June 21, 2021
Hello from the Seattle Airport!
It is with both so much pride and a heavy heart that we write this trip update today. Sitting at the airport, we have watched student after student board their flights. As their numbers dwindle, we feel sad and grateful for the memories and friendships we have made.
Thankfully, we finished this trip with strictly positive vibes! After white water rafting in the North Cascades, we drove to Saltwater State Park to complete our trip on the coast of Washington. This park had a beautiful beach cove and a stunning view of the sunset. When we arrived at the park after rafting, our students immediately started setting up camp — they are practically pros at tent set up and camp cooking!
That night, the boys and the girls split up for a competitive game of Iron Chef! Ellie and Basil were the two teams’ representative leaders; both teams made a shopping list and then tackled a gourmet meal, entirely cheffed on a Coleman camping stove! Basil, Jack, and Ian came out on top; the boys’ meal of steak and potatoes (with a personalized vegetarian option for Skyler) won us over! The girls came in a close second creating a masterpiece MacNCheese bar. Lillian even blew us away with a table side dance presentation to go along with the food.
The next day was a mix of work and fun. We started off with delicious pancakes, which were much welcomed by Caroline and Basil, who especially loved the fluffy chocolate chip pancakes! After breakfast, we cleaned the van, sadly packed all our duffles, completed final paperwork, and tidied up camp. After a morning of work and play, we went to a local thrift store to buy fun and flamboyant clothes for our final banquet dinner! Jack found a priceless jersey, and Lillian created a whole outfit based on a fifty-year-old, retired adventurer.
We then returned to Saltwater State Park for a final afternoon of play. Our group stormed the ocean waters for one final polar plunge. Julia’s energy and excitement for the polar plunge made the icy waters seem almost hot! We stayed and splashed around in the ocean until Becca spotted a group of jellyfish. Our fear of getting stung led to a hasty and hilarious water evacuation. After sprinting out of the water, we then played beachside games, led by Jack and Ellie! Basil then volunteered himself to be buried in the sand; we all think he made a perfect sand-person!
Some post-beach showers preceded our final banquet — burgers and shakes at a fan-favorite, Five Guys. Basil and Ian loved theirs so much that they went back for seconds; our thrifted outfits and our hungry bellies certainly made us stand out! Superlatives were given to all students as we ate and celebrated our new memories and the future ones to come.
Our final Moonup consisted of making rope bracelets, delirious late-night laughter, and many tears to honor the bonds created over the last couple of weeks. Watching this group bond has been absolutely life-giving to us as leaders. Their tears on this last night made us appreciate how vulnerable and loving they have been to one another and to us.
We absolutely love these students; thank you so much for sharing them with us. They started out as strangers and have become our dear friends.
With much love and appreciation, signing off for the last time,
Thomas, McKee, and Skyler
June 20, 2021
Hello all from The North Cascades!
We began our next section by traveling from our surf town of Westport to Lake Wenatchee National Forest for rock climbing. We made sure to stop by Kurt Cobain’s childhood home in the town of Aberdeen on the way out, which was so cool! We had a beautiful drive, surrounded by the jagged and snow covered mountains of the cascades.
Upon arrival at Lake Wenatchee, we set up our tents, quickly hopped back into the van, and headed towards Heidleburger, a delicious burger joint in the nearby Bavarian town of Leavenworth, WA. We all enjoyed various types of burgers, including teriyaki burgers, chipotle burgers, and veggie burgers. Basil especially enjoyed Heidleburger, where he conquered 3 cheeseburgers, including 1 double.The following day we woke up and headed to the Northwest Mountain School, where we were equipped with all of our climbing gear.
We then followed our outfitters to Icicle Pass, which was a beautiful climbing spot in a deep and beautiful canyon. We began with three lines up a magnificent rock face, where Caroline stepped up to be the first person on the wall, belayed by Julia. After everyone (and I mean everyone) completed all three lines, we all packed up and headed to two more lines nearby that were a little more challenging. Lillian was the first in the group to finish all of the lines with ease. The rest followed suit, which made for a very successful day of rock climbing. That night we cooked quesadillas and sat around a fire single handedly created by Jack.
The following day we climbed our two last incredible rock faces in the sunny and beautiful Pishastin Pinnacle State Park. These lines were much more difficult, which did not seem to hold up Ellie one bit. She hustled up the rock faces with ease, thoroughly impressing everyone, including the outfitters! Following the climbs, Rebecca led the charge up to the peak of a nearby mountain, with a beautiful and rewarding view. In fact, all the girls — Ellie, Julia, Lillian, Caroline, and Rebecca — destroyed rock climbing; we were all thoroughly impressed by their skills!
After we wrapped up our climbing section, we headed up the Cascades once again towards the Skagit river for our rafting section.The next morning we were fortunately able to sleep in a little bit, allowing for a great deal of energy as we strapped into our rafts. The rafting was very fun, and we were able to play an outfitter-led game of King of the Hill during the more mellow stretches of the river. After the first day of rafting was completed, we drove to our next campsite at Rasar State Park, in order to be closer to the beautiful Sauk River for our next day of rafting. We woke up this morning and once again strapped in for a more rigorous and exciting route of rapids. It was incredible!
Along with the rigorous and exciting whitewater, we were surrounded by magnificent snow-capped mountains and luscious forests. We rafted down two especially fun rapids named “Jaws” and “The Water Slide”. Ian particularly showed his excitement when he saddled up on the bow of the raft, which the guides like to call “riding the bull”. It was incredible!
These past two weeks have been extraordinary. It has been incredible watching everyone become so bonded. We have loved becoming friends with these young adventurers, and we are so thankful for you all to give us the opportunity to explore such beautiful places and do such amazing activities with them. It has been such a blast!
From the Mountains,
McKee, Thomas, and Skyler
June 15, 2021
Hello all from Westport Washington!
The next section of our trip began with a travel day. Our drive was blanketed by beautiful Washington scenery, constant sing-alongs and song requests! Our group playlist is quickly filling up! Halfway through the drive we made a much needed pit stop at 7 Eleven for a refill of snacks and slushies, a crowd favorite! Once we arrived at camp the crew made quick work of setting up our tents and camp area into what would be our home for the next three days.
After a great night’s rest and a delicious meal of breakfast burritos, we set off to catch our first set of waves at the Westport beach! We met with the most amazing outfitters who taught us surfing fundamentals that are guaranteed to last a lifetime. After our beach instruction, we hit the waves, and amazingly every single one of us stood up and rode waves in! According to the expertise of our instructors, Ellie and Julia are naturally gifted surfers!
After surfing and a quick lunch, we were off to the Grays Harbor Lighthouse for another adventure. While waiting for our turn, we splashed around in the rain and played an amazing rally of death sack (a creative hacky sack game), which Ellie absolutely dominated with her fierce competitive spirit! Once inside, Jack led the ascent to the top of the tower. We learned that the light house is the tallest in Washington and witnessed the incredible views hidden at the top. It was explained that the crystal lens used is one of only 20 in the world making it priceless and absolutely beautiful!
We rolled back into camp and got ready for an amazing dinner of personal pizzas captained under the direction of Chef Ian. Post dinner, Thomas and Basil challenged each other to a classic game of chubby bunny; in the end after 12 marshmallows, Basil came out victorious. After dinner, Caroline suggested we go in search for the beach close to our campsite! We soon discovered that a half mile walk lined with lush forest, moss covered trees, and bright yellow flower bushes could transport us to a magical beach front. The beach was by far our favorite part of the campsite!
Day 2 of our surfing expedition began with sunny skies and excellent waters! Everyone jumped into their wetsuits and ran off to the ocean to get started. Lillian showed her expert skills by standing up on every wave she attempted! After a good two hours of catching waves, we turned in and headed off to get a sweet treat!
Once at the ice cream shop we were greeted by flavors such as chocolate thunder brownies, Maui Wowwy sherbet, and fruity pop rocks. Everyone loaded up on their favorites and dug in! Once back at camp, the menu for dinner was fajitas! Rebecca led the charge in the kitchen tonight, chopping all our veggies and keeping us on schedule, so we could head back to the beach! Once done and cleaned up, it was back to our favorite place. Our fearless polar plungers tonight were Basil, Rebecca, Ellie, and Thomas, and after about an hour Rebecca, Ellie, and Basil decided to polar plunge again!
Moonup was an incredible experience of vulnerability and authenticity, we leaned into every question and were able to unravel a little more of ourselves to each other. Our group is growing closer and deeper together day by day. Bonds are being formed and friendships are continuing to be forged. These last 3 days have been absolutely awesome.
Thank you all for giving us the chance to meet and be with your children. They are all so amazing, powerful, and imaginative.
Until next time,
Skyler, McKee, and Thomas
June 12, 2021
Hello to all from The San Juan Islands!
This is our first trip of the summer, and we could not have asked for a better group and a more exciting trip! These students are some of the best we have met, and we feel so lucky to have them on our trip. The last few days have gone by so fast, and we cannot believe our first activity is already behind us.
After everyone arrived at the airport, we picked up some pizza for our first meal and feasted at the Bay View State Park with a beach side view of the sunset. The beach was full of beautiful pebbles which of course resulted in a rock skipping contest, dominated by Basil and Jack. Upon waking the next morning, we all packed up and rode the ferry to the gorgeous San Juan Islands, where we are today.
On the two-hour ferry ride, everyone played the card game, uno, and Ellie’s quiet but deadly strategy definitely put her on top. Once we arrived to the island, we set up camp and went to Friday Harbor to catch a boat side whale tour. We all agreed that boating around the island was stunning; the glassy waters reflected a beautiful west coast sunset. Our tour guides gave us eerie stories and conspiracy theories from all the islands, and we even caught a glimpse of a family of orcas near the Canadian border. We watched as the family gracefully swam through the waters, and Lillian was especially mesmerized by these ocean giants!
Once getting to the island, we sought out the beach side Lime Kiln State Park for a picnic lunch. After eating, we played on the beach where Ian, Basil, Rebecca, and Jack all braved the icy waters for an afternoon dip.
The next day we began our first activity, an overnight sea kayaking expedition! We began the day mid-morning and kayaked for three hours before stopping on a small island beach for lunch. While kayaking this first day, Ellie, Julia, and Lillian carried our group. Their perseverance through a long day of paddling was the inspiration we needed to get to our campsite. The campsite was on the quaint pastures of Jones Island. On the island, Ian showed us his MasterChef skills by chopping up some veggies for our burritos and fajitas. That night, he and Julia led us in a fireside Moonup, with some good conversation and some sweet sweet S’mores.
On our kayaking trip back, we paddled around the beautiful San Juan Island to Roche Harbor, where we finished our expedition. Caroline and Basil dominated the pack leading us through some windy and choppy waves on the Sea. Rebecca and Ian brought up the rear of our group making leisurely conversation and laughs with our fabulous kayaking guides.
All in all it was an amazing two days. We kayaked, ate, laughed, and swam. These students are becoming pros at setting up camp, cooking meals, and living in the moment. Most importantly, we are seeing them become dear dear friends, and it is only day four! We could not be prouder.
Thank you for sharing your children with us! We are so impressed by them. We can’t wait to update you with stories of our surfing adventures in a few days!
With hearts full of love and excitement,
Thomas, Skyler, and McKee
June 8, 2021
Hello British Columbia Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Seattle 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