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California 3B • July 13-July 26, 2021

Goodbye California!

July 26, 2021

San Francisco, CA—It’s hard to believe that our time together in California has come to a close. We are so proud of this group and everything they accomplished. It was tough to see the group have to say goodbye this morning at SFO, but a hard goodbye just shows how close everyone grew.

After such a successful first day of surfing, the group was eager to catch more waves at Pacifica State Beach the next morning. William and Eva, who were Saturday’s LODs, helped get the group’s energy up, despite an early bell that morning. At Pacifica, everyone got on their wet suits before the guides taught some more skills on the beach. Some people were struggling with the noses of their surfboards sinking into the waves, but they explained that its important to shift one’s weight farther back on the boards to keep the nose up. Other people were struggling to recognize when to stand up on the board. They explained that as the wave starts to break and the board points down, you feel the acceleration, and that’s when you give it one more paddle and then stand up. If you stood up too early, then the wave would pass you and you would miss it.

It was low tide when we got out on the water. This was ideal for reinforcing the skills that everyone learned the day before because waves break in shallower water. It’s easier to surf at low tide because the waves are closer to the ocean floor; that is, there are more waves and they break farther out. It was awesome to see Eva picking up so many tips from the guides because she saw some really great improvement. By the end of the day, she was riding waves all the way in. In fact, surfing was her favorite part of the trip! Hasler’s experience surfing on the East Coast really showed through as he continued to excel on bigger waves, but as the tide came in during the morning, Brendan also caught some really nice waves and rode them all the way in to the beach. However, Bevin was the last one out on the water at the end of the morning because she just couldn’t get enough of those west coast waves. She was so excited to be able to surf some bigger waves than those in the Atlantic.

After a big morning surfing, the group found the energy to have a fun night at the campsite.  Brendan was the MVP of a huge touch football game because he had some diving TD receptions and won many 50/50 balls. When we say it was a huge game, it’s because everyone was playing. For dinner that night, Mary Lyon helped chef up some delicious burgers for the group. Hungry and with a rewarding sense of tiredness, everyone feasted. That night at Moonup, everyone reflected on the things they had learned from the trip so far, and Clara and Katherine were selected to be the final LOD’s. Everyone stayed up a little later, hanging out while enjoying some s’mores, knowing that there was only one night left. August took charge to keep the small campfire alive as a group sat around it.

The next and final day, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to go into San Francisco. Everyone had a ton of fun running around Pier 39. Bruce, Mason, and Brendan all got matching socks which was really funny to see them wear around. Gia also picked up a variety of San Francisco merch at the Pier. What a great way to remember the trip! After hitting a thrift store to get a fun outfit for dinner, everyone enjoyed some awesome Mexican food in Half Moon Bay. On the way back to camp for a special and final Moonup, we blasted the favorite songs of the trip. Everyone reflected on their favorite parts of the trip and on the various ways they hope to incorporate the things they learned into their lives back home.

We are so proud of this group and everything they have accomplished, and it was so hard to see them go. We are grateful for the chance to have spent these two weeks together.

Happy Trails,

Sam, Rachel, and Frazer


Surfs up in Pacifica!

July 24, 2021

We are currently on our way back to camp after a beautiful day on the ocean. These kids blew us away with their surfing skills. Now we are all sleepy in the van after giving it our all on the water. Our time on the coast has been incredible and eventful. Yesterday we spent the day exploring the unique landscape that the Point Reyes National Seashore has to offer. We decided to hike the Tomales Point Trail which runs through the Tuolumne Elk Reserve. Bruce and Brendan were the first to spot elk along the trail. August decided to keep count of how many we saw throughout our hike, and he got up to 29! We stopped for lunch around mile 3 at a big tree and Mason, Mary Lyon, and Katherine showed off their climbing skills and enjoyed their lunch on the tree branches. Afterwards we set out for the rest of our hike. We were not planning on making it to the end of the point, but we gave the option to the group, and they decided to go all the way! The point was beautiful and worth the 8-mile round trip. Eva set a fast pace for everyone on the way back, leading the way the whole time. This group is so adventurous and motivated it makes activities a lot of fun.

After completing the hike, we headed over to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The drive there led us through historic cattle ranches and provided some breathtaking views of the craggily coast. Then we returned to camp to cook dinner and relax after a long day. William and Clara helped cook lemon butter pasta with chicken and asparagus. After so much activity that day we ate nearly everything! Then we settled in for Moonup where everyone shared the most challenging thing they’ve done. It was very moving and showed how close our group has gotten in just 10 short days.

The next morning was a slow one compared to most of our others. We had plenty of time to fuel up for our big day of surfing. We decided to try our hand at making crepes but they turned out to be more like big pancakes. Nonetheless, everyone ate at least two servings of breakfast before we headed out. Gia helped lead breakfast clean up so that we could make it out of camp on time.

Our drive to Pacifica took us across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was the first time many in our group had seen it. Soon we were pulling up to the beach, eager to hit the waves. After meeting our surfing guides, we put on our wetsuits and gathered around for a quick lesson in safety and surfing basics. Then we all grabbed our boards and waded into the ocean. It was a beautiful day in Pacifica with great conditions for surfing. Right from the start our resident surfing pros, Hasler and Bevin paddled out past the break and wowed us all by catching some huge waves. Some of the less experienced surfers stuck closer to shore, trying to get the hang of it. By the end of the day everyone stood up on at least a few waves. According to our guides the whole group was “really sending it” all day. We are now back and camp and gearing up for a taco dinner in honor of the Taco Bell located on the beach at our surf spot. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store.

Hasta Pronto,
Rachel Sam and Frazer


Burgers in Yosemite

July 22, 2021

Howdy everyone!

 

We are currently heading west to the coast after four fun filled days in Yosemite.   Our first morning here started early with a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon before heading into Yosemite National Park for a challenging hike. As we drove into the park, we got a great view of Half Dome and El Capitan so we pulled over for some photos. Then we drove down into the valley to start our hike to see Vernal and Nevada Falls. Our group blew us away with the great attitude and speedy ascent of the Mist Trail. We stopped for lunch at the top of Vernal Falls, fueling up for our last stretch of uphill before heading back down the John Muir Trail. Hasler led the pack for a majority of the hike keeping everyone occupied with a fun conversation and many jokes. Once we made it back down the mountain, we headed to the gift shop so everyone could grab some souvenirs to remember their time in the park. On the drive back to camp, the leaders surprised everyone with an ice cream stop. While we sat outside enjoying our ice cream, William had the whole group laughing with his special way of eating an ice cream cone. Once we were back at camp, everyone hit the showers to wash off the dust and sweat from the day. Then it was chicken caesar wraps for dinner and a moonup led by Mason and Katherine. Afterwards everyone headed to bed for some much-needed rest.

 

The next morning began with a special treat of Ego Waffles and French toast. Then we headed out to meet our rock climbing guides. They began our day on the rock with a quick safety lesson and some instruction on how to belay each other. Brendan was the first to make it up the wall, impressing us with his speed and bravery. Clara was the first person to make it up the more difficult route and did so with the grace and persistence of a seasoned pro. By the end of the day almost everyone had a chance to try both routes and make it to the top! After a few hours of climbing, we headed back to camp for some grilled cheese and time at the pool. For dinner, August cooked up some burgers for us back at camp, and they were delicious! Everyone enjoyed some time hanging around camp and ate some dirt desert (pudding and Oreos with gummy worms). It was a big hit.

 

On day two of climbing, we tackled some routes with a higher degree of difficulty, and, again, everyone killed it! Mary Lyon and Bruce were standout climbers, with each of them getting up the wall in less than 5 minutes. After climbing we headed to Bass Lake for a quick dip and to try out the rockslide there. Gia led the charge to swim across part of the lake to explore the shore there. After the lake we made stop at a local shop for a treat and then went back to camp. For dinner Eva whipped up some personal pizzas for everyone. She ended up making 50 mini pizzas! Bevin helped Frazer clean up dinner and then some of us went to play at the playground at our campsite.

 

Before heading to the coast, we decided to do one last hike in the area. The trail followed along Willow Creek and we stopped off at a fun spot to swim and play on the rocks. As we head to our final destination on the coast, we are sad that our trip is coming to an end but excited for these last few days!

 

Best,

Rachel, Sam, and Frazer

 


Rafting like Never Before!

July 18, 2021

We are on the road right now on our way to Yosemite after another incredible day of rafting on the American River.

 

On our first night at camp Lotus we all enjoyed our first camp shower, while Gia, William, and Eva prepared us a wonderful dinner: a fajita bar with rice, beans, salsa, chicken, guacamole and peppers. Everyone was amazed at their cooking skills. We closed the night with Moonup lead by Brendan and Clara who were the LODs. Brendan and Clara asked us to answer what our B+ superpower would be (so not A+ like flying, but B+ like never getting cheeto fingers). It was such a fun and funny question and we laughed a lot at the kids’ answers.

The next morning we slept in and cooked some yummy bacon egg and cheese sandwiches on brioche. After feasting we headed down to the American River for our first day rafting. We started the day off with some class ones and two’s and the kids conquered it like champs. We paddled into lunch where we had some turkey sandwiches, veggies, trail mix, chips and — the kids favorite– dried mangoes. Mary Lyon especially loved the dried mangoes. Never before have we seen such enthusiasm for a food.

The second half of the day we took it up a notch and rafted some class twos and threes. We spun, we slid and tilted and the group still managed to stay all in the raft. We had a blast and were impressed with this group’s skill. We closed out the evening with a swim by the river and a gourmet dinner that our rafting guides prepared. We closed out the night with Moonup and brownies..

Today we woke up to another wonderful meal prepared by our wonderful raft guides. We had some coffee cake, croissants, eggs and bacon with watermelon, raspberries and coffee cake. It was delicious and a great way to fuel for the day of rafting ahead. This morning the kids were so on top of it that we were early and had some time to kill before rafting. We played some hydration games to pass the time and jammed out to some music. We laughed a lot and the kids each got their fair share of water.

We started off rafting with some exciting class threes and the kids crushed it. Everyone managed to stay in the boat and paddled hard. Mason could be seen up ahead wearing Gia’s green frog hat paddling hard along the rapids. Brendan and Bruce sat in the front of the boat and took the waves like champs. As rafting neared its end, we hit a spot with some still water and chaos ensued. We all began pushing each other in. Frazer pushed several of the girls in and they were determined to retaliate. Bevin, Ava and Clara strongarmed her into the water after about 5 minutes of hysterical wrestling. Never have we as leaders seen such intense focus and determination from students this age before. It was a sight!

After rafting the kids won on a bet we had placed earlier. We had told the kids we would go to the gas station nearby and buy snacks if they could guess Sam’s middle name. After at least 48 hours of trial and error August finally tricked Frazer into giving them the answer, and as promised we made a big gas station stop after rafting. All the kids were beyond thrilled to get some fun van snacks and Katherine shared some Oreos with the group. The whole group was eternally grateful. For the rest of the drive we made wonderful car ride conversation, and Hasler shared about his love of music and told us about being in his band.

Overall we have loved spending time with these kids and cant wait for our rock climbing adventures to come in Yosemite.

 

Best,

Frazer, Rachel, and Sam


Kayaking and Camping... Paddle Boarding and Pizza

July 16, 2021

Lake Tahoe, CA—Greetings from Lake Tahoe! We are off to such a great start in California, and we are so glad that everyone is here. This group has gotten off to such a great start, and they are having so much fun together. It’s awesome to see them be this close already!

 

Our trip started in San Francisco, where everyone flew in to meet each other. William shared his Uno deck with the rest of the group, which was a great way for everyone to get to know each other. To get some energy out before the drive up to the mountains, the group found a field nearby the airport to go play capture the flag. Mary Lyon secured her team the first victory when she got the flag out of a tree and across midfield all by herself. No one even saw her with the flag until she had won! Bruce also established himself as a strong competitor, capturing the flag in another game. After capture the flag, some people threw the football, but Brendan made some awesome one-handed catches, falling out of the endzone. Even before we had gotten out of the Bay Area, this group seemed to have already grown very close. With some pizza, we headed out of San Francisco and up towards Tahoe.

 

Though it had been a long travel day, on the drive up, the group was really getting into the music. In fact, Bevin was telling the group that she could play some of the songs on the piano. Hasler, as well, was requesting some great songs that fit the mood well. It was so fun to see the group get into the music because it is always a good bonding experience.

 

The first morning the group enjoyed some breakfast on the way up to beautiful Lake Tahoe for our lake kayaking tour. Bevin and August, the first Leaders of the Day (LOD), took the day by storm as we kayaked two hours to another beach for lunch. The guides explained to us that the lake is 22 miles across, and that the deepest part of the lake is deeper than the height of the Empire State Building. Interestingly enough, Lake Tahoe formed because there were active volcanoes surrounding a meadow millions of years ago. As they erupted, the meadow sank lower and lower. After the ice age, the glacial water filled the valley, forming Lake Tahoe. The water is such a deep blue because it is glacial, and it is so clear that you can see 70 feet down! That afternoon at camp Eva told some goofy stories from home that made everyone in the group laugh. For dinner, Katherine cheffed up some phenomenal stir fry with teriyaki sauce that the group devoured. After a long day in the sun and Moonup, the group was to bed early.

 

This morning, Clara and Brendan—today’s LODs—brought the group back to Tahoe for a morning of Standup Paddle boarding. As soon as we got out, Mason made sure no one stayed dry. Very quickly, however, those he pushed in ensured that he was also in the water. Clara was on offense during the paddleboard tipping war, too. That afternoon, Gia told stories that kept the group in high spirits during a hike to an old lighthouse at Tahoe. The trail was near the lake, but a bit up the side of mountain so that we could see down into the deep blue and all the way across to Nevada.

 

As we head into two days of rafting on the American River, we are so excited to see this group mesh together even more. William was particularly excited to raft because he has been telling the group about this experience on rivers in the South, but he’s ready to bring it to the American. We’re having a great time out here and can’t wait to see what comes.

 

Best,

Sam, Frazer, and Rachel


All Have Arrived!

July 14, 2021

Hello California Families!

The whole group has arrived safely in San Francisco, 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


Students

  • Bevin
  • Brendan
  • Bruce
  • Clara
  • Eva
  • Gia
  • Katherine
  • Mary
  • William
  • William
  • August
  • Hasler

Staff