Trip Updates

Maui 1A • June 12-June 25, 2019

Fond Farewell!

June 26, 2019

Aloha!

We are thrilled to update you on our island adventures one final time and most of all thank you for sharing your incredible students with us these past two weeks. We wrapped up the unforgettable trip with full hearts and a newfound spirit for adventure, and we leaders are unbelievably proud of the group for stepping out of their comfort zones and journeying around Maui with us.

Yesterday morning we all hopped out of our tents ecstatic for one last day to spend on the beautiful blue ocean. The group enjoyed breakfast burritos before heading down the mountain to Makena Beach for a morning of stand-up paddle boarding. All twelve of the students launched into the water like professionals and paddled out into the open sea. Davis was quick and determined to hop off his board and dive twenty-five feet into the water to reach the sandy bottom, which he succeeded in doing with flying colors. Liddy and Marguerite rallied the group for some relay races on the boards, going from buoy to buoy. The boys were successful, but the ladies were not too far behind and everyone was able to have a good time. The waves were nice and gentle out there which gave us all an opportunity to swim and play with a beautiful view of the island. After awhile, Rush and Parker taught us all how to do backflips off of their boards and we spent a good amount of time frolicking in the water and trying to dive down deep enough to collect shells and enjoy the last day of water sports for us Maui folks.

After paddling back to shore the group decided we couldn’t kiss the water goodbye quite yet, so we enjoyed a picnic on the beach before diving in for one last swim. Caroline, as always, was first to jump in and encouraged the rest of the group to do the same. We couldn’t spend too much time at the beach because we had a busy night planned for us all. We headed to the thrift store to get some clothes for the evening and everyone picked out some interesting outfits. Charlotte and Tati convinced all of the girls to buy the wackiest dresses the store had to offer and some crazy shoes to go with them. We’ve never seen a group as well dressed as this one. After the thrift store run, we returned to camp to get the clean up started. Harris led the troops in cleaning the camp and everyone did such a great job that we were practically done as soon as we started. The efficiency and the camaraderie were a joy to see. It’s truly amazing watching a group become a family in just two shorts weeks and working together towards a common goal. Laulima, which means “many hands makes light work” is a term that we learned and related to throughout these past two weeks doing community service and the daily chores. After camp was cleaned, we all laid in our enos and hung out for a while before changing into our new outfits for our fun evening in the town of Paia.

We all chose a fun pizza shop near the beach which was overflowing with both locals and tourists alike, and that’s how you know you’re really about to enjoy the food. It’s common knowledge that each person is unique and their own self and the three of us wanted to acknowledge each student’s uniqueness so we decided to give out Paper Plate awards, or superlatives. As we laughed over the awards, our pizza came out and shut us up for a little while. Not even kidding, that was some of the best pizza within 3,000 miles. It truly was such a beautiful and bittersweet evening and no one wanted it to end. During Moonup, Mackenzie, one of the leaders of the day, asked the group what it is that we are grateful for and what we were taking with us from this experience. We sat in silence for a few moments and were blown away by the responses. Sometimes, these folks make it so hard to remember that they are only fourteen and fifteen years old. They are wise beyond their years. We closed out the night with a game of mafia, with Piers as the narrator. This guy can tell stories for hours and keep anyone entertained the whole time. We laid out and watched the stars for a while before sleep came and took us into dreamland.

In the morning, we had eggs and sausage, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and orange juice. As a whole, we were somewhat slow moving and sluggish because we knew that the day had finally arrived. We got camp cleaned up and everything put away pretty early on in the day so we rolled on down the hill into town. Mae Mae convinced us all that acai bowls and avocado toast were calling our names so we rallied the troops and munched down on some local Hawaiian deliciousness. We walked around for a little while relishing in the last few hours we had together. Going to the airport was not exactly an easy thing to do. We just didn’t want this trip to end. After getting through security, we all sat down to a final meal together and shared lots of laughs and stories from the past two weeks.

One by one, they all boarded the planes and took off to head back to the mainland. As the last planed left, we looked at each other with both sadness and joy for what had happened the past two weeks. Fifteen strangers came together two weeks ago and had now become Ohana. This is such a beautiful thing that we get to do and such a beautiful life we live. Thank you for joining us on this ride and for sharing your loved ones with us so that they could become a part of our lives. We are all grateful for you and grateful for the chance to get to know these wonderful souls. Our cup runneth over with joy and love for the twelve of you.

Until next time,

Aloha,

Anne Carter, Bill, and Lizzie


Meaningful Community Service and Island Vibes on Maui!

June 23, 2019

Aloha Friends and Family!

All is well here on the island and we hope the same can be said for all of you back home. We’ve been pretty busy these past couple of says, but my oh my, have we had fun! Mother Nature has been on our side and we’ve enjoyed beautiful weather. With sunny skies and nice ocean breezes, we honestly could not have asked for more enjoyable experiences or better company here in Hawaii.

Wednesday morning, the group was feeling adventurous and we decided to try our hand at windsurfing after enjoying some scrambled eggs, sausage, and English muffins. The fifteen of us conquered the challenging yet exhilarating skill of windsurfing with the help of some incredible guides. Davis, a natural on the water, quickly took to the sport with ease. Rush showed some serious skill as well, doing “360’s” in the waves. After a few hours sailing away, the group caught one last wave before the wind became too strong for our skill level. The active morning called for some well-deserved comfort food, so we headed to the historic town of Paia for a delicious lunch. The group enjoyed local cuisine and good conversation, and we proceeded to explore the rest of the town of Paia and pick up a few souvenirs.

After our town visit, Charlotte, our leader of the day, rallied the troops for a scenic drive around the island of Maui. We headed to the North Maui Mountains, taking       in the views of the tropical rainforest and rocky coastline. The van was kept lively with a jam session led by Mae Mae. We headed back to camp for a light dinner and group games before ending the day with a thought-provoking moon-up.

After a week and a half of enjoying the island and all the fun activities it offers, we began a few days dedicated to giving back to the place that has so freely given to us. We kicked off this portion of the trip with Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, whose mission is to protect and rehabilitate marine life of the Hawaiian Islands,  most namely coral reef and sea turtles. We began with an informative tour of their impressive facilities, in which Piers particularly took great interest. Shortly after, we headed to a local harbor in Kahului for a beach clean up. The students picked up and documented each piece of garbage found on the beach, which led to an interesting discussion on steps we can take in our everyday lives to minimize their impact on the environment.  As a group, we collected more than sixty pounds of trash on the beach ranging from small pieces of plastic, to large (and illegal) fishing nets, cigarette butts, and everything in between. We had never seen anything like it and couldn’t imagine the impact that we all have on what ends up in the ocean. Harris easily collected the most amount of trash and talked of how this experience had given him a new perspective on what we as humans are doing to protect the environment around us, especially the ocean.

We left the harbor and headed to a beach on the opposite side of the island for a bit of swimming and a tasty lunch. We spent a while playing games and body surfing while awaiting our next activity.  Liddy got us all together and taught us a new game that kept us all energized and happy, while we prepared for the rest of our afternoon. After lunch, we headed to a whale sanctuary where the group observed a section of the ocean, searching for turtles that had possibly become diseased or entangled due to human interference in nature.  We ended up seeing over ten turtles and Marguerite and Mackenzie openly delighted in the fact that none were entangled or endangered. We all enjoyed our afternoon out on the water and learning of all the dangers that turtles face on a daily basis simply due to the carelessness of humans. When we left the whale sanctuary, we headed towards the tropical forests, where the group went on a small hike into the lush greenery of the Ioa Valley.  We enjoyed the mountainous views and stellar weather, and went full send into the river, which Caroline spontaneously urged us all to do. We all ended up soaking wet with nothing but smiles on our faces as we headed back to camp to delight in burgers, salad, and potato salad.

The next day we awoke much like the other days, to sunshine and cool temperatures. After a breakfast of oatmeal and bagels, we headed to Maui Cultural Lands in Lahaina to learn about ocean ecology and the history of the islands of Hawaii. Upon arriving at MCL, we were met by Ekolu, a Hawaiian native, who would proceed to give us a day full of fun history of the islands. We swam out into the surf and he led a hand’s on lesson of the island history, starting way back with the formation of the islands and the volcanoes that created the atoll that is Hawaii. Caroline surprised us all with her knowledge on the science behind coral and how it sustains marine life.

Our third and final day of service was spent with Ekolu’s mother, Pu’unani, who led us on a journey to remove invasive species from a sacred Hawaiian valley. Prior to hiking into the valley, we were fortunate enough to witness Pu’unani participate in a traditional Hawaiian chant. Upon arrival, the students worked hard to weed out invasive species that hinder the growth of native Hawaiian plants.  We were blown away the student’s motivation and positivity. Tatiana and Parker particularly stood out, every time we turned around they were working hard without complaint. Following a morning of meaningful service, Pu’unani took us around the valley, teaching us about medicinal plants and their contribution to the island.  Following a rewarding and insightful morning the group headed back to camp for an early dinner of personal pizzas! After dinner we loaded up in the heavy Chevy and drove up to the summit of Haleakala. This beautiful volcano provided gorgeous views from above the clouds- it was truly spectacular! We enjoyed a stunning sunset together and a few minutes of quiet reflection on an incredible trip! We enjoyed a special moon up together before traveling back down to sea-level. We are now hunkering down in our tents preparing for our last full day together!

We are so sad to see this adventure coming to a close, but are so grateful for the experiences we’ve had and the amazing group we have shared them with! Mahalo for allowing us this opportunity to learn and grow with your children- we have loved every bit of it! See you soon!

 

Lizzie, Bill, and AC


Fun in the Sun!

June 20, 2019

Aloha everybody!

We are having an incredible time here in Maui! We cannot emphasize enough how proud we are of our students and the way they have bonded together as a group. We are wrapping up another exciting few days on the beautiful island of Maui, and we wanted to let you in on some of the awesome things we have done.

We had an early morning and headed to meet our guides for a scenic boat ride to the atoll of Molokini. On our way, a pod of bottle nosed dolphins approached our boat. The students were so excited to watch the dolphins frolic around our boat! The guides told the students seeing this many dolphins was a rather rare experience and shared bits of Hawaiian history with us. As we approached Molokini, the students geared up in their flippers and masks and dove into the beautiful blue waters. We spent several hours swimming around a stunning coral reef observing all sorts of fish and sea urchins. Caroline emulated these fish as she dove deep into the water. Shortly after we headed to the backside of Molokini where we discovered a “water elevator.” There’s a particular spot on Molokini where the water meets a crack in the wall and the water rises and lowers 6-10 feet vertically, raising and lowering us as well. While it seemed a little scary at first, Davis was brave enough to lead the way for the group by testing it out first! The entire group enjoyed this, laughing and splashing as we rose up with the waves. To end the afternoon, we ate a delicious spread of sandwiches and fresh fruit as we rode the boat to Turtle Town. This spot is known to be a hangout spot for a plethora of sea turtles and did not disappoint! We snorkeled around with dozens of sea turtles- Piers even got an awesome “shell-fie” with one! Tatiana was especially exciting to interact with these majestic creatures and was the last one into boat- she couldn’t get enough of them! After a short boat ride back, we headed to a beach park where the students got to buy fresh fruit and coconuts to eat on the beach! We had a great time playing Spikeball and body surfing in the waves. Charlotte was super stoked to get to see a Monk seal sunning on the beach- one of only 1,500 left in the world! It was incredible to see! We headed back to camp for a quick dinner of pad thai and another great Moonup. Piers ended our moon-up by telling a riveting tale- the students all enjoyed it!

The next day we enjoyed a leisurely morning and were lucky enough to stumble upon warm showers at a local swimming hole. We were all so pumped to scrub down after a hiatus from showers. Now that we were so fresh and so clean, we met our guides and headed up the famous Hana Highway, known for its scenic views and windy turns through the rainforest of Maui. Upon arriving at our destination, The Garden of Eden, we were greeted by a herd of peacocks and curious local ducks. After a scrumptious lunch of turkey wraps, pineapple, and chocolate chip cookies, we got a lesson in rappelling and geared up for the afternoon. We began with a dry rappel to get the students accustomed to the ins-and-outs of rappelling. Rush was hesitant at first but absolutely crushed it! Every student was brave enough to rappel, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Our next two rappels were down waterfall faces of 50 feet! We were amazed by how well all the students faced this challenge head on! They were so encouraging of one another as each descended down the waterfall. Marguerite was especially uplifting and made a point to cheer on all of her fellow campers. As leaders, we are particularly proud of Rush and Mae Mae who conquered the waterfalls despite their fears, all with smiles on their faces! This entire afternoon was full of laughs, incredible views, and more bonding for our students! We concluded the day with a well-deserved stop at a local gelato shop and headed back to camp where we had breakfast for dinner!

This morning, yet again, we woke up to birds chirping and a beautiful clear morning. The students all helped prepare a toasted bagel breakfast before heading out for the day! We headed back to the beach for more surfing with the spectacular Maui Beach Boys! Parker was killing it on the waves today, taking every chance she could get to ride one in! We saw an exceptional amount of sea turtles while surfing- Harris was so excited to see them he could hardly keep surfing!  After an exhilarating morning of surfing and turtle sightings we took a cruise to a whole new side of the island to witness to jaw-dropping Nakalele blowhole. Mackenzie and Liddy kept the groups energy up on the drive playing games and singing along to the music! At the blowhole, the boys especially loved getting misted by the sprays of it. Following a short hike back to the van we stopped for a delicious treat of shaved ice from the Coconut Caboose! Everyone enjoyed a nice cold treat to stave off the summer heat! We continued the day with a hike along the shores and enjoyed the sights of the rocky coastline! We headed back to camp where we prepared chicken fried rice- a Hawaiian delicacy- and deliciousness ensued! Mackenzie, Liddy, Mae Mae, and Charlotte were especially helpful dicing up the veggies for dinner!

We are ending the day reflecting on the first half of and incredible trip! We are continuously amazed and empowered by the wonderful students and their ability to be themselves and to show us how to be the best versions of ourselves. We are so grateful to all of you for lending us your children for a few weeks! We absolutely love the community they have created and can’t wait for the rest of the trip!

Mahalo,

Lizzie, AC, and Bill


Living the Aloha Life!

June 16, 2019

Aloha folks,

Thanks for tuning in! Hope all is well back on the mainland, and now, we wish to help you live vicariously through us as we tell you about our amazing past two days! Yesterday we had an early start, and enjoyed a quick breakfast of oatmeal, cereal, and fresh fruit. After getting on the road to our sea kayaking and snorkeling activity, we were informed of a major swell that was coming in on the shore, preventing us from heading out to sea via kayak. The group kept their heads up and we made a plan B while watching the big waves crash in. The group was uplifted by Leader of the Day Marguerite and her enthusiasm and positivity despite the change of plans. We decided to head to the Maui Ocean Center, the largest aquarium in Hawaii, where we got the privilege of seeing a plethora of sea turtles, sharks, jelly fish, manta-rays and more. We all enjoyed a 3D movie presentation of the Maui local, hump back whales. After awhile, we all got some slushees and fudge before deciding to head over to the beach to swim and eat a nice lunch.

Rush and Harris were the first ones in the water and quickly convinced us all to follow suit. Their enthusiasm was absolutely contagious, and everyone was out in the warm blue water of the Pacific in a matter of minutes.

After lunch, we headed to Kealia Pond for an afternoon full of service. The students learned about the endangered Hawaiian coots and about invasive plant species that have caused the coots struggle. We all enjoyed getting our hands dirty as we picked pickleweed. Piers was especially enthusiastic and cleared a large section out all by himself. After a strenuous afternoon, we replanted native plants to assist in the coots nesting process- MaeMae was especially helpful in this process and maintained a smile on her face throughout the entire afternoon. To reward everyone for a hard days work we headed to Baldwin beach for another quick dip in the Pacific. Davis borrowed a boogie board from some kind people nearby and everyone was able to share in the fun of riding fantastic waves into shore. We sat and watched the sunset together and relished in a day well spent, facing adversity and coming out with another great adventure full of laughter and love.

This morning we woke up bright and early and enjoyed a quick breakfast of muffins and oatmeal. We packed our lunches and headed out for another exciting day. The swell that prevented our kayaking yesterday created amazing surfing conditions for today. Everyone caught some amazing waves, especially MacKenzie and Charlotte, every time we turned around, they were riding waves with enormous smiles on their faces. Liddy was especially excited after surfing right beside a beautiful sea turtle! Following an exhilarating morning of surfing, we ate a quick lunch and headed to Waihe’e coastal wetlands. We began a hike through this incredible area and took in stunning views of the ocean. As we set out on our hike our group was greeted by a flock of peacocks. We continued hiking and stopped at several scenic spots for amazing photos- we can’t wait to share them with you! We ended our hike when we discovered an amazing spot where a river met the ocean. We all decided it was time for a cool down and spontaneously hopped in the river! We enjoyed splashing a relaxing in the river before heading back to the van. We are currently back at camp enjoying some time in our hammocks while Tatiana, Parker, and Caroline help AC cook BBQ chicken quesadillas for dinner! Hopefully we will have time for a sunset cruise in the van after dinner! Everyone sends special Fathers Day wishes to all our amazing dads! Thanks for making this once in a lifetime trip possible!

As always,

Stay safe and have fun,

We know we will,

Lizzie, AC, and Bill


Sunrises, Sea Turtles and Fun in the Sun!

June 14, 2019

Aloha everyone!

We are just wrapping up our first full day of adventure and are proud to say that we could not be happier with this group and how awesome each and everyone of them are. So to start, thank you for sharing them with us on this journey around the island.

Right off the bat, we realized that we had a special group with us, because everyone made sure that no one felt like a stranger, laughter was heard right away and honestly, hasn’t stopped. Yesterday, after spending a few hours at the airport, waiting for everyone to arrive, we headed to camp, picking up pizzas along the way. When we arrived in our new home, everyone shared our first meal together and started getting to know each other.

After dinner, we all got together for our first Moonup, which is where we really set the tone for the two weeks to come. We discussed why we are here and what our expectations are, of both ourselves and those around us. All of us agreed that we came to Moondance to truly experience who we are and allow others to experience the same. Harris and Charlotte were elected our leaders of the day because of their experience and their ability to bring the others together in a special and necessary way. Following Moonup, Piers got all the boys going with a round of frisbee, which we all enjoyed until the stars came out and sent us all to bed.

This morning, we woke up to the birds chirping loudly outside our tents and crawled out to enjoy a beautiful sunrise together before Liddy, Marguerite, and Mackenzie cooked us a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, and English muffins, to fuel us through our day of swimming, turtle watching, and Ziplining. We hit the beach to swim, but we’re first greeted by thirty sea turtles lounging on the beach near our swim spot, which we were all amazed by. Tatiana and Parker were super entranced by these magnificent creatures and really put us in a great mood with their excitement and wonder. After the turtles, Rush and Davis took us all out into the ocean and wowed with their abilities for back flips and body surfing capabilities.

Ziplining gave us all a great thrill and spectacular views. Wow, what a time zipping through the rain forest of Mt. Haleakala with twelve of our closest new friends.

We came back to camp, where we played basketball and cards, and talked of the awesome day we had just shared together. To top it all off, Caroline and Mae Mae cooked some delicious tacos to end our first full day. We can smell the tacos now, so we’re signing off but again, thank you all for allowing this experience to happen.

Unit next time,
Stay safe and have fun,
We know we will,Lizzie,
Anne Carter, and Bill


Safe Arrival in Maui!

June 13, 2019

Hello Maui Families!

 

We heard from the group last night and they have arrived in Maui! The trip is off to a great start, stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

 

– Moondance HQ


Students

  • Caroline
  • Charlotte
  • Davis
  • Harris
  • Liddy
  • Mackenzie
  • Mae
  • Marguerite
  • Piers
  • Rush
  • Tatiana
  • Parker

Staff