July 27, 2021
Hello all from Seattle Washington!
Today marks the last day of our fantastic two week trip that has taken us all over the state of Washington. We wrapped up our trip with a day of hiking in Rasar State Park, which is located on the western side of the North Cascades Mountains. We walked along the beautiful Skagit river, and got to observe some bald eagles while doing so. Towards the end of the trail, we found ourselves at a safe and fun rope swing, which was conquered by Charlie Ver Eecke. Following the hike, we ate lunch and hit the road towards our last campsite of the trip located at Saltwater State Park. On the way, we stopped at Dairy Queen where everyone enjoyed a delicious DQ blizzard. This would be Margaret’s first time at Dairy Queen! With the new rush of energy after ice cream, we then finished our last long van ride and arrived to the campsite. The ride was full of joy, thanks to Maggie’s friendship bracelet making kit. Charlie Lunsford and Juliette De Mey also made the ride so much fun with their incredible singing voices. There truly is never a dull moment with this group.
Upon arrival to the campsite, it was announced that we would be doing iron chef for dinner! Iron chef is such a fun time when the group cooks dinner for the last time using all our remaining ingredients. This dinner always gets everyones spirits so high. We decided to split the teams boys vs. girls! Although team captains were not assigned, Charlie Harlan and Gavin both showed intense leadership; both teams whipped up some tasty meals including pizza bites, teriyaki pasta, nachos, and cinnamon apples. Everyone was stuffed by the time the winner was announced, which was the girls! They crushed it- especially with the pizza bites. After dinner, Margaret and Bowen led an incredible Moonup. As we got further into the trip, everyone was able to become increasingly more vulnerable with each other, which made for fantastic and meaningful Moonups.
The following morning, everyone woke up to Skylers infamous chocolate chip pancakes. We had a full day ahead of us, and everyone was up and ready to make their last full day with the group as fulfilling as possible. Jackson and Margaret had to fit in as many cards games into the days as possible, which is always so enjoyable to watch. The energy in those games is unmatched. Early in the afternoon, we headed to Dutch Bros Coffee, which was enjoyed by everyone. Bowen and Charlie Lunsfords’ milkshakes didn’t even stand a chance. Following the coffee, we all piled into the van in order to head to the thrift store as promised. The group bought some incredible outfits, especially Kate! We would then wear those outfits to our final banquet, which we held at Burger Xpress. We distributed our superlatives created by the leader team as we munched on some delicious burgers, fries, and milkshakes. With full stomachs, we had one more van party until we arrived back at the campsite for our last Moonup. This Moonup would be held on the beautiful beach at Saltwater State Park, which holds a magnificent view of the bay and the mountains following.
The final Moonup was beautiful, which was led by our incredible LOD’s Finley and Charlie Ver Eecke. We began the Moonup by burning on our bracelets, which was done perfectly under the light of the sunset. Upon golden hour, we went around answering the deep and meaningful questions posed by our leaders of the day. The Moonup led to tears of joy, immense laughter, and conversations that will likely not be forgotten. Our final Moonup highlighted just how close this group was with each other. They were able to talk to each other in a way that made it seem like they had been best friends since kindergarten. This was so special to see for the leader team.
We truthfully can’t thank y’all enough for the time we were able to spend with your children. They are so special, and they made an unforgettable trip in the beautiful state of Washington for us. We hope that the adventure will continue!
McKee, Skyler, and Thomas
July 26, 2021
Reporting live from Marblemount, Washington!
After a fantastic adventure of surfing for two days in Westport, we loaded into the van and traveled onto our next stop. We sang, laughed, drank slushees, and ate more candy than you can imagine all the way from Westport to Leavenworth. Margaret made sure to keep our music queue fully stocked as we made the trip, never failing to make an excellent song recommendation! Upon arrival to Nason Creek State Park, we all unloaded the van and set up our tents. To everyone’s surprise, for dinner we visited the town’s favorite burger and soft serve ice cream stop, Heidleburger — a German inspired burger shop that never fails to deliver world class food, and amazing memories! We made sure to leave room for dessert and were able to celebrate Bowen’s birthday with his favorite sweets, Tres Leches Cake and chocolate chip cookies! After dinner we returned back to camp for a beachside Moonup led by our Leaders of the Day, Charlie V. And Finley. Nestled in the forest overlooking the secluded beach, we laughed and learned a little more about each other. We then tucked into our tents for an early morning of rock climbing.
We began our first day of climbing with birthday cinnamon rolls to celebrate Charlie L.’s Sweet 16! With full bellies, we rode to meet our outfitters, geared up in climbing harnesses, shoes, and helmets, and raced off to Icicle Pass for a full day of climbing. After a quick hike up to our climbing location, we were ready to start our day! Everyone of the students climbed and competed at least one route, and we had SEVEN students complete all 9 routes that were set! Kate told us that not only was it her first time ever rock climbing but also that she loved it! Our more seasoned climbers, Charlie H. and Charlie V., entered into an epic “Battle Of The Charlie’s.” The route racing stage was set, and in a best out of three tournament, each Charlie won one race, with the third race being voted a tie. After switching routes, the stage was set for one final race. This final race was an amazing battle by both competitors, with Charlie H. claiming victory at the end! We spent the afternoon exploring the town of Leavenworth and capped off the night with Quesadillas and a birthday Banana Pudding.
Our second day of rock climbing began early but was filled with many conquering their fears, growing, and bonding. The team ran through the routes, and before we knew it, we were packing into the van for our final activity of the session, white water rafting!
After a quick travel day, we landed in Marblemount, Washington. Dinner was a crowd favorite of Sloppy Joe’s and Caesar Salad; Jackson especially loved the sandwiches! We had Moonup under a blanket of stars, lead by Juliette, and then we turned into our tents anxiously awaiting our next adventure. After a long night’s rest — greatly appreciated by all — and an amazing breakfast of egg scramble breakfast burritos, the team loaded into the van, and we headed for the Skagit River! Right before we hit the water, Gavin led us in a warm up game of paddle pass to get spirits high and our blood pumping! Once on the water, our guides explained that the river is largely formed by Alpine glacier run off and ran for 150 miles! Many of the group were particularly amazed by the various hues of blue that are found throughout the river.
We paddled for the morning and upon arriving at our lunch spot were given the chance to cliff jump! Everyone in the group took the leap of faith into the ice cold water and loved it! Maggie loved it so much that she went twice! After a fun day of rafting, we returned to camp, got a quick shower, and made a delicious dinner of Chicken Alfredo pasta with a veggie stir fry.
It’s hard to believe that this incredible adventure together is coming to a close. We have seen some amazing friendships form while doing unforgettable things. Thank you all for sharing your children with us!
Until next time,
Skyler, McKee & Thomas
July 21, 2021
Surf’s Up to all from Westport, Washington!
We last spoke to you after finishing our Sea Kayaking adventure in the San Juan Islands. After our time in the islands, we traveled down the coast to the beautiful beaches of Westport, Washington!
When we arrived at Twin Harbors State Park, our campsite for the evening, we unpacked and made a delicious meal of Teriyaki chicken sandwiches, brussels, and baked beans! Kate learned how to grill pineapples, and these warm, juicy delicacies were a staple of our sandwiches! We finished up our meal and had a MoonUp under the stars, led by our Leaders of the Day (LODs), Gavin and Bowen. They began our MoonUp by having everyone share most embarrassing stories, which led to hearty belly-laughter and ended in joy-filled tears. It’s amazing to watch this group grow closer with one another. We can already see the strength of their bond, and it’s only been one week!
The next morning, we woke up and got ready for our surfing adventure! Due to the size of our group and the number of available guides, we decided to split the group for surfing. So after meeting our guides, the first group suited up, and the second group ventured into the marina town of Westport. The first group carried their boards to the beach and began a surfing lesson! Juliette and Maggie took to the waves easily; we watched them catch multiple swells and stand up with ease! And it was their first time surfing! Charlie L. and Finley brought their surfing experience to the water and showed off their skills! The second group had an incredible adventure into Westport; they ate lunch at a local spot, Aloha Alabama. They also rented go-karts near the Marina and had a heated race!
Half way through the day, the first and second groups switched. The second group had the chance to ride the waves, and the first group ventured towards the marina. Jackson, who was surfing in the afternoon, caught his first wave ever. No one could tell that he had never ridden a surf board before! The afternoon marina group discovered a local candy shop. Kate found her favorite “grandma” candies and bought an entire bag full! We left with full hearts and bellies! That night, our LODs, Charlie H. and Kate, led us in a MoonUp on top of the Westport Observation Tower. We climbed to the top and watched the waves crash on the shore as we laughed and chatted under the moon. On the way back to camp, we jammed out in the van, dancing and singing (or screaming) to our favorite One Direction and Miley Cyrus. Everyone slept well after our full, full day!
On the second day of surfing, we all went down to the beach together. After suiting up and getting our boards, we dove into the waves; they were calling! Charlie V. managed to stand up on multiple waves, and Bowen and Charlie L. received a lesson from the head of Big Foot Surf. The waves stood no chance against his expertise and their skill! When not surfing, Kate, Gavin, Finley, Jackson, and Margaret explored on top of the Westport rock-jetty. Charlie H., Charlie L, and Bowen made intricate drawings in the sand. And Juliette, Charlie V., and Maggie made drip-style sandcastles that were extravagant. The weather was perfect for a day at the beach, and the waves made for incredible surfing! At the end of these two days, everyone stood up on their boards and caught gnarly waves! These surfing guides truly worked wonders!
After our day at the beach, we ventured to Aberdeen, Washington where we stopped to surprise everyone with ice cream! The cool and sweet ice cream warmed all of our souls. Gavin and Charlie H. enjoyed the more creative flavors, like pop rocks and chocolate covered caramel pretzel! Margaret and Juliette enjoyed a whip cream topped chocolate shake, an original that always delivers! After our treat, we passed by Kurt Cobain’s childhood home; for Bowen and our other Nirvana fans, this was more sweet than the ice cream! We also stopped by a guitar store so that Charlie L. and Maggie could show us their self-authored songs on acoustic guitar. We clapped and cheered at their musical prowess! For our final night at the beach, Charlie V. polar plunged in the ocean, and Juliette and Charlie L. facilitated a vulnerable MoonUp, bringing the group all that much closer!
As our group leaves the lovely Westport and heads to Leavenworth, Washington for our climbing excursion, we are amazed at how bonded this group has become. As we lean into the second half of this trip, we are excited to see how much closer this group becomes. They entered as strangers and will truly leave as family!
Thank you for sharing your students with us! We are so impressed by their vulnerability and maturity. And they always make us smile! We will leave you all with some shout outs from the students! Hope you enjoy!
With much love,
Thomas, Skyler, and McKee
Student Shout Outs:
Juliette: Hello Mom, Dad, and Brother, I am having so so much fun on this trip, and miss you guys… lots of love <3
Charlie L.: Hey Mom and Dad I miss you guys a lot but also never wanna leave this group! See you soon.
Jackson: Hey Nom and Dad, I miss you so much! I am having so much fun see you soon.
Finley: Hey Mom Dad and my sisters, I am having so much fun, but I still miss you guys!!!
Kate: Hi Mom and Dad!! I love y’all so so much and cannot wait to see you [and Hobbes] when I get back. Love you more than anything<3
Margaret: Hey mom and dad! I miss y’all like crazy, but I’m having the best time of my life! Love y’all so so much!:))
Maggie: hola! I miss y’all so much this literally doesn’t sound like me but I’m having so much fun love ya:):):))
Gavin: hi family! I am having the best time! I’m love you <3
Charlie H: hi family. I’m having fun. love you!!!!
Charlie V: Hey mom and dad, Preston and Virginia! I’m having so much fun and am about to go rock climbing!!! I miss you guys so much! See you in a week! Xoxo
Bowen: Hey guys I am having the best time here and can’t wait to see you guys soon! Love you!
July 18, 2021
Hello all from Roche Harbor, Washington!
We could tell the bond of this group was going to be strong within minutes of introducing each other at the Seattle airport. Although very view of them knew each other prior, this group already seems like they have been friends for good deal of time. This was especially shown on our first van ride to Bayview State Park just outside of Anacortes Washington. Charlie H and Kate were our primary sources of song recommendations for the trip. Bowen suggested a great deal of country music as well! It was very cool to see the group bond over similar music tastes.
Once we got to Bayview, we immediately changed into swim suits to polar plunge in the bay. Just about everyone joined in on the fun. Charlie L led the charge into the water. Following the afternoon dip, we set up spikeball, which was immediately dominated by Charlie VE. Once pizza arrived, many people tried pineapple pizza for the first time. Several folks learned that once you actually try it, it is not so bad. We then moved on to our very first Moonup that evening. The first Moonup was incredibly encouraging to us, because it already showed some maturity and comfort within the group.
The following morning, we woke up in time to head to the Chelan Ferry, which would take us to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We stopped at a coffee shop, where all enjoyed delicious drinks and pastries. We then loaded onto the ferry, where the group learned how to play Gin and Rummy. After we rolled the van off the ferry, we headed to our first night at our lakeside campsite. Upon arrival, we set up tents and headed to the adjacent field to play a game of “Death Hackysack”, a game we have gotten mighty fond of on this trip. Maggie and Charlie L have become two very strong players at the game. Juliette, Jackson, and Margaret were our first dinner cook crew that evening, where they would cook stuffed peppers.
After dinner, our group headed off to Friday Harbor to hop on to the San Juan Safari, which was the name of our whale watching boat. Almost immediately, we were following three separate pods of Orcas. It was wild! We followed one of the pods until it brought us to another, all of which were jumping almost entirely out of the water. It was truly an electric whale watching tour. There was nonstop action, and we were so excited that our last session was able to experience such a tour!
The next morning, we met our sea kayaking guides, Kenzie and Tristan. We could not have been more excited with our guides, they are the coolest. We loaded up our gear into the kayaks and headed out for our overnight campsite on the small island of Jones Island. The group showed an immense amount of strength during our paddle, because it was not a short day. Gavin and Kate’s boat especially showed determination and strength throughout the day. As soon as we arrived to Jones, Finley and Juliette led the group in unpacking the gear and setting up camp. This leadership would later earn her the position of leader of the day that night at Moonup; which was held oceanside on the beautiful cliffs of the island. The next morning we woke up with hot chocolate and delicious breakfast before we set back out to Roche Harbor.We are so very impressed with this groups level of connection thus far. It truly seems like these young adults have an unbreakable bond.
We are so excited for the experiences to come in the near future with these fantastic people!
From the islands,
McKee, Skyler, and Thomas
July 14, 2021
Hello British Columbia Families!
The whole group has arrived safely in Seattle, and they are 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