spent their time soaking, Miles took the opportunity to explore the rocks and crevasses of the lagoon, making his way through the bright blue waters.
Before long, we were back on the road again on the way to the lava caves! Once we arrived at the caves, everyone was eager to descend underground. The rest of the crew got all suited up in their helmets, headlamps, and gloves and bravely entered the dark cave. Laura was completely unfazed by the new environment and loved looking around at her new surroundings. Richard made sure to capture a bunch of cool shots on his camera as we learned about the cave’s history and legend. As we passed through the narrower passages of the cave, Billy (William’s new nickname) showed off his limbo skills, impressing us all with his balance and flexibility. Everyone loved looking at the stalactites and stalagmites that covered the floors and the ceilings.
After coming out of the cave, we all hopped back onto the van to have lunch and head to Reykjavík! As soon as we arrived, we headed into town to see the iconic church at the city center and stop for ice cream! Before heading back, we walked around town, and Dru bought a warm wool hat to wear during our trekking session. Once we arrived back at the hostel, Payton helped head up some card games and kept the conversation with the group going.
Following a full day, we all chowed down on pizza. After eating as much pizza as they could, all the kids started packing up their things for our trekking section. As she packed, Ava could not contain her excitement to hit the trail for her first-time backpacking.
Before bed, we all circled up for our first Moonup. Maggie, our Moondance pro, helped lead the conversation on how Moonup works and what to expect as a Leader of the Day (LOD). While we were gathered together, we all talked about our goals for the rest of the trip, and we were excited by the answers all of the kids gave!
Currently, we are on the road heading to start our trek! We are all so excited to hit the trail and to see what the Icelandic highlands have in store for us. We will check in soon!
Much love,Brantley and Tillman
July 14, 2019
Hi Iceland Families!
We have heard from the leaders and the group has arrived in Reykjavik! They are settled into their hostel for tonight and we are so excited for them to begin their adventure!