July 9, 2021
Hello friends and family of Colorado trail!
We are so sad to see our wonderful students go but we had the best past few days and a bitter sweet goodbye.
A few days ago, we embarked on our journey down the famous royal gorge. We were all filled with excitement and a little nervousness. Our LODs, Brooks and Davis, really took initiative and encouraged the whole group and helped calmed everyone’s nerves. Axel took the front of the raft setting the tone for the rest of the group with very strong paddles. We rafted the class 3’s as a warm up. Then we had some delicious lunch and after that went down the class 4 rapids. We did not have one person fall in! It was a huge success all around. We ended the day with a friendly “iron chef” cooking competition. We divided the group into two separate groups and had them each prepare a meal which had to include our secret ingredient of spicy lime Doritos. Group one made burritos and group two made nachos. Both were absolutely delicious and choosing the winner was extremely hard. In the end we chose group two the nacho group. Both were amazing but Kendall’s special bean dip on the nachos really pushed group two ahead! We ended our awesome day with moon up by the campfire where Monty let his goofy self really show keeping the whole group laughing and entertained!
The next day we woke up well rested and sad to see our last day come so soon. We hit the road and headed to our next camp site. On the way we stopped at a Good Will to go thrifting for our banquet outfits. Major picked out quite the snazzy outfit with a red cowboy hat and a Hawaiian shirt. Ty also had a blast in the thrift shop finding some awesome sponge bob flip flops that he wore all day! After the thrift shop, we ate a great lunch and set up camp for the day. We tie dyed t-shirts and Ella really took the lead here showing off her amazing tie dye skills. She taught everyone how to tie dye and everyone’s shirts ended up looking amazing!! After tie dying, we took our second home Van Halen to the car wash and Turner was absolutely determined to make him spotless. Turner completely killed it and Van Halen looks better than ever. Then we got everyone showered which was very necessary… we were getting a little smelly. After we got all dressed up in our thrifted outfits, we chowed on some awesome pizza for banquet dinner. Then we went to a park and got our yaya’s out!!! We played basketball and Eli absolutely carried the team putting lots of points on the score board! We played a nice game of death sack and Layton, Claire, and Turner were the finalist and had to compete in a veggie off to see who would be the campion! Claire really mastered the possessed potato and was the champion! Then our LOD’s AP and Eli finished the day off with our last and best moon up yet! The night ended in lots of tears because we were so sad to see the past two amazing weeks come to an end. We leave though with our hearts full knowing we had the most amazing two weeks ever with the best people that we will always consider family now!
Thank you, family and friends of Colorado trail students, again for sharing your amazing kids with us! We had the absolute best time and love them all dearly!!!
July 7, 2021
Hello friends and family of COT2B!
We have had a majestic four-day backpacking adventure. We camped in the shadows of mountains, lived among our friends the aspen trees, and sat in awe underneath dozens of shooting stars waving as they passed by. Some of our students had backpacked before, others had not, but all twelve students left with a deep appreciation and wonder for the woods.
We began our adventure with preparation, preparation, and more preparation. After a delicious meal of breakfast burritos cooked by our in-house chefs Turner and Ella, we got to work filling our backpacks with all the necessities of life and nothing else. Major employed his scouting knowledge to help everyone do the duffel shuffle (Moondance jargon for packing a backpack). Once all group gear and food had been distributed, it was time to get on the road! We piled in Van Halen, said goodbye to the luxuries of civilization, and set off.
Paved roads faded to gravel as we drove to San Juan National Forest. Along the way, Monty served as DJ for the group, playing everyone’s favorites. He made sure to play some country for Casey and me. Once at the trailhead, we wasted no time getting in formation for our hike in. Major took the front and Ella took the rear. They were our LODs for the day and were thus responsible for setting the pace and directing the group. They did an amazing job and got us to our beautiful campsite in record time. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a wide-open field next to a rushing creek, and we quickly set up camp to claim our spot. Claire, Turner, and AP helped me cook a delicious stir-fry meal. We then promptly had Moonup and settled in for a much-needed sleep after such a busy day.
Day 2 of our backpacking began with a lazyyy morning. We were on mountain time and had nowhere to be except for where we were. Gracie cooked up endless pancakes with honey and we all sat in the shade devouring them as fast as she could make them.
After the food coma, Ty, Eli, and AP lead us in an intense game of capture the flag. Davis showed off his athleticism as he darted from bush to bush, becoming a blur amongst the hills. The field became very hot, and the creek pulled us down beckoning us to take a refreshing bath. Brooks and Claire had so much fun leading us in an exploration each bend of the creek. Ty and Eli scouted out places to fish, discussing strategy.
Axel called us all over to a beautiful spot underneath the trees, and we all brough our books to the shade. Monty and Axel played DJ for hours on our portable speaker. Without warning there was a spontaneous party in the woods as we danced and sang at the top of our lungs. Ty and Monty then helped me lash together a stand for our American flag to celebrate the Fourth of July. Brooks and Claire cooked the BEST feast of mac and cheese, Brussel sprouts, and BBQ chicken sliders. We all left the meal feeling very patriotic.
Kendall began our Moonup with her specialty: scary stories. After being successfully spooked, Kendall asked us all: “What has been your biggest achievement?”. It was very inspiring seeing the group of friends celebrate each other’s triumphs. Brooks shared how proud he was that he conquered the ziplines, and we all agreed. What a great example of the magic of Moondance: conquering fears in exotic places with strangers that have become family.
On our last full day of backpacking, we ate a quick but hearty meal of oatmeal. We needed the fuel, as we were tackling Navajo Lake trail. As we passed switchback after switchback, I was especially proud of Axel as he pushed himself to go farther than he thought possible.
Upon finally reaching the lake, we group immediately ran toward the turquoise blue water to cool off. Then after realizing how cold snow-fed water truly is, the group ran back out to lay in the warm sun. Ty and Eli tried to land the massive rainbow trout on the fly-rod, but the fish in Colorado are smart are evaded every attack. We then headed back to camp, fixated on returning to our warm sleeping bags and hot chocolate. Casey made her famous Jumbalaya with rice, beans, and the secret ingredient, summer sausage. After eating to our stomach’s content, we prepared to pack up for the next day’s return hike.
The final morning, we reluctantly took down camp and returned to civilization. We were happy to see Van Halen, sad to leave the San Juan mountains, and overall fulfilled knowing that we had come out of the woods a stronger group than ever.
Wishing you the best, Layton and COT2B
July 3, 2021
Hello from Colorado Trails 2B!
What a fantastic few days we have had! From canyon ziplining, to hiking the mystical dunes, to basking in a warm (needed!) shower, it’s been a great time. Our group’s dynamic has been growing stronger and stronger, and the efficiency and selflessness of this group is astounding. Everyone was a little sad to realize that today was the halfway point of our trip, but we are glass-half-full type of people and are so stoked for the next 7 days. I think AP put it best when she said, “It’s like we are all one big family at this point.”.
Two nights ago, everyone went on an awesome evening hike to explore our campsite. Claire and Major led us in a thoughtful and reflective Moonup. We were so proud of them for being so self-sufficient, as they planned every part of Moonup without even seeking the leader’s input. Their lighthearted question: “what is a funny thing from your childhood that you used to do, and your parents told you about?”, had everyone doubling over in laughter. The boys and the girls decided to cowboy camp (sleeping outside without a tent), and they all loved sleeping under the stars.
The next morning everyone woke up excited for our ziplining course. We had a fueling breakfast of oatmeal with strawberries and blueberries, and LODs AP and Davis (an iconic NC duo) led everyone in taking down camp. Ella and Kendell led a flawlessly executed tent breakdown and beat some boys in a heroic race. We then loaded into the van and headed out for the day’s activity. The ziplining course is one of the best in the country and is also one of the founding courses in the country. To couple this fantastic venue, we had amazing guides. The iconic duo, Harmony and Josh, made the course so fun! They told jokes, gave us some history of the area, and did awesome tricks. We were so proud of Brooks. For someone who fears heights, he has been absolutely crushing the trip. Before he got on the first zipline, everyone started chanting his name, and it was so great to see the supportive environment that our kids have been fostering in the past week. Axel sent everyone laughing in the group with his one liners, and we had so much fun ziplining and jamming out to our guides’ music. During a water break, Ella met the zipline guide’s dog, Smith, a golden retriever, and although we begged Josh, he wasn’t allowed on the course. Maybe next time.
After a fun morning of zipping, we took everyone to a local park for lunch of Mediterranean wraps, berries, chips, and guac. Kendall showed off a fantastic self-portrait she has been working on during our van rides. We were all so impressed with her talent! Then everyone played on the equipment before piling back in the van, and driving to the sand dunes. We stopped at a nearby lake on the way, to appreciate the sun and wade around in the water. Eli was convinced the muddy lake bottom was quicksand, and Ty, the fly-fishing enthusiast, brought the rods, despite the lack of fish, to “get some reps in” before the backcountry section. At the sand dunes, we surprised everyone with something they had been missing since starting the trip: SHOWERS! I have never seen middle schoolers more excited to shower! We took a relaxing afternoon: kids got ice cream, showered, and then explored our campsite. Turner and Ty headed cook crew and made their own quesadilla business. I fully expect to be eating at “T&T’s Quesadillas” in a few years. Davis, AP, Turner, and Kendall all set up their hammocks to create Eno City, and we had a goofy evening around camp.
Davis and AP led us in a Moonup looking out on the sand dunes. The sunset burned firery red, and orange and pink clouds danced across our view as we discussed our spirit animals and our biggest insecurities. To complete our serious and mature discussion, we played an important game: Duck Duck Goose, and laughed at each other as we raced around the circle. After Moonup, we got caught in a sudden rainstorm, and everyone pushed through to set up their tents efficiently. We were so impressed with Brooks’ and Axel’s positive attitude, leading everyone during this time. After complimenting Brooks on his positivity, he turns to me, and goes “You’re right – I have a GREAT attitude right now,” which sent the leaders laughing. A+ for confidence.
We had originally planned to wake up super early for a sunrise hike of the sand dunes, but with the rain storm all night, we waited until the sun came out. I think everyone was grateful for a little more sleep! We hiked into the sand dunes and played all morning. Monty was particularly in awe of the dunes and kept repeating that he thought we were on a different planet. We rented sand-boards and sand-sleds for our morning at the dunes, and let me tell you, sandboarding is difficult! We had so much fun playing on the dunes all morning. Everyone decided to burry Major in the sand, which was hilarious, and Ella and Claire wrote Moondance in the dunes. Davis, Eli, Monty, Turner, and Ty all tried sandboarding, and everyone was jumping, sliding, and rolling down the dunes. I can’t wait for y’all to see the pictures from today, they are awesome!
We are currently on our way to our next section of the trip: backpacking! But before that we are going to surprise everyone with a lunch stop for burgers, and then it will be time to pack up, and set out for the back country tomorrow. More updates then!
Layton and the leaders
July 1, 2021
Greetings from our Colorado Crew!
We have been having a blast these past two days with our rafting trip! Day two we drove from Gunnison to Salida, and stayed at a campsite on the river we would raft the next day. The kids had far too much fun at the grocery store, stocking up for our dinner of chicken and broccoli alfredo pasta, cooked by the iconic trio of Ty, Claire, and Eli. Then, they helped me clean, and Ty accidentally threw a pot in the river, but convinced everyone he did it to protect the camp from a mountain lion, which got everyone laughing. LODs Monty and Kendall led us in an awesome Moonup, where everyone shared the scariest thing they have ever been through. We had a lot of deep answers, which was awesome for this early in the trip. Moonup is such a special time, and it is so awesome to start to form such strong connections. After Moonup, we shared a fire with the another Moondance group staying at camp, and made new friends! Axel ran into someone from his home town, and everyone roasted s’mores! Then it was early to bed, all packed and ready for an awesome overnight raft trip.
Yesterday, we woke up to an easy breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, and berries, headed by our LODs Turner and Ty, before we got to meet our raft guides, Austin and Sophie. Austin had been a guide for us with our last group, so the leaders were pumped to have him again. Sophie took boat 1,with Layton, AP, Ella, Brooks, Davis, Monty and Axel, and Austin took boat 2 with Kendall, Claire, Turner, Ty, Major, Eli, Gracie, and me. We jumped right into it with an awesome class three rapid, and Kendall and I both took an early swim in the river. The morning rapids were so much fun, with some awesome class twos and threes. We stopped for a lunch of sub sandwiches and homemade guac, and Ella got so excited about all the dogs we met during lunch. Then it was back on the rafts for some more relaxing rapids, but the rain came in quick, and the last ten minutes or so before we got to our campsite we had to paddle in the rain! Everyone kept a positive attidute regardless – we were loving it!
We set up tents and everyone huddled in them for a bit, but the sun came out soon after and we all got to hang around camp together. Monty told everyone about his movie list and Ella and Kendall both gave the group some riddles. We also went on a hike to explore the mountains around the campsite, which were so pretty! The raft guides made us an awesome dinner of build your own tacos. We then made a fire to roast more s’mores (two nights in a row, whoot!), and LODs Ty and Turner led us in a great Moonup accompanied by lots of laughs and good conversation. One of the questions was “what is your most embarrassing moment?” and it was so funny to hear everyone’s!
Today we had even more exciting and fun rafting! We faced some faster class threes, with everyone’s favorite being either Zoom Floom or The Stairs. Gracie fell off of the raft during Zoom Floom, but Major did an awesome quick save and pulled her back in. The guides showed us a rock we could jump off of, and Brooks faced his fear of heights and jumped, and almost everyone followed suit. After rafting, we gave a big thank you to our guides, and headed back to camp. LODs Claire and Major were in charge of grocery shopping for tonight’s meal of Mediterranean bowls, and we let the kids get some hard-earned snacks. After, we all got a little kooky at the campsite. Ella and Claire made up a leprechaun religion, and inducted AP into it.
Ty, Axel, Eli, and Davis went fly fishing, while Ella, Turner, and Kendall helped me cook dinner, and the other kids explored our awesome campsite. After dinner, Layton made churros for everyone, and then on to Moonup and bed. The group has been hitting its grove in the past few days, and working so well as a team. We have been loving every second of our adventure together, and cannot wait for ziplining and sand dunes next!
Casey + Gracie + Layton
June 29, 2021
And welcome to our first trip update 🙂 Colorado Trail 2B is full of absolute rock stars. We have four girls: Ella from NJ, Kendall from Nashville, AP form NC, and Claire from right here in CO! The boys are Ty, Brooks, and Turner – all from Atlanta, Davis from NC, Eli from Cali, Axel from St. Louis, and Major from Bama. What a fun group!
Airport day went off without a hitch. Turner was the first to show up, and then Eli and Major both arrived with their parents, whom were awesome to meet. Then Gracie and Layton picked up all the unaccompanied minors, and we were off!
We had a long drive ahead of us, but what better way to get to know each other than a long car ride! We played games, told riddles, and jammed out to Olivia Rodrigo. We went to pick up pizza, but it wasn’t quiet ready yet, so we headed to the coolest park for a few minutes to get our Ya-Yas out. Then we grabbed the pizza and made it to the campsite! At the camp site, and resident boy scout and outdoors export, Major, helped Layton teach everyone how to set up a tent. Then, Ty had the great idea to hike up a near by hill, and we all went up there to watch the sunset. We had our first Moonup, and nominated Eli and Ella as leaders of the day for the following day. We went to bed, excited for the next two weeks.
Yesterday was our first activity, rock-climbing! We woke up for a breakfast of berries, yogurt, and granola. Then we headed to meet our guides for an awesome day on the rocks! We were so proud of everyone for trying rock climbing, even AP and Axel who might not have felt super comfortable with the idea at first. Monty, Brooks, Davis and Eli were crushing it, and before we left Monty and Eli raced each other up the hardest route. Turner, Claire, Ella, and AP found an awesome view to hike to during our climbing, and we had a lunch of cold cut sammies while on the rocks. After a great day rock climbing, we surprised the kids with an ice cream stop in Gunnison! For unknown reasons, Monty and Ty were really excited to try dairy free ice cream! We love trying new things at Moondance!
We went back to the campsite, and found some cool spots to swim in the lake. Eli, Brooks, and I checked out a spot on the bank, and Brooks was the first to get in despite the cold! Then with the help of Turner, we found an awesome spot, and spent the afternoon jumping and hanging out on the rocks. Kendall was the first girl to try it, and eventually almost everyone jumped! The rain held off enough for Axel, AP, Brooks, and I to make an awesome dinner of Fajitas (with peppers, onions, cheese, rice, beans, and guacamole). Then our LODs (leader of the day) went on a super secret mission to get s’mores stuff. Unfortunately, it started pouring before we could have the fire. So we had Moonup in our van, Van Halen, and Eli and Ella nominated Kendall and Monty for the next day’s LODs. Eli had some of the kindest words to say for Kendall’s nomination and it warmed everyone’s hearts. Then everyone hung out in their tents. All the girls played Go Fish, and everyone got some much needed sleep!
This morning, we had an awesome breakfast of eggs, cheese, and Canadian bacon sandwiches, thanks to Ty and Eli’s iconic cook crew. Then off to day two of climbing! This spot had more shade, but more importantly, taller routes. The kids did so well and pushed themselves to climb higher and try new things! Turner, who only got hallway up on a route yesterday, climbed all the way to the top of the hardest route today. At one point, he wanted to come down, and Kendall gave the wonderful advice of “People that give up are people that give up!” Everyone cheered and laughed and he made it to the top! Ella also pushed her limits today, and got to the top.
Claire and Monty both learned to belay, and Monty belayed both Layton and me. We all got so much better at climbing. In between climbing routes, we taught the group Look Up Look Down, and Turner and Ella won, with veggie off suggestions from AP. Now everyone is passed out, taking a nice van nap as we head to our next campsite. Rafting is next, and everyone is so excited!
More updates to come!
Casey & the Leaders
June 26, 2021
Hello Colorado Trail Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Denver today and is on their way to their first campsite. We have heard from our leaders this afternoon that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!
– Moondance HQ