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Big Wild 2C • June 26-July 9, 2021

Rodeos and Big Skies to Wrap Up this Big Wild Western Adventure!

July 9, 2021

This is our FINAL update to you all, and what a great end to an unforgettable two weeks it has been!

We finished off our final travel day and reached our destination of Jackson in the early afternoon. We lucked out and found an incredible campsite right on a beautiful lake with plenty of space for activities. The kids spent the rest of the afternoon into the early night enjoying running around, hanging by the lake and taking in the incredible views. Brown and Kenny found a football and spent tons of time throwing around below camp. We bought the kids a wiffleball bat and ball, and Charlie showed off his impressive hitting skills. We cooked up a bunch of spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and the empty pots and pans showed that it was a hit!

Our first day of rock climbing called for a delicious breakfast, and then we hopped in the van off to our climbing site! After getting fitted for shoes, harnesses, and helmets, we took a boat ride to Hidden Falls in Grand Teton National Park. We were lucky enough to see a black bear during the ride, just swimming in the lake – a unique memory for all! We learned a ton on our first day of climbing. The class started with the fundamentals of climbing: keeping weight over center, utilizing the special grip on the shoe, and looking out for excellent hand and foot holds. Then we learned how to tie a figure 8 knot, which we would use on every climb! Our significant objective for the day was a multi-pitch climb, where the group was all attached by various ropes. We succeeded as a team, Clara and Charlie battled their fears of height, and we made it to our goal spot. Once at the top, those who were interested could learn how to rappel! Catherine and Peter jumped out at the chance, and they said it was a thrilling experience. On the boat ride back to our van, Guy spotted ANOTHER black bear in the woods, and everyone got to see this one from even closer up. We made a quick pit stop at camp to put our rain fly’s on our tents –just before some rain hit- and headed for downtown Jackson. On the agenda was some laundry, dinner, and then the famous Jackson Hole RODEO!! For most, it was a first rodeo experience, and we had such a blast! Kenny rode the mechanical bull- which got lots of laughs- and the rodeo events entertained the crew a ton. However, being at the rodeo without a cowboy hat felt a bit off-putting to some, so Sealy, Peter, and Brown led a charge to grab some sweet cowboy hats. Our crew had a ball, and Kenny and Lillian even want to go to more rodeos when they get home! When we got back to camp, the group showed off their incredible teamwork ability by totally cleaning out the van –our second home- and packing for our big final day! Lillian and Anabelle helped a TON organizing and cleaning, and the group spoke at length during Moonup about how well they can get things done when working together. After an incredible Moonup under some of the world’s greatest stars, we got some sleep before a big final day.

Our final full day of the trip! These kids will miss each other so much, but what a memorable day we had. On the breakfast menu were some of the group’s favorite cereals –Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms- bagels and cream cheese, and tons of fruit! Today’s climbing plan was some single pitch walls of varying difficulties and even a class 5.9 wall! Any fears of rock climbing- or heights in general- seem to have gone away, and the kids impressed us and the guides with their abilities. Peter and Calder were our master climbers, as they climbed the most challenging wall with ease. Both of us leaders couldn’t even climb the wall that they did, and we were a little jealous along with everyone else! Our guides taught Lillian how to belay climbers as they scaled the walls, a responsibility which she took upon herself and loved doing. The kids were really able to learn the ropes of climbing, and we imagine they’ll look forward to climbing again in the future. After leaving Teton National Park, we headed straight for the thrift store for the kids to find goofy outfits for our banquet dinner- and WOW, did they find some funny ones. After some greatly enjoyed showers, the kids threw on their new favorite clothes and hit downtown Jackson Square for some shopping before dinner. Banquet was full of laughs and constant entertainment- nachos were easily the favorite pick amongst the crew. A little bit of ice cream after dinner was well deserved after a fantastic day.

Our final Moonup spot had to be special, and we took the group to the T.A. Moulton Barn- the most photographed barn in the country. However, we had it to ourselves just as the sun was setting over the Tetons. We had an incredibly heartfelt Moonup that lasted almost two and a half hours, and the kids soaked in the rewarding feeling of their adventure coming to a close. Our van ride back to camp was a classic for our group, consisting of Catherine’s singing, Peter guitar solos, and tons of laughter.

This group has a special bond to one another that will remain for a long time to come. We as leaders can’t wait to see how their relationships with one another continue to blossom, and are so thankful that you as parents shared your kids with us for two weeks. Their growth, both individually and collectively, with us on Big Wild has been remarkable to see. It’s truly been the experience of a lifetime!

Sincerely,

Anna Stone & Chris Monde


Sleeping Under the Stars

July 6, 2021

Here we are back again with another trip update- this time from Idaho!

 

The group didn’t seem to mind the long car ride all too much and came up with an innovative way to play mafia! Calder and Lillian ripped up parts of a granola bar box, writing numbers on each piece to signify roles for the game- which would then be passed back in the van and picked by each player. There were many singalongs, and Calder was a favorite on aux with her wide span of classic rock and older country music knowledge. However, the outstanding highlight of the day would undoubtedly be our lunch surprise. Us leaders had the kids well fooled thinking we were just running into the grocery store to grab some boring sandwiches. Pulling into the Chick Fil A parking lot -especially after just coming out of backpacking and being in the middle of a long car ride- led to crazy levels of excitement and some screams for joy! Calder even said her stomach dropped! As we neared our campsite for the night in beautiful McCall, Idaho, we stopped at the store to get our Idaho Fishing Licenses! This really helped build up the excitement for our coming days on the water. When preparing for rafting and eating at camp, a deer walked over and hung out super close to us! The kids loved every opportunity to see animals. We capped off our day by having Moonup on a floating dock down on the lake behind our camp. Although some of us were hit by spontaneous splashes, it was a serene way to end a long day.

 

Our first day of rafting couldn’t have begun any different from some classic girls vs. guys raft wars. The hot temperatures made jumping into the water awesome and pulling others into the water even better! Guy was on his stealth a-game, and we never knew when he’d take one of us down into the water with him. We stopped for lunch on a spacious island, where we enjoyed some delicious sandwiches prepared by our raft guides after an action-packed morning. There was lots of football throwing, with Kenny showing off his crazy receiver skills. However, what entertained us today was the riddles brought up by the group! Some went on for at least 5 hours, and some are still being done now! We are sure you’ll hear them back at home. When we arrived at camp, the fly-fishing rods came right out. Brown showed some of his fishing knowledge by helping Charlie learn the art of fly fishing. This led us to our first catch of the trip! Charlie got a bite on his line, and everybody ran over with excitement. Clara pulled out her GoPro to capture the moment as we all surrounded Charlie, who quickly pulled up a smallmouth bass- our first catch of the trip! Dinner for our first night on the river was some deliciously grilled burgers by raft guide Matt, followed by some s’mores for dessert. The clear and beautiful night led to the kids wanting no part with the tents we brought, and everybody slept outside under the incredible night’s stars.

 

Our guides hyped up day two of rafting day to be the big rapids day, and it surely didn’t disappoint! We were presented with the challenge of two class 4 rapids. “Riding the bull” was an absolute hit amongst the kids on the bigger rapids. This is where somebody chooses to sit on the front of the boat with one hand waving up in the air. Peter perfected the art of bull riding, even on some of the most challenging rapids. Also offered up was the opportunity to swim through some rapids, which the entire group greatly enjoyed participating in. Thankfully, we were able to get a little break from the sweltering weather by having lunch on a shady beach. The girls even found a small cave to sit in! The afternoon presented us with some pretty sweet wildlife alongside the river. A bald eagle and golden eagle were seen perched near another on a tree at one point. A few minutes later, we saw a whole family of mountain goats on rocks by the river! After arriving at camp, Anabelle and Sealy scouted out a quiet and calming part of the beach and enjoyed the spectacular views before dinner. To cap off a fantastic day, our fishing luck was back yet again! Brown caught his first-ever smallmouth bass- his first catch of the trip.

 

Today: Independence Day! We began our 4th of July waking up on the beach to pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Couldn’t have started much better than that, and I think we all went in for a few too many servings! It was another blue-sky day on the water, but today we had something a little different on the agenda- cliff jumping! Our guides pulled off to a rock jump that had everyone literally jumping out of their seats to walk up. Guy and Catherine fearlessly led the group off into the water. Everybody in the group came after him one by one. The action didn’t stop there. There was a big handstand competition in the water at lunch to see who could stay up longest. Charlie came out as champion by an impressive margin! After lunch, we rafted through the Snake & Salmon confluence and floated through Hell’s Canyon- the deepest canyon in the US! In unexpected circumstances, we set up camp on a beach along the Snake River in Oregon- there’s another state for the kids to check off being in! Tonight, was an absolute ball. We had music going all afternoon into night, lots of bocce ball, mafia, delicious dinner, and you guessed it- more S’mores! This was followed by camp favorite songs American Pie and Bohemian Rhapsody. Kenny and Peter came out with some excellent air guitar solos. After Moonup, we were treated to another incredible night sky- where the shooting stars seemed to be more prevalent than ever.

 

This morning, we had an early rise for a challenging 15-mile paddle on the Snake River! Although it was very tiring, the group pushed each other through the challenge, which made for a rewarding end to what has been an incredible rafting journey. After some sandwiches and very special thanks to our raft guides, we hit the road headed back towards Wyoming. All that paddling must’ve left the kids tired. The van was dead quiet, so we leaders looked back to see everybody sleeping. However, the energy wasn’t lost for long as we arrived in Riggins, Idaho, for a surprise ice cream stop!

 

Reflecting upon rafting, we have so many incredible takeaways. The food was absolutely immaculate, thanks to our awesome raft guides. The time shared amongst the group was unforgettable on the river, both during the challenging rapids and playing around in the water during the calmer floats. The group came together almost like a family, and the bonds created won’t be fading anytime soon.

 

Anna & Chris

 

Here are messages from your amazing kids!!!

 

Anabelle: hi miss u guys. Lots of love hHa

 

Brown:

Hey mom and dad, hope y’all are doing good. I’m having so much fun. We just finished the rafting trip and our guides were so funny. Hope the dogs and y’all are good. Fishing was good except I only caught two fish. We climbed to the summit of a mountain and it was sick. Can’t wait to see y’all. Love you

 

Calder:

Hey Familia! I am having a great time, and I miss y’all!!! Give Sadie Bear a hug for me. Can’t wait to tell y’all all about it. Love ya! 🙂

 

Catherine: Hey y’all! I miss you guys so much. A lot of fun stuff has happened and everyone here is so amazing and kind. Im so excited to see you guys in 4 days!

 

Charlie: Hey y’all can’t wait to see you guys and dad yes I did catch the biggest fish. We summited a mountain and rafted for 80 miles. See y’all soon!

 

Clara:

Hi fam! I miss y’all lots but I’m having so much fun and have done some cool things. Tell the dogs I miss them too. Love y’all SO much!!!!

 

Guy: Miss you guys, I had fun rafting and I made new friends LoL.

 

Kenny:

Hey y’all! I miss y’all so much and am having so much fun. I’ve also made so many friends. The first day we summited a mountain and the view was sick. We just got done with rafting and it was a lot of fun, and now we are going rock climbing. I can’t wait to see y’all in 4 days. Love y’all so much. Y’all are the best

 

Lillian:

Hey fam!! Having so much fun here, I’m not ready to come back to reality. Tell Ella I miss her the most <3 lots of love

 

Peter:

Hey guys! Hope you’re doing well. I’m having a great time so far. I’m so tan, I don’t think anyone will be able to tell I’m not from Florida. We just finished our rafting trip and now we’re going to Jackson for rock climbing. Love you guys, and I can’t wait to see you!

 

Sealy: Hey yallll camps been so much fun I miss y’all a lot though I hope the Fourth of July was good though wish I was there for it! Tell Preston and Carissa I said hi, I love y’all see y’all soon


On Top of The World in the Wind River Range!

July 1, 2021

What an incredibly unforgettable beginning we have had to our adventure on Big Wild! We started out our journey at the Jackson airport. The kids had lunch and snacks while getting to know each other as everybody arrived. After getting the van fully packed, we set off to Pinedale, WY, and picked up pizzas! We found a park to eat in and all sat together under a gazebo. Some of the kids already had everyone’s names down!

 

From here, we went to our campsite for night one. We taught various lessons to the kids to prepare for the backpacking section including: how to set up tents, Leave No Trace, and expedition behavior, among many other Moondance expectations. Our group’s energy was full of contagious excitement, which translated into a special first Moonup experience together. We are lucky to have a Moondance alum, Peter, on the trip. He explained Moonup and its importance to the group. He was also nominated as our first Leader of the Day (LOD), along with Catherine, to begin our backpacking journey.

 

A good night’s sleep was much needed before a big day of backpacking into the Winds. Packing our backpacking packs usually takes a good while, but this group’s excellent focus made it an easy task. After some fruit and bagels, we hit the road to our starting spot! The drive fueled lots of excitement. Looking one way, there were beautiful towering mountain views with wild, wondrous, and expansive views the other way- Wyoming at its finest. We even spent 20 minutes stuck in the middle of a cattle drive! The hike into our base camp was a bit challenging, but nothing this group couldn’t handle. 4 miles and a little rain didn’t stop our group from pushing through. We were incredibly impressed by the positive attitudes, toughness, and leadership put on display during the trek. We set up camp at the front of a meadow about five football fields long with high mountain peaks around us on nearly all sides. Calling this place our new home for the next few days felt like quite the reward after a hard day’s work. Some backcountry lessons were mixed in with group games before dinner. We couldn’t have picked a better place to bring a Frisbee, and nearly everyone enjoyed throwing it around. Tonight’s pasta dinner was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Food while camping always tastes better! Lillian sought out an incredible spot to catch the sunset and called over Anna to enjoy it with her. After Moonup, it didn’t take long for everyone to fall asleep after a fantastic, yet full day.

 

We let the kids sleep in on day three –they deserved it. Today was a more easygoing day after the big backpack into camp. The kids spent all day enjoying quality time with one another- unfamiliar environments are a lot easier to settle into when you’re having a blast making new friends! The day’s agenda was pretty casual, yet everyone had a ball. Sealy and Annabelle enjoyed some time relaxing in the sun. There was lots of Frisbee throwing, great meals, hacky sack and card games, and the biggest hit of all, a game called mafia. Peter had quite the impressive long-distance Frisbee throw, and Brown was our king of the hit hacky sack game. Mafia, however, was played more than any other game, and for a good reason; the kids made it a blast! The game requires a narrator- who secretly picks others to fill the roles of characters such as the mafia, detective, and medic- and the premise is for people to figure out who the mafia is. Clara stole the show as narrator with her hilarious stories, while Charlie always seemed to have that 6th sense to figure out who the mafia was. Although everyone enjoyed the relaxation, the group had an urge to push ourselves the next day. We had quite the plan: a mountain summit.

 

We woke up early the following day ready to tackle the challenge. After a hearty breakfast and lots of hydration, we packed our backpacks with an extra layer and 2 full water bottles. We had our sights set for one of the peaks we could see from our tents- the West Atlantic South Summit. The hike up started out with an uphill trail through trees before opening up into a boulder field to cross. With all the physical and mental challenges present, morale and energy could not have been higher. Everybody had the courage to succeed. After some more climbing- and starting to feel that 10,500 feet a little more- it was time for a long lunch break. While eating, we were all surely feeling a few different emotions. There were some nerves, excitement, confidence, doubt, but what fueled the group was our courage and “never give up” attitude. The kids left their backpacks at our lunch spot to make the final push a bit easier, and it was time to finish the climb! As we would look down to admire the view, the tents at our camp began to look smaller and smaller. When the going got tough, the group pushed each other to succeed. Calder and Guy’s contagious enthusiasm made the summit feel possible, and Kenny’s commentary kept the group jovial. The climb was a genuine team effort. When we finally reached the top, the view was hard to put into words. Perched on the very top, we could see parts of five different states: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Sitting on top of that mountain could not have been a more gratifying experience, and we will never forget Brown saying that he was “the happiest he has ever been.”

 

Eventually, it was time to start the trek down. The group had built up this feeling of being able to do absolutely anything after the climb up. While the climb down was challenging, there was not a single complaint all the way down. We hiked a bit too far downhill from our lunch spot- where we left the backpacks- to add in even more drama. Thanks to Guy’s keen eye and memory, we found them with ease and continued down to camp. As leaders, we could not have been prouder of everybody’s effort on the climb. There was a feeling of elation after arriving back at camp that has yet to leave the group. We cannot wait for this to remain throughout the rest of the session. After a big dinner, and some more mafia of course, we had a special Moonup. There was a quote recited that really encapsulated the day, and part of it is as follows: “Courage is seeing your fear, in a realistic perspective, defining it, considering alternatives, and choosing to function in spite of risks.” –Leonard Zunin

 

Day #5: time to backpack out of the winds! 4 miles, mostly downhill, to this group was no big deal after yesterday. While the excitement of rafting is hard to not dwell on, the challenges faced, bonds created, and unequivocal personal growth from backpacking were invaluable to everybody in the group. We were blessed with perfect weather for the backpack out. The beauty of Wyoming and the Winds were put on display once again. We reached our van and set our sights for Pinedale to shower! We arrived at the aquatic center and surprised the kids with the opportunity to swim and go down the waterslide before showering. The group could not have been happier, and Charlie had some hilarious stories to tell from the experience. We headed to tonight’s campsite with even more awesome surprises. Not only were we camping right on a beautiful lake with a small beach, but on the menu for dinner were burgers, chicken, hot dogs, and corn! Some grilled food paired with a beautiful campsite was the perfect way to close out the first section of our trip.

 

Next up, a road trip up to the Salmon River in Idaho for even more unforgettable Moondance moments.

 

-Anna Stone & Chris Monde

 


All Have Arrived!

June 26, 2021

Hello Big Wild Families!

The whole group arrived safely in Jackson today and is on their way to their first campsite. We have heard from our leaders this afternoon that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.

Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!

– Moondance HQ


Students

  • Anabelle
  • Brown
  • Calder
  • Catherine
  • Charlie
  • Clara
  • Guy
  • Kenny
  • Lillian
  • Peter
  • Sealy

Staff