July 25, 2019
Aloha one last time!
We cannot believe this session has come to an end, but we are so overwhelmed with gratitude for this group and their love for each other! From the start, we knew this group was a special one. Their bright, humorous, and adventurous spirits allowed for friendships to blossom quickly and easily, and we are so thankful for the way they bonded as a group and truly embodied what it means to “live in the moment”. Although we are saddened to see this trip come to an end, our hearts are filled to the brim after watching twelve strangers become best friends after just a few short weeks.
After a meaningful and rewarding couple of days giving back to the community of Maui, we amped back up to enjoy the last three days on the beautiful island. On Sunday morning, we were able to enjoy a few extra hours of sleep before we journeyed to an uncharted part of the island. Our late start allowed us to enjoy a massive breakfast of champions, which included bacon, Canadian bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheese toast. Once we were all fueled up, we headed up the famous Hana Highway, to a spot where Jurassic park was filmed, to rappel world-renowned waterfalls. All of us enjoyed a delicious lunch of pineapple, burritos, and cookies before we hiked down to the first cliff where Jack R showed us all how it was done. He cruised down the first wall like he had been doing it his whole life. Everyone was impressed and the stoke level reached epic proportions. Jack B also set an example for us all. He overcame his fear of heights and crushed the waterfalls as the group encouraged him. After everyone descended, we enjoyed splashing in the fresh water swimming holes at the bottom of the falls before climbing back up the mountain to enjoy the view. We saw wild peacocks, ducks, and chickens on the way back to the van and everyone was intrigued by the colors and variation in the animals that we see back on the mainland.
After we left the beautiful southern Maui Mountains, we headed straight for the local grocery store where we informed everyone that Iron Chef Moondance was occurring that night. Everyone split into two teams and received thirty dollars to spend on a meal. Each team cooks a meal for the leaders and their own team, and the leaders judge based off of taste, style, teamwork, and originality. The three of us are always incredibly impressed by the talent and the creativity that everyone brings to the table. One group, led by Malone and Ashton, cooked delicious grilled cheese sandwiches with mozzarella and sourdough bread with homemade pesto tomato soup and chocolate covered strawberries as dessert. The other group, led by Noelle and JB, cooked steak sandwiches with French fries. Everything was so delicious and we were not only impressed by the meals but the camaraderie among both teams.
The next morning we woke up excited for another day out on the beautiful blue ocean, but even more excited for Susanna’s big 1-4!!! We woke up our birthday girl with none other than a solid jam session, chocolate chip muffins, donut holes, and plenty of decorations. Everyone was pumped for the awesome morning of windsurfing ahead of us! When we arrived at Kanaha Beach, the group split into small groups and received individual private lessons from world-class windsurf professionals. William and Virginia blew us all away with their natural knack for the board. After everyone watched and learned, we all lined up for some group races. Sheffield took the first one by a landslide and gave us all a lot to live up to. We tried a couple more races, but Sheffield seemed to have the upper hand until we began the relay races. Cross, Jack R, and Ashton teamed up to crush the competition in the team races. We can always count on those three to get hype for some friendly competition! That afternoon we went to the historic town of Paia, where the group shopped around for local keepsakes and souvenirs for family and friends. That evening, we drove to the top of the largest dormant volcano in the world. At 10,047 feet, Haleakala is quite a sight to behold. We drove up above the clouds to watch the sun set over the distant west Maui Mountains. After a beautiful pink sunset, we all held a memorable Moonup on top of the mountain before descending back down to enjoy some chocolate cake and sing Sus happy birthday one last time.
The following morning brought beautiful views and wonderful weather for our last full day on island. We headed towards Makena Beach for a morning of stand-up paddle boarding! The group paddled out into the surf with ease, eager to spot sea turtles and soak in our last morning on the mighty Pacific. After getting our sea legs, the group, once again, was pumped to participate in a group game. After Katie and Noelle stole the show in a good old-fashion relay race, our guides challenged us with a tree-stand yoga pose. Katie was the only one even remotely close to succeeding, and we were so impressed with her vigilance and motivation. We concluded the fun-filled morning and paddled back to shore to enjoy one last beach picnic.
On the last night, we all go to a restaurant to share and reminisce about the past two weeks. We went to Goodwill to get some outfits that we could all be proud of. Fran convinced all of the girls to rock some dapper attire. We can always count on her to corral the group and humor us with everything she does! With our getups going strong, we headed once again to Paia for a delicious dinner at a local pizzeria. We enjoyed terrific pizza and our last night together as “ohana.” It was such a bittersweet evening. When we closed the night at Moonup, we all discussed what our new friends meant to us and everything that ‘we had learned in the past two weeks. It’s incredible how close strangers can become in such a short amount of time. Good company is everything, and this mindset was reiterated to us throughout the trip.
We three leaders cannot stress enough how grateful we are for our time spent with these twelve wonderful people. As we watch the last plane leave, we are overcome with pride and joy reflecting on the camaraderie within this particular group. The bond they shared is something you don’t see every day, and we are honored to have been a part of such a special thing. We would like to thank you for sharing these students with us and allowing us to get to know them. We have ended this trip with twelve new members of our family, and we feel certain that each of them will go off to do incredible things. We’ve shared some incredible experiences and we are so happy that we were able to give you a glimpse of it all. Thanks for joining us.
Mahalo nui loa,
A hui ho,
Anne Carter, Bill, and Lizzie
July 21, 2019
Hope all is well back on the mainland, or wherever you’re joining us. We’ve been having some beautiful days here on Maui and learned a lot of cool and interesting things over the past few days. From cleaning up invasive weeds in the West Maui Mountains to cleaning sea turtle tanks, we’ve really been introduced to Hawaiian culture at its finest. The last time that we talked, up until that point we had been doing a lot of water and recreational activities where we got to experience what life could be like on the island. These past few days, we’ve been given a glimpse of what Hawaii has always been, especially for the native people of the land, and also the impact of humanity on the ocean ecosystem.
We had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, getting excited for the day that we had ahead of us. That day, we headed to the West Maui Mountains to help with a service project that has been going on there for the past twenty years. The mountains in that area of the island receive roughly four hundred inches of rain each year, making it the second wettest spot in the world. There are still structures in the area that date back roughly 800 years. However, due to rivers being diverted for sugar cane production, the river that used to run through this valley has been barren for years, making the valley uninhabitable. The ultimate goal is to restore this area back to the taro fields that once made it a fruitful area. Upon arrival, everyone was given a brief synopsis of the area and some ground rules that we must follow upon entering the sacred ground that we were to work in. Our teachers for the day performed a brief ceremony, asking permission for us to enter and to give us safe passage. We left all worry, stress, and any negativity at the top of the mountain before descending. At the bottom, we were given the tools we would need for the day and quickly got to work. Ashton and William led the way through the weeds and in no time at all, they had cleared a large section of the grass. The three of us are so proud of the way that everyone handled the difficulty of this day. We worked hard with smiles all around. Virginia pushed herself and made it her mission to get the biggest of the plants, and she took invasive plant species down like she’d been doing it her whole life. Ekolu, our teacher, was impressed with how hard and how well everyone worked together as a group. We sat in an old riverbed and he gave us a history lesson on the area and got the group to discuss the importance of what we had been doing. We learned of how the mountains had been formed and how they were farmed and utilized by his ancestors. To end the day, we enjoyed lunch down in the valley, and Ekolu picked some fresh papaya for us! Following a morning of hard work, we loaded up the van and headed to the famous Iao Valley for a brief hike. After we had explored to our heart’s content, we headed to a beach park. We were pleasantly surprised to discover beach volleyball courts and Cross immediately rallied the group for an intense game. Jack R was definitely MVP and the whole group amazed us by how supportive they were of their teammates. This group loves some friendly competition!! After our game, we all cooled off in the ocean before heading back to camp for some delicious pad-thai, a Moondance classic! Our Moonup included a discussion of what everyone had taken away from the day and we were absolutely blown away by some of their responses! We are so blessed to get to experience this trip with such smart and thoughtful teens.
The next day, we woke up and prepared for another day working with Ekolu. This time, we met Ekolu at his home on the beachfront. His family has lived on the same property since the 1880s and the area is full of history. We began the day with a presentation on micro-trash and how trash affects our beaches. We were all shocked to learn how long it takes some of our trash to decompose and definitely had us thinking about ways we can live more sustainable lifestyles at home. Following, we had another presentation from a local fisherman who discussed pono, or proper, fishing practices. We have many fishermen in this group, so they were especially interested in learning from this expert. We even learned how to tie fishing line to a hook! Following these lessons, Ekolu got us all out in the water to show us some of the amazing coral in front of his house and teach us about the islands surrounding Maui. Jack B was especially engaged and asked some really great questions! Ekolu is a local legend and a wealth of knowledge. It is such a privilege to get to learn from him! As we were wading back to shore, we were lucky to catch a glimpse of a black-tipped reef shark swimming in the distance! Back on shore we enjoyed a picnic lunch including mango freshly picked from Ekolu’s front yard. With bellies full and lots of new information in our brains, we headed to the beach for some body surfing. The group had an amazing time splashing in the waves and throwing the Frisbee on the beach. We headed back to camp to change into dry clothes before heading down the street to the street fair! This was another great way to experience Hawaiian culture. We had a blast line dancing and enjoying local cuisine. Fran and Susanna especially enjoyed learning new line dances and were both grinning from ear to ear all night! On our way back to camp we blasted some of the groups favorite songs and sang the whole way home. Sheffield kept the energy up with her song requests and dance moves!
We woke up this morning for a yummy breakfast of egg-in-a-hole bagels. Jack B and Ashton, as always were super helpful chefs! All the girls assisted in clean up duty before we headed out for the day. For today’s service project, we worked with a sea turtle and coral reef conservation that works to minimize the trash impact we have on our oceans. We began the day with a beach clean-up! Katie and Malone were extra hard workers, picking up tons of trash with no complaints! We were all shocked and disgusted by the amount of trash on the beach, discovering some trash that travelled all the way from Japan. The overwhelming amount of trash gave the group a better awareness of our impact on the environment. After the beach clean-up we headed back to the ocean center for lunch and a behind-the-scenes tour of the island’s largest aquarium. We learned about the institute’s efforts to regrow coral and rehabilitate sea turtles that have been entangled in trash or fishing line. After our tour, they put us to work sorting recycled trash, painting turtle tanks, and cleaning out coral tanks. Noelle was super interested in cleaning the coral tanks and learning about the different kinds of marine life in the tanks. She took every opportunity to touch the animals, from anemones to sea cucumbers! She just may be a budding marine biologist!
We are currently sitting at camp surrounded by laughter from the group, and we cannot believe how quickly this trip has flown by. This group so quickly became an “ohana” and we are so impressed by their adventurous spirits and encouraging attitudes! We are soaking up every minute together these last few days.
A Hui Ho, or “until we meet again!”
Lizzie, AC, and Bill
July 18, 2019
Thanks for tuning in! We’ve been having so much fun getting to know this group of people and learning from them. They’ve hit it off better than we ever could have imagined and we’re so excited for what the rest of our time has in store for us. We’ve been on many adventures together already and we are so excited for everything that this island still has to offer.
We started the day off with a breakfast of champions. We had bagels with anything that you could possibly want on them. After we ate, we headed to our first day of surfing, which ended up being the perfect time to catch a good wave. The ocean was our friend that day, and everyone was able to shred some serious gnar. We started with such high hopes and good attitudes; all were ready to take on the Pacific. Noelle was the first one to get up and catch an awesome wave, she really set the tone for the rest of the group! We were also very impressed by William, for although it was his first time surfing, he picked it up quickly and was fearless out on the water. After an incredible first surfing lesson, the group gathered around under a tree for a picnic lunch and refueled for the rest of the afternoon. We headed to a different beach to continue our day in the sun. The day couldn’t have been going better until Jack B stumbled upon a huge group of sea turtles! It was the perfect way to conclude our day before heading back to camp to get dinner started. Jack B was a great asset that night in cooking jambalaya for the crowd, which was a huge hit and deserved a major “nug”! Our LOD’s Ashton and Malone led us in a meaningful Moonup where we discussed what Moondance means to us, along with our favorite aspect of the island so far.
The next morning, we had an early wake-up call, but our day of snorkeling that lied ahead of us made the sunrise van ride worthwhile. We headed down to be greeted by Redline Rafting with smiles! We hopped on the boat for a beautiful cruise out to the island of Molokini while enjoying some scrumptious cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit. Our friendly and knowledgeable guides taught us about the surrounding islands before we geared up and dove into the coral-filled waters. Susanna was one of the first to jump in with her Go-Pro ready and eager to capture the wonders of the reef. We explored the water and our guide taught us about all the sea creatures we encountered. When we felt we had fully explored this area, we hopped back in the boat and headed to the backside of Molokini to experience the famous “elevator ride.” This is an amazing spot on the rock wall where the water rises and falls 10+ feet, taking us with it! Katie especially was amazed by this and we all had a blast riding up and down in the waves! Another quick boat ride took us to “turtle town”, a cleaning station where many sea turtles hang out while getting their shells cleaned by little fish. It was absolutely incredible to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures! Exhausted from an amazing morning of snorkeling, we climbed back in the boat to share an amazing lunch spread prepared by our awesome guides before heading back to the harbor. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the West Maui Mountains and even got a quick glance of the famous “Jaws” beach! Jack R was super pumped to see it! We headed back to camp for more card games and a yummy pad-thai dinner- Virginia was so helpful preparing this meal for the group! After a long day, the group hung their Enos and turned in for some well-deserved rest.
The next morning, we woke to the peacocks and chickens chirping and enjoyed a quick breakfast of oatmeal and cereal. We headed back to surf the waves again! Everyone was super excited to get back on the board and improve their skills even more! Fran and Malone impressed the whole group by riding a wave on the same board together- it was amazing! We were so impressed by how much everyone had improved in just a few short days! After surfing, we decided to go check out the Nakalele blowhole. Sheffield especially enjoyed watching this incredible sight while we enjoyed a picnic lunch. When we hiked down closer to the blow hole Ashton was the first to stand in the “spray-zone” encouraging the rest of the group to join him! We can always count on him to lead the group with enthusiasm! After a quick cool down, we hiked back up and headed back to camp. Fran had the awesome idea to start a game of broomball, basically baseball using a broom rather than a bat. We were so impressed with her creativity. Cross was a team captain and got the whole group hyped up to play. For dinner, we had some delicious BBQ chicken quesadillas and discussed what we were most looking forward to as we enter the service section of our trip tomorrow.
We have been so impressed by this group in countless ways! They have so quickly become a family, are always coming up with fun games to play, and never cease to have smiles on their faces! We can’t wait to experience the rest of the trip with them- we couldn’t ask for a better group of teens!
As the Hawaiians say, “A Hui Ho”, or until we meet again!
AC, Bill, and Lizzie
July 15, 2019
Aloha Friends and Family!
We’ve just ended our second day on the island and we are already having an incredible time! The island has welcomed everyone with open arms, so we are all looking forward to what the next two weeks has to offer us. Thank you all for sharing these twelve wonderful students with us, they have already bonded as a group and its been amazing to watch new friendships form in just two short days. We’re looking forward a fantastic few weeks with them all.
Everyone arrived with smiles on their faces and the fires that had put a little scare into us were long gone by the time the group had landed. After a day spent at the airport, the group was eager to get a move on, so we loaded the van and headed to camp! We enjoyed some delicious pizza and got to know each other some more. Little did the group know they would become best friends in a few short days! After dinner, we circled up and introduced the group to Moonup, a Moondance tradition that gives us a chance to gather and reflect. We each answered the question of “why are you here?” and “what are you grateful for?” and it was incredible to hear the responses! Sheffield and Cross were chosen as LOD’s, or Leaders of the Day, another Moondance tradtion that gives students a chance to lead their fellow peers and take on some responsibilities throughout the trip. We chose these two because we noticed their exemplary leadership skills and the ability to step out of their comfort zone right off the bat. After Moonup, everyone was worn out and ready for a good night’s sleep in their new home!
The next morning was not just any morning, but extra special because our girl Virginia turned fourteen! We woke up our birthday girl with a plethora of decorations, party hats, and birthday music and got excited for our first day on the island. There is no other way to begin a birthday than a big breakfast of blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes with sprinkles. After a celebratory breakfast, we had a quick lesson about the history of Maui before heading to the beach! Everyone was super pumped to see sea turtles basking in the sun. Jack R and Ashton convinced everyone to swim out into the waves to check out the turtles that were swimming off shore and to body surf the waves back into the beach. We were tired and hungry after our swim so we walked to a fruit stand to get some fresh pineapple and mango to eat with our lunch. We enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch before heading to ziplining. We were all stoked as we prepared to zip above the trees of Haleakala. The longest of the lines was seven hundred feet high and a half a mile long. Jack B was the man of the hour and really excited to soar above the trees. He kept the morale high and made sure that everyone felt safe and excited for our day on the lines. We arrived back to camp around sunset where Fran and Susanna helped whip up some delicious fajitas. Everyone enjoyed the scrumptious dinner before we enjoyed our second Moonup before retiring for the evening.
When we awoke the next morning, Noelle, Malone, and Ashton cooked up a feast of a breakfast; a wonderful spread of hash browns, eggs, bacon, and sausage. We drove to the wetlands area to go for a hike and a swim where a fresh water river comes in from the West Maui Mountains to meet with the great Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed a great lunch there, as the waves crashed nearby, before we headed to the southern most point of Maui to enjoy ice cream and views. William was able to expand on some of his knowledge of the island and pointed out the different landmarks along the way. We are all amazed at his ability to create fun out of any situation. As we continued our drive, we made our way to a beach for boogie boarding and swimming. Katie was super excited when we spotted a massive sea turtle swimming nearby! It was seriously the biggest turtle we have seen all summer! Exhausted from an adventurous day, we loaded up in the van and headed back to camp for a spaghetti dinner and intense card games. We are so amazed by how quickly this group has become a family and cannot wait for the rest of our journey together!
Stay safe and have fun- we know we will!
Lizzie, AC, and Bill
July 13, 2019
Hello Maui 3A families!
We are happy to report that all students for Maui 3A have arrived on the island and are with their excited Moondance leaders back at camp! We can’t wait to hear about their first few days of exploring.