July 24, 2021
It is hard to fathom that this summer has come to a close and that we are leaving Hawaii. We could not have dreamt up a more incredible group to end our time here on the islands with. They brought kindness, love, and boundless energy. This group embodies Moondance.
On Wednesday we headed back to the Tropical Botanical Garden for our second day of service. We were working in the McBryde gardens assisting in removing invasive weeds and other plants. The group took to the task quickly and efficiently. Stephen again led the team with a great example of work ethic by clearing entire areas by himself. At lunchtime, we dined on sandwiches and new fruits that some of us were trying for the first time. These included: dragonfruit, apple banana, and mangos. After lunch, we headed to the nearby town of Koloa to walk around and explore. This town is nestled near Poipu Beach and has a lot of unique art, shops, and eateries.
After some time of exploration, we had worked up an appetite and only one type of treat was going to satisfy- the açaí bowl. We are convinced that the best açaí is served in a little grocery store near Koloa. After delighting our tastebuds, we headed towards the town of Kapa’a. We had the opportunity to walk around this vibrant little town and take it in. We had dinner at a small Italian food truck, and each had our own personal pizza.
Shortly after finishing our pizzas, we headed back to our campsite for Moonup. Our LODs Lucy and Hugh proposed some thought provoking questions this evening. The more serious question was what qualities do you admire most about the individual sitting to your right. The powerful words that our group used to describe one another was soul filling and heartwarming. This group is love. The second question was what is your dream college and what are you looking forward to most there. We have such a well-rounded group with so many talents and career paths.
The last full day together began with an energizing breakfast at our campsite and then a short drive to our surfing spot. The first group charged in and began ripping. Sage was moved to a smaller board on this day because of how quickly she was picking everything up. Shorter boards are less stable than longer ones, but are more maneuverable on waves. Lucy again was a major charger on the waves, paddling way out and catching the larger ones. Anna challenged herself surfing all the way into the beach and then paddling through the surf to get back. George stepped up his surf game by consistently paddling into his own waves. In the second group, Slater continued her prowess on the surfboard and we started calling her Kelly Slater (arguably the greatest surfer of all time). Hugh certainly won the award for most creative wipeouts, performing quite the aerials. Mimi did a great job of facing adversity, pushing through the higher waves to put herself in position to catch more waves. After surfing, we headed into the magical town of Hanalei Bay to a spot to jump off of rocks into the ocean! Stephen and Landon most certainly won the award for most stylish jumps, twisting and turning their bodies through the air until they landed in the deep blue water. Shortly after taking turns jumping, we practiced the art of underwater rock running. This is where an individual grabs a large rock and runs with it underwater – a great challenge for the lungs and legs! Taylor and Jack both held it down going the distance and impressing all of us with their lung capacity.
After soaking up our last bit of the magic that is Hanalei, we headed back to the campsite for an incredibly powerful and moving Moonup. We began Moonup with an original song from James about leading with Zoe and Emma. It was followed by a beautiful performance from Emma, and a duet from Emma and Hugh. Our LODs Mimi and Landon posed the question, “what have you learned and are going to take home from this trip?” to us. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we were reminded of the power of Moondance to inspire us and forge life-long friendships.
The next day we woke up and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of banana pancakes. Smith really stepped up to clean group dishes and tents. After cleaning up the campsite we headed back to Kapa’a to grab some coffee and last minute souvenirs before enjoying a picnic banquet of poke! At the airport, Sage and Jack led us in one final Moonup, asking what Moondance has taught us. We shared how Moondance has shaped our lives and personalities, ultimately making us kinder and more vulnerable.
This summer has been one for the books and we couldn’t have asked for a better group to finish strong with. Their love for each other, adventure, and Moondance shined so brightly. Thank you for sharing each and every one of these incredible young people. We love them a lot, and look forward to being their cheerleaders for years to come.
With one final aloha,
Emma, Zoe, and James
July 21, 2021
Aloha from The Garden Isle!
We landed on Saturday afternoon, had a quick dinner and then set up at our new campsite. We have settled in nicely and love how close we are to the beach. Our first Kauai Moonup led by Jack and Mimi got our brains churning. The questions were, “What do you think the person to your right will be doing in ten years?”, and “What is a weakness you have, and what are you doing to strengthen it?” we got to bed early to prepare for a long day of sea kayaking!
On Sunday, we woke up with the stars still shimmering down on us. We donned our headlamps and began preparation for sea kayaking. We drove into Hanalei Bay, picked up our dry bags and then met our guides at the beach takeout. The day was nothing short of magical. We paddled past green, lush cliffs. We saw turtles coming up for air. We watched as Spinner Dolphins spin through the air jumping out of the water. Lucy, Taylor, and Mimi sang songs out loud to keep the group motivated. Our guides led us in caves, and we all yelled in excitement enjoying our voices echoing across the cavern. Before lunch, we paddled into a cavern that is difficult to even describe. The walls rose over 80 feet around us, there was no roof and the sun shined down on us making the water so crystal clear. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at our lunch beach. We all had worked up serious appetites. We weren’t even finished yet and Anna was chomping at the bits to get back to the kayak and finish. We have learned that she loves constantly being on the go. After re-energizing ourselves, we shipped off from the beach and paddled the remaining five miles. Upon paddling onto the beach, a strong sense of accomplishment came over everyone. We are so proud of this group for hanging tough and finishing strong.
Monday was our first day of surfing! We had a leisurely breakfast and hopped in the car for a short drive up to a beautiful beach. There, we met our surfing guides and had a quick lesson before jumping in the water! The students practiced the art of “popping up” on the board as the instructors guided them into small waves. Lucy quickly became an expert and started catching her own waves almost immediately! After their warmup, the students progressed to bigger waves that challenged them more. George was showing off his surfing skills by doing a 180 on the surfboard while riding a wave. Slater also took to the new sport with ease, paddling over waves with such agility and finesse that we were surprised to hear that she doesn’t surf regularly. It was so impressive, and soon all of the students were fully standing up and riding waves into shore. After surfing, Smith and George took turns jumping into the water from a rope swing, doing twists and turns into the warm river water. We all ate a much needed lunch and then headed to Hanalei bay to explore the beachside town. After a delicious ice cream stop, Landon jumped off the town pier into the beautifully clear water below, while the group walked the white, sandy beach. Hanalei is surrounded by lush green mountains, which made for some amazing group photos! We then headed back to camp for a pizza bagel dinner and played spikeball and volleyball. Hugh had the idea to make James the announcer, where he gave intros for each of the boys before the volleyball game. It kept us laughing all night, and made for a very competitive and fun game, Sage showing off her dominant serve, scoring quite a few points for the girls. Taylor started our moonup with a quote about appreciating the little things in life, which made us all reflect on how grateful we are for the opportunity to be on a Moondance trip. The group was so excited to begin our community service in the morning at the national Tropical Botanical Gardens.
Tuesday consisted of service at the NTBG on the south coast of Kauai. We worked to clear palm fronds from areas throughout the gardens which will be used to make mulch for the plants in the future. Stephen and Taylor worked nonstop to clear the palms, and made a huge difference working as a team. We appreciated their focus and hard work. Anna and Smith as our LOD’s helped to delegate tasks for the group while collecting the fronds. After completing our work we got to tour the Allerton Gardens- home of the filing locations of Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. It was stunning!
As we head into our final days we are so proud of this group and the friendships that have blossomed. They are truly a special and memorable cohort, and we can’t wait to watch them thrive doing more service and surfing!
Until next time,
Zoe, James, and Emma
July 18, 2021
Hello from the airport!
We are thrilled to be traveling to Kauai to begin our adventures on the Garden Isle. The past few days have been fast-paced and activity packed.
We began our final day of scuba diving eager to dive in and celebrate finishing up our open water certification. On our first dive our open water students completed all of their technical skills including taking their mask off underwater, and practicing buoyancy. Mimi aced the CESA skill (traveling to the surface in one breath) and the oral inflation of the BCD, even when she had a new BCD! She was quick to adapt to a new challenge! Carlos, our diving instructor, led our students to see some incredible sights, including eels, a cow fish, and psychedelic wrasses.
Back on the boat we enjoyed blasting the speaker and dancing! Hugh kept us entertained with multiple funny stories while the group took a much needed rest on the boat. After a tasty meal of sandwiches, chips, fruit, and cookies we jumped back in the water for dive number 2. For our final dive our open water students led the entire dive themselves. Slater perfectly executed a five point descent while Lucy checked to make sure everyone’s ears were doing well. Mimi made sure to stay informed of everyone’s air pressure levels. All of our students passed with flying colors! On the certified dive, Jack pointed out moray eels and Anna stayed underwater for over an hour. Her air consumption rate really impressed is!
That evening we treated the students to smoothies at a local fruit stand to celebrate our brand new certified divers! We then headed back to the campsite where the spike ball championship began. George and Stephen challenged some of the other students staying at our campsite to play while everyone cheered them on. They emerged victorious and slightly more sandy from fully committing to the game! We also learned a new game called freeze ball, which everyone loved.
That evening our LODs Stephen and Taylor led us in a thoughtful and fun Moonup where we discussed our role models and celebrity crushes. We enjoyed hearing about how impactful many of you have been in our student’s lives.
The next day began with a tasty breakfast of chocolate chip, banana, or sprinkle pancakes. We then headed out to begin our day of traveling around the entire island! We first began by traveling to the ranch town of Waimea. There we enjoyed coffees, pastries, and second breakfast at the Waimea Coffee company. Then, we headed out to explore the island some more.
Our next stop was Waipio Valley where we loved admiring the gorgeous views at the overlook. Landon showed off his silly side by rolling down an entire hill to make everyone laugh. As we began our descent the views just kept getting better, and our students stepped up to the challenge of a steep climb. George and Taylor even decided to test their fitness and run both up and down the valley trail!
After finishing our hike we continued to circumnavigate the island by driving to our next stop in the town of Hilo. Here we treated the students to delicious ice cream cones, açaí bowls, and smoothies at a fun spot called the Magic Pineapple Shack. We then jumped back in the van to head to our final destination of the night- Naalehu! Here we would meet up with the other Moondance group for a night of hula dancing and ukulele playing.
Upon our arrival we enjoyed some tasty Hawaiian Barbecue from L&L with the other group. Our instructor then began teaching us the history of hula and the hukilau dance. Everyone absolutely killed it! Smith loved showing off his new moves, and was front row in our dance off with the other group. Finally, we closed out the night with a ukulele performance, with Slater and Taylor joining our instructor to play.
We then headed back to the campsite for a heartwarming Moonup led by our LODs Sage and Smith. The questions were what snack would we be and what qualities do you admire in friends. Our new LODs Mimi and Jack were named, and we got to bed early to prepare for travel day.
The next morning we woke up excited to be traveling to Kauai. Jack stepped up as LOD to clean the group gear while everyone else packed up their belongings and the tents. The group then got to do laundry in Kona in order to have fresh clothes for Kauai. After two short and smooth flights, we made it to Lihue safe and sound! We are so excited to begin sea kayaking tomorrow and for all of the rest of our Kauai activities.
We will check in again soon!
Zoe, Emma, and James
July 15, 2021
Greetings from the Big Island!
We are all living the aloha life and thoroughly enjoying the easygoing rhythm of island time.
Our airport day was easy as can be, and after a pizza dinner we headed to the campsite to have our first Moonup. Moonup is a time at the end of each day where the group gathers together and reflects back on the day, where we share quotes, tell stories, and pick leaders of the day (LODs). As Moondance alum, Lucy and George became our first LODs, and we were so excited for these two to kick off our trip the following morning!
Day two consisted of boat diving for the certified kids and pool skills for the Scuba students. Over half of the group is already certified, so the boat group was excited and ready to get into the water! Taylor immediately got back into the groove of diving, even though it has been 2 years since she was certified in Fiji. She was a natural! Two dive sites were visited, the first being Golden Arches. The group saw many moral eels and nudabranches on this dive, as well as the endemic Hawaiian Damselfish. Smith showed off his diving skills by forming bubble rings with his regulator, while Landon practiced his underwater flips for the GoPro! The second dive site was Turtle Heaven, where the group saw more eels, ghost shrimp, and baby frog fish. Back in the pool, Slater, Mimi, and Lucy were excelling in the open water diving course, completing a pop quiz with flying colors! Anna, Stephen, and Hugh showed off their incredible buoyancy skills by swimming through hoops in the refresher course. It was incredible dive day, and everyone is so excited to see more of Hawaii’s underwater flora and fauna.
We then grabbed some gelato and shaved ice for our first of many ice cream stops! After exploring Kona and finding some fun souvenirs we headed back to the campsite for a dinner of Mediterranean bowls. As we ate we watched an incredible sunset over the ocean. After dinner, we shared ghost stories and funny memories with the group. George entertained the group with his storytelling skills before heading into a powerful moonup.
It became very clear to us leaders that this group is a special one as we began our moonup. Emma started the moonup by singing a song that means a lot to her. The vulnerability that was shared brought the entire group together as we discussed our proudest moments. We giggled through our funny question of everyone’s favorite spices and sauces (so many fierce opinions!) Lucy and George set the bar for moonup high! They named Landon and Slater as our next LODs.
We finished out the night with an intense game of werewolf! Sage showcased her game face by surviving the longest as a werewolf. We love how fun and silly this group is!
The next day we woke up early and ready to go! Our open water students successfully completed the pool section of their training. Since they excelled so much in their refresher course, Anna and Hugh spent the morning with Zoe touring a coffee plantation. They enjoyed seeing the process of growing, harvesting, and roasting the famous Kona coffee- perfect for a coffee lover like Hugh!
The boat crew was able to check out two new dive spots! Our first dive was to a place called High Rock. This site had walls of colorful coral and was teeming with brightly colored fish. We saw a large pufferfish and two large trevally. Our second dive was to Manta Ray Bay. Stephen had a sharp eye and pointed out a couple of eels hiding amongst some coral. Back on the boat, Landon and Taylor kept their fitness up by doing some planks.
In the afternoon the students reunited for some incredible snorkeling and free diving near the pier. Anna captured some closeup footage of a white mouth eel, while Slater shined in free diving, staying underwater for more time each try! Mimi kept everyone in high spirits and sun screened. Our group was praised by Katie and Carlos, our incredible teachers, for their quick grasp of skills. Dinner consisted of fajita bowls, which was a huge hit among our students. Jack provided our meal entertainment by telling riddles that everyone worked together to solve. We had a lot of laughs, and after a long day we were ready for some much needed sleep.
Day four of our trip consisted of more boat diving, shore diving, and a manta ray night snorkel! The shore divers saw beautiful fish and a spotted moray eel, while the boat divers swam with 4 manta rays and even saw a tiger shark! Sage and Smith got to see these beautiful creatures from just feet away as they swam right past them! It made for some incredible underwater photographs. That night, we had our manta ray snorkel and a boat dance party. The group really bonded this night, and we got to see some amazing manta rays as well!
We have been having an absolute blast with this group! We are looking forward to our final days of diving and exploring the Big Island through hiking!
Until next time,
Zoe, James, and Emma
July 12, 2021
Hello Hawaiian Islands 3A Families!
The group arrived safely in Kona 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!