July 10, 2019
We’ve just wrapped up our second session here on the island and we are blown away by what we all have done in the past two weeks. These students have had such a tremendous impact on the three of us and taught us more than we ever could have thought possible. With their unique perspectives and wacky senses of humor, we can honestly say this group gave us the time of our lives. So as we watch the last plane take off, we’d like to reflect on the past two weeks and share a little about what each student taught us and the impact they made on everyone around them.
The first couple of days are always interesting and the shift that can occur within fourteen days is truly incredible. People that come from all over the globe, not knowing anyone, are given the chance to be their true selves in a foreign environment with eleven other people that they’ve never met. Once they leave the safety of home, it sometimes takes a little while to find the comfort in a new place. The ability to create a safe space for people to be themselves is a beautiful thing and this group was able to do that quickly and easily.
Jack was able to help create this space right from the start. His humor and joie de vivre were welcomed and appreciated by all, and everyone loved his ability to bring people together with laughter. Bennett showed us the importance of service and humility throughout the trip. She was always the first to ask “what can I do for you?” no matter what the task. She was quick with a smile and words of encouragement. Ava brought a sense of adventure to every activity and her spunky spirit played a huge role in the group dynamic. Same goes for Caroline, who was always sparking up a group conversation and showing us how to have a good time no matter what. Hayden showed genuine selflessness and kindness to the entire group, and made a point to get to know everyone. He truly puts others needs before his own and it did not go unnoticed. Sally’s willingness to take risks and try new things was truly inspirational and helped the rest of the group to push past their limits. Charlie played a pivotal role in the group dynamic as well, and it was incredible to watch him break out of his shell and reveal his truest self. We were all better off because of it. Elizabeth taught us how to truly live in the moment and appreciate where we are. Her ability to find the beauty in every moment was a wonderful and refreshing thing to see. Cole has a thirst for adventure that is truly contagious and everywhere we went, he was the first in the water and the first to whip a flip. He always encouraged everyone to do what they wanted to do and be exactly who they were. There was never a time when Reese did not have a smile on her face. She was always ready for a good time with a good attitude and a word of encouragement for everyone. She lives life as if the sun is always shining. Helen was always ready to help and has a fantastic sense of adventure. She was always ready for whatever was coming and always engaged the crowd to get excited.
These people have entered our hearts and will never leave. We’ve had such a fantastic time and thank you all for joining us along the way. We can’t thank you all enough for sharing these fantastic people with us and know that these relationships will last a lifetime. Our lives would not be the same without these people and this group continuously reminded us of why we do this. We learn from them more than they learn from us and we could not be more proud of all that they accomplished. We look forward to the future and seeing where they go. Maui has been an incredible time and each and everyone of these folks have made it exactly what it should be. We hope to hear from you soon and glad that you could join us on this journey.
Stay safe and have fun,
We know we will,
Anne Carter, Bill, and Lizzie
July 8, 2019
Goooood morning mainland,
These past few days have flown by and we can’t believe the progress that we have made. First off, we’d like to wish everyone a happy Fourth of July and hope that you all had a safe and fun time. We’ve been busy soaking in our last week on the island with this group and celebrating this incredible country that we get to call home. This group continues to wow us with their joyful spirit and sense of community. We’ve become a family in these past two weeks and we are sure to relish in the last few days together as a group.
On the fourth, we started the day off in the great American fashion and had a mini parade before a classic grand slam breakfast of eggs, bacon, and pancakes. We attempted a water balloon war where Bennett taught us all the art of tying the perfect balloon but time caught up to us and we had to leave camp to make it for rappelling. We can’t think of a much better way to spend the fourth of July than rappelling down water falls in Maui. We met the outfitters in Paia, before riding to the waterfalls located in southern Maui right off the famous Hana highway. With wild ducks, peacocks, and chickens, this is one of the most interesting locations that we journey to. There were two waterfalls that we rappelled down and everyone rocked this activity. Everyone was particularly impressed with Sally, who conquered her fear of heights by cruising down the rocks despite her hesitation. One of the most beautiful parts of this trip has been witnessing all of us test our limits and becoming stronger than we were the day before. After our morning of rappelling, we walked around the beautiful garden and took in gorgeous views. This portion of the island is where they filmed Jurassic Park, a fact that interested many of the students. After our walk, we headed to the town of Lahaina, home to the largest fireworks show on Maui. On the ride there, we all painted our faces and put on all of our USA gear. Leaders of the day Reese and Hayden definitely won most patriotic with the paint, there wasn’t a spot on their faces that wasn’t red white or blue! Upon arrival we stumbled upon a great spot in Banyan Tree park for a picnic dinner overlooking the harbor. We laughed, ate pizza, and watched the sun set behind dozens of sailboats while listening to live music. We were absolutely blown away by the spectacular fireworks show. After a long drive back to camp, the group decided the day was not quite over, so we lit some sparklers and enjoyed our own little firework show. Jack’s enthusiasm and humor kept the group laughing all night as we concluded the day. He sure knows how to keep us entertained!
The next morning was the beginning to our service section of the trip, which is a valuable way to give back to the island that has given us so much these past few weeks. We started the morning with oatmeal and cereal and headed to Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, where we were to learn about marine conservation and how we can do our part in protecting the wildlife of Maui. To start, we headed to Kealia Beach for a beach clean up. The student’s hard work and dedication to this task wowed us! After a picnic lunch on the beach, we had some time to kill so Elizabeth and Helen convinced a few of us to bodysurf the big waves for the remainder of our lunch time before we got to go back to the Marine institute for the remainder of our day of service. When we arrived, John gave us a tour of the Maui Ocean Center, the largest aquarium in Hawaii. He showed us the shark and sting ray exhibit and told us a lot of interesting facts about the sharks that are native to the island of Maui, the reef shark in particular. He next showed us the main focus of the institute, which is coral reef restoration in the islands. We learned that Hawaii is made up of roughly one hundred and seventy seven islands and that each play an integral role in the ecosystem of the others. We proceeded to sort the trash that we had collected and clean the coral tanks. Bennett was especially helpful and enthusiastic about cleaning the coral tanks. After a morning of learning about sea turtles, we were fortunate enough to see them in their natural habitat at Ho’okipa beach park. After observing the turtles, Jack roused the group to swim out to a rock formation where we took some awesome pictures. We continued to swim and play on the beach for the rest of the afternoon. When we had soaked in all the sun we could handle, we headed back to camp. Charlie was quick to gather the group for a super fun soccer (futbol) game! As we cooked dinner, our friend Griff came by and spoke with the students about the history of the islands and the science behind the tides. After dinner, we had another great Moonup and discussed our service project for the next day.
The next morning, we headed to Honokowai valley to work with Maui Cultural Lands. Here we met our incredibly informative guide, Ekolu. His family has lived on Maui since the 1800s and he is well versed on all things Hawaiian. We worked in the valley removing invasive plant species. Ava was very dedicated to this task and commented on how great it was to give back to the islands that we have been enjoying so much! After working, Ekolu and his mom Puanani took us on a tour of the valley teaching us about the plants and their medicinal qualities. After a morning of hard work, we headed back to camp for some tye-dying! Caroline and Ava’s t-shirts turned out especially well! To cap off our day, we drove up Haleakala to watch the sunset from above the clouds. The sight was truly spectacular and we all enjoyed a few moments to reflect on an amazing trip!
Today, we worked with Maui Cultural Lands again, this time focusing our energy on the beaches. Once again, Ekolu wowed us with his knowledge of Hawaii as he taught us about the different kinds of coral and the changing marine ecosystem. After a brief lesson, we took to the water snorkeling as we surveyed marine life. Cole was super interested in learning about the different fish we were looking for and their essential role in Maui’s marine ecosystem. Caroline’s newfound love for snorkeling was evident to the group and she was a great asset to the project in many ways. Following another informative morning, we are now headed back from Iao valley, finishing up an afternoon of exploring more of the West Maui Mountains. We enjoyed cooling off in the flowing streams of the mountains and taking in more fabulous views. Cole led the group on a journey upstream where we found multiple watering holes and a breathtaking view of the mountain range.
As our trip comes to a close we feel so thankful for this time we have gotten to spend with all of the amazing students. We are looking forward to one last full day together and trying to slow down time as we soak up every minute before their departure. Thank you again for this opportunity, we have loved every minute of it!
Thanks for tuning in!
Lizzie, AC, and Bill
July 4, 2019
Aloha from Maui!
Our wonderful island group has quickly become one big “ohana”, and we have had a jam-packed last couple of days that we cannot wait to update you on. We first would like to tell you how proud we are of these kiddos, they are adventurous and fun-loving and we are so glad you have shared them with us! It has been an absolute joy to watch this squad break out of their shells and take risks as we explore Maui.
Sunday morning, the kids were ecstatic about another day on the beach riding the waves of the pacific. We fueled up on delicious bagel egg-in-a-holes while preparing for some more surfing and talked of who was going to shred the most gnar. The stoke level was high when we reached the waves and, this being the second day on the water, everyone was quick to get up and ride, particularly Sally, who showed us all some serious skills on the board. We saw some sea turtles while we were out there and the water wasn’t too crowded, so we were all able to catch waves at our leisure. After we returned to the vans, the Beach Boys surprised us with some tasty, local donuts which we scarfed down before heading up the coast to our next spot, the Nakalele Blowhole. At the blowhole, we ate our lunches looking out at the other islands and the beautiful Maui shoreline. Caroline and Reese confidently strolled close to get soaked by the water, while the rest of us looked for crabs and soaked in the scenery. We stayed for a while before heading back to camp to play soccer and get dinner going. Bennett and Hayden were kind enough to assist with dinner and whipped up some delicious barbecue chicken quesadillas! Yum! After another great Moonup, the group sat in a circle talking and giggling until we settled into our tents for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, we woke up to the birds chirping and goats bleating. After a quick breakfast of oatmeal and cereal, we threw on our swimsuits and got ready for an adventurous morning of windsurfing! We met our fabulous guides at the beach where we learned about the various parts of windsurfing boards and how to operate them before we were let loose in the water to practice. This sport is incredibly challenging, but all of our students persevered and were windsurfing pros by the end of it! We were so impressed with their positive attitudes and willingness to learn. Elizabeth especially impressed us with her abilities, by the end of the lesson she was sailing around the cove with ease. After an exhausting morning, we decided to head to the little town of Paia for a local food stop and a bit of souvenir shopping. Ava was so excited to find a Hawaiian necklace and Jack purchased a ukulele! After a few hours, we drove to the Western Maui Mountains for a scenic drive. However, our drive was cut short when we stumbled upon waterfalls tucked away in the jungle. We had a blast swimming in the pools beneath the waterfalls and everyone jumped in the water, clothes and all! Bennett was super excited to find a spot to jump from as the group cheered her on. After we had splashed to our hearts content, we headed back to camp for a delicious dinner of chicken pesto pasta. With bellies full, we circled up for Moonup and discussed who inspires us most, which made for great conversation and allowed us to get to know each other even more. To say it was a good day would be an understatement!
Wednesday morning was an early wake-up call, but the sunrise drive to Kihei and the incredible snorkeling that lied ahead of us made it all worthwhile. Our snorkeling guides met us with smiles and coffee as we loaded the boat and headed out to Molokini Crater, a historic wildlife sanctuary known for its breathtaking coral reefs and marine life. The group geared up with snorkels and flippers and jumped in the blue water to be greeted by a twenty-five foot whale shark! Cole was one of the first to notice this friendly sea creature and was absolutely exuberant to see such a magnificent sight. It was an amazing sight combined with the healthiest reef in Maui. We saw a barracuda, a puffer-fish, and a reef shark all within the first twenty minutes being in the water. We snorkeled around, marveling at the beauty, then climbed back on the boat to head to our next spot on the other side of the island. There is a single spot on the island where the water level rises and falls ten to twelve feet at a time and if you swim right up to the rock, you are transported up and down like in an elevator. Charlie was intrigued by the rise and fall of the water and kept all of us out there for a while, just going up and down with the current. At our next spot, Helen got us all excited as we followed six sea turtles around Turtletown before lunch. This activity was definitely a favorite of everyone, and we are all grateful for the beauty of the ocean and the creatures that it provides. We left our guides to go grab our boogie boards and head to another beach to catch waves. Jack kept us all laughing with his endless voices and impersonations and we had a nice, relaxing afternoon on the beach continuing to strengthen this newfound family. To end the day, we came on back to camp and started the celebration for the Fourth of July by cooking burgers and hotdogs with mashed potatoes with a Caesar salad. This was the perfect way to kick-start our celebration of our great nation. We are looking forward to the adventures to come, and we will be sure to keep you updated! Thanks for tuning in. As always, stay safe and have fun, we know we will!
Bill, AC, and Lizzie
July 1, 2019
Aloha friends and family!
We have had a busy few days getting settled in Maui with this wonderful group of people! We’ve had a lot of fun and met a lot of cool people. Thank you for sharing them with us. This group has taught us so much already and we couldn’t be more grateful and excited for these next two weeks. Tune in and join us along the ride!
After everyone landed safely in Kahului, we picked up some pizza and arrived just in time to admire our campsite’s beautiful ocean view as the sun set. After a scrumptious dinner, we introduced the kids to Moonup, a special Moondance tradition we participate in every night to reflect on our day and create a space where everyone’s voices can be heard. Bennett and Hayden were chosen as our first leaders of the day, or LOD’s, a special role appointed to two people daily to take on special roles and responsibilities.
The next morning the kids were excited to start their day, waking up with laughter and smiles. We enjoyed delicious breakfast bagel sandwiches with eggs and bacon, where Helen’s egg-scrambling skills were particularly appreciated by the group. After breakfast, our local island friend, Griff, joined us for a brief lesson on culture and history of Maui. Jack impressed everyone with his knowledge and interest in the Hawaiian history, quick to engage and answer Griff’s questions. By this time, the group was eager to finally see the beautiful blue ocean, so we hopped in the van and headed to the beach for a morning of sunshine, body surfing, and a beachside picnic. It was the perfect way to introduce the island to these kiddos and kick start our adventures. After an awesome morning, we made the trek up the mountain of Haleakala to Piiholo Ranch for some of the best ziplining on the island. Charlie was hesitant at first but ended up having the time of his life, getting by with a little help from his friends. The longest line was seven hundred feet above the canopy of trees and a half a mile long and everyone handled the challenge like champions. We enjoyed stellar views and stellar company as all was well with the world for our team. After zipping through the forests of Maui, we retired back to the campsite to cook up a bona-fide Mexican feast. We enjoyed chips and salsa, guacamole, five layer bean dip, and delicious tacos before we ended our day with another great Moonup.
The next morning, we awoke to peacocks and chickens chanting loudly near the camp and enjoyed a quick oatmeal breakfast before we headed to the beautiful shores of eastern Maui. We met up with our surf instructors and enjoyed a nice lesson on safety protocol and just what to do out on the waves. We headed out to a beautiful view of the surrounding islands and some pretty fantastic waves. Everyone stuck together as a group and we shredded the waves of Maui like champions. Cole and Helen were pros on the water and caught waves that no one else was able to catch. We had a blast out on the water and the ocean smiled in our favor. The waves were a good size and the conditions were perfect. Everyone was able to get up and surf a couple of waves, which was a great start to our stay in Maui. After we surfed, we decided everyone deserved a treat and headed across the street for shaved ice! Charlie delighted in his first bite of this tasty dessert. With our bellies full, we headed to a trail and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the ocean as we hiked! After our hike, we headed back to camp and threw the Frisbee and kicked the soccer ball while Ava impressed the squad with her backflips and tumbling skills. Lizzie prepared Pad Thai for dinner and we enjoyed a dinner under the beautiful stars. We were extra thankful for Elizabeth’s selfless offer to help with clean crew, her willingness to offer a hand does not go unnoticed! At Moonup we discussed where everyone wants to travel and were so amazed to hear the wide-range of responses! This group has so many unique students!
This morning, the high tide prevented us from participating in kayaking, but the group remained positive and we had an incredible day regardless! We decided to head to Waihe’e Coastal Wetlands for another awesome hike leading to an incredible spot where a river meets the ocean! Reese and Caroline were the first to jump in with the rest of the group close behind! We had the best time splashing in the river as the waves flowed in! After we had spent a while enjoying ourselves, we hiked back to our starting point for a picnic lunch on the beach. Following lunch, we drove to the Southeastern shore of Maui to boogie board! The waves were amazing and Sally particularly enjoyed riding the waves! We all had a blast boarding and even saw a few turtles as we did! After, we were all exhausted and decided a scenic drive was the perfect way to end the afternoon! We drove towards Haleakala and enjoyed fantastic views from above the clouds! We are typing now as our wonderful cook crew- Bennett, Helen, and Reese prepare a yummy spaghetti dinner for us all! We look forward to another wonderful dinner and Moonup with this crew! We are so blown away by how quickly this group has come together and are looking forward to the rest of our journey! Mahalo nui loa for allowing us to experience this with your children- we are loving every minute of it!
Stay safe and have fun- we know we will,
Lizzie, AC, and Bill
June 28, 2019
Hello Maui families,
The Maui 2A group has arrived safe and sound on the island of Maui, and we are so excited to hear about all of their upcoming adventures!