July 8, 2021
As we gather all together for one last time at the airport, we are greeted with a beautiful rainbow as we say our heartfelt goodbyes. This group makes goodbyes especially hard, and we are all so grateful for these past two weeks with these amazing people! With heavy hearts we reminisce on our final days together…
To kick off our first day of open water diving, Liv and Charlie led our team fearlessly as leaders of the day! They brought so much courage and positivity to our group, and everyone absolutely CRUSHED IT! As we descended below the world as we knew it, we got to explore all the wonders below sea level! Winn, Alex, Erin, and Caroline got up close and personal to some awesome sea urchins as they passed them around for everyone to hold them! Ben, Harrison, Liv, and Sarah got to observe a beautiful eel as it poked its head out of the corals! We also all got to see an eagle ray, which was an amazing sight to see underwater! On the way to Charlie, Ashely, Kyle, and Thomas’s first dive, they were greeted with some gnarly dolphins that lead the way to their dive site! Once we got back to our campsite after our adventures under the sea, the group played a friendly game of “HORSE” where the loser had to make everyone else sandwiches for lunch the next day. Thomas and Harrison showed off their baller skills, inevitably ending in Emma being the destined sandwich maker for the next day. Thanks, Emma, for the sandwich! That night, we made some delicious chicken and cheese quesadillas to fuel us all up before our next full day of open water scuba diving.
Our last full day together was filled with so much energy and love as we headed to the harbor for our last day of diving. Ben and Liv showed they were not just average divers, as they were performing flips underwater in all their gear! Every person in our group got to experience something that is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and this was witnessing a large pod of pilot whales glide through the ocean together. Winn and Sarah were some of the brave ones that fearlessly grabbed a snorkel and jumped into the open water to observe these animals in their natural habitat. Alex said that this might have been one of the coolest adventures he has ever experienced in his life, and I think we all could agree. Caroline and Erin were some of the lucky ones that got to see some dolphins swim next to them during their dive as well as an octopus ink as our dive guide tried to grab it! Right as we thought the ocean could not get any more exciting, Kyle, Ashley, and Thomas saw a gigantic turtle swim by them! Seeing all these beautiful animals so close made us all appreciate their beauty even more! On the way in after our last dive, Charlie completed something that has never been done before on their boat and became the first person to ever do push-ups on their dive boat. In the midst of his adrenaline high, the dive masters praised him for his record-breaking success. When we arrived back at the harbor, the owner of Aquatic life divers surprised us with some yummy pizza to congratulate everyone on completing their scuba diving certification! Caroline and Erin were some of the most positive people during our dives and we were lucky to have their support throughout the day! This group made breathing underwater easy, and we were all ecstatic we got to experience this adventure all together!
Once we arrived back on the shore, the fun did not stop there! We all hit the road to a thrift store to pick out some fabulous and funny outfits to celebrate our final night together. Our group did not disappoint as everyone was rocking some… interesting fashion statements! Harrison liked the Hawaiian shirt he bought so much that he even wore it to the airport the next day (it is an awesome shirt)! Alex and Ashley brought many laughs to their Hawaiian shirt inspired look and mismatched patterns! Everyone killed their thrift shop purchases! As we geared up in our silly outfits, we reunited with the second Moondance group to experience a Hula dancing class from an expert! Our group were naturals, especially Sarah who really dug into her inner hula dancer. Our instructor even commented on how natural Ben looked as he danced away to the little grass shack hula song! Our groups learned two dances together and we ended with a dance battle between the different groups. Although a winner was never declared, we know that our hula skills were top notch and unbeatable! After our Hula experience, Winn and Emma joined our instructor and gave us our own private ukulele concert.
Our final dinner together consisted of some delicious L&L Hawaiian Barbeque, which was a crowd favorite! As we gathered around in a circle together for our final Moonup, we all shared what our original goals were for our trip together. While we shared these aspirations, we passed around sparklers and shared if we felt we had conquered each of our goals. With confidence, everyone expressed that they feel like they conquered those goals, and as leaders, we would have to agree with them as well! To close our final Moonup, Kyle wrote a poem that incorporated everyone on the trip. His beautiful words captured the essence of everyone so perfectly and brought tears to many eyes. Before we headed off to bed, we all star gazed while listening to a song called, “Feeling Whitney,” a crowd favorite. As we stared into the beautiful night sky, we were able to see some epic shooting stars and soak in all the beauty Hawaii has to offer before everyone headed home the next day.
This was a once in a lifetime experience with a once in a lifetime group. Watching the relationships being formed and flourishing was amazing to see as leaders. We were so fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people these past two weeks! Thank you to the parents for allowing us to get to know and love your children throughout this experience. They were all a constant reminder of why we wanted to be Moondance leaders in the first place and we could not have imagined a more perfect trip. Being able to grow together while exploring the beautiful island of Hawaii is an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives!
Aloha and Mahalo,
July 5, 2021
Aloha from the Big Island!
Before our flights, we explored the town of Kapa’a to pass the time before heading to the airport! While walking around, Liv and Ashley got some stylish matching anklets as a final remembrance of our time in Kauai. After our super quick flight, we touched down in Kona and were very eager to start a new adventure on the big island! We instantly fell in love with our new campsite. After our day of traveling, we celebrated our first night with some personal pizzas, served up by our wonderful LODs, Alex and Kyle. While dinner was being made, Emma showed her creative side, giving Sarah a colorful hair which looked beautiful in her long curly hair! Harrison has also picked up on everyone’s craft making and has started to make his own friendship bracelets for others! Our first moonup on the Big Island was very welcoming with a sky full of stars! Alex and Kyle introduced a game called the “adverb game” where players act out the adverb doing any activity that someone chooses! It has become a crowd favorite amongst our group!
Our first full day in the Big Island was celebrated with Emma’s famous French toast that includes nutella, strawberries, and some whipped cream! Everyone’s bellies were full as we headed on our first of many adventures! We packed our lunches and started our exploration on a hike to a green sand beach. The hike was filled with some breathtaking views and Winn made sure to get some epic pictures of members of our group and all of the incredible views we stumbled upon! We all effortlessly made it to the green sand beach from our hike, and immediately went for a swim in the clear blue ocean. Erin and Colin were even some of the lucky ones who had a turtle swim right up to them! While on our hike, Sarah managed to find a cool hat that someone had left on the trail! In order to follow our LNT principles, leave no trace, she picked up the hat and decided to keep it as a memory instead of leaving the hat on the ground as trash! The group’s positive attitudes and encouragement made our hike incredibly enjoyable and a breeze! As we arrived back at our campsite, Harrison and Thomas led the group to play a game of basketball on a court that is near where we set up our tents! We will see many games of “HORSE” in our future with this active crew! To conclude our night, we ate some Hawaiian fried rice that Caroline helped make and it might even be a new crowd favorite for dinner! The fresh pineapple that was cut definitely made our meal next level! Even after one day on this island, we have all already made so many incredible memories and we are so excited to start the scuba diving portion of our trip!
We started our first morning of scuba diving with some yummy bagels and cream cheese in preparation for our busy day ahead! Half of the group started scuba diving, while the other half got to explore Hãpuna Beach! While exploring, Kyle discovered a magnificent cave and showed all of us this breathtaking view! The only access to the cave was from the ocean and finding it was very exciting for our group! Cooper surprised the group with a butterfly kite that flew effortlessly in the sky! Sarah had a lot of fun trying to get the dollar tree kite to fly high in the sky! The brave first group completed their pool portion of their certification with ease, and left them even more excited to explore the world below the water! Our two groups finally reunited, making everything feel right again! We explored the town of Kona where Alex was quick to find the best Tshirt store around. Before long we were off on our next adventure to our night manta ray snorkel! Our boat captain handed the steering wheel into Caroline’s hands and she led us to the notorious night snorkeling hotspot! We all geared up in our wetsuits and snorkel and hit the water to see some of the most beautiful animals that call the ocean their home. We even saw four manta rays all at once during our snorkeling expedition! I think we all agreed this was one of the coolest experiences we have ever had and were happy we experienced this with each other! The next morning we started the Fourth of July off with a bang, by jamming to some good patriotic songs like “Party in the USA” and “Born in the USA.” We ate some delicious English muffin sandwiches with eggs and ham and hit the road for our next adventure! The group who was not scuba diving today headed to Walmart to pick up some groceries and to make our stop a little more interesting we played a quick game of hide and seek! Ben, Charlie, and Thomas did not let us find them easily with a fort they made on the toilet paper aisle! Liv, Erin, and Caroline located the three boys when they saw the tops of their heads peering over many rolls of toilet paper! After our quick game, we hit the beach for some chill time! While on the beach, Emma braided some beads into Liv’s hair, and before long everyone was rocking the new style. Thomas took an alternative route and requested a red, while, and blue beaded rat tail! While the others were getting their hair done, Alex was an encouraging voice throughout the other groups’ scuba lessons because of his confidence in everyone’s success! We loved to see all of the positive words that were passed along amongst the group.
Once we reunited as one big ohana, we spent some more time exploring the town of Kona before heading to Hookena Beach Park, the home of some fellow Moondancers! Together we all celebrated the Fourth of July by splitting into teams of red, white, and blue to compete in a series of beach games. As we got to know the other Moondancers, Ben made sure to partner up with the tallest member of their group and they dubbed themselves the “tall team.” Ashley got her game face on by painting her team’s color, red, all over her face! Eventually, everyone was repping their team’s color with some face paint! Kyle even painted a beard on his face in white face paint, which gave all of our groups a good laugh! Charlie showed his competitive side, winning the first game, “birdy on a perch” and making the white team proud! In the following event, Erin carried the team, literally, in a wheelbarrow relay race through the sand. Not only is she a great track runner, but she can move pretty fast on her hands too! Our favorite event may have been the greasy watermelon, after which Winn made a point to give as many greasy high fives as possible. Our afternoon was full of friendly competition and smiles all around! After a grill out on the beach, we lit some sparklers, passing the flame around in a circle and each sharing one thing we are grateful for, the common consensus being each other and this amazing trip we are having together! We said goodbye to our friends at Ho’okena and headed home for an incredible Moonup led by Ashley and Winn. These two LODs encouraged the group as we go into our open water dives tomorrow, reminding everyone that it’s okay to be nervous but to be brave! We can’t wait for the underwater adventures ahead of us.
Aloha for now!
July 2, 2021
Aloha! Our time in Kauai has been such a dream! Upon the group’s arrival into Lihue, spirits were high, smiles were big, and we knew this was going to be a spectacular trip! We kicked off our first night together with a delicious pizza hotspot in the town of Kapaa! The group got a variety of delicious pizzas as we headed to our first campsite that we were excited to call home for the next few days! When we gathered together for our first moonup, spirits were high even after everyone’s long day of travel, ensuring that this trip was going to be a memorable one from the very beginning!
Our first morning together was celebrated with banana pancakes sprinkled with M&Ms, which we all LOVED! This delicious breakfast got all of us prepared for our first activity together in Kauai! After breakfast, we wasted no time getting to the beach so we could hit the water. The group absolutely crushed their first surfing lesson, catching waves, and throwing shakas left and right. All you could hear was our team cheering each other on as we watched everyone catch a wave! Ben and Winn showed that they were definitely not novice surfers as they caught wave after wave! After our surf lesson, we spent some time walking around Hanalei and checking out one of the most popular parts of the island. Some got some really cool Hanalei gear, and we were able to get some decadent smoothies from a lot of local’s favorite food trucks. Our second day of surfing went just as well as the first! Harrison and Kyle hopped on one of the longer boards to catch a tandem wave and Winn got some incredible shots of everyone shredding! While on Poipu Beach, we stopped for some Puka Dogs, a local favorite for lunch! We were all
able to try a variety of different sauces, but the pineapple relish might have sealed the deal for our group! After eating some good hot dogs, Erin led the girls on a run and a workout! Our cold showers were refreshing after being in the salt and sun all day! After our fun days of surfing, we ready to begin our community service in the beautiful National Tropical Botanical
We dove into the service portion of our trip with an eagerness to get our hands dirty. The National Tropical Botanical Garden was so beautiful, and we are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to take part in its upkeep. We spent our first day in the Allerton Garden picking up palm fronds from underneath the trees. Charlie and Liv led the group as our leaders of the day, or LODs, and we were so impressed by their hard work and ability to motivate our team! We were also able to see some famous locations in the NTBG where Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed! The large trees that are a famous sight in the Jurassic Park movies were even more extravagant and huge in person! The tree’s roots made us look like little ants when we were right next to them. We also got to experience many fresh fruits on our tour such as lychee, tangerines, and Cocoa plants! As we walked around the property for our tour, a duck that lives in the garden decided to follow Sarah around as we soaked up all the beauty the NTBG had to offer. There was so much history wrapped up in the NTBG that our group was eager and excited to learn! Our second day was spent in the McBryde garden weeding out some invasive plant species in the shade of the large tropical flora. Thomas and Harrison made it their mission to remove the invasive snails from their work zone to protect the plants they were working on! While working, we were able to converse with workers who have been working in the NTBG for many years and we loved hearing about how important these gardens are to the state of Hawaii. They were also praising our team for all the hard work we exhibited throughout the day and completed work that they said would have taken them weeks to do! The gardens’ employees were also so impressed with Liv’s hard work that they even asked if she could stay and work for them! We enjoyed our time at the gardens so much and we all definitely have a new appreciation for protecting native Hawaiian plants.
With brave faces and ready to take on anything, we took to the sea for our 17-mile paddle trip down the Na Pali Coast. Luckily, we had our fearless leaders of the day, Ben and Ashley, that were constantly bringing a vibrant energy to our group dynamic! As we cruised along the breathtaking shoreline, our team was constantly encouraging each other and positively motivating us the entire way. Cooper even sang some songs with her… angelic voice! Colin and Caroline kept the first-place spot with ease, which impressed us all. Emma and Alex followed very close behind, and our instructors made sure to comment how in sync their paddle strokes were. Throughout our journey, we were able to explore some beautiful and open caves that the guides lead us to. These were some great spots for everyone to take a break, eat some snacks, and hydrate. About a mile out from our lunch spot, we stopped for a swim break in the spectacular Open Ceiling Cave (aka Pukalani) that was flooded with light from a break in the top. Everyone immediately hopped out of their kayaks and enjoyed the secluded swim spot. We spent some time there working on our squirrel dives, while Kyle showed off their awesome rock-climbing skills on the cave wall! At our awesome lunch spot on the beach, our guide provided some gourmet sandwiches with some chips and fresh fruit! They even taught us how to cut a pineapple in a very creative and accessible way. Sarah kept the momentum going with her positive energy and humor, making every moment a memorable one as we kayaked to the finish line. When we all reached our final destination, our group celebrated by swimming in the ocean and there was a smile on everyone’s faces. Everyone felt so accomplished and proud of themselves for completing our strenuous day of kayaking. After an exhausting day on the coast, Alex and Thomas took advantage of the fresh fish Kauai has to offer by ordering fish burritos at our local food stop. Everyone filled up on some delicious burritos, tacos, and taco salads to finish up our rewarding day. Luckily, we were all able to fall right to sleep to prepare for our next day of traveling.
Upon our arrival to Kona, we reminisce on our unforgettable experiences on Kauai and are excited to explore this beautiful new and very different island that we get to call home for the next few days. Caroline, Erin, and Ashley are making sure that all of our wrists are filled with friendship bracelets, while ensuring everyone has one with the colors of their choice(the leaders are being very persistent to ensure they get one from everyone). Whether they are in the car or spending quality time at camp with our group, they are always hard at work making their beautiful bracelets. Charlie instantly noticed while on Kauai how bountiful and bright the stars are at night and he has continued to encourage us to end our nights stargazing together before bed. This has become a tradition we do after our nightly Moonups. Our last night in Kauai we even saw two shooting stars! We love ending our nights together enjoying these beautiful islands. This group really is something special.
As we head to the big island, we look forward to the adventure ahead and send love to our families and friends back on the mainland…
Sarah- hi! I miss y’all so much I hope Costa Rica is treating y’all well. Tell Amaya I miss her! I love y’all, I’ll see you in a week!
Erin- hi mommy and dad!! I am having the best time but miss y’all a lot! Tell E I love him and can’t wait to see him! Xoxo!!
Liv – Hi mom and dad I’m doing great and having a lot of fun. Hope marsh and boo are doing good give them cuddles for me. Miss u guys xoxo
Caroline – hey mom, dad, and jack!! I am having a great time but miss y’all so much! Tell Palmer I say hey and Jessie if you see her. Love y’all so much, see you soon!! (Also hey mary mac)
Ashley – hi mommy and daddy I miss u guys so much and I am having so much fun can’t wait to see u guys when I get back tell Savy Ryan Travis and davis I say hi and I miss them
Charlie- hey mom and dad I miss u guys and hope y’all are having a fun time in Mexico. Tell Reese and Mia I miss them too and I’ll see you soon and go Hawks. Can’t wait to see y’all.
Winn – Aloha, mom, dad, & groundbear! I have taken some great pictures on the camera and got a chance to use the GoPro while kayaking. Love, Winn.
Alex- Hey mom and Dad, just checking in. I miss you guys and am now about to travel from Kauai to the big island for the next week! Can’t wait to see you guys soon. Love Alex
Thomas- Hey fam, hope y’all are having a grand ole time and hope James got out to Idaho safely. I hope pops is practicing his game for when I get back. Love Tom
Harrison-¡Aloha, Mom, Dad, Hersh, and Thompson! I’m having a lot of fun out here, enjoying the nice weather and beautiful water. Surfing was fun and the kayak was long but enjoyable. Hope everything is good and go hawks.
Kyle – dear mom and dad,
Half way in everything is great! Heading to the big island for scuba wish I did the online class now. See you soon.
Ben- Hey mom and dad,
I’m having so much fun in Hawaii. We’re about to get on a plane for the big island. Tell Max, gabe, and popham I say hi. Love Ben
June 26, 2021
Hello Hawaiian Islands 2D Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Kauai last night, except one student who is arriving late today! They are off on their adventure and excited to meet the final student tonight! 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