June 22, 2021
A final greeting from Colorado Trail 1B!
I’m not going to lie; I got a little teary eyed in the airport. For the past two weeks, Gracie, Layton and I have had the utmost pleasure of taking twelve of the most compassionate, energetic, and spunkiest middle schoolers around an adventure in southern Colorado, and it was hard to watch them go. Parents, y’all have some awesome kids, full of curiosity and a love for adventure, and thank you for sharing them with us.
The last two days have been a blast. After backpacking, we woke up and LODs Marion and Chuck directed a breakfast of bagel sandwiches with cheesy eggs (with some spinach snuck in there). After, we piled into the van, and headed out for what was supposed to be a full day rafting trip. Unfortunately, near the rafting place, there was a blocking of traffic on the road, and River Runners could not get any busses in or out of their location for hours.
So, we called an audible, and went to a local park to hang out and have a picnic. What we didn’t realize was that the park was hosting the longest running white-water festival in the country! There was live music, fun booths, and food trucks. Layton went to grab picnic supplies, while the rest of us hung around the festival. JW got a poem written for him, which was cool, and Mary Sellers, Sophie, and others befriended the cutest little girl, Ava! We also had a big game on ninja, and Harry, Marion, and Chuck won fire safety trivia and got cool prizes from the Smokey the Bear tent.
After our picnic, we headed back to the rafting place for a half day rafting trip. It was so hot, Notle and I jumped out of the raft for a swim, but Ayla and Gram stayed in the boat taking charge!
After rafting down some awesome class two and three rapids, we headed back to camp for a Moondance classic, Iron Chef competition. Marion and Chuck headed the teams, with Marion, Ayla, Bishop, Gram, JW, and Sara on team one, and Chuck, Sophie, Alex, Harry, Notle, and Mary Sellers on team two. We gave the groups a budget, all the leftover ingredients from the U-Haul, and our super-secret special ingredient, Flaming Hot Limon Doritos (picked out by recent LODs Ayla and Bishop). The goal of the competition was to cook the best dinner, judged by the leaders in different categories (plating, use of ingredients, taste, and logistics), with the grand prize of not having to clean up!
We drove the kids to Walmart, and they had twenty minutes to pick out everything and check out. Both groups struggled initially to pick out what they wanted to cook, but eventually group one decided on sliders, and group two on nachos. Walmart was a hilarious chaos, but we loved every minute of it!
After, the kids cooked their ingredients and we got the treat of judging! Sara and Mary Sellers were running back and forth for the salt and pepper, and all we heard from each table was a mix of giggles and yelling.
Once both meals were completed, both groups created “judges’ plates.” Notle crafted a beautiful nacho platter, and JW introduced his group slider and potato combo. Harry not so subtly at his nacho plate with some very loud, very high praise in the direction of the judges, “wow, this is SO yummy!” We loved his competitive side! In the end, group two won in a close fought battle (two votes to one), but still stepped up and helped clean up!
As a reward for both groups’ hard work, and delicious meals, Gracie and I made a cookie cake for Moonup. Then it was off to bed!
The next morning, Mary Sellers, Alex, and JW treated us to a wonderful breakfast of bacon and French toast! We packed up camp, with Alex, Bishop, Chuck, and Gram helping to clean up breakfast (nugs to Alex for doing both!!), and we headed to our final campsite. LODs Sara and JW helped me pick out lunch supplies, with possibly too many cupcakes, and we munched on that as we cleaned out supplies, took inventory, and completed all our final day logistics. Everyone was so helpful and efficient with their work, we were impressed! After cleaning, we got to shower, and ran into COTA on the way.
In the evening, we took a group trip to the local Goodwill to purchase our outfits for banquet dinner. Sophie took over my outfit selection, and all the girls got cartoon PJ bottoms and random Colorado t-shirts. Chuck found a must-have painting, which we have no idea how he is going to get on the plane, and Notle rocked a mix of PJ bottoms, with a vest and tie look. It was absolutely adorable when we saw Harry helping Notle tie his tie! But the hands down best dressed member of the group was Gram, who had everyone dying laughing with his pink printed leggings, hot pink shoes, fedora, and black top. What a hoot!
We then had our final dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, and headed back to camp for our final Moonup. The ride back, we played “Rivers and Roads” which got the girls, and potentially Bishop, in tears. Layton played our group’s official song “By and By” by Caamp on the guitar, and everyone sang along while roasting marshmallows. Sara and JW posed the question, “what was a moment on the trip that you connected with most, and how did it impact you?” and the answers were all so sweet and inspiring. Then it was off to bed, where everyone cowboy camped under the stars.
Airport day was an early rise, and a little bit of chaos, but also a day filled with goodbyes and hopeful see-you-laters. I hope y’all are enjoying having your kids back and hearing all their stories from this awesome two weeks. We have loved to watch them grow in confidence, friendships, and learn a few hard skills along the way. Thank you to the parents for sharing your kids with us for the past two weeks, and COTB, we love you dearly. I can’t wait to run into y’all in the future, and see the amazing people you all become.
Casey, Layton, and Gracie
June 20, 2021
Greetings from Colorado Trail B!
There is a saying in Moondance: “get yer ya yas out.” And let me tell you, y’all’s kids got their ya yas out in the backcountry. We got to see all the kids turn into their kookiest, silliest, most joyful selves, and we have loved every second of it.
We woke up the day of our backpacking adventure at our beautiful campsite looking over a bright blue lake. Layton taught the duffle shuffle lesson and how to pack a backpack. While Gracie and I split up group gear, LODs Alex and Nolte organized the students into cook crew and made breakfast all by themselves! Chuck fried the bacon, while Notle, JW, and Gram chopped and cooked the potatoes and veggies. In the end we had a delicious meal of breakfast burritos (with Cholula for Harry of course), made without any help from the trip leaders! So proud of their leadership and initiative.
On the road to San Juan, Alex ran the music queue with an iron fist (if you know, you know) and everyone took in some breath-taking views. We got to the trailhead, and Nolte led the charge into the back country, while Alex kept the group together in the back. The pair was charged with organizing water breaks for the group, as well as using the group map and compass to keep us on route. We got to our campsite after a two hour hike, and set up our home for the next four days. We were so impressed and excited to see how quickly everyone set up their tents! They have all improved so much since a week ago.
For dinner, Ayla, Marion, and Gram whipped us up a dinner of BBQ chicken sliders, brussels sprouts, and Mac and cheese. Mary Sellers was our sumping queen. One of my favorite memories from this trip has to be hearing her running around making everyone eat the left over Mac and cheese, so we wouldn’t have to backpack it out. The first time, we taught the kids how to make a bear burrito, and how to purify our water with aqua Mira! The LODs ran Moonup, and chose the iconic duo of Harry and Sophie for the next day’s LODs.
We let everyone sleep in the next morning, and woke up to the beautiful voices of Colorado Trail A. It is always so fun to run into them and hear what they have been up to! They were on their way out of the backcountry. We decided to take a chill backcountry day, making peanut butter and Nutella pancakes for breakfast. Marion is the groups Nutella enthusiasts, and we found out pretty quickly that this group can polish off some pancakes.
Then it started to rain (for the first time all trip) so we took shelter in the two biggest tents. The boys set up card games in theirs, betting river rocks, and playing Texas hold ‘em and blackjack. Harry apparently made a clean sweep and took everyone’s betting rocks! In the girls tent, we plotted pranks to play on the boys. Alex and Mary Sellers snuck out to hide in Harry, Bishop, and Gram’s tent, while Sophie, Ayla, and Sara completed other silly tasks! There were a lot of giggles in that tent, and the rainy chill day just goes to show that yes we do a lot of cool activities on a Moondance trip, but it’s really the people that make the trip so special.
The rain broke and the boys were VERY confused as to where their tent was, skeptical to our story that the wind blew it into a patch of trees. Then we explored the nearby waterfall, played a group favorite – death sack – with Bishop as the winner. We split the group into two groups for a giant game of backcountry capture the flag. Team one got an early win with JW absolutely booking it with the flag, but then both teams got a little more crafty. Gram hid in the tall grass on the other teams side undetected for about twenty minutes while each team went back and forth making runs for it, just waiting for the perfect moment to snag the flag, and got team one their second point. Notle came back to his side covered in dirt and had apparently been army crawling trying to get the flag for his team, completely undetected. For the last round, Bishop sprinted to grab the flag, then ran entirely in the woods where no one could follow him, bringing the flag back for his team.
After capture the flag, we had a dinner of stir fry, and the LODS split the group into three groups of Trip Leader skits. We got absolutely roasted, and everyone was dying laughing. Notle did the funniest impression of Layton, Ayla poked fun Gracie, and Sophie mimicked my weird mannerisms to perfection. Everyone made skits of funny things that have happened on the trip! Y’all have some hilarious and creative kids. JW ended the show with rapid fire impersonations of everyone.Later, Sophie and Harry led us in a great Moonup, where the kids opened up more and talked about defining moments in their lives. They then chose Gram and Mary Sellers for the next LODs!
Yesterday was an early rise, and we had quick breakfast of oatmeal before an awesome three-mile hike up to Navajo lake. We definitely challenged the kids this day, with some steep uphill switch backs on top of high altitude, but they handled it so well, and banded together to encourage those who were struggling! Great teamwork!
We played at the most beautiful lake all afternoon, but it was FREEZING! Everyone got in polar plunge style, and then hung out on rocks to warm up. Harry, Bishop, and Gram explored the area surrounding the lake, while Nolte and Chuck fly fished. There was also snow by the lake, and we threw snowballs! Pretty cool for the middle of June.After a hike back, everyone took a well-deserved rest, and hung out around camp before a dinner of jambalaya! Lots of veggies and protein. Then Mary Sellers and Gram led us in Moonup, and then off to bed.
This morning, we packed up and cleaned camp so quickly it was great! We hiked back to the van (everyone missed Van Halen) and drove to our next campsite. We stopped for a grocery run at an adorable super market in Telluride, and then ice cream to celebrate a successful four days in the backcountry! Then Layton took the LODs to get ingredients for make your own pizza night.Tomorrow, we are rafting again, and then we have banquet and all those other fun end of trip activities the next day. We have been having a blast for the past ten days, and I can’t wait for what we have next in store. The kids want to give some Father’s Day shout outs to everyone at home:
Ayla: Happy Father’s Day! I miss you so much and I hope you have the best day. Backpacking was so fun and so pretty. It rained a little bit when we were hiking. And we saw snow because we were that high up in the mountains. I can’t wait to tell you about the trip. Love you!
Alex: Happy Father’s Day dad! I miss you so much and I can’t wait to see everyone. You are the best dad ever and I don’t know what I would do without you! Love y’all so much!
Bishop: Happy Father’s Day. I miss you. We just went hiking for the past three days. We did 8 miles one day. Rock climbing was really fun I did the hardest climb you could do. Love you and mom!!!
Charlie: Happy Father’s Day I miss you. I hope you have a great Father’s Day hope work is going well. See you soon. Love you.
Gram- Happy Father’s Day! I hope to see you soon. I am having a ton of fun doing rafting and climbing. I can’t wait to tell you about all the adventures we are having! Love you and mainly miss the dogs!
Harry: happy Father’s Day. Yesterday we went swimming in navajo lake. It was awesome, the water was so cold from glacier melt. You would have loved it!
JW: Father I hope that you are enjoying your break from me. I hope that Georgia is keeping you company. I love you! Happy Father’s Day!
Mary Sellers: Happy Father’s Day! I love you so so much and I can’t wait to see you! I’m having an amazing time and I can’t wait to tell you about all the things I’ve done and adventures I’ve had! P.S I got y’all’s letter! Love y’all!
Marion: Happy Father’s Day dad! I love and miss you so much. Wish I could be with you tomorrow but I am having so much fun! We backpacked in the mountains and it was so pretty. You would love to do that. Can’t wait to see you and tell you all about it. Thanks for being the best dad ever! Love you.
Nolte: Happy Father’s Day. I am having a lot of fun. We just finished backpacking. Miss you and see you soon. Say hi to Twister
Sara: Happy Father’s Day dad. I love you so much. Thank you for everything you do for our family and I appreciate you so much. I have had so much fun we just finished backpacking and it was so fun. I wish I could be with you on Father’s Day but I hope you have the best day. Miss and love you so much. Can’t wait to see you soon and tell you about it.
Sophie: Happy Father’s Day Dad!! I love you so much and can’t wait to tell all about the adventures I have had with this group. I have faced a lot of my fears and I can’t wait to tell you about them! Backpacking was so much fun and I have gotten really close to these girls! I miss you and love you so much! P.S. I miss Pippa too
June 14, 2021
The last two days have been an absolute blast! Since our last update, we ran into Colorado Trail A, which we didn’t think was going to happen. Sara had the cutest reunion with her twin sister, and everyone enjoyed getting to know new friends. Ayla even ran into a boy from her elementary school! Then kids set up camp, with Nolte taking the lead on unloading the U-Haul without even being asked! We played games while Alex, Sara, and Gram made us chicken pesto pasta with garlic bread. We hung out with the other group for a little while and enjoyed a fire and s’mores. After that, Sophie and Harry led us in Moonup, and the boys slept under the stars for the night! Yay for cowboy camping.
We had an early start the next morning, so we did a grab and go breakfast of peanut butter and cream cheese bagels with oranges. We headed to our outfitters who gave us an awesome safety briefing, and we got on the bus with bus driver Mary, who was a hoot! Then we got on the river! Raft guide Mark headed raft one, with Gram, Bishop, Marion, Ayla, Notle, and JW, with Layton and me (Casey). Raft guide Ross headed the second raft, with Mary Sellars, Sophie, Sara, and Chuck, with Alex and Harry taking the front (the most important rowers of the boat), and trip leader Gracie in the back. The put in spot had a nice class three rapid called Miracle Mile, and we had a few early swimmers, with Nolte and Harry being the first to join the Arkansas River Swim team! Chuck took a swim right before we made it to our lunch spot, where we warmed up, and were treated to a yummy lunch of sub style sandwiches, fruit, chips, and homemade guac (shoutout to our awesome guides for preparing this for us!)
During lunch, the boys played corn hole and Mary Sellars, Sophie, and Alex met the cutest dog named Remmy. Once we finished lunch, we got back on the river for some slower rapids. JW found out our guide Mark lived in Memphis, and spent the afternoon talking to him about the city. When we arrived at our campsite, our gear guide, Austin, had already set up shop. Our campsite was right on the water and there were giant boulders and grassy nolls to explore. We played Look Up Look Down and JW won in a veggie off against our guide Ross. After that, the guides taught us a game called stump rope and Chuck was king of the court! After we enjoyed a great dinner of grilled chicken, fettuccini alfredo, and salad, Harry and Bishop did some exploring and ended up taking a group and Layton up to a beautiful place to watch the sunset. While they did that, Marian, Ayla, and Sara taught me how to dance (it did not go well). Bishop helped our guide Mark collect firewood and we were lucky to have a fire and roast marshmallows again! Whoooot. The guides joined us in Moonup and Leaders of the Day (LOD’s) Ayla and Nolte chose Sara and JW to be tomorrows LOD’s. We all got to bed early and enjoyed a night sleeping under the stars.
We got to sleep in a bit yesterday and woke up to bacon, eggs, hash browns, English muffins, fruit, and berries thanks to our wonderful guides. We got back on the river and went down about six class three rapids, which were a blast! Sara faced her fears and ended up loving this day of rafting. We also did two class four rapids! Big stuff. Mary Sellers thought The Staircase was her favorite rapid, and everyone had a blast. After another great day of rafting, we said goodbye to our guides, and drove back to our campsite.
Don’t ask me why, but the kids had some hilarious, crazy energy yesterday. At one point, Marion was laughing so hard that she did a spit take with her water, and Gram really came out of his shell this afternoon and was had everyone dying laughing. Gracie took the LOD’s to the grocery store, and Marion Ayla, and Nolte made us a fantastic dinner of Mediterranean bowls with rice, roasted veggies, hummus, and guac.
Yesterday was one of those truly special Moondance days, and we are so excited for what else we have in store.
All for now,
Casey, Gracie, and Layton.
PS – Mary Sellars wants to give a big birthday shout out to her older sister who turned 17 yesterday!!!
June 12, 2021
Greetings from Colorado Trail B!
The past three days have been an absolute blast. Airport day went off without a hitch, and everyone’s flight landed on time. Ayla was the last to land, and arrived to everyone cheering for her. Then we all piled into the van and headed to southern Colorado. Charlie, who was ordained “Chuck” (whooot for Moondance nicknames), pointed out a few herds of elk, and everyone got excited. JW sung his heart out to some Elton John on the ride. We got stuck in a bit of traffic on the way out, but we passed the time away with some riddles and car games. Sophie also came up with the theory that Bishop and Harry are secretly twins, or maybe long-lost cousins?? Or maybe British royalty? The theories were endless.
Harry also shared some cool facts about the history of the area that he had read before. When we made it to camp one of our leaders taught the group how to properly set up their tents! Everyone crushed it and learned quickly. We then circled up for Moonup, and everyone shared their B+ Superpower. We ended with some laughs before going to bed. We elected our LODs for day two, Alex and Chuck, who are charged with running morning huddle, keeping the group time, and running Moonup for the following day!
Yesterday was rock climbing day! We got up, and JW was ordained the bacon master, while Sophie cooked eggs and Bishop helped both. After chowing down on the egg sammies, we loaded up the van and headed to rock climbing. Our guides were great and so informative. A few of the students were a little nervous to try it at first, but Mary Sellars was such a positive voice of encouragement, rallied everyone to try it, and we did! Sara was scared at first, but tried it despite this! Very proud of her for facing her fears. Alex, Nolte, Harry, Bishop, and Gram were absolute spider monkeys on the rocks, and did all three of the routes. We think Gram did the hardest one the fastest, but we are so proud of everyone who tried it, especially everyone who was scared of it at first! During climbing, we had a lunch of apples, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, power bars, and pizza. Then, while some of us were taking a break from climbing, I taught two of the most classic Moondance games, Big Booty (a number calling game), and Look Up Look Down, which involves moo offs.
After games and climbing, we made a town stop in Crested Butte to walk around the town, which was so cute. We stopped and got some well-deserved ice cream, and Marion, Sara, and Ayla all helped me pick out an early birthday present for our co-leader Gracie. JW tried tea for the first time and loved it. Then we went back to the campsite and had a blast of an afternoon. Our campsite was on a giant lake with some BLUE water, and a rocky shore. Mary Sellars and Alex found an awesome sand bar in the water, and all the boys searched for the BEST swimming hole, with a fun rock to jump off of. Nolte faced his fears and jumped in along with the whole group. Then Marion got the idea to get all the girls together, and took a GoPro video of them jumping off a rock all holding hands. We are DETERMINED to make the Moondance video next year.
After swimming and exploring, Layton brought out the hacky sack and taught the group “Death Sack” (basically a mix of dodge ball and hacky sack). Everyone got into it. I, unfortunately, got out in the first round, but was having so much fun watching how into it everyone got. Bishop in particular was getting the group together with his hacky sack technique. After a great day, we ended it with fajitas, and a great Moonup, watching the sunset over the lake, and Alex led the group through some questions. We determined that Nolte’s spirit animal was a narwal for unknow reasons, but I love it.
We woke up this morning and Sarah and Gram whipped up some bacon, while Alex made eggs, and Chuck made grits. Ayla, Alex, Harry, and Bishop all tried grits for the first time! Today’s LODS are Harry and Sophie. Then, we took down camp, and Ayla was an absolute rock star this morning, helping the other girls take down the tent, after she had already taken down her groups, and then helping with cleaning! We love good EB!
We headed out for day two of rock climbing, this time at an even cooler location. We climbed in a sea of red rocks with a great view, and explored the new terrain. Harry was sun screen tsar and Sophie was Aqua Marine queen, and the duo kept everyone hydrated and sun burn free. Gracie and all the boys found an awesome vista to sit and eat lunch of wraps and fruit, while some of the girls climbed. After lunch, we tried an even harder climbing section, and Harry was the first to make it up an almost impossible route, Bishop was the second, and they decided that section was the NYC section, until Notle made it up there too. The girls spent some time exploring the surroundings and got some awesome pictures!
Then we packed up, gave a big thank you to the outfitters, who complimented how cohesive our group is! What a good compliment for it only being day three. We are on our way to our next campsite, the kids are all giggling in the back, eating on some much-needed popsicles on this hot day! We just passed an alpaca farm, which got everyone excited, and are about to get packed for our two-day rafting trip!
Until next time,
Casey & Colorado Trail B
June 9, 2021
Hello Colorado Trail Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Denver 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