July 26, 2021
Louise and I are so grateful for this group. This morning we said goodbye to 12 teenagers who left a positive impact on out summers and lives. To wrap this trip up let’s recap our final 48 hours together.
At our last night in Bryce Canyon, we found out that it was Pioneer Day in Utah which is highly celebrated. As a celebration there was an incredible firework show outside the national park. We finished our dinner of burgers and mac and cheese, had a wonderful moonup and then headed out with our Crazy Creeks to find a good spot to watch the show. We all sat down and cheered and clapped as the fireworks lit up the night sky. Kate D and Birch kept the groups energy going by suggestions great sing alongs on the car ride back to camp. Once back at camp, we had to go straight to bed because we had an early wake up call the next morning for our last and final road trip.
As luck would have it, it rained on us in the middle of the night. Ironically, this left lots of clothes and other belongings that were left out to dry, wet all over again. We threw wet clothes in a trash bag, had our final breakfast together of oatmeal (classic) and cereal and watermelon. James, our usual watermelon slicer decided to take a break this morning and let myself, Baker, take over. And let me just say that James’ skills were missed. Apparently I don’t know how to slice a watermelon. After breakfast, we needed to do camp cleanup! Caroline and Helen were so helpful in picking up an trash that we might have left over. Owen and Tyler used their strength to load up the Uhaul and we were on our way. Naps seem to be a reoccurring theme of these car rides. The first two hours went by fast. Heather, Georgia, and Emmie are a phenomenal front row gang. If you are ever in need of a high energy group to make a car ride more fun, I would highly recommend these girls. To keep the energy high, we stopped at In-N-Out for lunch. It was a couple people’s first time and to celebrate, they got the classic t-shirts. Dillon repped hers for the rest of the day. After lunch we had about a 45 minute drive to our final campsite where the chores began. First up, was getting all trash out of Tina (van) and Bert (uhaul). Four huge trash bags later and our mobile homes looked so much better. We got back in Tina and drove into Park City for our final day. We went to a car wash and made sure that Tina was shining and did a full vacuum as well. She looks so good! After that we headed to the city park downtown Park City and had the kids do two forms of paperwork for us. The first one being a course evaluation. We ask them to do this so we as leaders can be better and so that we see how the trip was as a whole. The second sheet we had them do is a letter to their future selves. This letter will be mailed to them from the Moondance office in about 6 months. This is a really cool opportunity to set personal goals and reflect on what they have learned about themselves over the past two weeks. After this, we took the kids to take a final shower. And once again, it’s always nice to shower after sleeping on the ground. Finally, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Red Banjo, a pizza place on Main Street of Park City. At dinner, we created superlatives for everyone in the group. Birch won “Most likely to become an Orchestra Conductor”. Kate H won “most likely to accidentally get caught in a flash mob, and then end up loving it.” These are just a few highlights. It was a great time as laughs and stories were shared. After dinner, we all got ice cream as we walked back to the van and headed back to camp. Back at camp, Emmie and James led our final moonup by asking the questions “what are you most excited for about this upcoming school year?” and “what is one thing you learned about to yourself from this moondance experience?”. This spurred on lots of conversation and reminiscing. It was a late night and everyone was pretty tired, so after moonup we all went to bed.
Our final wake up call was an early one as we had to get to the airport by 7am. Our camp cleanup was fast and efficient and before we knew it we were saying goodbye at security. This was a bittersweet moment as we said goodbye to our new best friends. We truly became a family for two weeks and as leaders, we are so grateful for each and everyone of your children and the memories we now share.
All the best,
Baker and Louise
July 25, 2021
We have made it to our final National Park!! As sad as this is we are in awe of Bryce Canyon’s beauty. We woke up yesterday at our campsite in Zion National Park and soaked in a beautiful sunny morning. It was my birthday yesterday (this is Baker by the way), and the kids and Louise did an amazing job making me feel so celebrated and loved. I have so much gratitude for them and how they have been so caring and respectful. At breakfast they all wore matching white tank tops that spelled out “HBD Bake Daddy”. Tyler and Birch gave me huge fluffy bear shoes, Helen presented me with matching hats, and Heather gifted me a brand new box of Triscuits (another story for another time). After hanging out and having breakfast we hopped in Tina and drove two hours to Bryce. The drive went by extremely fast as we were playing many singalongs and enjoying the beautiful scenery that was passing by us. Once we arrived at Bryce, our LODs, Tyler and Birch, went into the grocery store on a mission to recreate one of the best grilled cheeses we have yet to taste. This bacon avocado 4-cheese grilled cheese created by Birch, Kate D., Dillon, Georgia, Tyler and James for our iron chef competition could be every bit of $19.99. Needless to say, the pasta from the other half of the group’s pasta dish didn’t hold a candle. (Sorry Helen). Well, these infamous grilled cheeses couldn’t be replicated as it started to rain halfway through Dillon and Tyler cheffing up. As we waited for the rain to pass, I rallied my birthday committee to draw up our plan to celebrate Bakers big 21st birthday. Heather helped fill the piñata and also find the perfect bat (a lovely piece of driftwood). Caroline, Owen, Kate H., and Emmie helped set up the decor and light the candles. Lastly, Helen and Dillon helped me pop the sparkling grape juice and pour into our champagne flutes. Ta da! It was quite the 21st birthday and the kids loved helping with the “surprise.”
A late and slightly chilly start to our morning, Baker and I thought it was only fitting to make chocolate chip pancakes and bacon. After our brunch we needed at least an hour to digest and for everyone to play a couple card games before embarking on our biggest hike! 11 miles in Bryce Canyon! We packed the cooler and with sandwiches that Owen so kindly carried, and we were on the move by 11 am. Unfortunately, about 6 miles in, the rain fell and the thunder struck. The kids bravely waited out the storm under a rock on the trail and then headed back to the trailhead. It was quite an experience for everyone and one that these kids handled so well. Emmie kept us all positive showing us the beauty of the canyon even in the midst of rain. Kate H and Helen kept our minds off of the situation by recounting stories that haven’t happened over the last two weeks. Everyone was amazing. We truly are thankful for each one of these students and their bravery in this situation. We are all safe and healthy after the storm. Everyone was pretty cold and wet, so a nice warm shower was needed. After warming up, the group went to the grocery store one final time to pick up some things for our cookout dinner! Burgers, mac and cheese, salads, and watermelon. A great dinner after a long day! We are winding down our trip and soaking in every second. It is truly hard to believe that tomorrow is our final full day. Your kids are amazing, and we are so thankful for them.
July 23, 2021
After an amazing 8 days in the Moab area, it was time to start our new adventure! Before we could begin our 5 and a half hour journey to Zion National Park, we needed to take care of one errand. Our van, Tina, creatively named by Georgia and Heather needed some love. Tina has become a huge part of our family so the whole group was excited when she showed back up feeling much better – we had the oil changed!
We stopped at a gas station to get road trip snacks and then hit the road! The first couple hours were filled with snores as every person took a good nap. As people slowly began to wake up, Tina began to be filled with lots of conversations and laughs. Tyler did a couple Sudoku problems, Emmie showed off her singing skills, and Birch kept us all entertained with stories from home. We arrived to the town of Springdale, directly outside the south entrance to Zion National Park, around 3:30 and went to the grocery store to get ingredients for our dinner! As LOD’s for the day, Caroline and Kate D went into the store with Louise and were highly efficient.
We got to camp and settled in at a record pace. Helen said while setting up her tent, “I never thought I would be able to set up a tent this fast!” The group is doing an amazing job learning and mastering all of our camping skills and we are so proud of them! After a long day on the road we decided to just hangout at the campsite and make an early dinner. We made friendship bracelets, threw the football and played a little soccer. James and Owen were our DJ’s on our small campsite speaker. For dinner, we made personal pizzas! Everyone decorated and designed their mini pizzas how they liked them and then cooked them in a make shift Dutch oven on our camp stove. They were delicious!
As we were finishing up dinner we noticed an evening storm rolling in. So what better way to escape the thunder and lightening then going to get ice cream. We quickly threw all of our belongings into our tents and then hopped in the van. Heather ate an ice cream cone that was way bigger than her face and loved every second of it. Dillon is a phenomenal photographer as she knows how to capture these iconic moments. Thus, stay tuned for the photos at the end of the trip! Thankfully, the 30 minute jam session in the van on the way home took away any residual sugar high. Caroline and Kate D were our leaders of the day and asked everyone for our Moonup question, “if given the option, what book would you live in?” Caroline set the bar pretty high when she said she would live in the Hunger Games. However, The Magic Treehouse was agreed amongst the group to be the most ideal book to live in. After Moonup post ice cream, everyone was fast asleep for our earliest start the following morning to hike The Narrows!
Not so bright eyed and bushy tailed before 6am, we somehow still enjoyed our toasted bagels with cream cheese and we’re on the way to the outfitters by 7am. Our groups were suited up with our walking sticks and set off through the narrows by 8am. After the first mile, Georgia was leading the group by storm. We hiked in 3 miles to the “Wall Street” section of the narrows and back out to the main entrance all under 4 hours. After our incredible hike, we feasted paninis in town. It was only 2pm and we had already conquered a six mile hike in Zion and a hearty lunch. For our afternoon, I took the kids to get birthday supplies for Baker’s birthday tomorrow. Kate H was my right hand man in planning festivities. Half the fun was definitely the jam session on the ride to retrieve the supplies with our DJ Kate D. Full of giggles, we returned to Baker at our campsite to discuss dinner plans. As of now, we are having a pasta competition. To be continued. Tomorrow, we leave Zion and head to Bryce Canyon! We cannot believe we only have four days left!
All the best,
Baker and Louise
Helen – hey i miss y’all, i’m having fun! can’t wait to see y’all soon! love y’all ????
Kate D – hi mom and dad (and maybe james????)i miss y’all so much but am having so much fun. we r currently eating dinner – i’m hungry. please tell willy and nelson i love them and miss them????.
Kate H- Hi mom dad and dabooz. I miss y’all And can’t wait to see you soon!!
Georgia- heyyyyy! Baker and louise are the literal best. It’s toasty out here, but yolo✌️. Miss y’all! Hope Florida was fun!! love y’all ????????
Heather- hi!!!! I love Utah and am having so much fun!! still don’t like chocolate. how is spot?? I miss y’all so much and will see you soon. love you!!????????
Birch- what it do fam??? I’m straight vibing out here in the ‘tah. These canyons really do be the good good. Catch ya.
Tyler- hello mother and father, we are vibing in zion national park right now. i be making friends and doing fun stuff. hiking is fun because we go fast. can’t wait to see you soon.
Twins- Hi Mom and dad!! I’m currently sleepy and eating for some pasta. Last night our camp went to DQ. We went on a hike and then went to Walmart. We are excited to see y’all and the dogs- Owen and James
Dillon- Yo yo everywhere i go there are just canyons that are beautiful. I love it and i love y’all and can’t wait to tell y’all everything about the car rides and DQ stops!!
Caroline- I am gluten warrior. I love it hereeeeee!! i am having the best time love y’all so much!!????????
Emmie- Hey fam! its so lit up here in utah. miss y’all lots. let’s eat sushi when i get home.
July 21, 2021
After we got off the river, we were so ready for our next adventures! We met up with the other Colorado River group at our campsite and had fun meeting new people and making new friends. A good night’s rest was needed after four full days in the river.
The next morning, we woke up early to explore Arches National Park! We chose to do the Delicate Arch trail which is about 3.5 miles up and back trail that highlights the world-famous Delicate Arch. This is the world’s largest free-standing arch and it is the one on the Utah license plate! Birch and the three other boys led the way on the hike and set a fast pace! Everyone was a huge help in successfully capturing a jumping group picture beneath the arch. We hiked back down to the van and jammed out to some great music on the way back to the campsite. Everyone was so great on the hike and got us so excited for our many upcoming hikes in Zion and Bryce Canyon. When we got back to the campsite, we grabbed our ingredients for sandwiches and then headed out to the public park in the town of Moab. We enjoyed our sandwiches and played many games in the park. One game in particular was very fun. At this point in the day the other group had joined up with us and we orchestrated a competitive game of Ultimate Frisbee. I can’t tell you how proud I am of our team! Tyler led the way with his height and length, Helen gave us the speed, and Emmie and Owen showed amazing defense. We won the game and therefore won bragging writes for the rest of the trip. At this point in the day, it was very hot in Moab, so we thought it would be a good idea to cool off at the pool. This also ended up being our first shower of the trip. Everyone was so excited and very relieved. Every trip, we like to take the kids out to dinner as a treat and to show them some local food. We decided to do that today to keep the trend going of living normally for the day. For this local food stop we enjoyed a fun night of pizza, burger, wings, and mozzarella sticks. It hit the spot. Safe to say everyone slept amazing this night.
We did have to wake up early this morning for our rock-climbing activity! Our guides Simon and Aaron did an amazing job leading us and showing us the ropes. Pun intended. We made our way to a rock-climbing area called “The Ice Parlor”. It is an awesome spot known to all the locals. Everyone learned how to belay one another, and we quickly had people scaling the red stone. Caroline was an expert belayer keeping the rest of the group safe up there on the rock wall. Kate D did an amazing job facing the heights and successfully getting up the routes! This activity became one of the groups favorites. After wrapping up our time at the wall, we headed back to the park to have our famed sandwich, chips, and watermelon lunch. We introduced a new game to the group after lunch. This one titled Birdie on a Perch. It is similar to musical chairs, but when the music stops, you have to find your partner and one person has to be picked up by the other (a birdie sitting on a perch). Kate H and Emmie were all stars winning the game with relative ease. At this point we decided to go into the town of Moab and be real tourists for a little bit. We walked up and down main street and went into shops. Redstone T-Shirt Company was an instant hit where we could create our own t-shirts by choosing our own prints and colors. James and Owen got creative and made really cool Moab, Utah shirts that they have worn every day since. For dinner tonight, our LOD’s Helen and Kate D, (shout-out Music City), led the way in making a delicious Nacho Bar. We spread tin foil out across a whole picnic table and threw chips, corn, chicken, beef avocado and everything else onto the table and feasted! Georgia made amazing homemade guacamole and it was a huge hit. We surprised the kids tonight and took them to one of Louise and my favorite places. Dead Horse State park has an overlook that is absolute stunning. We drove there and took pictures, watched the sunset, and then had an amazing Moonup where Helen and Kate asked us “What is one object that you own that means a lot to you and why?” It was a great question and one that led us to know each other so much better. After a fun night we were excited for our next activity tomorrow!
Today we took on Canyoneering! We had another early morning in order to get out to the canyon on time. Our guides J-Money and Flur were amazing and extremely helpful. We climbed up a rock on one side of the canyon and then explored it on the way down. The final part of this trip is repelling down a 100ft cliff. Everyone did amazing!! Heather and Dillon both looked like they had done it a million times. This was a huge hit, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed challenging themselves and doing something brand new. The whole group truly was amazing during this activity. They were respectful to the guides, brave, and had amazing attitudes. We were so proud! This activity is one of our longest as it lasted until early afternoon and so everyone was pretty hungry. We stopped at the famed Moab Food Truck Park and everyone got to pick and choose their lunch. We saw everything from paninis to burritos. Of course, the group shared a couple large, shaved ice cups. This was our last day in the same town as the other group, so we decided to spend the later have of the day at the pool with our other friends! We played basketball, slid down the slide, and had lots of laughs. Tonight’s dinner was an Iron Chef competition. We randomly split up our group of twelve into two groups of six and put them up against each other in a friendly competition. They were tasked with fixing their own meals and Louise and I would be the judge as to which group was better. We saw a gourmet grilled cheese from one group and a divine noodle dish from the other. It was such a hard decision we couldn’t decide on a winner so as a prize, everyone got cake and ice cream! It was so fun seeing the group get passionate about this competition and out everything they had into making these dinners. After cake and ice cream, we had a good Moonup where we shared our most embarrassing stories. Everyone laughed and enjoyed themselves. It is our final evening in Moab as we wake up and head to Zion National Park in the morning. It has been so fun getting to know your children and we cannot thank you enough for trusting us with them for two weeks! Excited for the last 6 days!
All the west,
Baker and Louise
July 18, 2021
Hello from Utah!!
We just spent an absolutely incredible four days on the river!! This group is awesome and are already bonding and growing so close.
We arrived in Moab on arrival day around 6:30pm and went straight to Mild to Wild (rafting guides) outfitters where we met our guides and received our dry bags for packing! We then picked up some pizza and headed to our first campsite. After scarfing down some pizza, everyone was pretty tired after a long day of traveling so we settled into to camp pretty quickly. Tents were set up and bags were packed for our four-day river adventure. Before heading to bed, we did our first Moonup!! This is our nightly routine where we sit in a circle and have meaningful conversations that bring us close together. Dillon was really helpful during our first one as she is our only Moondance alumni on this trip! The rest of the group followed suit and we had a great first night.
The next morning, we had to wake up early in order to meet our guides to get on the river. With a bright and early start to the morning, everyone was ready to rumble and start rafting with Zulu, Annie, Splash, and Vinny. We started our embark down the Colorado River at the put-in, just outside of Moab. Still getting to know everyone, we now had four guides that facilitated some riddles and games to get everyone’s brain working. Somehow James and Owen knew every riddle and trick we could think of. Baker tried to stump the group with his infamous “ancient numbers game” and James quickly reminded Owen of the trick and helped Baker run the game. We peacefully motored down the river roughly 20 miles to a campsite for the night. The guides prepared us salmon, asparagus and wild rice while we set up camp. As luck would have it, we had just sat down in a circle about to enjoy our delicious meal, and then a thunderstorm came over us. Everyone ran into their tents in disbelief that it could rain in the desert. After a good 30-minute rain shower, we emerged from our tents for Moonup. To Baker and my surprise, everyone had an incredible attitude. Georgia even said, “that was so much fun!” It was definitely the comedic relief the group needed. Following the laughs, we had a great Moonup led by Dillon and Tyler. Their question was “what is the craziest thing that has happened to you this summer?” The majority of the group answered, “probably this trip,” which was probably due to the current oxymoron of desert rain. The rain put everyone to sleep instantly, and we were up and ready for breakfast by 7.
Day 3! We started our day with breakfast sandwiches of English muffins eggs avocado and Canadian bacon. Within only 48 hours, everyone had become a professional tent assembler. Caroline broke down their tent in record timing. We left our campsite on the earlier side to squeeze in lunch and a hike! Our hike was a quick 45-minute saddle loop where we got to see ancient petroglyphs from Native Americans. On the way down the hike, Helen and Dillon found themselves in actual quicksand and were waist deep in mud. It was a hilarious sight to see! It was even funnier that Georgia made the side comment that this would never happen to her because she “came to Utah prepared after many YouTube videos.” We had an awesome yet relaxing afternoon as we rode into the confluence where the Green River meets the Colorado River. The water was so refreshing that Birch and Emmie immediately led everyone in a big group swim. Finally, we grabbed everyone for our lovely appetizers of a makeshift charcuterie board prepared by the guides. Needless to say, we were LIVING. Before our Hawaiian chicken stir fry dinner, everyone was talking about their favorite desert of all time. Next thing we knew, Kate and Helen got in a heated debate over which Nashville cookie skillet was superior. Sam’s place? Bricktops? The group will never know. Tired from the sun and eager to start rafting down the Cataract Canyon rapids, everyone was fast asleep after another great dinner and homemade cheesecake for dessert.
The smell of French toasts woke everyone up instantly on our fourth day. Everyone came running to the “kitchen” on the campsite to fuel up for our big day. Zulu gave a safety talk after we were all packed up and we loaded the paddle boats and duckies. James and Tyler were the first duo to take on the duckies. Five rapids later Baker and Caroline and Kate and Birch were the last contenders to ride the duckies in the class 2 and 3 rapids. On the “capsize” rapid, Baker and Caroline took a little swim out of the duckies. They handled it like champs and Caroline even shouted, “that was SO much fun,” upon everyone asking her if she was okay after she was pulled into a paddle boat by the guides. Right after this moment of excitement we had the BIG DROPS (“big drop 1,2, and 3”) where we all switched out of the duckies and were in two paddle boats. Heather was one of the best hype men in my boat with our guide Splash as she was shouting “SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH” to really get our boat excited for our class 4 rapids. The rapids were exhilarating and a great change of pace. By 6pm, we were exhausted and ready to power down. Before dinner, we played a game of mafia where Tyler brought the heat! He called out everyone’s poker face and has a knack for knowing who the mafia was. We kept playing “one more game” until the guides called us in for our burgers and hotdogs. The sun was setting right as we finished eating and we ended our incredible day with Moonup.
Last day! This group is the most eager group of kids we have ever seen. Baker and I woke up to everyone breaking down their tents before our alarm even went off. They were ready for whatever was in store. A chicken Caesar wrap lunch sealed the trip, and we said our goodbyes to Zulu and the rest of the group. A quick drive back to Moab and we were all ready to eat dinner and start our next upcoming adventures for the week!
All the best,
Baker and Louise
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