July 26, 2021
It’s been an emotional few days here in Utah, and we were far from ready to say goodbye. After hopping off the river in Moab, we returned to our van for a 3.5 hour car ride and hit the road heading to Payson Lake. Grace quickly hopped in the front row to control the music and played all early 2000’s hits. From Britney Spears to Beyoncé to Rascal Flatts, we jammed the entire way there with Noah and Ryder singing their hearts out in the back. During the ride, we had the group discuss what they wanted to make for dinner. Little did they know, May May and I had a surprise for them once we got to town. We pulled into the “In N Out” parking lot and heard screams for a solid five minutes. For everyone but Stella, this was their first experience with the famous California chain. We walked in and everyone immediately bought t shirts and stickers, really rounding out the experience. Turner challenged Noah to an eating contest with 2 double cheeseburgers and 2 fries. The winner is still undecided, as both guys finished their meals in under 15 minutes. After a great photo shoot and an even better meal, we hopped back into the van and drove to our campsite at Payson Lakes Campground. This was quite the change of pace, as we went from 100 degree weather to low 60’s up in the mountains. Since it was so chilly (60 is cold to us now), we decided to do Moonup in the van. Keira and George asked such a thoughtful question: “what is the best advice your parents have given you?”. We had some incredible answers, and everyone got a glimpse at what each other’s life at home is like. After Moonup, Mary Grace got out of the car and immediately threw on sweatpants and a sweatshirt, with everyone else following right behind her. We all snuggled into our sleeping bags and laid under the stars for our second to last night of sleep together!
The next day we headed to Park City, our last stop of the trip! We got to our campground super early and decided to get all of the cleaning out of the way. AP took charge of the dishes and enlisted the help of Stella. We’ve never seen cleaner dishes and stoves! They spent a good hour scrubbing off all the grime from our two weeks. After a good two hours of cleaning, we packed up the U-Haul and headed into town. We hit up the local grocery store to get deli meats and veggies for an awesome last lunch together. Next, we had some important paperwork to get done. We gave each student a sheet where they can write down 25 things they hope to accomplish in their life. This is a great time to reflect on these two weeks, while also looking to the future.
After paperwork it was finally time for a shower!! Maggie was so excited to rinse off that she was the first one in the building, leaving everyone in the dust. After everyone showered, we caught a glimpse of the USA Gymnastics team competing in Tokyo. It was our first look at a TV in a while, and most everyone forgot about the Olympics going on! After showers we walked up and down Main Street browsing through the shops. Christian and Charlie were tired of shopping, so they decided to hit the streets for a hilarious photo shoot. With the help of Turner’s photography skills, they got some epic pictures of them with tons of different poses. They had the whole group laughing for a while. Finally, it was dinner time. We feasted on Main Street Pizza and Noodle, splitting a ton of pizzas, chicken fingers, salads and garlic knots. Everyone was so full that we had to take a minute to catch our breath after eating. But of course there was still room for ice cream. Christian showed us the best local ice cream stop called Java Cow. We finished the night walking up and down Park City, reminiscing on our time together and dreading the fact that our time was coming to an end.
Once we got back to our campsite, we had our best Moonup yet. Everyone was emotional, everyone shared personal memories of the trip and everyone signed each other’s Quote Book. This morning’s airport drop off was a hard one, filled with many tears. We cannot thank the parents enough for allowing us to lead your kids for these past two weeks! They are all so incredible and we feel so lucky to know them.
Until next year!
Nate and May May
July 24, 2021
Hello from the Colorado River!!
It’s been a fun and eventful few days here on the Colorado River! On Wednesday, we woke up early and headed to the river. Our first day on the river was chill, as we motored down the river towards the rapids. Many people took well deserved cat naps on the boat, with the purring of the motor putting us to sleep. Christian and Charlie definitely figured out the best spot on the boat, in a nice shaded area close to the motor in the back of the boat! Many other people made friendship bracelets, with Grace being an absolute friendship bracelet queen and making everyone in the group bracelets! We stopped half way during the day to have a delicious deli bar on the side of the river, and then continued on our way. The chats were flowing and we were laughing so hard our laughs were echoing in the canyons!
We floated all afternoon, and finally landed at camp early evening. AP led the train in getting everyone to jump back in the water at camp and swim to cool off. Everyone ended up jumping in and loved it! After we swam, unfortunately, some rainy weather followed us and it poured on us. However, we all piled under the tarp in a tight huddle and kept warm. Many even talked about how fun it was, and that the rain was awesome! After the rain stopped, we shared a delicious dinner of fajitas and explored the nearby caves and newly formed waterfall from the rain. Finally, we all shared our best Moonup yet, even after a long, tiring day. Mary Grace helped lead this amazing Moonup, asking a deeper question that grew everyone closer. We then laid our heads to rest for the night, excited for the next day to come!
The next day, we woke up early again, but to some already made coffee, hot chocolate, and orange juice. Ryder couldn’t stop talking about how excited she was to finally get some coffee in the morning! We ate breakfast, then all climbed into the boats to motor some more down the river. Maggie was certainly a huge asset to the chats on the raft, sharing story after story, and having the entire group on the floor laughing! Some more naps were in order, along with bracelets. However, today we embarked on two hikes to explore the canyons around us. On the first one, we hiked up to see some old ruins and petroglyphs. Everyone was so interested to see these! Our second hike was up and over one of the canyons, giving us one of the best views of the river yet! It felt like we could see for miles. At the end of our hike, we all jumped back in the river to swim to the boats. However, we all had to cross a mud patch to get there, with many of us fully getting stuck. Keira was almost up to her waist in mud, consistently falling in it. All hands were on deck helping Keira, resulting in many of us falling in too. We couldn’t stop laughing, but finally got her out! After another great day on the river, we got to camp around dinner time and immediately devoured some appetizers. Another delicious dinner was served, and we all devoured it quickly! We had an awesome dinner with our raft guides, and prepared for our big day ahead. We decided to go to bed early, and get a good night of sleep!
Yesterday, the long awaited rapid day was finally upon us! We woke up early and ate a delicious pancake breakfast with fruit. Even a pancake eating contest occurred, with Noah taking the cake by eating six pancakes! We all then loaded into the rafts, and began our day of rapids. Turner and George bravely hopped in the duckie rafts first, two person inflatable kayaks that can go down some of the smaller rapids. They went down the first rapid, nailing the big waves. The waves tossed George right out of the kayak, but Turner managed to hang on. They both finished the rapid, and were ecstatic about how much fun it was to go through the waves! Everyone, of course, then wanted to hop in the duckies too! Everyone got a turn in the duckies, and everyone else was in the bigger rafts when not in the duckies. The rapids were perfect, and even two people managed to take a swim but loved it!
We went down rapids all day long, and we even managed to not flip any of our rafts. Our guides could not have been more awesome, and made everyone feel safe at all times. Stella was announced the MVP rafter of the day, crushing her time in the duckies and sitting in the front of the big raft, taking many waves to the face and laughing about it! Yesterday could not have been more awesome, and everyone said that it was their favorite day of the rafting trip for sure, and some even said it was their favorite day of the trip! We ended our day with three class four rapids, but everyone easily made it through. We celebrated by all swimming one of the smaller rapids, and finally making it to camp! We ended the day with some games of football, mafia, and another awesome Moonup. We then all slept in a circle under the stars, all falling asleep to some pillow talk.
Today, we woke up and barged the boats back up again to motor out of the river. Friendship bracelets were made, swim parties occurred, and many naps on the bus ride back happened. We are now headed to Payson Lake for the night and look forward to our bittersweet last day together. We’re already getting sad to say goodbye, but making the most of the time we have left together. See shoutouts from your lovely kids below. We will talk to y’all soon!
Until next time,
Nate and May May
Maggie- hey mom and dad! I’m having so much fun and have done so much in the past two weeks, it’s crazy! Love y’all!!
Mary Grace- hey mom and dad this has been the best 2 weeks ever I love everyone in the group and I’ve done so many cool things!! I can’t wait to tell you about it love you and miss you!❤️❤️
Ryder- Hey Mom and dad this is by far my favorite moondance ever! I’ve made some life long friends and we are all ready planning all our reunions. Thank y’all so much for sending me on this trip! And mom you are going to be so jealous of all the hikes I’ve done!
Keira – hii mom and dad! I miss you all, I hope your having as much fun as I am. I think I could stay here for another week… tell k2 I miss her the most, lots of love.
Stella – hey family! Love and miss you guys so much. I’ve had so much fun and met so many new people and everyone is so sweet. See you guys soon!
AP- hey mom and dad, miss y’all so much!! I’m having so much fun and meeting lots of friends. Miss and love y’all and don’t forget to feed my fish.
Grace- heyy guysss!!! I can’t wait to see y’all at the airport soon- make sure to bring the dogs ;)). love y’all so much and have so many stories to tell y’all haha! endlessly grateful!! <3
George- what’s up. I’m alive well and having so much fun. See y’all soon and so excited to talk all about it
Noah- Hey mom and dad, I’ve had a lot of fun at moondance, made many lifelong friends. Can’t wait to see you guys and olive soon. Love Noah
Christian- hey mom and dad. Miss you guys so much and can’t wait to see you in a few days. Having a great time and can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Charlie-Hi Mom and Dad! I’m having lots of fun on the trip. We just finished rafting the Colorado River. I cannot wait to see you all in a couple of days!
Turner- Hey mom dad and Sam! There’s no way Sam had as much fun as I am having and I have made many lifelong friends. This trip has been amazing and I have loved every minute of it. I only got a little sunburned and I can’t wait to see the welcoming committee when I get home. See y’all soon!
July 20, 2021
Greetings from Moab!!
We arrived in Moab late Saturday afternoon! We were greeted with lots of sun and heat, but the river next to our campsite was quite the escape. Immediately when we got to the campsite, everyone threw on their swimsuits and headed into the river! We cooled off before a couple fun games of soccer, where Kiera showed off her skills and dominated any competitors. We then made a delicious quesadilla dinner, played Mafia, did Moonup, and laid our heads to rest under the stars.
The next morning, we woke up early and headed to rock climbing. The spirits were high and the music jams were strong as we drove to our rock climbing destination. Right off of the bat, Christian showed off his rock climbing skills and quickly made it to the top. The entire group loved rock climbing, with everyone doing all of the routes and absolutely crushing it! Everyone was constantly belaying one another when not climbing, and cheering each other on. The group even decided to do a race on one of the routes, seeing who could climb it the quickest. Noah easily took the cake of the race, making it to the top of the route in less than a minute! It was impressive to say the least. Turner was also a highlight of rock climbing, as he attempted a cartwheel on the belay and did a pretty good job I must say! It surely got a lot of laughs, too! After we finished rock climbing, we went to one of the best parks in Moab and made a delicious lunch. Everyone was exhausted, many people taking cat naps under the trees, chatting with one another, and some even decided to join a group game of ultimate frisbee. We crush the games, that’s for sure! After we ensured we all had full bellies and heated up outside, we decided to cool off in some water near by and go for a swim. We swam all afternoon, with nobody getting enough of the cool water! Finally, we ended the day with our local food stop! We surprised the kids, making them think we were going back to the hot, unshaded campsite to cook nachos in the baking sun. Instead, we pulled off to a local restaurant and all enjoyed some delicious pizza and appetizers! The kids were ecstatic, especially Mary Grace had an awesome surprised reaction. After dinner, we headed back to camp, had another awesome Moonup, and all slept under the stars again. One of my favorite things about this group is that they are constantly playing games with each other or all sitting in a circle talking, just simply all being happy to be with one another!
Yesterday. we woke up early and feasted on watermelon and bagels with cream cheese. Today was our canyoneering day and everyone was so pumped to get going. Once we got to the canyon about 30 minutes outside of Moab, the group put their harness and helmet on and began the hike up. We climbed over boulders to get towards the top of the canyon where we sat in the shade for a quick snack before starting our descent. For about two hours we chimney climbed through slot canyons and walked through sitting water, getting closer to the end with each step. When we got to the final rappel, George told everyone about his slight fear of heights. Instead of chickening out, he faced his fear and flew down the cliff. Ryder also flew down, and decided to run back up to the top and go another round. Our guides were so impressed! The group had so much fun during this activity – most of them said it was their favorite of the trip. After canyoneering, we stopped at the local food trucks and got some much-deserved snow cones. They definitely hit the spot in the heat! We then walked around Moab, bopping in and out of souvenir shops. Many people got tshirts, and Grace even decided to make her own tshirt that looks awesome! After we explored town and all felt good about our souvenirs, we headed back to the campsite to make a delicious nacho bar. It was a hit for sure! While some made dinner, others played soccer and tips. After we wrapped up dinner with full bellies, we headed to the favorite Dead Horse State Park to watch the sunset. We jammed on the way, singing to One Direction, J. Cole, and everything in between! The sunset received high remarks, even though the weather was not ideal. We all watched the sunset together and decided to do Moonup with the pretty view. After we finished, AP took over aux and we had some more awesome jams on the drive back! We all got out of the car with half of our voices, but smiles on our faces. Yet again, we ended the day with lots of awesome conversations under the stars as we all dosed off for the night.
Today, we woke up with excitement for the long-awaited Arches hike. We jump started our day with French toast and fruit, then headed to the park. Maggie took over aux on the way, getting everyone hyped up and ready for the hike. It was hot, but everyone absolutely crushed it and was in awe of the beautiful Delicate Arch. It was great getting back to trail talk on our hikes, with Charlie being a fan favorite with guaranteed solid conversations while hiking. We all snapped a lot of photos when we made it to the arch, ensuring that we would have memories to last forever. The kids said that Arches was even better than they expected! Stella especially couldn’t stop talking about how much she loved it! After Arches, everyone was worn out and almost everyone fell asleep on the ride back. We headed back to camp and made personal pizzas that received high reviews for sure! This afternoon, we will be finding some more water to swim and hang out in. Then, we will be having the famous iron chef dinner where the group is divided in two teams and competes for who can make the best meal. The groups have been talking all day about what they have up their sleeves! More updates on it coming soon! Tomorrow, we begin our rafting section of the trip. We could not be more excited and look forward to telling y’all all about it!
Until next time,
Nate and May May
July 17, 2021
Hello again from Utah!
After an amazing start to the trip in Bryce Canyon, the group took a short drive south to Zion National Park. So far, the van rides are some of the most entertaining parts of the trip. Anne Pierson has been in the front crushing the music choices and always keeps the group singing… until we entered Zion. The entrance to the park is truly something special. Once we made it through the tunnel, everyone went silent and looked up. The massive red and green mountains surrounded us for another 15 minutes until we got to our campsite right in the park. Once there, Noah and Christian led the group in a tent setup and Leave No Trace refresher course. We are so proud that everyone cares about the outdoors as much as we do. This afternoon came with a lot of free time, and with the sun beaming directly on our campsite, Turner decided to set up his Eno hammock in the shade and take a relaxing nap. That didn’t last too long, as he was quickly convinced to play the classic card game Spoons. This game was the most heated competition we’ve had so far, with Maggie pulling out the incredible win. She screamed so loud that you could hear it all the way from the road (that’s a long way from our campsite). The group could not get enough of the games, so Ryder reminded us of a Moondance favorite called “Birdie on a Perch.” This game is played in pairs and requires one player to jump on the others back when someone says “Birdie on a Perch,” but there’s a catch. If you’re last off the ground and onto your partners back, you’re out of the game! We played FIVE rounds of this game and had multiple winners. We already plan to play a massive game with the other Colorado River group when we see them in Moab!
Our LOD’s for the day, Stella and Christian, helped prepare a great spaghetti dinner before leading our Moonup. As the days go on, we are astounded by how vulnerable each student can get with only knowing one another for a couple days. This is a very special group and everyday we cannot wait until the next Moonup! With only a 10% chance of rain, we decided to forego the rain flies on the tents. About an hour into everyones’ sleep, the thunder started to rumble and the rain poured down. George was so quick to get everyone awake and helped everyone secure their rain fly onto their tents. Luckily, only a few pieces of clothing got wet and easily dried up the next morning.
It was an early morning yesterday as we had an exciting hike in the world famous Zion Narrows! Unfortunately, Keira wasn’t feeling her best, so she spent the day with May May exploring the town of Springdale, UT. They went shopping, had a great breakfast and even stopped for some ice cream! Not a bad alternative to a hike. As for the rest of the group, we boarded a shuttle and strapped on our waterproof hiking boots. From the second we stepped foot in the cold water, I could tell this was going to be a fun day. Mary Grace led the way for a bit and handled stepping through the rocky terrain very gracefully. We hiked in the river under massive red rock cliffs for about two hours before hitting the turn around point. This was a perfect opportunity to eat lunch and get to know our guides better. Grace chatted with one of our guides the entire way back, having some meaningful and mature conversations. The guide even told us after the trip how impressed he was with our group and was very sad to say goodbye to us.
After the hike, we surprised the group with ice cream on us! In the 90 degree weather, nothing hits better than that. Charlie wasn’t feeling ice cream today, so naturally decided to get the worlds hottest candy and give it a go. He had one bite and spit it out immediately, creating a lot of laughs for the rest of the day. We had one of our best dinners yet, grilling out with burgers and dogs and a tasty watermelon. This was the perfect end to a great couple days in Zion. We are all very sad to leave this incredible place, but we can’t help but look forward to all the fun activities we have planned in Moab!
Talk to y’all soon!
Nate and May May
July 15, 2021
Hello from Bryce Canyon!
After everyone arrived in the Salt Lake City airport, we made the 5-hour drive to Bryce Canyon National Park! For a group that just met each other, everyone got along SO well in the car ride. The ride was full of name games, favorite songs and even some heavy rain – something very uncommon for Utah! Once we made it to Bryce Canyon safely, we celebrated the start of a great trip with some local pizza. Everyone ate until the last slice was gone and ended the night with a very full belly. After a tent setup lesson, we jumped into the group’s first Moonup. We heard how everyone found out about Moondance, as well as what they are looking to gain from this experience. Ryder and Charlie were chosen to be the first Leaders of the Day and were very excited to get the first full day started.
Everyone woke up to the fresh smell of bacon and bagels, the perfect breakfast before a big hike. As we came upon the trailhead, it was so awesome seeing everyone’s reactions to the beautiful views. Noah became a clear leader on the trail, encouraging everyone to keep up with his fast pace. We did lots of trail talk throughout the day, with George asking everyone what their “luxury item” would be if they were on Survivor. Boy did we get some funny answers. Keira and Maggie kept the group very entertained by snapping tons of pictures on their cameras. We might have set the record for most selfies taken throughout a day! Once we finished the hike, we headed into town to explore some local shops. Thanks to Grace, over half of the group found cowboy hats they had to have. Now we are the most stylish Moondance group out there.
After hitting the town, we went back to camp to start preparing dinner. On tonight’s menu was fajitas! Turner immediately jumped in to help cook the chicken, seasoning it to perfection. Grace and George took the brave job of cutting the onions and peppers, shedding only a few tears! This meal was a hit, and we are so glad we made extras. A lot of the group went back for more, but thankfully saved room for some dessert. Today was Stella’s 15th birthday, and with the help of Mary Grace and her phenomenal distraction, we were able to surprise her with doughnuts and cookies for dessert. When Stella came back from filling up her water bottle, the group was decked out in birthday hats and sunglasses. Anne Pierson even started a great kazoo song to the tune of “Happy Birthday,” topping off a great celebration.
To end the night, the group played multiple games of Mafia. Christian proved to be the slyest among the crew, fooling everyone for almost five full rounds! After Mafia, Ryder and Charlie led an amazing Moonup and really finished off a great day. Now we are heading to Zion National Park for the next couple days and are so excited to explore another stop in Utah!
Talk to you soon!
Nate and May May
July 13, 2021
Hello Colorado River Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Salt Lake City today, and 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