July 8, 2021
We are all certified divers! Everyone has earned their underwater passport and we could not be more excited.
Our final day of diving was so beautiful and fun. Hawaii was showing off with the bluest of skies and crystal azure water filled with sea life. We started our dives at a place called Garden Eel Cove where the students practiced their underwater skills. Susanna and Haley got to Scuba dive with Hawaiian Spinner dolphins in the certified diver group which was truly incredible! The student groups saw Moray eels and the endemic Hawaiian damselfish while mastering the art of diving. Between dives, Grisham and Dylan jumped off the side of the boat to cool off from the hot sun. Soon, the whole group joined in on the fun before having lunch and gearing up to dive again. On the next dive at manta ray bay, the students were tasked with leading the dive, pointing out fish, and checking air. Alex led the first group, while Landyn led the second group. This involved determining the route and navigating the group back to the boat when the dive was over. They both did an amazing job and were commended by their dive instructors! Ansley was tasked with checking air throughout the dive and turning the group around once the first diver reached half a tank. Hannah finished up an extra dive with the instructor, and then pointed out beautiful fish and coral that the group passed by. The whole group worked together to ensure a safe and fun diving experience.
Because each and every student did such an incredible job, they all passed their Scuba certifications with flying colors. We are so proud of them! To celebrate later that day, we took the group to get gelato by the dive shop. We then made Mediterranean bowls for dinner, which were a huge hit. Cate even said that it was better than the food at her favorite Mediterranean restaurant at home! With full stomachs, we drifted to sleep with the soft pitter patter of rain on our rain flies, excited for the next day.
On our final full day, we made potatoes, egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches to fill the students up in preparation for a long day. We first headed to the black sand beach to see green Hawaiian sea turtles and the amazing volcanic beach on the south side of the island. Matthew completely buried Dylan in the sand, while Zoe wrote Moondance in stones on the beach. This made for some awesome group photos! We then headed on a service adventure where we rode in trucks down to a beach that is covered in micro plastic. This plastic comes all the way from the mainland and is mainly single use waste. Zoe gave a short presentation on the ways we can reduce, reuse, and recycle in our everyday lives in order to reduce the plastic waste that we generate. It was truly eye opening and educational for our students, and they greatly appreciated the opportunity to see the impact our waste has on the world. On the way back from the beach, Ansley and Wilder competed to see who could hold their hands above their heads for the longest time. They ended in a tie, but both held their hands up for over an hour! It made for a very entertaining truck ride.
Later that evening, the group enjoyed a fantastic cultural experience. This included learning how to hula dance and listening to ukulele songs. Hamilton showed off his hula moves by standing front and center when the group performed the Hukilau hula dance. He was the star of the show, it was so fun to watch! Afterward, our musical prodigy, Haley, played the ukulele for the group. They played a range of beautiful tunes, including the songs “Hallelujah” and “Take me home, country roads” as well as native Hawaiian songs. It was so great for everyone to learn more about the culture of Hawaii and to sing and dance as a group!
Today started with campsite cleaning and breaking down our tents before we headed into Kona for our final souvenir shopping. We celebrated our final day with a delicious banquet lunch at a local Hawaiian restaurant where we dined on fresh fish. Afterwards, we headed to the airport and said our final goodbyes.
We are so sad to see such an amazing, fun, and adventurous group go. As leaders, we could not have asked for a better group of students, and we will miss them very much. We wish them safe travels and a warm welcome home!
Until next summer,
Emma, Zoe and James
July 5, 2021
We have started our adventures on The Big Island and are well on our way to earning our underwater passports!
We landed in Kona and headed to our new campsite where we set up our tents and had our first moonup led by Susanna and Wilder. Everyone was in good spirits after the flight due to the laughs brought about by the prank of stacking everyone’s hats on Hamilton’s head while he slept on the flight! Wilder and Susanna had a creative opening to the Nug Jug by burying it and digging to find it. When Susanna pulled it out she proceeded to dump the entire bottle on Wilders head completely soaking him. As leaders we are so grateful to have a group so willing to be silly and fun! During moonup we discussed the important people in our lives and how they have impacted us.
The morning of our first full day of diving, we woke up and enjoyed a beautiful ride to our diving outfitter. We started by taking a paper test where Dylan made a perfect score. We then separated into two diving teams, the Cumberbums and Team Jeanne. We were extra lucky that Susanna was taking a refresher course, and she stepped up to lead by example in our scuba diving lessons. The afternoon was spent in the pool focusing on techniques and going over proper procedures. Hamilton and Cate really mastered the giant stride as diving partners, and kept everyone laughing in the pool. We loved watching the kids take their very first breaths underwater, and are so proud of them for being confident in their skills!
After we finished for the day, we headed down to the picnic tables below our outfitters and enjoyed a well-earned dinner of burgers and salad. We devoured our food and then headed to the harbor for our manta ray night snorkel! Matthew, Hamilton, Dylan, Grisham, and Wilder kept the energy high, rapping and jamming to music as we made our way through the waves on the boat to the snorkel spot. Once we arrived, golden hour was upon us. Ansley, Alex, Cate, Landyn, Haley, Hannah, and Susanna wasted no time capturing a lot of the excitement on each other’s faces through many photos. We learned about Manta Rays and their role in the Big Island ecosystem from our incredible guides. Once the sun set, we knew it was time to enter the water. We suited up in our wetsuits and jumped in. We held onto a floating surfboard with lights under it to attract plankton for the manta rays. We were lucky enough to see 5 manta rays! One manta ray, Leon, came right up and did belly rolls underneath our surfboard. Matt told us that the manta ray snorkel was one of the coolest things he had ever done!
We then drove back to our campsite while the refreshing Hawaiian rain was pouring down. We all huddled under a covered picnic table and cooked dinner. Landyn and Hannah took on seasoning and preparing the broccoli and potatoes, while Haley worked on the chicken. At the end of it all we had tasty Asian noodles and we were just happy to be with each other, smiling and laughing while the rain continued to cool us all off. The LODs Dylan and Alex led a memorable moonup in the car to stay dry! Alex continues to blow us away with her intentional quotes that perfectly suit the moment.
The next day was the Fourth of July! We kicked off the morning by belting out some American classics in the van. We then met our guides at the pier for our first real dives into the ocean! During these dives we practiced all of the skills we have been learning in the pool to keep us safe and responsible divers. Everyone successfully passed off on their skills! The buddy groups were so helpful and exhibited a lot of true teamwork. Haley, as a certified diver, spent the day on the boat with Zoe where she was lucky enough to see 3 tiger sharks on a dive!
After diving we continued the Fourth of July celebration with a cookout at the campsite! The other Hawaiian Islands team joined in on the fun and we played lots of relay games. The white team lead by Grisham, Wilder, Cate, Zoe, and Landyn emerged victorious with the blue team of Emma, Ansley, Susanna, Haley, and Dylan were right on their heels. We loved Ansley’s enthusiasm during birdie on a perch and the greased watermelon game- she’s definitely everyone’s cheerleader. We chowed down on burgers, watermelon, and salad. The highlight of the night was the star shaped piñata we surprised everyone with! We closed the evening with a sparkler circle where we shared what we were grateful for. Grisham captured our feelings perfectly by saying “I’m grateful to be on this great trip and for all the friends I’ve made here”. Our moonup, led by LODs Hamilton and Landyn, was a fun conversation about our favorite holidays and what motivates us in life.
As we head into our last few days together we are trying to soak up all of the laughter, group hugs, and car jam sessions we can! Tomorrow we are looking forward to our first group boat dive, and the next day our hula experience.
Until next time,
Zoe, Emma, and James
July 2, 2021
Hello from Hawaii!
Our second day of service was rewarding and adventurous! We worked on the west side of the property where we pulled out palms and logs to be made into mulch. This area is such an ideal place for plant growth that the garden has to work very hard to prevent invasive plants from taking over. Susanna, Ansley, and Cate went right into work, pulling out palms and loading them into the truck. After just a short while, you could see the difference they were making. After we would fill up a truck, the load was taken to a large mulch pile on the property.
While we waited for the truck to return, Matthew and Grisham managed to split open some coconuts and drink the water straight from the source. Before lunch, we squeezed in a quick group workout with some music, where Ansley showed us an exercise to the Garth Brooks song “Callin’ Baton Rouge”. Hannah, Cate, and Emma all got in some squats to the Sally up Sally down song. We have a very fit crew!
After our lunch break, we went back at it, pulling vines, rolling logs, and tearing away palms. In our breaks, one of our gardeners, Howard, taught us how to turn palm leaves into works of art. Ansley took right to the craft and worked to create not only a rose, but also helped Howard to create a grasshopper. After our work was done, our guide Amanda gave us a tour filled with fruit samplings and beautifully manicured gardens. Dylan and Susanna were very into the palmellos and ate them all, -leave no trace-, we love that! We learned about the history of the gardens and the importance of protecting the Hawaiian and tropical ecosystems. Grisham particularly enjoyed climbing the roots of the Jurassic Park trees during the filming location part of the tour.
When we returned to our campsite, our cook crew went into action in the kitchen. Cate went to work on the sweet potatoes, Alex on bagels, Susanna on barbecue chicken, and Ansley on collecting everyone’s orders. We feasted on barbecue chicken and sweet potato pizza bagels complete with funfetti angel food cake (Wilder’s favorite!)
Our Moonup was one to remember as Dylan entered into the circle like a celebrity with Wilder serving as a security guard. Dylan did a freestyle rap with themes from our trip. He and Alex hosted a meaningful Moonup with quotes about hospitality and self improvement. After finishing Moonup, we began another game of Mafia. Alex came up with the most creative stories that kept everyone laughing, while Susanna was full of conviction on her guesses (which were almost always right!)
The next morning we arose to a beautiful, warm Hawaiian day perfect for surfing. We headed out to meet our guides at the beach and jumped right into the water. Our guides remarked to us that they were impressed with our students abilities on their boards. Cate and Landyn even caught multiple tandem waves! The boys loved playing on the rope swing and enjoyed watching the locals show off their tricks.
We then headed to one of the best smoothie places on the island to enjoy some shaved ice, smoothies, and açaí bowls. Hamilton managed to eat a snow cone as large as his head! We cooled down with our sweet treats while enjoying an incredible view of a nearby mountain range.
After lunch we headed back to Hanalei to enjoy our favorite beach. The water couldn’t have been more clear or blue! It was the perfect setting for our group to jump off a rock, splash around, and enjoy swimming. All of the girls jumped together for a picturesque moment straight out of a movie. Haley was so brave and jumped in multiple times before relaxing in the shade on the beach. Wilder found a perch on a nearby rock and invited the crew to enjoy a front row seat to the rock jumping.
After souvenir shopping in Hanalei, we headed back to Kapaa to enjoy a dinner from local food trucks. We chowed down on tacos, burritos, and Indian food. After enjoying a bit of live music we decided to take the party back to the campsite where we danced the night away to celebrate our stay in Kauai.
The next morning, we began our travel day to the big island of Hawaii! We started the day by cleaning the group gear, doing some laundry, and later grabbing some poke and sandwiches for lunch. The airport was swift and easy, and we made it to Kona safely and on time! After some delicious pizzas we made, we headed to our new campsite on the beach. This bay is known for having lots of dolphins, so we’re greatly looking forward to spotting them swimming around in the mornings. Hannah kept everyone’s spirits high with her words of encouragement even while the group was tired after a long day of travel.
We are looking forward to our first day of Scuba tomorrow, and we will update you all again soon! Aloha!
Emma, James and Zoe
Alex – hey guys! Having a blast, love and miss you all!
Ansley – trip is going well, ready to come home and see you all! <3 Ansley
Haley – hey guys!!! I’m having so so much fun! I miss y’all so much and I love you bunches! Xoxo Haley
Hamilton – hey mom and dad!! I love you guys so much and I’ll be home soon, everything is going great! Hamilton. P.s. I think I met a girl
Landyn – hey guys! I love and miss y’all. This trip is so fun and I can’t wait to tell y’all about it!
Susanna – hey y’all! Miss y’all, but I’m having an amazing time and I can’t wait to tell you guys about it!
Hannah – hey mom and dad. I’m enjoying Hawaii and I’ll see you soon. Love you <3
Dylan – Hi mom and dad- I just want to chime in and say that me and Grish have been having a lot of fun times making new memories. Can’t wait to come home and see the fam.
Grisham – hey mom and dad! I’m having a good time here in Hawaii, but I’m already missing you! See you soon!
Matthew – hey y’all! I’m having so much fun on the trip making new friends and memories. I can’t wait to come home and tell you all about it.
Cate – hi everyone! I’m having a great time and I miss you all so much! Can’t wait to see you soon. Love you!
Wilder – hey mom and Dad, I’m so happy you convinced me to come on this trip. Just in the first week I have met so many amazing people and experienced truly amazing memories. I love y’all and can’t wait to see you in Wyoming. P.S. Missing you like crazy! – Wilder
June 29, 2021
Greetings from the Garden Island!
We have a wonderful group that has brought a lot of excitement and energy to the islands!
While in the airport, waiting for everyone to arrive, we played a game of 3 Hack Whack. Dylan and Grisham quickly caught on and were a force to be reckoned with. Once everyone arrived, we headed to the campsite for our first Moonup. The next morning we woke up, had breakfast, and headed to the beach for our surf lessons. Matthew was a natural, catching so many waves and popping up on his first one. Wilder, Dylan, and Grisham went to the rope swing where they threw the frisbee to each other and tried to catch it in mid air. They were quite the acrobats. After our surf session, we drove into the scenic town of Hanalei Bay. This bay has a stunning backdrop of lush, spiny, green mountains. We parked in the shade and made some sandwiches. We had worked up quite the appetite from surfing! The beach was calling our name yet again, so we headed to another hidden beach which included a quiet, shady walk through the palms. This beach had a place to jump off of rocks into the azure water below. Cate wasted no time, being the first to make the leap. Every student made the jump and the smiles were abundant.
After taking the leap, we all gathered near the beach and tried our lungs at the practice of rock running. This is a practice that Hawaiians did and still participate in. The individual grabs a large rock and runs underwater with it, a test of physical and mental toughness. Ansley went back and forth multiple times impressing the group with her stamina. After everyone tried the rock running, we all jumped into the water one last time before leaving to head back to town. We walked around the beautiful town of Hanalei, being sure to sample the local sweet treats. In the late afternoon, we made our way back to our campsite where we had pasta with pesto and marinara for dinner. Carb loading was essential for the following day.
On Sunday, we woke up before the sun and began preparations for our exciting day of sea kayaking! We enjoyed a warm and welcoming sunrise and met our guides at the beach to set off on our coastal voyage. Landyn entertained the group with her country music singing while the group pushed through paddling 17 miles of the Na Pali coastline. They impressed us so much, as this was no small feat! We saw dolphins and turtles which surfaced just feet from our kayaks. Matthew was our leader of the day (LOD) and his high spirits helped everyone get to the finish line. After a delicious lunch on the beach with some Hawaiian monk seals, we finished off the day strong by surfing in some waves on our kayaks! Hannah and Hamilton expertly navigated their boat through the waves. The group then took a dip in the ocean water before heading back to camp. We stopped for tacos and burgers to fill us up after a long and tiring day and got to bed early to be energized for service work the next day.
Monday began with a delicious breakfast called “The Davis”, which includes sautéed cinnamon apples, granola, sun butter, and honey on a tortilla or in oatmeal. After this satisfyingly sweet breakfast, we headed to service for a day of learning about the endemic species of Hawaii. Our LODs, Wilder and Haley, led the group in weeding out invasive species and helped to clean up the site. Susanna kept us engaged with stories of her travels abroad as well has her passion for football. Alex told embarrassing stories while Hamilton carried as many weeds as he could fit in his arms, both of which kept us laughing the entire time!
It has been so rewarding to see this group grow closer through the challenges of sea kayaking and their hard work giving back to this beautiful island. We are looking forward to another day of service tomorrow which includes a tour of the Allerton Gardens, the location of filming for Jurassic Park. And we can’t wait to be back in the water surfing the day after!
Until next time,
Zoe, Emma, and James
June 26, 2021
Hello Hawaiian Islands 2B Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Lihue last night and they are off on their adventure! We have heard from our leaders that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!
– Moondance HQ