June 22, 2021
Hi there everyone!
Henry here again to sign off on BCO 1B. I know I speak for all three of us when I say it has been the most amazing two weeks. After finishing our kayaking section in the San Juan Islands and returning to mainland Washington, the group has soaked up the last bit of time together, taking in some of the biggest and best laughs of the trip and sharing moments of sentimental reflection. After packing up camp on San Juan Island, we started the end of the trip by exploring the town of Friday Harbor while we waited for our ferry. Once we were in line to board, the kids set out to find some last-minute memorabilia and some sweet treats to celebrate with! Following Wallis and Alison’s trip to find some stickers to finish their trip collection for their water bottles, and Burke’s journey to find the best bagel in Friday Harbor, we were treated to a sunny, breezy, and relaxing ferry ride back to Anacortes. Along the way, we took in the views of sea planes, houses tucked away in the evergreen forests, and kayakers and boaters that surrounded San Juan Island. To our West, we had a spectacular view of the high peaks of Olympic National Park, while to the East, we caught glimpses of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Baker and Rainier.
When we arrived in Anacortes, the group’s excitement for their final night together began to show as we blasted our favorite tunes from the trip in the van. Among many others, we rocked out to some songs that were mentioned in Moonup from a couple nights prior, when everyone answered what song they would choose if they could only listen to one for the rest of their lives. Clare treated us with a trip classic, “Tongue Tied,” which we belted out one last time, while Caroline and I got old school with it, choosing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and the B-52’s “Love Shack.” We kept the tunes going as we went into Mount Vernon for our trip concluding banquet. We were treated to some fire pizza, salad, and nachos followed by some ice cream at the best spot in town! To make the event even more special, we made a trip to the thrift store, where everyone found some whacky outfits for the evening. Cecilia suggested some of the group dress like soccer players with matching shorts and soccer jerseys, which they rocked for the rest of the evening.
After settling down from the fun of banquet, full from all the food and laughter, the group moved into its final Moonup. With the sun setting over the islands and mountains in the distance, we got settled in the pebbled beach right next to our campsite. To start, MC and I sang “I’ll Fly Away” and afterwards, our LOD’s Clare and Alison gave out the paper napkin awards they had made. We laughed especially hard when Cecilia was awarded for her killer poker face that never shows what she is really thinking, when William was awarded for his creativity of paddling styles while kayaking in the San Juans, and at the memory of Cora’s positive impersonations of William to motivate him as we paddled. Finally, we reflected on our fondest memories, including Hunter’s natural skill for surfing, Ole’ing his way to shore multiple times, and our constant stream of laugh’s when Q loses all his clothes, only to find them in the strangest places a few days later.
In the end, I found I was flooded with not only amazing memories of the great moments of the trip, but memories of feeling purely happy with this group. I loved seeing each character and personality make their impression on the group along the way. I think when I reflect on this trip, the image I’ll remember first is one of all us sitting together in our Moonup circle, each smiling from ear to ear, enjoying the moment and feeling like we belonged. Although we had to separate this morning, I feel confident the friendships made over the past two weeks under the pines of Washington state will last a lifetime.
With lots of love for our BCO 1B family,
Henry, MC, and Caroline
June 20, 2021
Hey there everybody, MC here this time! Man have we had a whirlwind of fun these last couple of days. After saying mahalo to our surfing friends, we drove up the coast to Anacortes and right onto the ferry all the way to Friday Harbor. Burke and Q provided the entertainment as they re-enacted the famous scene from the Titanic and really tapped into their inner Jack and Rose. Wallis even jumped into the role of the composer and sang a lovely rendition of “My heart will go on” to really set the mood. We soon arrived in Friday Harbor and set up camp at our idyllic campsite. Upon arrival, Alison, Q, Burke, Wallis, and Hunter took to the lake while the others took advantage of some much-needed downtime. Feeling refreshed, we set our sights on the sea and caught a sunset whale watching tour. As we boated through the islands, we were blown away by their beauty and splendor. We would have just been content with watching the sunset over the water, but yet again, Washington decided to blow our expectations out of the water. In an instant, we were surrounded by three families of Orcas- that’s 21 Orcas in total! Henry, Caroline, and I’s lucky whale hats must have worked! The captain expertly maneuvered the boat to anticipate their moves, and Burke was the first to spot the largest Orca as it swam not ten feet from our boat. William made himself right at home and read his book while posing in front of a family. I’m not sure what was a better sight, the orcas or ‘Wild Willy.’ After following the whales (almost) all the way to Canada, we turned around and headed to camp feeling so lucky to have been on “the best tour of the year” according to the captain.
The next day we woke up early to prep for a full day of kayaking through the San Juan Islands. Our LODs, Hunter and Cecilia, kept everyone on track, and we were able to break down camp in record time. We met our guides in the scenic Roche Harbor and hit the water in style. Cora made sure to wear her new sassy sunglasses while Q brought his not-so-waterproof beanie onboard. Singing songs and telling jokes, we paddled forward in what felt like perfect conditions. I would even be bold enough to say that they had the ‘William seal of approval’, a phrase Burke coined with the highest honor. We stopped for a delicious lunch and even got to take a siesta on the cliffs before taking off for the rest of our paddle. Upon arrival at camp, the Leaders of the Day helped cook a delicious Mexican feast, and we even treated ourselves to some well-deserved S’mores. With chocolate smiles, we participated in another beautiful Moonup, and everyone was quick to give nugs to a perfect day.
This morning, we fueled up on hot chocolate and hit the ‘yaks early. Clare kept her kayaking buddy, Hunter, entertained for hours with an exciting match of 20 questions. Alison formulated and explained our collective family tree and made sure to give every member of the group both a specific and hilarious family role including a crazy cousin, an iffy advice-giving uncle, and a fun but scary aunt. Our cores are definitely sore from all the laughing… and some paddling too. Cora and Wallis made a wonderful waterside lunch that really set us up well for the rest of our day. Spirits were high as we soaked in every last moment we could on the water, but sadly the adventure had to come to an end eventually. We beached our boats and ate some chocolate as we said goodbye to an unforgettable couple of days. We set up camp at yet another breathtaking campsite, and Alison, Wallis, Cora, and Cecilia took advantage of the water spigot and turned it into an upscale salon.
After dinner, we decided to walk towards shore, and man am I glad that we did. We all watched in wonder as the sun that had warmed us all day was finally hanging its hat and dipping down right over the ocean, creating its own sea of color and light. Not ready to leave the spectacle behind, Q found us a perfect spot for Moonup that provided a perfect and private view. Henry and I opened Moonup with a song, but we were quick to hand it off to Cora and Wallis to lead the rest of Moonup. We dreamed of our favorite ice cream sundaes, recounted the day’s highlights, and even cried a little bit while reflecting on what this experience has meant to all of us. These past couple days have no doubt been full of activity, but more than that, they have been so full of love. This group of kids is truly something special. Here’s to soaking it all in while we have the chance! -MC
June 17, 2021
Aloha everybody, Caroline here!
We have had an amazing time the past two days in Washington’s world class surf town, Westport. When we first arrived at our campsite we were thrilled to soak up some much needed sun and dry out our clothes after some wet and rainy rafting! After setting up camp, our leaders of the day, Cecelia and William, helped cook some delicious black bean burgers and a big salad!
As we were finishing up dinner, Henry noticed the sunset through the trees, so we quickly cleaned up and headed down to the beach across the street from our campsite to watch the sunset and do Moonup on the beach. When we made it to the beach, we were awestruck by the beauty of the sunset and all took a few moments to soak it in. Before starting Moonup, Alison, Q, and Burke ran into the freezing cold water for a very very quick dip. After watching the sun sink into the horizon, we headed back to camp for a good night sleep to prepare for an early morning.
We woke up the next morning to the delicious smell of cinnamon and apples as Cora and Wallis cheffed up the “Davis” for breakfast to fuel us for our first day of surfing. After stuffing ourselves to brim with that delicious breakfast, we headed out to meet our surf guides! When we arrived at the beach, we were literally almost blown away by the winds that had picked up over night. After scouting the beach with our surf instructors, we came to the decision that it was not safe to surf that day. Although at first a little disappointed, everyone quickly became excited about exploring the neat town of Westport!
Our first stop was the gift shop where Henry, MC, and I bought matching mermaid hats to parade around town. We then hit the candy store to load up on some sweets. Wallis and Cecelia were brave enough to buy chocolate covered gummy bears and kindly let everyone try one. We were all presently surprised by how they good they were and constantly asked for more until both of their bags were finished!
We then took our sugar rushes to the beach for an afternoon filled with beach games where Alison and MC crushed Burke and Q in a friendly game of spike ball. We spent the rest of the afternoon hunched over laughing as we watched Hunter chase Clare into the water during a game of tag and William fearlessly dodged all of Burke’s attempts to tag him. We then headed back to camp for a delicious pizza dinner from the local pizza place in Westport. After dinner, we headed back down to the beach to watch yet another beautiful sunset and amazing Moonup.
We woke up early this morning with lots of energy and excitement for our surfing day! We quickly packed up camp and headed to the beach to meet our surf guides. We arrived at the beach stoked to learn that there were perfect surfing conditions. After hopping in our wetsuits and a safety talk, we picked up our boards to hit the waves. Within the first hour of surfing, everyone had ridden at least one wave! It was awesome to see everyone’s smiles as they rode their waves into shore. After a quick lunch, we headed back out to try some more advanced moves like the “Olé”! As the lesson began to wind down, everyone headed back to the van to dry off before our ride to Anacortes. Everyone except Hunter that is, who found a new passion for surfing and was reluctant to call any wave his last one.
After a quick snack, we all loaded up the van and are now headed to Anacortes for sea kayaking! That’s all from me folks, but our amazing kids have a few words of love for y’all:
Love you mom and dad.
PS: happy Father’s Day dad!
Happy early Father’s Day dad
Have a fantastic Father’s Day Dad!
Can’t wait to see everyone!!
Hey mom and papa! Have an awesome fathers day! I miss you and am having a great time.
Hi mom and dad, I’m having such a great time! See you soon!
Love, Alison 🙂
Hi mom and dad, I’ve spent so much time out doors and really connected with NATURE. Love you so much guys, happy early Father’s Day.
Hi mom, dad, and Evans! I love y’all so much and I miss y’all. Also happy early Father’s Day dad! I promise we will celebrate when I come home. Love yall!
Hi mom and dad! I miss you guys so much but am having so much fun. Happy early Father’s Day dad! I love y’all so much!
Love, Cora <3
Hiiiii Mom and Dad!! Miss y’all so so much and am having so much fun surfing in Westport!! Tell Lucia I miss her and the dogs too!! Love y’all! Can’t wait to see y’all!! Love, Cecilia ????
June 15, 2021
Henry here from the BCO B team. For the past two days, we have had a blast conquering the whitewater of the Skagit and Sauk rivers of Northern Washington.
On our first day of rafting, we had beautiful sunny and warm weather as we learned paddling techniques on the Skagit. One of these skills was learning how to paddle synchronously as a team of six paddlers per boat. On my boat, Cecilia led the way with strong, consistent strokes that set the pace and a strong example for the rest of the boat to follow. After a few rapids, once we had our technique down, the games began on the calmer parts of the river. At the first opportunity, Q hopped up on the bow of his boat to “ride the bull” down a few rapids. As we continued down the river, our two boats began to get competitive, splashing each other and holding contests to see who could stand on the bow of the boat longest. Although there were a few valiant efforts, no one could top Cora, who seemed like she could surf the boat down the rest of the rapids given the opportunity. To finish out the morning, we passed through our first class three rapid, “S Bend,” where both boats raced through with ease. Afterwards, we stopped at a calm, deep spot on the river next to a large rock for lunch. Once our guides let us know it was safe, most of the group took the opportunity to jump off the rock. Burke led the way, making sure to capture the moment with our group’s GoPro camera in hand, and encouraged the rest of the group, even those slightly hesitant about heights to jump too. After our stop, we kept the games and bull riding up until we reached the takeout spot. After traveling to our campsite, cleaning up and setting up camp, Alison kept up the momentum of the day with a game of volleyball! After finding a volleyball net at our campsite, she led the group in a six-on-six game, teaching everyone to set and dig before we settled down for dinner and a great Moonup and eventually got some sleep.
For the second day of rafting, we adventured down the much more complicated Sauk river. Although we didn’t have the sun and heat of the day prior on the Skagit, the Sauk offered a beautiful layer of fog that hovered just a few feet above the whitewater. Throughout the morning, we paddled hard and enjoyed the larger and more frequent rapids of the Sauk, with each boat working as well-oiled machines having developed paddling skills on the Skagit. Along the way, we conquered some especially fun larger rapids, racing down “Water Slide,” and passing through “Popeye” with ease. After stopping for lunch, Clare kept the group going with a celebrity name game and a movie name guessing game before we reached the boat take out spot. She had the entire boat laughing when she offered “Mattthew McConnelly,” “Felicia Keys,” and “Olivia Rodriguez” in the celebrity game, and thought that Huckleberry Finn’s best friend was Tom Cruise.
To end the day, we made camp again at a new site right beside the river and enjoyed another great Mooonup, followed by some amazing conversation while we all stayed huddled under the tarp, away from the rain. When discussing the past couple days, William expressed that he especially enjoyed the larger rapids of the Sauk river. Afterwards, Hunter and Wallis talked with me about some of their interests from school and their curiosities about ethics, which I studied in college! After some great conversations, we all went to sleep, preparing to move on to try our hand at surfing! Over the past couple of days, I have been really impressed at how the group has developed, with each member becoming more interested in learning about each other and getting closer with everyone. I can’t wait to see where their curiosity and adventurousness takes them!
June 11, 2021
Hey there everybody, MC Smith here!
We have been out and about ever since airport day, and man ithas been spectacular exploring everything that Washington has to offer. We quickly said our goodbyes to Seattle and took to the road toward our first campsite. While at the campsite, Caroline and I led a lesson in tent set-up. We explained that the kids would be so good at this by the end of the trip that they could do it with their eyes closed… so naturally Caroline had her eyes closed for the whole lesson. Luckily, Clare and Hunter volunteered to give us some extra hands.
While we were setting up camp, Henry hit the road in order to pick up our night traveler, Wallis. After a pizza dinner, we walked down to the lake and were blown away by the splendor of the scene. We shared stories and laughs as we participated in our very first Moonup: a special time when we get to learn about and appreciate each other and the worldaround us.
The next morning, the leaders of the day (or LODs), Burke and Cecelia, woke up everyone, andwe were all so excited to meet our newest member, Wallis!
Now a full group, we felt ready to face our first day of rock climbing. After gearing up, we took to Icicle Ridge- home to some of the best granite slabs Washington has to offer. Quentin (or Q), Clare, and Burke were first to climb and really set the tone for the rest of our day on the rock. Wallis and Alison tuned into their inner spider monkeys and made the highest climb of the day look like a breeze. We had some great teamwork as William even trusted Hunter to belay him up the wall. Cecilia, Clare, Cora, and Hunter all learned a new love of belaying as they helped their friends up the mountain.
As theday went on, it was getting harder and harder to tell the guides from the kids! After a full day of climbing, we went back to camp, and the LODs quickly put their chef hats on and prepared some terrific tacos for dinner while I taught them one of my favorite games: the animal game. It is safe to say that we were quick to learn that Q has quite the game face. Full from dinner, we took to the beach for another wonderful Moonup led by Burke and Cecelia.
Day two quickly approached as our new leaders of the day, Alison and William, made theirmorning rounds and made sure everyone was ready for another incredible day of climbing. Thistime, we crossed the fault line to conquer the sand stone slabs. Our resident thrill seekers, Qand Burke blazed the first routes. They were quickly followed by Hunter and Cecilia who both crushed their climbs. Cora patiently waited as the guides set up the hardest route of the day andthen casually reached the top. Alison and Wallis took a competitive edge and raced up the wall. It was a close race, but Alison took the prize.
The real prize, however, was the view from the topof the rock. In one gaze, you could see the river, the snow capped mountains, the sandstone slabs, and the vineyards below. Cora and Clare were nice enough to let me take pictures of them while they scampered up the wall and even posed for the camera at the top! The guides were thoroughly impressed with everyone and said they rarely get groups where every single kid climbs.
Excited by our achievements, our LODs, Alison and William, thought it would be a good idea to reward everyone with ice cream… and we agreed. We drove into the Bavariantown of Leavenworth and treated ourselves to some pre-dinner ice cream at the local stop. We continued our food trip around the world as the LODs cooked us a wonderful Italian pasta dinner and held another beautiful Moonup on the beach where we discussed everything from secret talents to our proudest moments. To stick with the German theme of the day, Henry played Edelweiss on the guitar and helped us dream of the mountains we got to see today.
Now we are getting ready to travel to the rivers to get ready for rafting. I feel so grateful to spend time with this rockstar group, and I can’t wait to hit the rapids with them. Needless to say, these past couple days have rocked!
– Mary Claire Smith + British Columbia 1B
June 9, 2021
Hello British Columbia Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Seattle yesterday, with the final few arriving late last night and is off on their adventure! We have heard from our leaders 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