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Trip Updates

California 2C • June 26-July 9, 2021

Party Waves Are Better With Friends!

July 9, 2021

Surfs up in Half-Moon Bay! 


Our first morning on the coast began with a hearty breakfast we so lovingly call “the Davis” which consists of cooked apples, cinnamon, peanut butter, and granola all wrapped in a warmed tortilla. We had the morning to hang out around camp and prepare ourselves for an afternoon of surfing in Pacifica. When we arrived at the beach and met our guides, both the chilly weather and rough surf were daunting, but our girls suited up with incredible spirit. Flynn answered all of our instructor James’ questions during the safety lesson, impressing him and us! After learning the basics of paddling and pop-ups, everyone headed to the water to try and catch some waves. Elizabeth was the first of any of us to do so and we all cheered her on as she rode past. The water was rough, and the wind was whipping so Ella and Mills ditched their boards and started body surfing and building sandcastles. After a few hours in the water, we peeled off our wetsuits and headed back to camp eating lunch in the van on the way back. We treated the girls to some well-deserved, homemade ice cream after surfing. Then everyone settled in for a chill afternoon of napping and playing cards before dinner. Carmen and Katherine (the leader) whipped up some buffalo chicken quesadillas for everyone to enjoy and after dinner we played a round of Fishbowl before Moonup. Then it was off to bed to rest up for our second day of surfing!

The next day we had a morning surfing session that allowed us to improve our skills from the day before. We ate chocolate croissants with the guides before putting on our wetsuits, which indeed has proved to be one of the more difficult aspects of surfing. Even though there was a chill in the air, everyone was so energetic and excited to get in the water, which showed their determination. It was fun to watch Katherine and Raines catch a “party wave” without even knowing. Maggie enjoyed making an impressive sandcastle on one of the surf boards while taking a break from catching waves. When we finished surfing, we warmed up in Phyllis (our van) and headed back to camp for sandwiches and chips. The rest of the day consisted of card games, naps, and focused bracelet making. For dinner that evening we had a delicious breakfast for dinner consisting of French toast and eggs. Our Moonup that evening included a thoughtful question that helped us get to know each other even better. 

On our last full day, we drove to San Francisco to explore Fishermans Wharf Pier 39! The girls had a blast looking out at Alcatraz and seeing the San Francisco Bay. We did some shopping around the pier and got some treats which included cotton candy, funnel cake, snow cones, and a fried Oreo. After chowing down on her bright blue snow cone, Kate had blue lips for the remainder of the day. The best surprise was telling the group we would be having our Moondance banquet that evening with fun outfits from the thrift store and a dinner out at Tres Amigos. Everyone had so much fun picking out amazing clothes for their friends and even for the leaders (which of course meant John was wearing a skirt). When we got back to camp, we showered, changed into the outfits and then headed to the restaurant. The food was amazing and a great last meal for our group. We watched the most beautiful orange and pink sunset from the beach and soaked up some of our last moments together as a group. Aubrey, Katherine, Elizabeth, and John threw the football while the others splashed their toes in the chilly Pacific. It was a picturesque scene. For our last Moonup, we gathered around a campfire and shared our favorite parts of the trip. Tears were shed followed by a group hug that left everyone with a bittersweet feeling. We all felt similar ways this morning as we said our last goodbyes at the airport. This group has been such a blast and we are so thankful to have had such thoughtful, respectful, and fun girls on our trip. We will really miss them.



John, Katherine, Rachel, and Dave

Yippee in Yosemite!

July 6, 2021

Hello from Yosemite!

The last few days have been a really good and sweet version of a whirlwind. As we pulled into our campsite belting “Firework” by Katy Perry at the tops of our lungs four days ago, it was evident from the energy filling the van that our group was really starting to hit its stride. All in all, I feel like this song is a good way to characterize this trip update. Thus, the “Firework” update.

Our first morning in our campsite outside Yosemite, we scarfed down oatmeal (we’re all in agreement that there’s something about camping that makes oatmeal really hit the spot). Everyone grabbed a sandwich as well as an assortment of snacks to put in their backpack and we hopped in the van to drive into Yosemite for our guided hike. When we met Brendan, our guide, he told us he wanted us to hike to the top of Vernal Falls. He said it was the best hike in the park and that although it was a bit challenging, he believed we could do it. With Aubrey and Katherine at the front of the pack, we jumped on the horse trail that only guides know about (ooooh) and made our way up. The hike definitely pushed us, but the view at the top of the waterfall made it all worth it. It felt like we were in some place that wasn’t real.

We ate our lunch, walked down, hit the gift shop, and made the drive back to our campsite. Long hikes surely make for quieter van rides. However, we also learned that there’s nothing that can bring a group of people out of their sleepy moods like a surprise announcement that we’re making an ice cream stop. We pulled into a charming little ice cream shop and cured our tired legs with the sweet deliciousness of the creamy treat. We drove back into camp, ate John’s famous pasta, shared a Moonup led with a great question from our LODs Flynn and Aubrey, and then went to sleep.

The next day consisted of lots of unexpected goodies. We ate a tasty eggs and hashbrowns breakfast, spent some time making friendship bracelets, and then splashed around in the pool for a while. For lunch, we chowed down on a hummus and pita spread, and then spent the afternoon playing group games and taking some time to just hang and chill. It was during this time that us leaders got word of the news that our campsite (we love this place) was projecting a movie that night. Eep! We ushered everyone back to the campsite and let them shower while we set up a special surprise spa night (camping edition)- complete with a nail painting station, face masks, a foot soak, and of course endless hair braiding. If you were wondering, John read his book at the neighboring picnic table during this time and frequently looked up and smiled as the girls yelled “John, look at my nails/hair/mask/etc!”

Post-pampering, we ate a teriyaki pad thai dinner and then you could probably guess what we did once the moon came up. At the very end of Moonup, we shared the news about the movie viewing. Under the stars, we sat and giggled at the movie “Wish Dragon.” The movie really pulled at our heart strings and even brought some tears down the cheeks of Kate and Mills, and overall, we were pleased by our outdoor movie theater experience. A great cap to a good, good day.

Happy fourth! What better way to celebrate than by rock-climbing? There’s nothing that says freedom like looking out from the top of a rock wall at a massive, beautiful landscape behind you. We had a yogurt parfait breakfast and then met our guides Kevin and Tobias at the wall. We spent the morning learning climbing technique, practicing belaying, hearing Kevin’s stories from completing El Capitan, and encouraging our friends as they worked their ways to the top of the wall. Lots of questions were answered by our token experienced climber Carmen. Us leaders were so impressed with each person’s tenacity and commitment to making it all the way up. Maggie, Elizabeth, and Carmen made it in especially quick time. After climbing, we celebrated the fourth by hanging and swimming at a sliding rock creek area. Then we hopped back into Phyllis, our van as named by the girls and always cheered for fervently by Ella and rode back to the campsite. The cook crew, made up of Raines as the Mac-n-cheese chef and Katherine as the Coleman stove hotdog master, quickly got started on whipping up a delicious Independence Day meal. We sipped sweet tea as we feasted, and then topped it all off with a “Dirt Dessert” finale (oreo cookies with pudding and gummy worms). Mills couldn’t get enough! It was a more unique Fourth of July celebration than any of us had experienced yet, and we laid down in our tents feeling grateful for the memories from this day that we’ll hold close for a long time.

Tonight, we’re settling into our campsite on the coast near the Bay Area and getting more and more excited for our surfing adventures ahead. The end of our trip is coming into view, but as we’re still a few days out, we wanted to leave you with some parent shout-outs from the girls.

Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having a lot of fun here and I hope you’re having a lot of fun in Nantucket too. Miss you and love you! Tell Jane and Matthew I said hi. -Elizabeth

Hi Mom and Dad, Miss y’all so much. Can’t wait to tell y’all all about the trip when I get home. Love you and miss you. Tell Ian, Davis, Ellie, and Tess I said hi. -Carmen

Hey Mom and Dad! I saw Andrew the other day. I have had so much fun. Thank you for sending me here. I love you ❤️Kate

Hi Mom and Dad. I’m having lots of fun. Love you, miss you. -Aubrey

Hi Mom and Dad. I’m having such a great time. Miss you and say hi to Butter and Riley for me, Love, Katherine

Hi Mom and Dad. How are the brothers? I hope Louie, Gus, Jake, Xenie, and Sylvia are doing well. Have a great time. Love, Flynn

Hey Mom and Dad. I love and miss y’all so much! Tell all the animals that I love them too! Thank you for giving me this opportunity, I won’t forget it. Love, Mills

Dear Mom and Dad, I’m having so much fun and I’ve made so many new friends. Have fun in California. Give Rasta a big hug for me. Also Happy Birthday Goggie! I can’t wait to celebrate when I get home. Love, Maggie

Dear Mom and Dad, I love and miss y’all so much! I’m having so much fun and I can’t wait to see y’all. I hope Blue is okay after surgery. Tell Gammie and Grandaddy I love and miss them too! Love, Raines

dear Mom and Dad. I love and miss you so much. I’m having so much fun, thank you for giving me the opportunity to go to Moondance. Tell Sparky I miss him. Love, Ella

Paddlin' the Pristine Tahoe Waters!

July 2, 2021

Hello to our loyal California C fan base!

The last few days on Lake Tahoe have been incredible. We just got to Yosemite National Park and are settling in for a nice night’s sleep before our guided hike tomorrow morning. The van ride here from Lake Tahoe was characterized by boisterous singalongs and intermittent moments of contemplation as the girls gazed out across the landscape bathed in golden hour’s rays. The group played hard and soaked in the sun during our time at the country’s second largest lake. Here’s what we’ve been up to!

The first day served as a wonderful introduction to the lake and its surrounding areas. We began kayaking late that morning and spent midday on Tahoe, exploring the pristine waters and surveying the breathtaking mountain vistas. When we arrived to our outfitters and met our kayaking guides Mitch and Julie, they gave us a quick lesson on how to maneuver the tandem kayaks and then we all set off into the glassy landscape. While some girls opted for a leisurely paddling pace, Elizabeth and Carmen raced out to the font of the pack and never relinquished their hold on top poll position. After a morning of paddling and Tahoe-related fun facts (courtesy of Julie and Mitch), we arrived at a beautiful rock beach for lunch. The girls tucked into a nice meal of sandwiches, chips, and Famous Amos cookies. Following lunch, Mills and Kate got busy sun tanning themselves on the beach, while Aubrey and Katherine tried their hand at skipping rocks. We came back to camp and played mafia, talked, read, and scrambled around the impressive rock structures framing our campsite. Dinner that night was a taco buffet prepared by the kids and turned out to be a massive success. The kids enjoyed time in the Eno hammocks that night after dinner and went to bed happy and excited for the next day.

This morning, a crew of enterprising girls went down to Lake Tahoe (at 5:30[!]) to see the sun rise over the water. Later that morning, everyone else got up and scarfed down a French toast breakfast. Today is also Elizabeth’s 13th birthday! We surprised her with a birthday piñata that morning. She showed the paper mache donkey no mercy, and the other girls cheered her on as she uncovered the candy hidden within. We then headed to the rim of the lake for some paddle boarding. Our second day on the water proved less relaxing than the kayak outing. We paddled around the rim of the lake and floated on the crystalline waters. The kids battled in paddle wars and took turns picking unassuming targets to flip into the water. Maggie, Flynn, and Ella were responsible for the majority of the onboard scrapping, but Raines proved to be a masterful escape artist as she successfully evaded numerous offensives. Meanwhile, other girls taught a free paddle board yoga lesson to the leaders and an attentive passerby. Their headstands on the paddle boards were particularly impressive. After exhausting themselves in the field of battle, the kids all collapsed onto their paddle boards for some much needed rest and sunbathing. We ate a tasty lunch after coming off the water, changed into dry clothes, and set out for the natural wonder that is Yosemite.

The drive this afternoon was arguably the prettiest of our trip so far. We had a blast singing songs in the backseat of the van (mostly throwback pop and Bruno Mars) and taking in the stunning vistas passing our windows. We surprised the girls for dinner, taking them to In-N-Out for Elizabeth’s birthday dinner! It was great to see them laugh and enjoy burgers, shakes, and fries with their In-N-Out hats on their heads. We got into our campsite right after sunset, set up our tents and hammocks, and had a beautiful Moonup under the stars. We can’t wait to explore Yosemite Valley tomorrow morning!

Friendships are Blossoming!

June 30, 2021

Greetings from the girls’ trip!!!! 


We are currently on the way to beautiful Lake Tahoe jamming out to the full Hamilton album. We just finished two awesome days of whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River. We have had such an amazing start to our trip. This group is so fun, and we have absolutely loved getting to know everyone. They have clicked so easily, it’s hard to believe we’ve only known each other 4 days. 


After getting everyone at the airport on day 1, we headed to our first campground near Point Reyes National Seashore. To pass the time before dinner, we played a few card games, threw around the frisbee and used Kate’s hacky sack to play some “death sack” (a competitive hacky sack game). Games were followed by a quick tent lesson from the leaders, and then our girls impressed us by quickly setting up their tents without much help. Right as we finished tents, leader Katherine, pulled up with our pizza dinner! Everyone grubbed on some cheese and pepperoni in a crazy creek circle. With full stomachs, we settled in for our first moonup. Carmen and Maggie were chosen as our very first LODs (leaders of the day), and everyone got a chance to answer our moonup question “what are you most excited and nervous about for our trip?”.


Our first morning together started with eggs and bacon cooked at our campsite and some coffee for the leaders. Then we set out to Point Reyes for some exploring! At the suggestion of the park ranger, we hiked for 5 miles along the Estero trail. The terrain in this area is so unique and interesting! As we stopped on a bridge Elizabeth spotted some cool red and blue crabs crawling in the water beneath us. After our hike we headed to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. They recently reopened the stairs to walk down to the lighthouse, so we had the opportunity to see it up close. On our way down the stairs, we saw some humpback whales surface in the ocean! Raines got some awesome pictures of the coast on her camera, and then we headed back up. 


We began our drive towards the American River with some One Direction and Harry Styles blasting on the speakers. The girls chatted up a storm in the back and we got the opportunity to soak up some of the beautiful landscape California has to offer. When we arrived in Lotus, CA the weather was very different from the coast. With temperatures close to 100 degrees, we decided to take a dip in the river and rest in the shade after setting up camp. Ella and Flynn provided the group with some laughs by attempting to swim upriver with no success. Katherine showed off her bravery by being the first to walk through the flock of geese that had gathered near our river exit. After our refreshing dip, we enjoyed a fajita dinner. Then it was moonup and off to bed! 


Day three started early with some breakfast and card games. Then we headed off to meet our outfitters for our first day of rafting. After a quick safety briefing, we were off! For the first half of the day, we tackled some class 2 rapids and floated in the river where it was calm. Then we stopped for lunch provided by our outfitters and fuel up for an afternoon of class 3s. The girls laughed and screamed joyfully through all the rapids. Everyone did so well! Tired and sun-kissed, we headed back to camp to enjoy another outfitter provided dinner of chicken and pasta, with brownies for dessert. Everyone shared their dream job at moonup and Mills and Kate were named LOD. Aubrey, Maggie, Carmen, and a few others joined Rachel and “Dave” (leader Rachel Davenport) on the tarp for a night under stars and we all slept peacefully. 


Due to low waters the next day, we got a chance to do our second day of rapids in “duckies” which are inflatable kayaks. The girls showed up Katherine and Dave by flying down the river in the kayaks. We stopped off on “Jo Jo Bo Bo Cove” for a biggest splash contest followed by a kayak race. Then we had one more lunch with All Outdoors and embarked on our drive to Tahoe. We cannot wait to see what else is in store for this awesome group and hope that everyone at home is doing well! 



John, Katherine, Rachel and Dave 

All Have Arrived!

June 26, 2021

Hello California Families!

The whole group arrived safely in San Francisco 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


  • Aubrey
  • Carmen
  • Elizabeth
  • Ella
  • Flynn
  • Kate
  • Katherine
  • Maggie
  • Mills
  • Raines